The noted writer and curator Paul Carey-Kent gives us his rolling ten recommended contemporary art shows in London now. Paul currently freelances for Art Monthly, Frieze, Elephant, STATE, Photomonitor, Border Crossings and World of Interiors, and has a weekly online column at FAD Art News.
Brian Bress: Another Fine Mess @ Josh Lilley, 44-46 Riding House Street – Fitzrovia
To 27 June
Sunset Peacock (cutout), 2018 – 140 x 76cm
American artist Brian Bress puts the fine into what’s far from a mess with the most formally innovative show in London. On entering, you wonder ‘what is this?’ Several canvases curl down in curiously attractive tatters from being cut away with a knife. Down in the main space you find that those paintings were the main part of stage sets to make films in which canvas and screen converge. Each start with an image which gets cut away from behind so that the reverse side hangs down. Bress does the cutting while wearing a suit with a third painting on it. Behind him is a fourth painting. The balance between the four levels shifts mesmerisingly over 15-30 minute loops. And that is just one strand of Bress’s video panel paintings shown here, relatable to Helena Almeida and Alex Hubbard, I suppose, but effectively a new cross-medium.
Still from Sunset Peacock, 2018 (29 minute video loop)
Family Values: Polish Photography Now @ Calvert 22 Foundation, 22 Calvert Avenue – Shoreditch
To 22 July
From Zofia Rydet’s Sociological Record
At the core of this show, despite its subtitle, are two stunning long-term series from the last century. Zofia Rydet made an amazing 20,000 images of Poles in their homes for herSociological Record (1978-90) – detailed orchestrations at a rate of five per day from age 67 to her death! Film maker JózefRobakowski, banned from exhibiting his work, turned to the apolitically personal, albeit with the texture of surveillance, as a way of protesting obliquely at collectivist ideology. From My Window (1978-2000) is just that: the neighbourhood’s coming and goings to a commentary which stresses their personalities just as it transmits Rabakowski’s. There are also four recent projects in the show. Remarkably, they assert themselves successfully in the context of the older work, especially Aneta Grzeszykowska’s Negative Book and Aneta Bartos’ startling dual portraits of herself with her bodybuilder father.
From Aneta Grzeszykowska’s Negative Book
Katharina Grosse: Prototypes of Imagination @ Gagosian, 6-24 Britannia Street to 27 July; Bernard Frize: Blackout in the Grid @ Simon Lee Gallery, 12 Berkeley St to 30 June; JuanUslé: Open Night @ Frith Street, Golden Square to 23 June; Cipriano Martinez: Displacement @ Maddox Arts, 52 Brook’s Mews
Katharina Grosse: Untitled, 2018, acrylic on canvas, 265 × 175 cm
If you’re attracted to harmless list-making, you might consider who are the dozen top abstract painters in the world: there’s no right and wrong, of course, and I may have forgotten someone obvious, but a plausible group seems to me Gerhard Richter, Bernard Frize, Bridget Riley, Katharina Grosse, Mary Heilmann, Charline von Heyl, Juan Uslé, Robert Ryman, Beatriz Milhazes, Sean Scully, Tomma Abts and Ding Yi. In which case London is well served, as Milhazes (see below) Grosse, Frize and Uslé have wonderful shows on now, and Tomma Abts is next up at the Serpentine. Moreover, a ten year survey of Cipriano Martinez’s politcally charged deconstructions of architectural geometry in Caracas and London emphasises the variety of means he has brought to a tight thematic focus, and makes for a worthy 10th anniversary show at Maddox Arts. Come to that, Richter has an impressive presence in Southampton, which isn’t so far away. Grosse uses scale to thrilling effect, Frize does what only he can do to the grid, and Uslé brings us something of the night.
Bernard Frize: Wir, 2018
Acrylic and resin on canvas 250 x 215 cm
Juan Uslé: Soñe que Revelabas (Sutlej-Indo), 2018
Vinyl, dispersion and dry pigment on canvas, 305 x 228 cm
Cipriano Martinez: Brilliante, 2011
Beatriz Milhazes: Rio Azul @ White Cube Bermondsey
To 2 July
Installation image Ollie Hammick
There’s everything in this exuberant show: big paintings, and even bigger tapestry, collage, hanging sculptural combinations of found objects, and stage set and opening performances by her sister’s dance troupe (a little is here). One way of looking at the show would be as a rebooting of the Manifesto Antropófago published in 1928 by Oswald de Andrade, for that proposed that European influences should be ‘cannibalised’ – chewed up and digested to emerge in a South American form – and Milhazes definitely integrates a tropical and carnival aspect into European modernist tropes. This show is particularly heavy on circles, and there’s a contrast between the dazzling intricacy of their intersections in most of the work and the comparative simplification which emerges from the weaving process.
As irmãs em azul celeste, 2015-2018 – Collage on paper
86.5 x 76 cm, Photo: Manuel guas
Lea Cetera: Expanding Brain @ Southard Reid – 7 Royalty Mews, Soho
To 30 June 2018
Shows about identity politics can get heavy handed, so Lea Cetera’s light touch is welcome here. The central work is a 15 minute ‘artist interview’ in which we see an artist – identified by number, hooded like an assassin, voice disguised – answer questions about her practice and background. She complains when asked how race informs her work on the basis that a white artist wouldn’t have been asked that, yet the show is largely about that, as well as what the interviewee says her work is about: on the one hand, mockingly, ‘it’s about everything, it’s about nothing’, on the other hand it’s about ‘the psychological spaces we construct and operate within’. The rest of the show features hyper-real sculptures of quotidian items (coffee cups and suchi are favourites) with emails integrated to indicate how the artist’s everyday experience is informed by the nature of art and identity. This is all within the pretended parameters of a progression chart which the Filipino New Yorker found online, showing how to accept then go beyond the role of ‘artist of colour’ to make work about ‘whatever the fuck you want’.
Cup Construction, 2018 – plywood, formica, resin, porcelain, acrylic
Lola Frost: Towards Deep and Radiant Time@ The Arcade at Bush House, Strand
To 27 July
Towards Deep and Radiant Time, 2018
South African academic Lola Frost – Visiting Research Fellow in War Studies, King’s College London – is showing her paintings as part of the College’s increasingly lively arts programme. They’re interesting as a combination of human and geological time which also acts as a critique of the male art historical tradition of equating a rolling landscape with a reclining female nude. Instead, her apparent abstractions (derived from preparatory collages of remote spots in New Zealand, South Africa and Patagonia) suggest internal and assertively sexually assertive forms: intestines, brains, vaginas. The newest paintings here complicate the matter through doubling – which turns out to be short of exact reflection – and disorientation, by rotating the landscape source through 90 degrees.
On the Edge, 2018
Noémie Goudal: Telluris @ Edel Assanti, 74a Newman Street – Fitzrovia
To 23 June
French photographer Noémie Goudal presents three immersively installed takes on how we trammel between image and reality and between manmade and natural. The upper space is filled with wooden cube frames, within which lies theTelluris series, depicting similar 25-cube constructions within the landscape, in the forms used by analogue era scientists to model the geology of mountain formation. Also incorporated is the Soulevement series, in which rock formations turn out to be photographs of sets of mirrors installed in the landscape. Downstairs, rock reflections take a different tack through the stereoscopic installation Study in Perspective III, which causes us to see similar images as differently constructed. It’s a substantial investigation of illusory substance.
Molly Soda: Me and My Gurls @ Annka Kultys Gallery, 472 Hackney Road – Cambridge Heath
To 16 June
Molly Soda’s teeming and multifarious practice is most naturally online. Here, then, she effectively transports her studio to the gallery by covering the walls with images and footage from her laptop, complete with a 15 foot printout of comments on one of her YouTube posts which takes over the space sculturally. That is a make-up tutorial which pokes an artist’s fun at the genre, yet evokes deadpan or mocking responses from people who take her to be playing it straight. Indeed, Soda entertainingly subverts various roles and genres. Instead of showing off her new clothes she adapts the format to present her favourite Gifs: she likes ‘the delayed Gif experience’, as when a flower keeps the viewer waiting before opening.