Post Frieze Latest London Art Reviews: Patterns For November

Paul Carey Kent analyses ‘The Post Frieze effect’ – lots of interesting shows – lastings well into November.

So here we have a system of ‘bonus balls’: each of ten choices has another exhibition nominated as a connection. There also seems to be a lot of pattern around, at its most extreme in Kehinde Wiley’s  Morris-on-acid backgrounds at Stephen Friedman, which leads me to more William Morris more pattern and more wallpaper…


William Morris: Pink and Rose, 1890

 Kate Owens: A Mangy Gherkin on a Horse-Dung Ground @ Limoncello, 340-44 Kingsland Rd – Haggerston

From the Department of Dead Ends (Pink & Rose), 2013 – 7-Colour Blockprint 

The press release for this show is a play, adapted from a 1954 story, in which children describe their painting activities. The results of their activity have been semi-successfully washed off one wall, leaving a smeared landscape of sorts. Meanwhile, the children’s efforts to wash their own hands afterwards seem to have left a row of soaps tending towards the soap fate of zero, but currently coloured by their efforts. Another removal occurs in paintings as internal décor: the sequence ‘From the Department of Dead Ends’ presents just the faint marks of border mis-registrations from hand-printed blocksof William Morris wallpapers – iconically recognisable from mere hints. They may have lined the houses of those mid-50’s parents…
Bonus ball: Kate Owens also has quietly prominent work in a lively group show at the vast and admirable artist-run Block 336 in Brixton. 
Lalla Essaydi: Beyond Beauty @  Kashya Hildebrand Gallery, 22 Eastcastle St – Fitzrovia

Harem #2, 2009

Lalla Essaydi’s retrospective exhibition is  Kashya Hildebrand’s third show since taking over the former Regina space. The Moroccan photographer’s large format works lay pattern upon pattern and transpose female on male domains: for example, the feminine medium of henna is used to apply traditionally masculine calligraphy to the odalisques’ skin. The effect is visual, but the writing actually covers the lives – as well as veiling the bodies – of Essaydi’s subjects. Sometimes the background pattern is more text, sometimes the charged architectural intricacies of the harem, and at others, thousands of repurposed bullets. Add the identity-shifts of her own move west and a critique of Orientalism, and Essaydi starts to build a pattern-matching complexity of themes.
Bonus Ball: the group show ‘Long ago, and not true anyway’, curated by Jaime Marie Davies and Pierre d’Alancaises at Waterside Contemporary, a quite different but also fascinating exploration of national origins and identity, has been extended to 16 Nov .
Artists Anonymous: System of a Dawn @ Berloni, 63 Margaret St – Fitzrovia

Sadie Coles’ ex-disco? Victoria Miro with its auto-sliding door? Yes, very impressive – but the most surprising high impact new space must be the Fitzrovian reinvention of the comparatively modest East End EB & Flow. The Berlin collective Artists Anonymous take gleeful advantage of the five rooms available – some of it temporarily, with just three weeks notice. In a sequence of immersive environments, outside comes in – there’s a grassy garden with a brook big enough to justify a bridge – the right angles are wrong, and positives turn to negatives – not just between paintings (each of which they pair with a photographic ‘after image’) but in whole wallpapered rooms. Or is it vice versa? You won’t know whether you’re coming or going, but Berloni has definitely arrived.
Bonus ball: There’s grass at Riflemaker, too, where Stuart Pearson Wright presents a very elemental sex, birth, death triptych set in a ‘blue room’ constructed with enough distortion to make its occupants look slightly out of true. 
Andy Holden: Maximum Irony! Maximum Sincerity, 1999-2003: Towards a Unified Theory of M!IMS @ the Zabludowicz Collection to 15 Dec
Andy Holden is known for his erudite yet knock-about lectures, and he extends the approach to occupy the whole of the Zabulowicz space with a total environment incorporating a full-length collage film distributed in bite-sized sequences, plus many found and made works. The topic – and his putative art movement – is ‘Maximum Irony! Maximum Sincerity’, an ironic use of irony whereby one moves beyond mocking the uncool to enjoy it in new terms:  cue mini golf, T-shirts as paintings, kissing on public sculptures, cheesy singing, saccharine images of childhood and cod Marxism. As ever with Holden, it’s purposeful, intellectual, and a hoot.
Bonus Ball: I feel a connection of spirit between Holden and the riotous Sarah Lucas retrospective at the Whitechapel Gallery.
Rob Pruitt: The Suicide Paintings @ Massimo de Carlo, 55 South Audley St
Rob Pruitt, he of the panda paintings, and the traffic cone men at Frieze, has a new show. It’s empty and unoriginal. That’s not, perhaps, enough to drive you to kill yourself (though Pruitt thoughtfully provides a wall for you to jump off, just in case) but why should you enjoy it? Well, even though you’ll have seen the main ideas before – let’s bling up some old TVs to return some value to consumerist redundancy; let’s paint monochromes which vibrate with computer-style colour phasing – you won’t have encountered them executed with such scale and panache. What we have here, in short, is – pace Andy Holden – a perfect demonstration of Maximum Irony! Maximum Sincerity. 
Bonus Ball: Lutz Bacher’s ‘Black Beauty’ at the ICA has something of the same urge to push to extremes: the floor covered in coal dust, the walls vibrating, a rotating horse…
 Annelies Štrba: Selected Work 2002 – 2012 at Gallery SO, 92 Brick Lane – Whitechapel
To 24 Nov:

Niyima 434

Come this century the Swiss video artist and photographer Annelies Štrba (born 1947) had moved on from black and white family documentation to hyper-intense layerings of female figures in landscapes, rendered drug-bright in post-production. Nowadays, Štrba’s heady mix of psyche, Bathus, literature and Tichy often uses her grandchildren rather than her children as models. The underpublicized SO Gallery has 33 images, many large format. For this image from the Nyima – that’s Tibetan for ‘sun’ – series a girl sleeps in nature, dreaming perhaps of Štrba’s own ‘fairy tales of the unconscious’.
Bonus Ball: German artist Karen Stuke (at the Wapping Project) also blurs photographs, but to explore memory rather than dreams – specifically WG Sebald’s archaeology of a past in Austerlitz. 
Danh Vo @ PEER, 97/99 Hoxton St
4 Oct – 7 Dec:
This is the first British showing of what look like minimalist sculptures or ancient fragments, but are actually elements from Berlin-based Danish/Vietnamese conceptualist Danh Vo’s recasting of the Statue of Liberty. They’re life size, and use copper sheets just as thin (only 2.5mm) as the original. It was the fragility of the icon of freedom which first drew Danh Vo to it. Now he’s spreading the Chinese-manufactured pieces around the world like the American version of democracy or imperialism: they’ve impressed me in New York and Paris, and 26 of the 200 pieces made to date are at Peer.
Bonus Ball: Hales Gallery has Frank Bowling’s vast (close to 7 x 3 metres) map paintings, unseen since the early seventies – the best view you’ll get of the world around which Dabh Vo’s pieces are being spread.
Clare Kenny: Yesterday’s labour is the Future’s folly @ Vitrine Gallery, 183-5 Bermondsey St – Bermondsey
Basel-based Mancunian Clare Kenny is first to show in Vitrine’s new street level space, and she’s already plastered the pristine wall with faux bricks and added a column made of a giant rolled-up photograph. Kenny often makes photographs sculptural, here also folding them, punching holes in them, re-photographing and refolding them as in the city views above, hugging them into boulder-like forms. Other work extends the ways in which things are not what they seem and hints at her experience as a decorator: her spray paintings look like photographs; and iron trellises – from which she hangs neon and a degraded photograph –
are made to look like granite.
Bonus Ball: for another new space and more spray painting – both on a much bigger scale – go to Ryan Sullivan at Sadie Coles.
William Tillyer: The Watering Place @ Bernard Jacobson Gallery

Palmer IX, Clouds That Drop Fatness On The Earth
The Interface Falling Sky Series, 2012

William Tillyer’s 75th birthday show sees him ramp up the scale of his paintings on wire mesh – which orginate in cross-hatching –  and make the mesh finer: it’s hardly visible from a distance, and we begin to wonder when a grid becomes a weave. This lends a pixelated-come-pointillist effect to the pressing of paint through the grid from behind, as Tillyer engages with the  traditions of the landscape and of the set of variations in two groups of six paintings which take off spontaneously from Rubens’ ‘The Watering Place’ and a great quote from Samuel Palmer’s journal: ‘Clouds Dropping Fatness on the Earth’. NB: go to for Francesca Simon’s absorbing interview with Tillyer ahead of his major show in Middlesborough. 
Bonus Ball: a different grid drives the Boyle Family’s world series: the map of the world from whihc they randonlt derived 1,000 sites to cast in 1968: they’re still at it, and the Vigo Gallery has the original map as well as the latest results of the process. 
Agostino Bonalumi: all the shapes of space 1958-1976 @ Robilant + Voena, 38 Dover Street – central
To 15 November:
It’s a bit of a mystery why Agostino Bonalumi (1935-2013) is less well-known here, not just than Fontana and Manzoni, but also than the relatively formulaic Castellani. This spectacular show may put that right, including as it does a wide range of the shaped canvases from his key period. They generate a surprising variety of mood and impact through colour, shape and material variations. Plus a fully sculptural piece, some beautiful development studies, and the first British showing of 1967’s walk-in installation Inhabitable Blue. 

Bonus Ball:  John Carter, similarly beneath the radar on the boundary of painting and sculpture, shows at both the RA (works on paper) The Redfern Gallery (40 new works).


Clay Ketter: See What I Mean @ Bartha Contemporary, 25 Margaret St – Fitzrovia


Angel, 2004, painted MDF, glass

What does the Swedish-based American Clay Ketter mean by his gleaming white in white show of  Kitchen Variants inspired by furniture catalogues, his stack of plasterboard, his application of the golden section to beautifully milky 60% transparent perspex cabinets with iron pipes through the back? I think he means to undermine minimalism by conflating it with furniture and the warehouse, whilst at the same time paying tribute to the root of its original emergence: that old manoeuvre, in other words, which I rather like here, of having your cake and eating it. 
Bonus Ball: Oliver Michaels’ rather different subversion of minimalist forms at Cole sees him collaborate with a fashion designer and a cake decorator to cover the sleekness.
Nigeria Monarchs’ runs until 3 November
46 Willow Walk
London SE1 5SF  
It’s About Time @ ASC Gallery, Erlang House, 128 Blackfriars Rd – Southwark

To 21 Dec:


Susan Collins: London, 15th September 2013 at 10.45 am

Here no fewer than fourteen excellent artists are packed into a strong conceptual framework – the use of multiple time perspectives within a single work – and pepped up by a little wildness.  Susan Collins’ entrancingly alienating 24 hours-at-a-time videocasts across the London skyline, Nika Neelova’s repurposing of hand-worn bannisters and Tereza Buskova’s five films of Bohemian traditions rebooted are highlights, but I could have chosen any of the others. Is it about time to admit that Christina Niederberger and I curated this show?
Bonus ball: Laure Genillard has an impactful group show ‘exploding utopiα’. Its exploration of explosive materials and effects is strong on film: below is a suitably firy performance by the Bow Gamelan Ensemble. 
Images courtesy the relevant artists + galleries + Peter White FXP Photograph (Vo)

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