Sunday, 18 February 2018


Up Now in London

TERRA: A contemporary history of clay @ Hotel Contemporary, Lamb Projects, 10 White Horse St - Shepherds's Market 

To 25 Feb 

Installation view with Liz Craft: Merrie Old England, 2017 and Paloma Proudfoot: Glover, 2017

Ceramics have been trending in the art world beyond their previous craft reputation for a while now, all of which is brought together by the Phaidon book Vitamin C: Clay + Ceramic *.  So where is the corresponding survey show? Curiously absent until this punchy gathering of 30 work shows by a classic (Lucio Fontana), five of Phaidon’s 100 ( Caroline Achaintre,  Liz Craft, The Grantchester Pottery, Emma Hart,  Mai-Thu Perret) and  nine up and coming practitioners who fit in well. The highlights include masks by Jonathan Baldock and Caroline Achaintre, an anus-cum-peephole by Zoe Williams and a boxing glove you wouldn’t like to be hit with by Paloma Proudfoot. The funniest is Liz Craft’s anti-Brexit piece Merrie Olde England, which might be sub-titled ‘Boris speaks shit’.  Certainly, if you’re redecorating your loo and have set aside £9,000 for a toilet roll holder, you should buy it immediately!

* Impressive, even allowing for my bias as a contributor

Co--curator Carmen Blanco Santos employs Paloma Proudfoot's ceramic boxing glove on artist Holly Stevenson, who happened to be in the line of firing


Roger Ackling:  Brought to Light @ Annely Juda Fine Art, Dering St

To 10 March 

Roger Ackling (1947-2014) worked through the universe rather than the hand, using the sunlight focused through a magnifying glass to burn lines onto card, paper, pieces of wood and detritus from marginal zones. He met his future wife, Sylvia Crowther, at the wedding of his close friends the artists Trevor Sutton and Carol Robertson in 1985, and now they have chosen and presented a wide range of Ackling's work and archive materials. “When Roger was working", says Robertson, "he   entered a world of ritual and hermetic order... Time burned in linear geometric patterns, line after line after line. He liked to say he was always making the same piece of work. So in our mind’s eye we join all the lines together like a burning fuse, stilling our minds too.” The resultant Gesamtkunstwerk is beautiful, meditative and - given you can get a twig for £1,000 - not so very expensive to buy in to.


Glenn Brown: Come to Dust @ Gagosian Gallery,
20 Grosvenor Hill

To March 17

Fat Boy (1945), 2018: indian ink and acrylic on drafting film, 130 x 103cm - presumably a mash-up of the code names for the Nagasaki ('Fat Man') and Hiroshima ('Little Boy') atomic bombs, so pretty dark...

I tend to assume Glenn Brown is a slow worker - influenced, no doubt, by the exactitude of his famously flat ‘Auerbach copies’. Yet here are a commanding 60 works made in 18 months, with three distinct streams prominent: painting reworked, as usual, from many sources but always from other paitings, the queasy Life on the Moon being my favourite; Indian ink drawings which distort art history, often by taking their cue from the pre-sourced frame, as is at its clearest in Fat Boy (1945); and Brown’s signature method of making sculptures from paint in the very opposite manner from flattening an Auerbach, here applied to riotous effect on the armatures provided by found sculptures. Prolific, then, yet good.


Let me ferry you out to sea To see who you could have been When time comes to row back in You’ll be in the place you should have been, 2017 - Oil paint on bronze


Gideon Rubin: Black Book @ Freud Museum, 20 Maresfield Gardens - Finchley Road

To 15 April

Untitled, 2017: gouache on paper in antique frame

Whereby a Jewish artist tackles, modestly yet intensely, the reason Freud lived here during the last year of his life: fleeing Nazi Germany. Such a charged subject suits Gideon Rubin's way of sourcing old magazines (from Germany in the 30's) and using them to make collages, and paintings at a further remove. He paints out all fascist references as well as all faces - the latter an established move in his practice to universalise an image and shift what viewers focus on. He also blocks out, line by blacked line, a copy of the original serialised English translation of Mein Kampf, as if seeking to identify the abstract pattern of evil. Rubin, moreover, secretes much of the work in among the many archaeological objects in Freud's study. But some memories cannot be suppressed, and we know what came next. 

  Black Book (detail) - ink on serial parts of the 1939 English edition of 'Mein Kampf'


Richard Ducker: End Credits @ dalla Rosa gallery, 3 Leighton Place – Kentish Town

To 3 March
Horizontal Hold 25, 2017 - 100 x 154cm
In which three streams of Richard Ducker’s retro-futurist practice come together  to create an edgy scenario full of size inversions. Eight Horizontal Hold aerosol drawings suggest an end-of-broadcast black and white TV with which the titular reversal of Joan Jonas’ 1972 ‘Vertical Roll’ would be temporally consistent*, but they’re on the scale of the biggest new colour flat screens. The cinematic-sounding End Credits impose tabloid newspaper styled headlines onto smoky backgrounds at tablet size: that is, phrases from the artist’s spam box are given mysterious prominence on top of online images of post-explosive smoke. And one of Ducker’s Stealth Devices, a wall-based missile-like sculpture domesticated by its small scale and flock covering, invades his own show.

End Credits, 2017 (detail) - ink and lettering on paper, 26 x 37 cm


Painting All Around

I’m reasonably medium-neutral, but it’s hard not to notice that a stellar range of painting shows have already  opened across London this year. Even if group shows are omitted, many tastes are catered for:

Dale Lewis: Devils Juice, 2018 - Oil, acrylic and spray paint on canvas, 200 x 400 cm

Pulsating figuration: Dale Lewis at Edel Assanti and Emma Cousin at Lewisham Arthouse - see separate review

Glenn Brown: Let’s Make Love and Listen to Death from Above, 2017 - Oil on panel, 231 × 192 cm

Imaginative appropriation: Glenn Brown at Gagosian

Paola Ciarska: Untitled (Cześć, Pani Ciarska Series), 2017  Gouache on board | 12.5 x 18cm

Intricate interiors miniaturised: Paola Ciarska at IMT

The life in still life: Lisa Milroy at Parasol unit (see below)

Disturbingly detatched realism: Philip Pearlstein at Saatchi Gallery

Mindy Lee: It’s a bit scary (front and back). Acrylic and thread on  cotton,. 73 x 47 cm. 2016

Collaborating with a toddler: Mindy Lee & J.A.L-B. at Griffin Gallery


Painting on cut-up carpet: Bea Bonafini at Lychee One

Retinal repetition: Bridget Riley at David Zwirner and Mohammad Ali Talpur at Austin Desmond (see weekly column)

Geometries of space: Selma Parlour at Pi (see my review at Saturation Point)

The substance of colour: Carmen Herrera at the Lisson Gallery

Hans Hartung: T1988-E35, 1988 - Acrylic on canvas,180 x 142 cm

Unrestrained abstraction from a wheelchair: Hans Hartung at Simon Lee

Collaged means: Minyung Kim at White Cube (see below) and Tara Donovan at Pace

Self-painting performance: Neville Gabie at Danielle Arnaud

The grace of the would-be-unfinished: Georgia Griffa at Camden Arts Centre (see below)

Piero Dorazio: Nel Cuore Verde, 1965, oil on canvas, 148 × 197 cm

Maximally colourful and crisp abstraction: Piero Dorazio at Tornabuoni 

This, Georgio Griffa’s Paolo e Piero, 1982, is a tribute to Dorazio’s geometrics and the lances in Ucello’s famous Battle of Romano. As that’s in the National Gallery, you can see all three in London now!

And if group shows come into the mix, such as the five artists subverting portraiture in 'Face to Face' at  Angus-Hughes and the three gay women painting themselves and each other in the innovative triangulations of  ‘Threesome’ at New Art Projects, then there are even more worthwhile shows of painting...

Roxana Halls by Sarah Jane Moon at New Art Projects - also includes Sadie Lee

Mercury (shrouded), 2018 by Mark Jackson at Angus-Hughes - also includes Corinna Spencer, Wendy Saunders, Sue Williams A’Court, Sasha Bowles


Giorgio Griffa: A Continuous Becoming @ Camden Arts Centre

To 8 April 

 Dall'alto, 1968 ('From the top')

The first show to be initiated by  Martin Clark – successor to 27 years of Jenni Lomax’s direction  of Camden – gives all the exhibition space to the 81 year old Italian Georgio Griffa, He kept painting when arte povera was at its sculptural peak in his native Turin, but in the most graceful of conceptual styles. Mostly he allows pastel coloured lines and simple shapes to soak into unprimed canvasses of various hues and roughnesses, then folds them away to be tacked to the walls in due course. Both method and display imply provisionality, as if  the brushstrokes could have gone further and the marks spread beyond the picture, and the creases are of no concern because the works are for demonstration purposes only and refolding will be necessary soon enough. Yet can a picture be  left ‘intentionally uncomplete’ as Martin Holman’s text claims, or is it finished by definition when  the artist decides there is no more to be done? In such delicate conundra lies the appeal…

Installation with with part of the 60-piece Frammenti, 1968 ('Fragments')



Minjung Kim: The Memory of Process @ White Cube, Mason's Yard - Central

To 10 March

Pieno di Vuoto, 2008 - Mixed media on mulberry Hanji paper, 206 x 143 cm Photo: White Cube (George Darrell)

In her native Korea, Minjung was a pupil of Dansaaekhwa master Park Seo-Bo*: an inspiration, she told me, but rather severe and not a man to take women seriously as potential artists.  She moved to Italy, and then France, where she has found the Mediterranean light suits her as continues to use the traditional Korean mulberry Hanji paper, collaging singed pieces to make meditative series.. I’ve been impressed by her work several times previously at an intimate scale, yet White Cube's selection demonstrates across serveal series that the same processes can have a different but equally powerful effect when they assert themselves with gently but insistently in Mason Yard’s big spaces.

* Two years ago he, likewise, showed at Mason's Yard under Katharine Kostyál's aegis 

Raggi, 2005 - Mixed media on mulberry Hanji paper, 214 x 155 cm Photo: White Cube (George Darrell)



Here & There: Paintings by Lisa Milroy @ Parasol unit,

To 18 March 


Party of One, 2013 - Installation painting and painting performed, nine dress object-paintings, one wearable dress painting, ten wooden stands, clay bases, oil on unstretched canvas

Anglo-Canadian Lisa Milroy is probably still best known for 1980’s paintings which put life into the still life against an off white background.  Since then she has brought increasingly experimental approaches to explore the performative aspects of painting and its relation to objects, and the role of clothes and shoes in identity formation. Here, for example, concentrating on this century, is a chance for visitors to rearrange 4 from 45 dresses as painterly wall-hung combinations; to choose between many shoes presented on paintings; to watch a performer move around dressed in a painting as she enacts connections around the show; and to read a 20 metre wide narrative of the studio. It’s a riot of colour and invention downstairs, and of monochrome-tending invention upstairs...   


Wall Assortment, 2011-17 0 various 3D object paintings



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, Frieze, Photomonitor, Elephant and Border Crossings. I have curated 20 shows during 2013-17 with more on the way. Going back a bit my main writing background is poetry. My day job is public sector financial management.