London Art Exhibitions To See In May 2014 By Paul Carey – Kent

TEN CURRENT CHOICES: Paul Carey – Kent Offers up a selection of the best art exhibitions for May 2014 The latest in his rolling top ten, together with previous choices which you can still see

Nicole Wermers is known for explorations of consumer design, so perhaps it’s no surprise that when she saw a Roman friend’s most valuable crockery set aside for washing up by hand, she thought not of detergent but of art. Placed a bit high for cleansing action on eye level plinths, grouped by theme and interlock, and energised by some perilous-looking overhangs,  her four ‘dishwashing sculptures’ turn appropriation into a collage which references the Dutch still life tradition – yet also poke fun at sculptural pretension by bringing it down to the level of a daily chore. This new stream is the highlight from the London-based German’s recent residency at Kingston University’s gallery space.

Richard Galpin: Elephant (Ten Thousand Revolutions per Minute) @ Hales Gallery, Tea Building, 7 Bethnal Green Rd – Shoreditch

To 31 May:

Having developed a practice in which the material status of photos of cityscapes was emphasised to architectural effect by cutting into them with a scalpel, Richard Galpin has now switched weapons to attack self-sized photographs with a 10,000 rpm sander. The images are of temporary structures and sites around Elephant & Castle, but their language proves to be abstract painting, though you can still spy the cut-away constructivist Galpin down the sides of the steel structure which holds the ten photographs away from the wall like advertising hoardings. What I like best are the passages in which it gets hard to tell what’s deterioration in the subject as shot, and what is damage done to the photographic surface.

Pangaea: New Art From Africa and Latin America @ the Saatchi Gallery – Sloan Square

To 31 Aug:

Rafael Gómezbarros:  ‘Casa Tomada (Seized House)

There are plenty of big shows which it hardly seems necessary to mention: such brilliance as  Matisse at the Tate Modern; Veronese, all theatre and colour at the National Gallery, any lack of depth well-aligned to modern tastes – or at any rate to mine; Phyllida Barlow in ramshackle glory at Tate Britain; and Giuseppe Penone at Gagosian. And the less convincing: Schnabel at The Dairy, for example, or Herman Bas’s two sites for Victoria Miro. Then there are mixtures like Chris Marker at the Whitechapel, and Saatchi’s new ragbag of South America and Africa… if you’ve never been to the excellent Jack Bell Gallery, there’s a crash course here as three rooms are given over entirely to expanded versions of four of the African explorer’s lively shows. Still, Pangaea’s signature room is its first: Rafael Gómezbarros’ 440 giant ants swarm the walls, each made of two cast human skulls with branches for legs, and held together by dirty bandaging.

Berndnaut Smilde: Antipode @ Ronchini Gallery, 22 Dering St – off Oxford St

To 12 May:

Cumulus Dering Street 22, 2013
Dutch artist Berndnaut Smilde has become known for his photographs of clouds created inside various spaces, acting as ghostly intimations of the ideal and ethereal counterpoints to architectural solidity. But he has other ways to explore space and weight: half a dozen of the Nimbus series are complemented by diminutive plastic models, including one of the gallery in which we stand, nestled under blocks of aerogel, a substance as close to the weight of a cloud as you will get; vintage  postcards are modernised by gleaming white miniature tiling, then blown up hugely into columnar versions,  their cracks and creases prominent.

James M. Barrett @ New Art Projects, 17 Riding House Street – Fitzrovia

To 23 May:

New Art Projects was brimming with bearded middle-aged men when I looked at James M Barrett’s 16 portrait photographs of mostly middle-aged men, 14 of them bearded.  That, I was told by bewhiskered gallerist Fred Mann, is very much the current look. The photographs have an Old Testament  / Old Master heft, which Barrett explained results from obsessive eight hour Photoshop sessions on each.  He overlays a colour original with multiple black-and-white versions, so that an almost complete reduction of colour is achieved through a paradoxically additive process. He then modifies every detail of his 4 gigabyte files – repositioning features to suit, repainting each hair – to achieve a rugged look at some sort of odds with the mainstream norms of plastic surgery and airbrushing.

Into And Out Of Abstraction @ Lubomirov-Easton, Resolution Way – Deptford

To 21 June (late opening 30 May):

Gunther Herbst: Raft 4, 2014 (above)
It’s hard not recommend my own ‘Into And Out of Abstraction’ (see separate post), as I love how the fascinating painting practices of Danny Rolph, Gunther Herbst and Colin Crumplin play off each other. London-based South African Herbst sneaks modernism into the history of imperialism in his new paintings of boats, combining such painterly styles within a work: her one might cite Stella and Ellsworth Kelly in the boats, the topographical work of William Hodge (who traveled with Captain Cook) in the glacier, abstract expressionism in the sky and Richter’s blur in the reflection.  Deptford is worth a visit anyway for the run of galleries at The Enclave and the nearby Bearspace and A.P.T.

Ella Kruglyanskaya: how to work together @ Studio Voltaire, 1a Nelsons Row – Clapham Common

To 8 June:

Zip It!, 2014
New York based Latvian Ella Kruglyanska paints assertively ebullient women going about tasks spread across the divide of sexual strereotypes from cleaning to bricklaying. Her three week residence in Clapham was enough to produce the sketches and finished versions of an outside work and a wall painting of the wall being painted. They’re all at an in-your-face 1.5 x life size,  drawn from her imagination complete with often-striking clothes designed to rack up the vitality. Kruglyanskaya sees them as an appropriately hysterical response to the conditions faced by women.  Men are absent, unless in the gaze implied, but as Kruglyanska pointed out to me, plenty of men have concentrated on depicting women…

About Time @ Maddox Arts, 52 Brook’s Mews – Mayfair

To 31 May:

Paul Huxley: Metronome, 1979
Assiduous followers may recall that I recently co-curated a show called ‘It’s About Time’ (see , but Laura Culpan’s choice of six artists makes something very different from a semantically similar starting point. The highlights are Cuban Glenda León’s Waste of Time, an hourglass overflowing to a mountainous extent; Colombian Miler Lagos’ The Rings of Time, a 2 km roll of a year of The Times which recycles the paper back into a log; and Paul Huxley’s magisterially muted painting which looks abstract and maybe out of place until you see the title: Metronome.

Nessie Stonebridge: British Birds @ Carslaw St Lukes, 137 Whitecross St – Clerkenwell

To 31 May:

Nessie Stonebridge in the corner with with ‘Fighting Her Corner and 500 Lines’ and ‘Fighting Her Corner and 600 Lines’

Moving from London to Norfolk has led Nessie Stonebridge to an interest in birds, which adds a lively implication of wing-blur to her essentially abstract gestural mark-making. She pushes the avian to an entertaining extreme  by fanning her canvases out into tail-like folds, then uses parachute cords to hold them tense. If that hints at her experience with climbing and skydiving, ‘Fighting Her Corner and Five Hundred Lines’ revisits the punishment Stonebridge received as an awkwardly dyslexic schoolgirl – though the memory doesn’t seem to trouble a personal chirpiness which matches the paintings’ energies.  


Valeska Soares: Double-Margin @ Max Wigram Gallery, 106 New Bond St – Mayfair

To 24 May:

Not All Who Wander Are Aimless, 2014 Canvas, book pages, nautical glasses, rum, reclaimed wood table, nautical paintings

Some artists are suspicious of beauty, others avoid the explicitly poetic. New York based Brazilian Valeska Soares is refreshing unconstrained in those respects as she probes time, memory, love and literature through the exploratory filter of how emotions affect perception. Thus a frame of blue-covered books acts as a portal; a dangling clock, missing its hour hand, circles hourly around its ceiling fitting; and we see a selection of sea paintings and appropriate title pages through nautically-themed glasses, complete with rum, lined up along an impressively long table made from a boat plank. ‘East of Eden / A Bit Off The Map’ read two of the titles… ‘The Lights Are Dimming / My Stillness’.   

Mona Kuhn: Acido Dorado @ Flowers Gallery, 82 Kingsland Rd – Hoxton

To 10 May:

AD6016, 2013-14

LA-based Mona Kuhn is known for the natural intimacy of her nudes. This show, her first sequence to focus on a single figure, is set against the backdrop of the Californian desert, and photographed at the modernist Acido Dorado in Joshua Tree National Park. Helped by the extent of windows, Kuhn caresses her subject into distortion through the use of light, reflection, variable focus and refraction, and – inspired by the abstraction so achieved – zooms in on figure-free details. Upstairs, Kuhn is well-complemented by what Flowers term Esther Teichmann’s ‘liquid dream-like world of desire’.

Michael Riedel: Laws of Form @ David Zwirner, 24 Grafton Street – Mayfair

To 31 May:

David Zwirner is well worth a visit, both for Michael Dean and Fred Sandback (who share the top floor space) and for German prankster Michael Riedel, who gets two floors to himself. He needs them, given the expansive scale of the project, originating from his running an alternative gallery in Frankfurt (2000-11) which did nothing but copy and subvert exhibitions, performances and concerts from round about, advertising itself by means of the posters from the original events and is now itself recorded in a 500 page book. ‘I am not the artist producing art’, says Riedel ‘I am creating a system that produces art’ – yet it’s one which generates its own aesthetic through intention-free reproduction, reshuffling, and computer-driven mergers to find a definite sense of liberation in its restriction to the closed loop of art made by others.

Words Paul Carey -Kent Top Photo: Nicole Wermers: The London Shape @ Stanley Picker Gallery, Kingston University

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