Monday, 22 May 2017


Up Now in London


Alberto Giacometti, Suspended Ball (1930-1931). Plaster and metal. Collection Fondation Alberto et Annette Giacometti, Paris at Tate Modern

Giacometti and Picasso are dominant just now, and Photo London and Peckham 24 are coming up - but there's plenty else...

Pablo Picasso: Minotaure dans une barque sauvant une femme (1937) at Gagosian. Photo: Eric Baudouin

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Bridgette Ashton and Nicole Mollet: Only The World Remains @ Space Station 65, 373 Kennington Road - Kennington / Oval 

Installation view with Bridgette Ashton: A Summerhouse for George Howard, 2006 and Model for Banqueting Hall Cavern, 2014

Artist-run Space Station 65 has reopened with a teeming evocation of staged landscapes through such past eccentricities as grottoes, follies and pleasure gardens of which – in Diderot's phrase - ‘only the world remains’. Bridgette Ashton fills most of the space with what look like architectural models for future projects, but imagine how what has now disappeared might once have been planned, for example a summer house encrusted with seashells, and a concert hall built into a cave. Nicole Mollett amplifies the mood through painted and magic lantern slides and projections depicting imaginary creatures and features and evocative words - which chime with a further contribution from Ashton: posters announcing imaginary past events. The regaining of lost innocence rubs up against the inevitability of our demise.  

Nicole Mollett: The Triumph of Time and Truth (Star Illuminant); Rustic Pissing Portal, The Triumph of Time and Truth (Goodnight) and Rock Folly – all paint on glass, 2017


Athena Papadopoulos: The Smurfette @ Emalin, Unit 4, Huntingdon estate, Bethnal Green Rd – Shoreditch

Installation view

A love of stains and excess characterises London-based Greek-Canadian Athena Papadopoulos's bedsheet-like transfer collages, dense with scrawled overwriting. They’re the backdrop for coat stands as figures (is that a dig at Allen Jones’ Hatstand?), their several legs shod in concrete platform shoes, dripping with jewellery and so much other stuff that 35 materials are listed for CHEWED UP. That, like the other four 'Smurfettes' which occupy the gallery together with three child-sized versions, carries stuffed letters which spell out the title and seem to indicate that language, as well as attitudes, lies behind the construction of such assertively abject selves. So, we wonder, is Papadopoulos a smurfette?


Detail of Smurfette,CHEWED UP, 2017 - wood dowels, screws, glue, antlers, self-tanner, synthetic hair, taxidermy insects,jewellery chain, wire, pigmented polyester resin, freeze dried worms, crustaceans andfish, crows feet with nail polish, confetti, bird feathers, taxidermy bird, image transfers,hair dye, lipstick on fabric and wool, lingerie, dyed fur, trimmings and thread, Pepto Bismol, Berocca, red wine, Malox, Gaviscon, foundation and bleach on carpet, auto-body paint and clear lacquer on pigmented concrete - 216 x 110 x 120 cm  


THE HIGH LOW SHOW at Laure Genillard Gallery,
2 Hanway Place - Tottenham Court Rd 
To 24 June:

Late opening with artists' talks: Thursday 25 May, 6pm - 8pm

Kate MccGwire: Sentient, 2016 - Mixed media with goose feathers in bespoke cabinet

The High Low Show is a site-responsive adventure in contrasts and connections. Each of seven artists have work upstairs and downstairs in Laure Genillard's distinctively divided space. Each artist's work operates between registers of high and low, including altitude, viewpoint, mood, value and cultural register. Bronwen Buckeridge, Susan Collis, Sara Haq, Tom Lovelace, Kate MccGwire, Sarah Roberts and Julie Verhoeven  all rise impressively to my simple curatorial brief  with nary an unintended pratfall. Kate, for example, shows feather sculptures above and drawings made by maggots below - not without duality, as there is a sinister edge to the convolutions of Sentient, and the maggots were striving towards the light...

Kate MccGwire: Vermiculus, 2016 - graphite on paper


Searching for magic and the distorted image falling from your iCloud @ The Dot Project, 94 Fulham Rd - South Kensington

To 9 July:

Konrad Wyrebek: KKKRInkOMan, 2016-2017

Oil and acrylic paint, uv ink, spray paint and varnish on canvas 200 × 150 cm

There have been quite a few shows exploring the interface between painting and  the online world painting, but this one is better than most. That’s because most of the 13 artists' works meets the simple-sounding but eminently missable criteria of working as paintings, having some digital content, and relating the two in an illuminating way – and with he processes explained to the viewer. For example, in a contrast grounded in similarity. Konrad Wyrebek shows a ‘Data Error’ paintings, this one from an image of someone jumping into water, which Wyrebek corrupts until it reaches a point he wishes to paint from; and Siebren Versteeg creates algorithmic programs that respond to and distort online imagery, then presents the (unpainted) results as painterly abstractions. Derek Mainella, Gordon Cheung, Kristian Touborg and Ry David Bradley are also excellent…

Siebren Versteeg:  Quavers, 2016:_Algorithmically generated image printed on canvas resin, 84x56.


William Mackrell: Hold Up @ The Ryder, 19a Herald St - Bethnal Green

To  27 May: 

Installation view with Interruption and Convulsive Repulse.

'Hold Up' enacts a round of bodily vulnerabilities and frustrations against the threatening backdrops of authority and non-existence.  A bank of malfunctioning fluorescent tubes splutter noisily into intermittent non-death. A performer lies* on a flickeringly illumined shelf, also made with lighting fixtures, emitting her inner response to its pulses. A record plays, but displaces to the back room, a collage of purgatorial call centre music. The redacted part of a Diane Arbus photograph (censored on entry into the United Arab Emirates) is made stark through the veiling of the remaining image by subtly stippling it with a scalpel. All feels connected, but somewhere just out of rational grasp.

* Performance runs every Saturday, 2-6pm

Cover Up (Stripper with Bare Breasts), 2016


Annette Messager: Avec et Sans Reasons @ Marin Goodman Gallery, 5-8 Lower John St – Soho

Tututerus, 2017  Black tutu, fabric, paint, rope, rod, fan - with uterus wallpaper

Annette Messager’s agreeably wild show packs more than 50 works, many of them multi-part, into the downstairs galleries (leaving Sol Lewitt wall drawings to run on upstairs). Snails wear breasts for shells; a uterus dances in a tutu in room with fallopian wallpaper; Pinochio gets caught up in his viscera… yet gloves, with pencils for fingers, outline calm geometries. The title poses the question: is Messager with it, or not? I’m not sure it matters  for the purposes of enjoying the show, but you should behave yourself: 68 pictograms from round the world forbid pissing, tattoos, photography, music and driving in a burkha. On the other hand, 69thly, interdictions are themselves banned, so do as you wish…

Detail from Les Interdictions (The Interdictions), 2014 68 framed drawings + 1 frame, color pencils, 15 soft elements, fabric 


Paola PiviYou Don't Have to Believe Me @ Massimo De Carlo, 55 South Audley St - Mayfair                                            

To May 27:

Here are two polar bears made of feathers, and Duchamp for kids: a dozen spinning bicycle wheels with feathers attached merge his readymade and rotary phases. But both are parodies of flight and, downstairs, any innocent view of the world - as captured on 52 screens through 40,000 images culled from google searches - is undermined by a soundtrack of spoken lies (‘in the middle ages, kings only ate at night’, ‘catfish are mammals’, ‘the largest statue in the world is of Michael Jackson’…). Would we hear about Father Christmas? No, but upstairs ungainly drawings are blown up big time to tell of Pivi and her husband’s four year custody battle for their adopted son. They won, but the darkening still seeps.

I am a professional bear, 2017 - urethane foam, plastic, feathers


Garth Weiser @ Simon Lee, 12 Berkeley St - Green Park

To 27 May:

Detail from '10', 2017

I’ve been following Garth Weiser (say ‘Vyza’) for ten years now, but this is his first substantial UK showing for his multi-layered, digitally-aware immersively-scaled  but somewhat unphotographable abstractions.  You could say that every canvas is actually three paintings struggling to co-exist: a figurative underpainting – currently somewhat comic – an expressive abstract painting, and a geometric overlay. Such complexity is hard-won: Weiser lays strips of tape in patterns on top of the figurative ground,(adding rope in some recent works)  covers the whole with oil paint, removes the paint while the tape is still wet (accepting or rejecting accidental bleeds and drips to taste) and cuts into the remainder with a razor blade.  Result: an alluring all-over flicker between oppositions. If you could jam Picabia’s transparencies, Stella’s stripes and Richter’s overpainted photographs together, you’d be pretty-much there. 

'10', 2017 - 244 x 201 cm


Paul Johnson: Teardrop Centre @ Camden Arts Centre, Arkwright Road - Camden

 To 18 June:

Whereas the chaos of Francis Bacon’s studio was reconstructed in identical disorder in Dublin, Paul Johnson has made what looks at first like chaos by shifting what may well have been his fairly tidy studio into Camden Arts Centre.  On closer examination, aided by Johnson’s own 40-feature map of the room, it turns out that all is very fully considered: he has variously cut, cast, re-oriented, combined and layered items, using the contents of his studio as raw materials for discovery as – or transformation into - art. Walls become a table, crates form a sculptural barrier, a door stands islanded... As he oversees the scene in the form of a 'Stack-Man' made from piled newspapers, Johnson must be pleased with how this rejig has turned out - the more so as he’s paired with veteran Romanian avant-gardist Geta Br─âtescu making the most of her studio in the other galleries.


Peter Dreher: Day by Day, Good Day at The Mayor Gallery, 21 Cork St – Central

Tag um Tag guter Tag (Day by Day good Day) Nr. 1637 (Day), 2001
Oil on linen, 25.4 x 20.3 cm

Peter Dreher is famous for having painted the same empty water glass over 5,000 times. I say famous, but ‘Day by Day, Good Day’ has been little-seen in London. Here are 58 examples from 1991-2011, sequenced day-night-day-night. The strongest contrasts are between sunny and cloudy days, but all 58 demonstrate Dreher’s exceptional praxical capacity to remain invested in the painting for itself, regardless of subject even, as he regards the glass and its reflections intensely. Obsessive? Oddly, I think not: he has other streams of work, and comes across as more akin to a daily jogger than a monomaniac, though at 83, he’s now too frail to jog.

Night - Day - Night sequence



Images courtesy / copyright the relevant artists and galleries 


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About Me

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Southampton, Hampshire, United Kingdom
I was in my leisure time Editor at Large of Art World magazine (which ran 2007-09)and now write freelance for such as Art Monthly, The Art Newspaper and Border Crossings. I have curated five shows in London during 2013-15 with more on the way.Going back a bit my main writing background is poetry. My day job is public sector financial management.