Shows To See: Up Now in London: Paul Carey-Kent gives us his focus on the London galleries and what to see for April 2019. As a writer and curator Paul sets out a monthly rolling ten recommended contemporary art shows in London now. He currently writes freelance including for Art Monthly, Frieze, Elephant, STATE, Photomonitor, Border Crossings, FAD and World of Interiors.
How Chicago! Imagists 1960s & 70s at Goldsmiths CCA , New Cross to 26 May
Some of the Chicago Imagists are well known – Jim Nutt, Karl Wirsum, Christina Ramberg, Gladys Nilsson – but there are 14at Goldsmiths. Among the others employing the typical flattened forms, repeated patterns, disparate sources and a humorous outlook which extended to them showing collectively as The Hairy Who is Roger Brown. Here is his ‘Misty Morning’ 1975, in which a lorry interrupts a rather original depiction of a rural idyll.
Caroline Jane Harris: A Three-Dimensional Sky at Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery, Wandsworth to 11 May
Caroline Jane Harris’s solo show uses historic lantern slides and her own photos as sources, layering them with positive cut-outs and etchings of the consequent negative shapes of the images’ bitmaps to set up a dizzying interchange between analogue sources and digital representations. Additional elements of original image capture and apparent fragility are built into the cloudscape ‘A Three Dimensional Sky’, in which the print is veiled by the cut-out of a translucent tissue paper normally used to clean camera lenses…
‘Should I Stay or Should I Go?’ at Patrick Heide, Marylebone to 13 April
The best Brexit-related show I’ve seen is Patrick Heide’s joint production with Bartha Contemporary. It’s full of subtle abstractions which can be read as relevant to issues of belonging, choice and identity. In the fireplace, though, is something more incendiary: New York based Stefana McClure grew up in Northern Ireland during The Troubles, and one stream of her work wraps actual protest stones from the street with newspaper articles she dislikes and hurls them repeatedly against her studio wall. For ‘Protest Stones (Brexit)’ 2019 they are articles on Brexit – I’m guessing the Irish backstop looms large…
Allan Sekula: Photography, A Wonderfully Inadequate Medium at Marian Goodman Gallery to 18 May
If you’re in the mood for rewarding hard work, set aside an afternoon for a museum-standard survey of Allan Sekula’s career. There are 13 projects here, but the key, linked, ones are the photo and text-based ‘Fish Story’ 1989-95 and the 3-hour film ‘The Lottery of the Sea’ (still above). They use the sea as a metaphor for the global reach of capitalism and aim to effect a radical critique by foregrounding the typically hidden role of labour in trade. Sekula counters post-modernist accounts of the simulacral with the gritty material realities of exploitation, industrial decline, uncontrolled growth and pollution. Maritime industry is seen as a representative infrastructure of globalism. The Internet has subsequently increased the impression that the world operates through frictionless capitalism, increasing Sekula’s relevance. That said, another way of putting that is: hundreds of images of ships, ports and workers – not for everyone…
Betty Tompkins: Fuck Paintings etc at J.Hammond Projects, Archway to 13 April
The intimate is made monumental in the first UK solo of Betty Tompkins’ paintings, which she still makes from pornographic magazines rather than the online world – she sends her husband out to buy them in a neat tweak of expectations. This excellent survey includes ‘Cunt’ paintings, the more abstracted ‘Pussy’ series, three works with text, a couple of gridded Dicks and a giant Fuck as per the installation shot. Something of a coup for Justin and Jennie Hammond…
Alice Anderson: Body Disruptions at Waddington Custot to 11 May
Alice Anderson performs regularly during a solo show of three recent streams of her performatively generated sculptures and drawings, all related to the difference between digital and physical worlds: the Lost Gestures (2018) drawings, made from the repetitive sign-making various computer keyboard symbols; monolithic Body Itineraries (2019), which derive a language of abstract painting from copper wire; and the five memorialised totems of ‘Nuhé’ (2018).
David Salle: Musicality and Humour at Skarstedt Gallery to 25 May
David Salle (say ‘Sally’) scores with a new set of 11 assured fusions of different worlds, with greyscale 50’s cartoons the dominant recurring element. He starts by deciding how to divide the canvas, then proceeds with little planning to populate ‘doing paintings’ in which the characters are typically busy. In ‘Latin Rythms’ 2018, it seems the artist is treading on his own work just as he decides it would be fun to have a Mexican ride his donkey across its disparate contents.
Tribute to Mona-Ha at Cardi Gallery to July 26
This encounter between cotton and stone is one of 18 installation-scaled works across four Mayfair floors which make up the most impressive Mono-ha (Japanese ‘School of Things’)show London has seen. It’s typical of Lee Ufan in showing the unaltered material properties of things, and resisting any hierarchy between them: Koji Enokura, Noriyuki Haraguchi, Susumu Koshimizu, Katsuhiko Narita, Nobuo Sekine, Kishio Suga, Jiro Takamatsu, Noboru Takayama and Katsuro Yoshida are also represented by work produced between 1968 and 1986.
Jeremy Cooper: The World Exists To Be Put On A Postcard – artists’ postcards from 1960 to now at the British Museum to 4 Aug
Entre Tot, with ‘One Dozen Rain Postcards’ 1971-73, is one of the standouts in Jeremy Cooper’s wonderful show of over 300 postcard works at the British Museum. The Hungarian artist typed dashes of rain plus titles onto purple Xerox copies to make visual jokes which deconstruct the nature of typologies, conceptual art’s typical use of the typewriter at the time, and the normal expectation that a postcard will report on places and weather conditions the recipient. Moreover, there are Cooper-related postcard shows at Danielle Arnaud and Tintype.
Reinhard Mucha: Full Take at Sprueth Magers to 11 May
An impressive survey of Reinhard Mucha’s production: mostly constructions which look like cut-ups of institutional architecture and office furnishings which sleekly elide aesthetics and power, but also a sculpture of fans, some striking text works, and film. The German (born 1950) hasn’t shown much in London, so this is a good chance to catch up. Above is Seelze, 2012
Franz West at Tate Modern to 2 June (and elsewhere)
An obvious choice, but the new Franz West show is a hoot which captures his spirit. ‘Desiderat’ 1988 is one of his papier-mache works, often made from old phone directories and painted casually while he was on the phone. This one looks like a sandwich grinning back bigtime at its consumer. Sarah Lucas covered the crowd control architecture in tape and painted it in Franz colours – here a pink he took from children’s pajamas – as part of her lively Westian interventions into the presentation. The cinderblock plinth is her, too. Add worthwhile shows at David Zwirner and Omer Tiroche, and the RA’s excellent show by Phyllida Barlow – who I’d say is as close to Franz’s approach as Lucas, and it’s very much time to Go West.
Images courtesy / copyright the relevant artists and galleries Top Photo: Copyright Betty Tompkins, courtesy J Hammond Projects