Sunday, 24 August 2014

BEYOND THE BLUE COCK


     Katharina Fritsch: Hahn/Cock, 2013 in Trafalgar Square


Galleries aside, London grows ever more artistically interesting. I rather like Fritsch's 15 footer poking fun at Nelson's Column. But pausing only to note of that the German word hahn has the same double meaning as cock in English, here's my choice of less publicised sculptural works - some permanent, some temporary -  you can see out and about in London  this summer.
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Dale Chihuly: The Sun, 2014 at Berkeley Square


The latest international venue for this Dale Chihuly spectacular is Berkeley Square, till the end of the year. It consists of 1,573 hand-blown glass elements from the glass master's studio in Seattle, where for 35 years now he has directed others rather than blowing the glass himself (Chihuly was blinded in one eye by glass in 1976 - not in the studio, but when thrown through a car windshield). The Sun works well both by day, when the effect is of an impossibly exotic tree, and when illuminated each night.

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Cecil Balmond H_Edge  at Bishop's Square, Spitalfields

Anglo-Sri Lankan designer, architect and artist Cecil Balmond's urban walk-in hedge will hover over a reflecting pool opposite the Allen & Overy building until October. The 'leaves', I suppose, are thousands of curvy x-shaped aluminium plates, held tensely in place by stainless steel chains. Balmond (co-designer of several Serpentine Pavilions and, with Anish Kapoor, of the ArcelorMittal Orbit) sees it as embodying 'infinity and zero' - so it may be just me, but I found it an attractively kinky from of foliage. And, like 'The Sun', it is dramatically illuminated at night.
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Gavin Turk: Nail, 2011 at One New Change, St Paul's

What god-sized object used to be pierced by this 12 metre bronze, treated to take on a stable look of rust on an equally blown up - and so unnatural - scale? Whatever it was, the nail seems stranded between the resonance it would have in the nearby St Paul's Cathedral and the role it didn't play in building the new shopping centre outside which it stands. Gavin Turk's comic riff on Claes Oldenberg certainly puts the nearby bollards in their place.



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David Batchelor: Chromolocomotion, 2014 at St Pancras Station

The latest commission (April-Oct) over the Grand Terrace of a station best known sculpturally for Paul Day's 9 metre kissers is a much happier match for Sir George Gilbert Scott great Gothic design of 1868-1874. Colour theorist David Batchelor uses 44 Perspex L-shapes to play the look of a video game and the giant Olympic Rings previously seen here into a stained glass effect. The right light through the Barlow Shed roof turns the platforms into stages for rainbows, and 'you can't not like that', as the artist himself says. Though those lumpen lovers are annoyingly close...

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Oliver MarsdenDub, 2010 at 10 Rochester Row, Westminster

Oliver Marsden is best-known for meditative paintings which explore the intersection of intense colour with the mystical power of circular formations to produce what he calls 'a state of resonance' - as if sound waves were caught in a liquid speaker.  I was surprised to hear that he'd applied the approach to the facade of a building, but the 'luxury living' of  55 apartments and penthouses at Ten Rochester Row hums with satisfying subtlety.


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Mark Titchner: Love Flags, 2014 on the South Bank


Turner-prize nominee Mark Titchner’s festival flags spelling out ‘love’ incorporate the rainbow spectrum, as used by the peace and pride movements, and the love knot.  Here's one seen through Jeppe Heine's ever-popular  Appearing Rooms fountain. The Festival of Love, which runs to the end of August, has its share of naffness but incorporates many good things: lots of Lothar Goetz; entertainingly phallic  inflatables by Zoe Walker and Neil Bromwich; Frances  Stark's video My Best Thing; and the excellent show What's Love Got to Do with It in the Hayward Project Space  (with Anna Barham, William Cobbing, Sharon Hayes, Joanna Piotrowska and Ilona Sagar). 

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Tobias Rehberger: Dazzle Ship, 2014 at Victoria Embankment

As part of the centenary commemoration of World War One, Tobias Rehberger is ‘dazzling’ the HMS President  near Blackfriars until December. The ship served (built 1918) served as one of the ships painted in camouflage designed to confuse German U-Boats.  Recreating the visual technique, Rehberger designed a print of pipework viewed from different perspectives that completely covers the boat. The project complements Carlos Cruz-Diez's (much less effective) dazzling of the historic pilot ship, the Edmund Gardner, in Liverpool.
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Uliana Apatina: Vertical Immersion at St Mark’s Church, 337 Kennington Park Rd (accessible to October inc. Art Licks Weekend 3-5 Oct)
An unusual public art location arises from the enthusiasm of the vicar of St Mark’s church, directly opposite the Oval tube station. The extensive crypt contains both a café and a run of chambers with installations by the Siberian space creator Uliana Apatina. A green neon and salt room, That Side Where Real Is, incorporates the video history of no fewer than nine previous installations, so revealing aspects of a rather ghostly location’s past, complete with atmospheric sounds of the film’s own making. Vertical Immersion fills a cell-like space with lines of fishing wire which look impenetrable until a path through is spotted, only for the route to veer towards invisibility as the angles change. You end up feeling your way into an uncertain future.

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Shin Meekyoung: Written in Soap: A Plinth Project, 2012 at Cavendish Square, Mayfair

Korean Shin Meekyoung is known for making surprising use of soap. You can currently wash your hands on one of her sculptures in the form of the Toilet Project at Sketch in Conduit Street. The external location of this version of the Duke of Cumberland provides an alternative mechanism for deterioration. Two years in, he's lost an arm and leg and is cracking up badly - catching up, perhaps, with what the original 1770 sculpture of the Duke would have looked like had it not been removed in 1868.

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Shin Meekyoung: Plinth Project (2012). Cavendish Square, 24 July 2014




Clem Crosby: 180 Monochrome Paintings, 2004-06 at the Young Vic, Southwark


Were can you find 180 paintings on permanent outdoor display? You may have walked past and not noticed, but the panels which might seem to be merely cladding the Young Vic Theatre are indeed manifold individual yellow-tending abstracts by Clem Crosby, held in place and semi-hidden by a mesh screen. The paintings look best at night, when their variation and expressiveness emerges fully: add that the bar’s pretty good, and you don’t even need a play to justify a visit.

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Wendy Taylor: Spirit of Enterprise, 1987 at Heron's Quay

From dung beetles to pilot kites to a giant timepiece near Tower Bridge, Wendy Taylor's seventy-plus  probably mean she has more public sculptures on display than any other living artist. It's no surprise, then, to find her in the Canary Wharf area, which has many such commissions, some of responding well to the settings of water and architecture. That's the case here, as mirror-polished Thames-like curves  pick up on and reflect the surroundings to suggest a that man and nature might progress harmoniously.
 
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James Hopkins: Angled Ball, 2011 near Wembley Stadium


Sport can make an awkward subject, but James Hopkins scores with a four metre high ball at Wembley. Its hexagons and pentagons make up a convincing black and white football from some angles, but transmute into a prototypical modernist abstraction from other viewpoints. That’s consistent with Hopkins’ established interest in how points of view change what we see, and so suggest that there is no objective ‘true perception’ - as in his equally cunning sculptures of words reflected in mirrors such that, for example, 'rear' becomes 'view'

CHOICES UP NOW

The latest in my rolling top ten, together with previous choices which you can still see

TEN CURRENT CHOICES

Giulio Paolini: ‘To Be or Not To Be’ & Francis Upritchard: ‘Do What You Will’ at the Whitechapel Gallery

To 14 Sept (Paolini) / 28 Sept (Upritchard)



Giulio Paolini: Delphi, 1965


There’s much to be said for the unusual coupling of Giulio Paolini’s coolly effervescent Arte Povera teasing at the roles of artist and spectator, with Francis Uprichard’s children’s commission. Paolini is most characteristically present in not quite making a straightforward appearance in 40 years of such putative self-portraits as Delphi, in which he seems to be looking through a canvas, distanced by stretcher bars and sunglasses, while we're round the back. Upritchard takes on the classroom staple of the dinosaur, making new variants out of balata, a rubber-like Amazonian material, to gloriously gloopy goofy effect.
One of Francis Upritchard's balata dinosaurs (on a plinth by Martino Gamper)

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Eleni Bagaki, Stéphane Blumer, Heena Kim and Soomeen Kim: I Meet Together, I Agree @ VITRINE, 183-5 Bermondsey St and on Bermondsey Square - Bermondsey

To 30 Aug (Gallery) / 13 Sept (Square): www.vitrinegallery.co.uk



Stéphane Blumer: installation on Bermondsey Square

Here the overarching theme is the nature of the local from foreign perspectives. That’s most direct in Stéphane Blumer’s soundpiece, in which he asked 50 Londoners to tell him a secret. Only five did, so the result is something of a communicative desert, consistent with the Swiss artist’s other works: a giant hashtag in soundproof packing foam, like an anti-advert for our times; and a panoramic hour-long montage of 25 film scenes featuring lone protagonists in desert landscapes, to meditative and convention-revealing effect. Add ‘Forgetten Materials’, Soomeen’s beautifully judged installation of slates found in nearby building sites and co-opted into her performative inventory; fellow Korean Heena’s near-abstract paintings derived from the regulation of laundry; and some streaky Bagaki bacon a la Greque.. the four artists, along with Indian-born curator Mary George, and have conjured a lively and coherent show from their summer residencies at Vitrine.
Soomeen Kim: ‘Forgetten Materials’, 2014 (detail)
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Lucy Sparrow: The Cornershop @ 19, Wellington Row – Shoreditch




Felt artist Lucy Sparrow has opened a corner shop in which all 3,000-odd items – from packets of crisps to ice cream to top shelf soft porn to should-be-soft loo paper to the till itself - results from a seven month binge of sewing. It’s all for sale, as impressively set out on the website. This wackiness has its precedents: Yayoi Kusama’s phallus infestations, Olek covering everything in crochet. Galleries are, of course, shops of a sort. And the best thing in White Cube’s Masons Yard summer show is the assistants’ shoes. All the same, the question arises: is this art or hobbyist obsession? Pure fun or a heartfelt paean to the disappearance of independent shops? 

Parker Cheeto's shoes as worn at White Cube
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Soon Hak Kwon: Truth is in the Detail @ Union Gallery, 94 Teesdale St – Cambridge Heath
To 13 Sept: www.uniongallery.com
History of UNION Gallery IV, 2014. Digital Prints on 42 Aluminium Panels
Through his ongoing History Of project, London based Korean Soon Hak Kwon has built a practice out of photographing gallery walls in high resolution and installing the results… on gallery walls, so making the supporting act of display excessively visible. That’s treble-tweaked in this cunning exhibition. First, Union’s own walls are represented in 42 panels mimicking how the Kepler Telescope image sensor array shows the results of its seeking out other planets. Second, the accidental test shot presence of the ladder used to shoot an altarpiece builds the method into its being photographed echoes Kepler’s upward aspirations. Third, the other two walls, left blank but spotlit, gain their own fresh presence. Quite a bit of content for a painting show with no paint.

Ecce Homo, 2014, Giclee Print on Alumium

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Schema – Sukima @ Laure Genillard, 2 Hanway Place – Tottenham Court Rd 

To 13 Sept:  www.lglondon.org

Installation view with Yasuko Otsuka left, Kenneth Dingwall ahead,
Yoko Terauchi right

This six-strong Anglo-Japanese curation by David Connearn can be viewed at two levels, and not just Laure Genillard’s ground floor and basement: on the one hand, a post- Heideggerian account of Kant which uses the linguistic coincidence set out in an accompanying  newspaper that the English schema (plan) and the Japanese sukima (crevices) are pronounced the same as a starting point (phew!) or as a delicately beautiful collection of interventions which contrast eastern gradations (Yasuko Otsuka’s subtle duochrome lithographs on cotton, Yoko Terauchi’s shifting perspective of the gallery space using graphite on paint to shadow the floor, Hakudo Atsuo’s silver dust drawings)  with western clarity  (Gary Woodley’s line sliced through the stairs, Kenneth Dingwall’s more logical colour-sets, Tom Benson’s white painting with an accompanying text which makes for a neat face-off with the canvas at the centre of Yasmina Reza’s play ‘Art’).  Recommended either way.

Gary Woodley: Impingement no. 62. double helix, 2014


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Keita Miyazaki (& Bongsu Park): Sound & Vision @ Rosenfeld Porcini, 37 Rathbone St – Fitzrovia




 
Collective Practice, 2014: aluminium bronze, felt, exhaust pipe 


Young Japanese artist  Keita Miyazaki has a resonant-enough central idea for his new sculptures, which look to create some sort of utopian mode, however ironic, out of post-tsunamic landscape by combining parts of old car engines, festooning them with colourful origami forms, and building in public jingles from the Tokyo soundscape.   That said, I can imagine it turning null, but Mizazaki’s forms take on an unpredictable almost animal life as their contrasts hint at post-recessionary flowering, industry in the community, and party streamers threatening to trump environmental issues. The no-nonsense aesthetic and political charge of the car engine have made it a fairly frequent component of conceptual art – see Thomas Bayrle, Matthew Barney and Roger Hiorns (though not John Chamberlain: 'I didn’t want engine parts, wheels, upholstery, glass, oil, tires, muffler systems or transmissions.  Just the sheet metal').

Quarantine, 2014:   felt, paper, exhaust pipe
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Eric van Hove: V12 @ Copperfield Gallery, 6 Copperfield Street - Southwark

To 1 Aug, then 1-20 Sept: www.copperfieldgallery.com

V12 Laraki: Alternator (2013): Yellow copper, red copper, nickel silver, mahogany wood, cedar wood, cow bone, sand stone, cotton, ram's horn, cowskin, tin, chinese superglue and cow horn.

In an unusual twist on work not being what it seems, the apparent bling of intricate abstract sculptures in the second show of the third gallery to use this spacious former church hall is far from the point. Rather, they’re part of a project which revisits a failed dream of manufacturing a luxury sports car wholly in Morocco by commissioning to-scale versions of the 463 components in the Mercedes V12 engine which Abdeslam Laraki was eventually forced to use in the ‘Luraki Fulgara’. As such, it’s a social sculpture project orchestrated by the multi-national Van Hove to empower 57 of the estimated three million self-employed Moroccan craftsmen to make something other than tourist fodder. They worked reclaimed and traditional materials such as cow bone and recycled aluminium to the point of looking precious, so harnessing traditional skills in a sort of reverse engineering of factory line production.


V12 Laraki: Alternator (2013) - exploded view
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An Impossible Bouquet: Four Masterpieces by Jan van Huysum @ Dulwich Picture Gallery

To 21 Sept: www.dulwichpicturegallery.org.uk

Vase with Flowers, c. 1715

The obvious reasons to visit the country’s oldest public gallery are the permanent collection (all that Poussin!) and (also to 21 Sept) a winning account of Ben and Winifred Nicholson and their circle in the 1920s. Yet there’s also a focussed gathering of four floral still lives by the Dutch painter Jan van Huysum (1682-1749).  Dulwich’s own example, set against a dark background, is from 1715. Here it’s joined by three loans which follow his 1720 switch in to setting his Rococo bouquets against gardens with statuary. Their pre-refrigeration ‘impossibility’ is, of course, that Huysum took up to two years over each painting, and so shows blooms from quite different seasons - up to 40 different species plus maybe ten insects in each - all of which are informatively set out by means of interpretative keys. 

Flowers in a Vase with Crown Imperial and Apple Blossom at the Top 
and a Statue of Flora, 1731-32 

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A Poem for Raoul and Agnes @ Ancient & Modern, 201 Whitecross Street - near The Barbican

To 6 Sept (but closed 10-26 Aug):  www.ancientandmodern.org


Winifrid Nicholson: Palm, 1980

Talking of flowers, here are 14 floral works, chosen by Sherman Sam with a poem of accepting transience by another art critic – Barry Schwabsky – in mind: ….’We more than wounded know nothing / of flowers but the ripe pod / scatters its seed regardless’.  Cue a Winifred Nicholson worthy of Dulwich; Phoebe Unwin’s nuanced nude disguised in a bloomscape; Alex Katz alongside his under-seen peer Jane Freilicher;  Eithne Jordan’s play in the office - hardly separate given Ancient & Modern’s scale – with the separate lobby of Spruth Magers; and various other seasonal subtleties in one of the most enjoyable summer shows around (Simon Lee and Laura Bartlett’s project space are also commended).


Eithne Jordan Office I, 2014
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Sam Francis @ Bernard Jacobson Gallery, 6 Cork St – Central


Untitled (#2 Pri-Rain), 1964 - gouache on paper


As John Yau says in the accompanying book to this extensive and beautiful survey of works on paper by the Californian artist Sam Francis (1923-94), he’s hard to place as an American abstractionist, being neither an Expressionist nor a Colour Field painter. Plenty lay behind his fluid and spontaneous-looking work – flight, botany, Zen, Jung, alchemy, dreams and his considerable physical sufferings from a plane crash, tuberculosis, kidney disease and cancer. This show ranges from early Tobeyesque explorations to his petal-like phase to his radical use of the ‘empty centre’, to the ‘blue balls’ to structured pours as those background factors are reflected in different formal approaches. All of which might be bracketed as using colour to trammel between the physical world of paint and ground and the immaterial world of thought and air.

Untitled (L.A.), 1976
                                                 
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 PREVIOUS CHOICES STILL  ON 
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PERFECTIoNISM @ Griffin Gallery, 21 Evesham St – Latimer Road

To Aug 30: www.griffingallery.co.uk

Katerina Blannin: Three Piece  Suite, Vert, 2014
To 30 Aug: www. griffingallery.co.uk

Becca Pelly-Fry, the director of Winsor & Newton's lively space, has chosen ten artists whose work, shares an underlying 'perfectionism of process'. As teed up by an intelligently ludic wall text by Nick Hornby, they range from Lee Edwards’ intimate portraits on wood knolls to Inbal Strauss’ meticulously wrought pseudo-functional sculptures to Dale Adcock’s paradoxically intricate control of monumental surfaces to Iavor Lubomirov's canny sculpting of W&N's own graph paper. Katrina Blannin derives angular geometries from grids, then groups the forms into triptychs to complicate their visual dance of ghosting and mirroring. It's all precisely calibrated, yet the weave of the linen, along with the odd stray hair, is allowed to insinuate humanising touches of what one might call perfectly judged imperfections. 


Dale Adcock: Tomb, 2012

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Candida Höfer: Villa Borghese at Ben Brown Fine Arts12 Brook's Mews - Mayfair

To 19 Sept: www.benbrownfinearts.com


Villa Borghese Roma XVIII, 2012


Candida Höfer's Villa Borghese series is typical of her intimately monumental, formally similar records of culturally significant public interiors: she uses natural light only (Höfer adjusts her exposure time from minutes to hours as necessary), includes no people (though this set is statue-heavy by way of stand-in), centres the far wall from a slightly raised viewpoint, and generates an air of splendour and permanence. Indeed, despite the lack of digital intervention, you might say that Höfer  presents such spaces more as we might imagine them to be than as they would be likely to appear to us, were we there.

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

To Nov:  www.saatchigallery.com

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. 





 Images courtesy the relevant artists and galleries + Mary Boone Gallery, New York (Cotton)

Thursday, 14 August 2014

CHOICES FROM JULY - DEC 2014 NOW CLOSED




Will Cotton @ Ronchini Gallery, 22 Dering St - Mayfair

To 9 August: ronchinigallery.com


The Deferred Promise of Complete Satisfaction, 2014 - oil on linen

New Yorker Will Cotton’s first British show neatly summarises his practice in the pinks and whites of a macaron-hatted portrait; a candy floss cloudscape;  an abstracted wax-textured close-up of cake decor; and a photorealistic nude riding an ice cream fish. Koons, Johns and Boucher come to mind, and there are painterly issues at stake in, for example, the variety of colours in the whites. The dominant impression, though, is of sweetness pushed to an extreme which is both repulsive and compulsive, setting up the questions of which wins – of whether humankind is trapped by incessant desire or blessed by the gratification available – and of whether Cotton subverts or exploits the lure of what he so elaborately bakes and paints. 

Persistence of Desire 3, 2014, oil and wax on linen

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Jimmie Durham: Traces and Shiny Evidence @ the Parasol Unit, 14 Wharf Road


Smashing, 2004 (video still)
Some works lure you into a repetitive logic to compelling effect. I found myself repeatedly watching ‘just one more’ object get dispatched in Jimmie Durham’s 90 minute video of bureaucratic smashing . Durham, in a suit, sits at a desk. Assistants hand him a stream of items, each of which he pounds impassively with a prehistoric rock, whether with one blow or with mechanical persistence (he comes down 30 times on an alarm clock). Then he stamps and signs a certificate, and puts away the pen, ink pad and die we know he’ll need again in a minute. That's upstairs: below, the Berlin-based Cherokee's colourful installation of oil drums, pipes and spills proposes a compelling, if simple, echo of destruction.

Traces and Shiny Evidence, 2014 (detail)

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Sigrid Holmwood: A Peasant Painter’s Garden @ ASC Gallery, Erlang House, 128 Blackfriars Rd - near St George’s Circus, Southwark

To 8 Aug: www.ascstudios.co.uk

Three Women and a Cow, 2013: Mushroom pigment made from blood red webcaps (cortinarius sanguineus), chalk, chrome yellow, indigo, and red lead bound in egg on hand woven linen

Anglo-Swede Sigrid Holmwood, whose family background is in farming, has studied how the peasant paintings of South West Sweden emerged from medieval sources. Seeing them as an alternative to bourgeois accounts of art history, she’s remade the types of brush, and the earth, mineral and plant-based pigments they used, and depicted the peasant painter's world as one ‘full of magic, where meaning and emotion are inscribed into all materials, and the animal, vegetable, human and super-natural are all interconnected'. Her way of painting parallels returning to traditional farming in contradistinction to modern machine-dominated methods. Holmwood’s lively style is at one with a filmed performance in which she rides a giant paintbrush-come hobby horse as if it were a broomstick…. Add spalting, secret hex signs, mycorrhizal relationships and the modern twist of using mushroom colours, and there's plenty going on.


Sigrid Holmwood with brush
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Samara Scott: High Street @ the Zabludowicz Collecton, 176 Prince of Wales Rd – Chalk Farm




Samara Scott describes her practice as a ‘slow digestion of cosmetic, edible and chemical cultural bedris’. That turns out to be largely a means of trapping the fluorescently pastel-coloured experiences of a synthetically freed body. The key development in her language here are resinous horizontal paintings – come sculptural accumulations – come low tables - come flatbed scanners, raised on various props. Add a toothpaste drawing on the wall, rolls of sellotape inserted into textile, and a multi-hued painting featuring the gussets from tights, and plenty else, and you have one of five good reasons to visit Anita Z’s summer shows, the other highlights being a persuasive selection of Sam Falls’ paintings, sculpture and less often seen videos; and a rebooted version of Rachel Pimm’s excellent show from Enclave in April.





                 Rasbs Blubs Strawbs Glee, 2014 - styrofoam, tight toes, tight crotches

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Flat Pack/ Wrapped/Stacked @ Punk & Sheep, 5th Floor, 30 Marsh Wall, Canary Wharf 

To 15 Aug:  punkandsheep.weebly.com

Jonathan Trayte: Unifine and Rob Leech: Barry Box prominent and Sam Plagerson's improbably-sized contribution at the back.
This appointment only space on a Canary Wharf 5th floor, named for the gallerist couple’s pet names for each other, currently features 30 artists whom curator Tim Ellis invited to produce a sculpture not to exceed 50 x 50 x50 cm and to cost less than £100 to make, and to be posted to the Gallery in a box on which they are displayed with the artist ‘relinquishing control’ from then on. The prevailing mode of quiet wit includes several cunning wheezes to bend the rules – Kate Howard’s inflatable, Graham Reid’s sections to be reconstructed ceiling high, Rob Leech’s box which makes for a big two box sculpture - and a couple of the blatant cheats which I feel Ellis should have cut in half. It’s all well-suited to the surrounding financial services industry.  I particularly liked Jonathan Trayte’s iron and ceramic full box-worth of bread, a move on from his fetishitically finished fruit to a sort of reductio ad absurdum of mass food production  – though I did wonder about the £100 limit…
Installation view with Kate Howard at the front and Graham Reid showing height


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Rachael Champion: Primary Producers @ Hales Gallery, Tea Building, 7 Bethnal Green Rd – Shoreditch


Primary Producers, 2014
Hales’ space has two highly intrusive distinctive central columns. Far from worrying about sightlines, London-based New Yorker Rachael Champion uses them as the starting point for a modularly irregular, organically geometric set of shapes – half-building, half-landscape – which subsube the gallery in a combination of pebbledash (publicly derided by many, but secretly loved equally?), water, and the basic life form of algae (cleared from garden ponds, but an important source of oxygen, a super-food and a putative fuel)…  The result is a striking multi-ponded suburban takeover of Shoreditch’s cool which may speak, as the show’s blurb has it, of our ‘ever-mounting Anthropocene crises’.




Phantom Limbs @ Pilar Corrias, 54 Eastcastle Street - Fitzrovia

To 1 Aug:  www.pilarcorrias.com


Antoine Catala:   :)

I was fascinated, if not wholly unbaffled, by Phantom Limbs. It posits a parallel between the way the digital affects us at a distance with the phenomenon of a lost body part which is still perceived as being present. Two artists new to me making striking contributions. Rachel Rose’s 10 minute film Palisades in Palisades (2014), projected with a welcome lounging mat, swoops atmospherically between remote distance and intense close-ups as it explores the site where a battle from the American Revolutionary War was fought.  Antoine Catala’s :) (2014), is an emoticon turned into a mildly robotic kinetic sculpture which varies its expression winningly as it trundles towards you; while his Storage (2013) represents residual memory by varying shape according to whether a vacuum sucks it in or not: a sort of reverse inflatable. 

Antoine Catala:   :)
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Phyllida Barlow: Fifty Years of Drawings @ Hauser & Wirth, 23 Savile Row - Central

To 26 July: www.hauserwirth.com - has 123 images of the show!


7 Bathing Hut, circa 1970


Filling a run of large galleries with 500 or so drawings culled from the archive of a sculptor may not sound the most stimulating prospect, yet this feels far more than a supplement to Phyllida's Barlow's feisty occupation of Tate Britain.  She has a four stage process: (1) initial idea sketches (2) worked up 'drawings', which are typically paintings full of colour (3) sculptural forms (4) combination / reuse of those forms. Here we have stage 2: given the historically temporary nature of most of Barlow's stage 4 production, as close as we'll get to a full retrospective – an energising demonstration of sculptural  thinking with more ideas for painting than the average dauber could shake a brush at...  
Untitled 2001
The Combinational @ Studio 1.1, 57a Redchurch St – Shoreditch

To 27 July: www.studio1-1.co.uk

Sarah Anne Johnson: Kissing Gold, 2013
It would be illogical not to recommend my own show! It starts from the found and the collaged as dominant modern modes, and looks at how six artists combine materials in sculpture, video, painting, photography and mergers thereof, to reflect on how we live together. Moreover, the show is itself a combination of Canadians – Sarah Anne Johnson and Wil Murray – and Britons – Susan Collis, Appau Junior Boakye-Yiadom, Suzanne Moxhay and Catherine Herbert. Sarah, who flew in from Winnipeg for the opening, has installed 34 photographs from her Wonderlust series. She travelled throughout Canada to find people willing (but not too willing!) to be photographed in their homes during intimate moments which she then altered to enhance a refreshing variety of moods from tender to comedic to absurd.

Sarah Anne Johnson: Burnt, 2013
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Leo Fitzmaurice: /_\  @ The Sunday Painter, 1st Floor, 12-16 Blenheim Grove - Peckham 


To 27 July: www.thesundaypainter.co.uk

/_\, 2014 -  gummed paper tape on gallery walls
As another wordless title/_\  - hints, this is a show of framing rather than direct content. Merseyside artist Leo Fitzmaurice shows a near-empty gallery with what look like two small abstract paintings, but turn out to be (or do they?) arrangements of J-cloths and dusters - and how he got such a clean look, perhaps. His primary interventions are to soften the light to a cool white by applying a thin vinyl to the windows, and to run gummed brown tape along every edge and join in the architecture. The effect is a deconstructive demonstration of the parts from which the room is made… which proves, when one’s thoughts turn to the collapsed distinction between production and display, to be content enough.

J-cloth, 2013 - Permanent marker on tracing-paper

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A.R. Hopwood: The False Memory Archive @ Carroll / Fletcher project space, 17A Riding House St - Fitzrovia

To 12 July (also at the Freud Museum to 3 Aug): www.carrollfletcher.com


From 'False Memory Archive Erased UFOs':  collection of found UFO images with all evidence of the UFOs removed, presented in 242 used frames, 2012-13.
 
Alistair Hopwood occupies both Carroll / Fletcher’s new project space (in what was the Nettie Horn gallery) and the rather appropriate Freud Museum for an extensive exploration of false memory with many fascinating examples. Perhaps you think you’ve seen it already, but why not go again? Not least of the pleasures is a wall of  found photographs, fitted to found frames, from which the supposed evidence of UFOs has been removed. Often, Hopwood told me, the removal was of what had anyway been a mere photoshop addition. Imagine generating a false memory of a UFO sighting from forgetting that you yourself had doctored a photograph to include one...


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Trujillo Paumier: Men y Men @ New Art Projects, 17 Riding House St - Fitzrovia


Trujillo/Paumier 'Untitled (Moro 24)', 2012


This unusual show by photographer-partners sees them working separately to contrast two distinctive but visibly Catholic communities in the Mexican town of Oxaca: American Brian Paumier’s Moros - portraits of cowboys and their steeds – are shown opposite Mexican Joaquin Trujillo’s trans-gender Muxes. The Moros and Muxes get on well, though, as indicated by a table of inter-mixed images presented in ex votos style, making this a celebration of difference. There’s also a film of the cowboys, lyrically shot from a helicopter as they parade their horses in an annual festival of thanksgiving, complete with the colour-bursts of traditional family ribbons.

Trujillo/Paumier 'Untitled (Muxes 11)', 2009

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Architectural Landscape @ Camilla Grimaldi, 2nd floor, 25 Old Burlington Gardens – Central


 

The third  show in Camilla Grimaldi’s new space brings together four female photographers with structures on their minds: Heidi Specker, Clare Strand, Faye Heller and the young Dutch artist Fleur van Dodewaard, who shows prints from her fascinating set of 131 variations on Sol Lewitt’s 122 Variations of Open Cubes. Lewitt planned a systematic exploration of all the possible forms of open-sided cubes, with 1-9 of the 12 sides which would constitute a full cube missing so that the viewer can imagine the completion. Van Dodewaard uses a fleshy pink, so hinting at the body – indeed, she’s titled a comparable series of geometric constructions ‘Nudes’. She also provides an enlivening sense of the project’s contingencies: there are accidental duplications of structures, gaps where she failed to replicate one of Lewitt’s arrangements, some forms which she couldn’t match to his originals...


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Sean Scully: Kind of Red @ Timothy Taylor Gallery, 15 Carlos Place – Mayfair


NB possible related trip =  Sean Scully Encounters: A New Master Among Old Masters – Christ Church Picture Gallery, Oxford - to 31 Aug


'Kind of Red', 2013

It’s easy to fall for the solid luminosity of Sean Scully’s paintings; nor is it hard to find they evolve rather slowly.  Here, though, in his first London solo since 2010, Scully eases into the full horizontal stripes (or ‘landline’) for a change, and where he employs his more characteristic city-inspired broken stripes, does so with some differences: the lushness is looser; and though he’s painted on aluminium and cited musical influences before, his exposure of more surrounding metal than previously adds to the sense that these could be end-on views of Scully’s own sculptures, and exploits the optical illusion whereby the aluminium appears to vary in colour depending on the colours from under which it’s glimpsed. All of which suits the improvisational jazz aesthetic of the vast quiptych ‘Kind of Red’. 

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Bernard Frize: Colour Divides @ Simon Lee, 12 Berkeley Street – Mayfair
Riamo, 2014

I once congratulated Bernard Frize - as I saw it - for how, no matter that he uses such imaginatively disparate processes to make his paintings, they all look instantly like his work. That's a shame, he said jestingly, I do my best to avoid that.  Well, he's failed again here - but then the seven large works here are variants on a 1986 painting which tracked the labyrinthine course of the ceiling on which it was made, and they use an established strategy of his: the application of several colours to a single brush.  Various doublings and reversals are then applied between and within paintings. In Riamo, for example, the order of the colours on the brush is reversed below a horizontal fault line. ‘In my beginning is my end’, as Eliot put it, and it’s fascinating to see how the cycles play out as colour divides.
Lescilia, 2014

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Hannah Maybank: Bobhowlers and Blooms @ Gimpel Fils, 30 Davies Street - Mayfair

To 5 July 2014: www.gimpelfils.com


'Angela', 2014 - synthetic dragon's blood and watercolour on stretched watercolour paper over polyester


Hannah Maybank’s dangerously beautiful mixed media paintings have flowers or hawkmoths as their starting point. Or do they? The floral works set out from a Christian name of significance to the artist, who then observes as the character of the painting falls in with or  diverges from that of its inspiration. Maybank is technically adventurous, exploring such materials as ‘synthetic gold’, ‘Japanese glass pigment’ and ‘orasol’. There's less of the latex peeling effect typical of her previous work, but there’s still a sense of vegetative growth not quite under control. That encourages environmental readings, but that dangerous beauty is the thing.

'Bobolla', 2014 - synthetic dragon's blood, graphite and watercolour on linen

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Jane Harris and Jiri Kratochvil: the devil is in the details @ Horatio Jr., The Lord Nelson, 60 Canon Beck Rd – Rotherhithe



Jane Harris: 'Blue Bleu', 2013


Another show by real life partners sees the basement of a former pub filled with Jiri Kratochvil’s constructions, which make remarkably disparate found items surprisingly cohesive: thus, repurposed French agricultural equipment, Dorset limestone, and miniscule plastic models in sexual action make up Purely Physical.  Jane Harris, in bar and chapel-like ex-gents, applies her language of ellipses to diptychs with triple inversions: the colours in each of the pairs are the same, but the paint in the areas inside and outside the scalloped shapes is applied with opposing directionality and the ellipses making up the scallop are reversed. It sounds complex, but the modulations of hue achieved are simply seductive!   


Jiri Kratochvil: 'Purely Physical', 2014 (detail) 
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Simona Brinkmann and Anja Carr: HOLD ON! LET GO! @ the Agency, 66 Evelyn St – Deptford
To 21 June: www.theagencygallery.com

Docile Brutes IV (No Go) - 2014 Steel, leather, metal fittings.

London-based Italian Simona Brinkmann uses leather and metal to form barriers suggesting shifting boundaries between private and public and a femininist take on power structures. All sleekly attractive and effectively tensed, but what makes ‘Hold On!’ interesting is its slippages - between original and copy, and between urban and rural: these fetish-finished versions are slightly out of wack with their originals; and their primary original isn’t city railings but cattle grids. Are we, then, the docile cows / brutes? Whether or not, Brinkmann is appropriately combined with Anja Carr’s performance-based horseplay (‘Let Go!’) and a gallery with a garden.  


Foreground: Underling  Background: Rig - 2014, both leather, oak, metal fittings.

Andrew Cross: Every seat @ Canal Projects, 60 De Beauvoir Crescent - Haggerston


From 'Every Seat'
Andrew Cross is best-known for photography and film projects which build the manner of travel into the way scenes are perceived, but this may be his canal debut - and then as a location, rather than a mode. The show is mainly a retrospective of his other main stream, the relationship between place, memory and performance. Cue another chance to see The Solo (see paulsartworld.blogspot.co.uk/2010/12/serious-in-january.html); the absent stage of Knebworth; the bare essentials of the Somali National Theatre; and 100 or so of 2,500 images which capture the view from every seat in the Royal Opera House - with the stage curtain down.  This takes the rigorous documentary approach of the Düsseldorf School to an impressively absurd extreme, and one which put me in mind of Alan Shearer and Robbie Savage's subsequent charity stunt of sitting on every seat in Wembley Stadium.   
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David LaChapelle LAND SCAPE @ Robilant + Voena, 38 Dover St - Central



Castle Rock, 2013

In 2006, David Lachapelle forswore his hugely successful career as a commercial photographer in order to concentrate on fine art. The results have tended towards the overblown or trite – but I like 'Negative Currency' (mostly 2010) and this new series. Lachapelle commissioned the construction of models of the architecture of oil production and distribution, using recycled and repurposed materials such as egg cartons, hair curlers, cardboard packaging and patio lights. He then photographed the models, dramatically and somewhat romantically lit, in relevant real landscapes: refineries in the desert, petrol stations (alright, 'gas stations') in the jungles which are threatened now by the activity generated by the fuel of their predecessors... Result: spectacular and deceptive images with genuine purchase on the linkages between oil, lifestyle and the environment. 
Gas 76, 2013
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Interchange Junctions @ 5 Howick Place, Victoria

To 21 June: www.howickplace.com - email info@hsprojects.com to arrange appointment.  

Alice Anderson with 'Primary Material', 2014 - unattached sections of copper mesh.

Well over 100,000 square feet across seven  just built floors – shortly to become offices - play temporary host to 25 artists riffing off Yinka Shonibare, who has permanent work here. So: racial stereotypes countered, colonial legacies challenged, the history of trade examined…  There’s some great and unexpected stuff: Shonibare’s own totems with every colour of nail (and Andy Wicks' monumentally photographed nails); David Blandy’s Japanese garden installation; Fiona Curran and Faig Ahmed’s carpet alterations; Alice Anderson’s instantly convincing new direction, making copper mesh perform with trembling grace; and Rose Finn-Kelcey’s funfair sign out of a mistransalation in a Chinese restaurant menu - which led to ‘sad and lonely, set meal for one’.  You won’t be sad, you’ll be amazed.

Rose Finn-Kelcey: 'Sad And Lonely (Set Meal For One)', 2006
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Steven Allan: Steady Rolling @ Berloni, 63 Margaret Street - Fitzrovia

To 5 July: www.berlonigallery.com


Nice Float, 2014

London-based Aberdonian Steven Allan made a strong impression in his degree show a couple of years back by merging the aesthetics of print and paint to create a distinctive dirty yellow world populated by banana-men. ‘Steady Rolling’ finds Allan in more gestural territory on what seems a confidently impressive scale. Paradoxically, though, what he dramatizes is the self-doubt of the artist trapped in his studio with no means of telling if he’s making progress or going bananas. Whether he presents himself as the returning
fruit construct, a baby acting the great artist, or a dung beetle straining to move the work forward, Allan’s task appears gloomily Sisyphean. And yet… the results are actually pretty funny.

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Income's Outcome (part four): A drawing project by Danica Phelps + Works on paper by Katherine Murphy @ Patrick Heide,  11 Church Street - Marylebone

To 28 June: www.patrickheide.com & www.danicaphelps.com


Danica with son Orion in front of drawings detailing their life together

For two decades American conceptual artist Danica Phelps has effected a rare combination of objectivity and intimacy: objectivity in the rigorous recording of her income (in green stripes) and expenditure (red): intimacy in the fluid drawings which diarise how the money is earned and spent. Her personal life over  has provided plenty of fodder: coming out as gay; a grand passion; an IVF conception in India; a tempestuous break-up; legal disputes – but here we see payments for rent, car insurance, milk, parking tickets, a children’s party…  Trivia and drama is accounted for alike, and the normally hidden economics of art built in too, as work and life combine.  Here’s she’s neatly paired with Katherine Murphy, who itemises the plain realities of minimum wage labour.

Income's Outcome 165

'Income’s Outcome 165': (10.75″x10.25″) $1,200  shows the flow of a dollars in 1,000 lines from Danica's window to her landlord's and the resulting depletion of her assets by $1,000 at one red stripe per dollar

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Everything Falls Faster Than An Anvil @ Pace, 6-10 Lexington St – Soho

To June 18: www.pacegallery.com


Catharine Ahearn: Incredible Hulk, 2014
The title of Tobias Czudej’s selection of art influenced by cartoons references Mark O'Donnell's ‘Laws of Cartoon Motion’ which have also been gleefully explored by Andy Holden (see eg www.youtube.com/watch?v=toEH3SQ6LVE).  He’s absent here, but a suitably lively mix of established and upcoming artists is set against Carl Ostendarp’s pink ‘Fruit and Icebergs’ drip murals.  The highlights, spinning off a small Guston, take cartoonery to darker places: Catherine Ahearn reduces the Incredible Hulk to a powerless absurdity of hands; Tala Madani illuminates her bald man characters as tree decorations; Peter Wachler’s mournfully anthropomorphic metal piping sculpture fitfully invades the space with the sound of panpipes.

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Stephan Baumkötter @ Bartha Contemporary, 25 Margaret St - Fitzrovia

To June 28: www.barthacontemporary.com

 

The distinguishing feature of this show is the subtlety of its internal echoes – between casual-looking pastel drawings, and oil sticks layered into a near-monochrome waxiness which put me in mind of Brice Marden’s surfaces. Those echoes emerge from history and process: developmentally, the drawings came before the paintings; and now Baumkötter's ‘paintings’ are made by repeating the drawings' blend of chance and control until a complete surface emerges in a unpredictable hue which alters in the light – that variability alchemically belying the use of the same few colours in all the German artist's drawings and paintings.


Juan Uslé: Al Clarear @ Frith Street, 17-18 Golden Square, Soho

To 26 June: www.frithstreetgallery.com


Soñé que Revelabas (Aurora), 2014 - Vinyl, dispersion and dry pigment on canvas
Saro and New York based Juan Uslé is at his biggest  – nine feet high – in his family of dark paintings known collectively as Soñé que Revelabas ('I dreamt that you revealed'). Ongoing since 1997, they evoke both landscape and city. It’s not those suggestions, though, but the rhythmically discontinuous, mechanically organic surface patterns which draw the viewer in to discover irregularities in strokes of paint which Uslé has compared with heart beats. Also small paintings from kayak journeys by dusk on the Rio Cubus, in Uslé's home territory of Cantabria.

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

To 21 June (late opening 30 May):  www.lubomirov-easton.com/Into-and-Out-of-Abstraction
 
Gunther Herbst: The Ice Island 2

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.