To 17 Sept: www.patrickheide.com
Labour + Repetition = Decay (no.9), 2015
Katherine Murphy gives obsession a political inflexion, as her labour stands in for the under-acknowledged toil of the many carrying out repetitive tasks in the broader economy. That’s explicit in her timesheet-based prints, but equally present in two new streams of work (and I mean work) in this, her first full solo show. The series Labour + Repetition = Decay requires the folding and unfolding of paper over several weeks to reach an aesthetic of ditressed geometry. For Decay by 100,000 pinholes Murphy has pricked as many as that into a large piece of paper, using a decreasing number of random numbers to decide where to pierce, so that ‘blank’ patches increase towards the right. That was six months of labour for – even if the piece is sold – no more than pin money.
Katherine Murphy in front of thousands of holes, not easily spotted in a photograph
Installation view with Zoë Paul’s Moths and Lizards, 2016, in front of Nancy Holt’s Trail Markers, 1969
In the inspiring presence of Nancy Holt’s Trail Markers, four young artists pick up on its aspects of journeys, materiality and sexual roles with an underlying contrast of natural and artificial. Cathy Haynes constructs an alphabet out of plastic imitation wood, each letter framed in real wood faked to look like oak; Claire Potter films herself in male action mode but taking mockingly little action; Zoë Paul plays with ritual through volcanic rock faces, marble staging, and mist machines; Hannah Lees explores wine as paint, incense as a sculptural element, and the detritus of river walks as content immured in plaster. The whole creates a subtle but immersive interplay: kudos to curator Jeremy Millar as well as to the artists.
Francis Alÿs: Ciudad Juárez projects @ David Zwirner, 24 Grafton St – Mayfair
Paradox of Praxis 5: Sometimes we dream as we live & sometimes we live as we dream Ciudad Juárez, México, 2013 – Video, 7:49 minutes SEE TOP PHOTO
The Mexico-based Belgian Francis Alÿs has a rare ability to cut through complex plenitudes to memorable metaphor. Here we have the latest in two long-running series: his engagement with children’s games shows us tag with shards of mirror in the notorious ‘murder capital’ of Ciudad Juárez; and the fifth of his ‘paradoxes of praxis’ takes on the aphorism ‘Sometimes we dream as we live & sometimes we live as we dream’ by kicking a flaming football through the streets of by night – a violent yet beautiful way to fleetingly illuminate the city’s problems while suggesting that the failure to grapple with them fully may be represented by ‘kicking the can down the road’.
Children’s Game #15, Video still, in collaboration with Julien Devaux, Felix Blume
and Alejandro Morales, Ciudad Juárez, 2013. Photo:Francis Alys
Self @ Massimo De Carlo, 55 South Audley St – Mayfair
Kaari Upson Kiss (Woven), 2009-2015
There are plenty of self-portraits around at the moment *. The most imaginative are here: Kaari Upson’s ‘Kiss’ diptychs in which she presses her self-portrait onto that of an unknown man to yield a disturbing merger; the four-strong Austrian collective Gelitin presenting themselves as mirrors so that they combine with the viewer; Paweł Althamer as the Polish cartoon character Matołek the Billy-Goat with a startlingly-lit heart – against the background of Dan Colen’s after party scatter of the hand-made sculptures of fag-ends and empty wine bottles; Andra Ursuta scattering the promise of her readiness to please as an artist in the form of hundreds of cards advertising an ‘ethnic bimbo’ offering ‘all services’… and a dozen more.
* See for example the exhibitions culled from the Ruth Borchard collection at the Jerwood in Hastings and at King’s Place in London
Installation view with Paweł Althamer and Dan Colen (Todd-White Art Photography)
Niki de Saint Phalle: je Suis une Vache Suisse @ Omer Tiroche Contemporary Art, 21 Conduit St – Mayfair
To 10 Sept: www.otca.co.uk
Je Suis Une Vache Suisse, 1991 – oil, pencil and mirror on wood, 99 x 96 x 20 cm
There are some superb historical shows on at the moment: Louise Nevelson at Pace, Jean Dubuffet at Timothy Taylor, Gego at Dominique Lévy… Less obvious, perhaps,. is this co-selection with the Yorkshire Sculpture Park of Niki de Saint Phalle (1930 – 2002). It’s seeded with darkness, All Over being one of the collages of everyday items (somewhat akin to Mike Kelley’s later ‘Memory Ware’ series) which she stated making while in a mental institution following depression and prior to her famous shooting paintings. Omitting those, the show fast forwards to her brighter and more animalistic side, including the eponymous Swiss cow with cheesy holes; her usual fun with birds and snakes; and the plaster work showing her friend Clarice Rivers (Larry’s wife) pregnant – which was to swell into the Nana series.
All Over, 1959-60 – objects i plaster on wood panel
Rubén Grilo: Proof of Concept @ Union Pacific, 17 Goulston St – Aldgate
1 Milka Avellanas Enteras 32 Bites (Aprox), 3 Lindt 30 Bites, 1 Smarties Sharing Block 16 Bites, 4 Kit Kat 16 Bites, 5 Nestle Aero 28 Bites, 3 Green & Black‘s Thin Milk Chocolate 8 Bites, 4 Valor 11 Bites and 2 12 Bites, 3 Cadbury Dairy Milk Marvellous Creations Cookie Nut Crunch 16 Bites, 2 Reese‘s Filled with Peanut Butter 15 Bites, 4 Niederegger Lubeck Marzipan Classic 10 Bit, 2 Galaxy Smooth Milk 42 Bites, 2016, Tinted hard plastic, magnets, aluminum foil, laser-cut, bent and powder coated steel sheet, 179 cm x 73 cm
All the press release for this show says is that Spanish sculptor Rubén Grilo claims no credit for it. But whoever is responsible, it’s an enjoyable if head-scratching experience to ponder what concept is proven. I’ve previously seen his grids made from casts of chocolate. which bring modernism and consumerism into a tasty set-to. Here they’re mounted on bales of hay, suggesting rough and ready building blocks at odds with factory production, which is further undermined by the table-come-plinths on which Grilo shows other sculptures: he exposes their construction and puts a lot of effort into sanding back new components to make them look old. On them are giant versions of the shapes made by biting – presumably into chocolate…
Sincerely Yours (Outer Left Section), 2016, Automotive clay and clay modeling film on extruded polystyrene foam, mirror, chipboard, steel table and paper cups, 150 cm x 63 cm x 196 cm
Jeff Koons: Now @ Newport Street Gallery, Newport Street – Vauxhall
‘Play Doh’, 1994-2014
Damien Hirst, in his more than impressive new space, provides a punchily presented and much less predictable overview of Koons than I’d expected: hoovers and basketballs present and welcome, but also early inflatables to tee up the later stainless steel blown-up big ‘can’t-believe-it’s-not-vinyl’ ones; a bigger balloon ‘celebration’ than has been shown in London before; giant eggs as well as Jeff’s own sperm on Illona’s face; the 27 aluminium casts which make up the monstrous child’s play of ‘Play Doh’…
Three Ball 50/50 Tank (Spalding Dr JK Silver series), 1995
Gabriele Beveridge: Eternity Anyways @ Chewday’s, 139 Lambeth Walk – Vauxhall
Dead Skin Living, 2016 [detail] chrome, hand-blown glass
You’d be a bit daft – if taking in the Koons – not to drop in on Chewday’s, just 100 yards south. Gabriele Beveridge’s best-known stream of work, appropriating hairdresser’s demo photos with variable fade, takes the window. Inside is an all-encompassing installation which has transformed the former clothes shop using… reconfigured clothes shop fittings, titivated by blown glass hung on clothes hanging fitments and the powder-coating of selected elements. The effect is more painterly than sculptural, in a way which suggest that the personal leaks through whatever the setting.
Clouds (I), 2016 found shop panels, powder-coated shop panels, uprights, pegs, hand-blown glass
This is a Voice @ the Wellcome Collection, 183 Euston Road – Euston
Marcus Coates: stills from ‘Dawn Chorus’
After a rather successful venture into monographic presentations, the Wellcome Collection has returned to its primary mix of art and artifacts linked to body and mind in medical science. ‘This is a Voice’ is the best such show yet: it teems with fascinating and obscure byways from voice disguisers to hunter-gatherer music to an ammoniaphone, though simply the chance to see and hear Becket’s ‘Not I’, Marcus Coates’ ‘Dawn Chorus’ multi-screen presentation of birdsong impressions, Laurie Anderson’s ‘Oh Superman’, and Ted Kotcheff’s film-length phone call ‘The Human Voice’ would be plenty of reason to visit. Moreover, the rotating element in the less impressive second show ‘States of Mind’ is (to 24 July) Kerry Tribe’s affecting 20 minute film study of ‘H.M.’, a man whose memories were blank from 1953 until 20 seconds before the present when he was filmed 50 years later.
Kerry Tribe: still from ‘M.B.’, which plays on two screens with a twenty second gap