Sunday, 20 August 2017


Up Now in London

Installation view with Daniel Rapley's scaled up transcription of his son's drawing, Christina Niederberger's  crochet-style taming of de Kooning even as she pays homage,and Cheryl Papasian's geode sweets

It was enjoyable to select 31 participants for the summer show of artists currently or formerly occupying an ASC studio. I didn't get the chance to see the final install until 17 August, but it looks good - to 23 August, else gives a good impression... My judge's remarks, read out by ASC's Darren O'Brien at the opening on 4 August, were: 

I’m sorry that a family wedding has prevented me attending to meet the artists. My first task was to choose 31 from the 110 who put their work forward. The standard was high, and there were probably 50 with something about them I liked, so I aimed to maximise variety where decisions were marginal. Even so, you’ll be relieved to hear, I won’t touch on all of my choices.  Apologies to those about to go unmentioned, good to have you here!

On arriving at the gallery yesterday I was pleased to confirm that several works would contribute to a distinctive atmosphere: Florence Mytum’s pink spread of suckling points; Amanda Bracken’s jauntily interlinked teacups; Corrina Dean and Duarte Santo’s ominous but beautifully textured air raid shelter; and Henry Byrne’s lightbox illuming Lucy Smallbone’s fire. It was also good to see some themes emerge – plenty of bridges and other architectural echoes and strong geometries, offset by some punchy figuration, and interspersed with summer-friendly abstractions dotted around somewhat florally. I was also delighted that such well-established artists as Michael Ajerman, Christina Niederberger and Rebecca Meanly – all of whom I’ve admired for some years – had submitted strong pieces which could be seen alongside those new to me: I’d like to see more, for example, of Fabio Almeida’s subtly modulated grid-and-text explorations of how the modern increase in connectivity fails us.

Spending an hour in the space as Darren was hanging the show, the work which grew on me most was Lucie Bennett’s amalgam of organ-like shapes, which delicately touches on abstraction, cartoon, medical diagram and children’s book illustration. It’s a small painting, though, so I thought she might welcome the materials prize!
I also wondered which of those artists who haven’t shown a lot previously at ASC would make for a stimulating solo show here. Three artists appealed particularly: Daniel Rapley, whose painstaking magnification of his son’s scribble drawing is both typical and  atypical of an extremely varied but always exacting conceptual practice; Nigel Grimmer, whose pictures within pictures – one strand of several radical deconstructions of the family photo album -  bring the exotic and the ordinary, the kitsch and the bland, the vintage and the modern into witty dialogue; and Caroline Jane Harris, whose intricate analogue processing of digital sources combines photographic, printmaking, drawing and sculptural processes to explore how we code and screen the world.  It’s hard to choose between such differently engaging bodies of work, so I was happy to pass over to Darren to decide who would be the best fit for ASC’s programme (and he opted for Caroline Jane Harris).  

Installation view with Henry Byrne's lightbox , Lucy Smallbone's 'Somebody's House', Rosaland Barker's graphite mirror relecting both, and one of Rosalind Davis' subtlest uses of thread over oil and acrylic.  


Playground Structure @ Blain | Southern, 4 Hanover Square - Mayfair

To 16 Sept:

Installation view with Jeff Wall Playground Structure, 2008, Amy Feldman Naked Baked, 2016 and Jeremy Moon Ice Palace, 1970 - Photo: Peter Mallet
Had this show been called ‘Deconstructing the Grid’, it might not have seemed a likely summer offering – yet that would equally describe the contents of ‘Playground Structure’, the title actually deriving from a Jeff Wall photograph which makes a climbing frame look like a sculptural grid.  That’s the cue to read the other works as frolickful fun: Daniel Sturgis contributes several eye-popping fizzers, Rachel Howard undermines a wallpaper pattern with psycho colours and what could be smears of blood, Mary Heilmann and Amy Sillman go in soft directions, and the grand cool of Ice Palace is one of two large Jeremy Moons - chosen, perhaps, for what August is meant to be like rather than how it’s actually panning out this year.  If jollity’s not your thing, by the way, head to the Lisson Gallery, where Santiago Serra’s 3-D gridded Impenetrable Structure fills the space with razor wire…

Daniel Sturgis: Care for Yourself, 2017


Wild Flowers (wildness is contextual!) @ narrative projects, 110 New Cavendish St - Fitzrovia

To 16 Sept (closed 14-27 Aug):

Lynn Chadwick: Girl VII, 1975 in front of Georgy Litichevsky's flowers with saws, saber-teeth and a hairy face (2010)

This nifty and impressively sourced curation by Carlos Noronha Feio includes a one-off wallpaper of his own, in which nuclear explosions make the flower pattern too dangerous, I suppose, for reproduction. That sets the tone for a summer flower show with a wild edge. Among the 18 artists, Marte Eknæs’ uses 3D military modelling software to design a rose, Mustafa Hulusi’s brings in the economy and intoxication, Lynn Chadwick and Georgy Litichevsky athropmorphise their flora with a certain sharpness and Harm van den Dorpel gives us thistles. Yet it’s all rather beautiful…

Alice Ronchi's Indoor Flora, perhaps the inside equivalent of a concrete garden, in front of Carlos Noronha Feio's wallpaper 


In Residence and Window Sill @ the Griffin Gallery, 21 Evesham St – Latimer Road

To 25 Aug:

Odilia Suanzes with her Untitled, 2016

Window Sill with Sasha Bowles, Adam Dix and Magda Drwiega

For a group show of artists who just happen to have had a studio at the Griffin Gallery complex, ‘In Residence’ is a surprisingly coherent mix, focused largely on the use of materials, with Thomas Platt’s sculptural puzzle figure plucked from an abstract painting and Odilia Suanzes’ vast graphite overdrawing of would-be-ephemeral traces particularly appealing. Even better is the series of witty riffs on the impromptu displays of kitsch objects in seaside windows, complete with lace curtains, in the project space viewable from outside. That includes several interesting  painters – Adam Dix, Sasha Bowles, Neil Zakiewicz, Darren O’Brien – coming out as sculptors, though in O’Brien’s case his ham sandwich keeps one trotter in the double-sided painting camp.  It’s an entertainingly varied sequence, with pandas, Bismark, a stuffed ermine and Roland Barthes’ love of Crème Caramel all featuring.   

Jane Harris: Doing Time, 2017 on the sill (from 300 slip-cast porcelain pots using plaster moulds taken from Barthes' favourite dessert, Crème Caramel)

Florence Peake: WE perform I am in love with my body @ Bosse & Baum, Unit BGC, Bussey Building, 133 Rye Lane - Peckham

To 8 Sept (by appt in Aug): 

It sounds too easy: simply to draw around the movement of your own body on the floor, like a selfie version of the police at a murder scene, then raise the result to the vertical. There again it seems too hard, because the last thing you want to look is dead.  Dance-trained Florence Peake did just that in her studio, and the outcomes are much more lively and surprising  - including one view from above – than I would have expected. She describes the process as ‘falling in love with the sensation of movement’, and that's how it feels  as her falling actions rise up onto the wall.  

Ewa Axelrad: Let’s go. Yes, let’s go. (They do not move), 2017

And while you're in the area. pop into two unusual locations: the top of the Rye Lane multistorey, where this year's BOLD TENDENCIES (to 30 Sept) brings Trafalgar Square to Peckam in the form of 2017 Ewa Axelrad's Let’s go. Yes, let’s go. (They do not move); and the hair salon DKUK,in Holdrons Arcade off 135a Rye Lane, where Clare Price's equally performative abstract paintings will envelop you (to 20 Aug).

Clare Price: s-b-p. 2017


Bram Bogart: Witte de Witte @ the Saatchi Gallery, Duke of York's HQ, King's Rd - Chelsea

To 10 Sept:  *

               Bram Bogart: Zinc Jardin, 1960 - mixed media, 106 x 57 cm

Charles Saatchi used to show his own trend-chasing exhibitions of what he’d bought over almost all of his four floors. Now half is taken up with various collaborations. That’s good at the moment: Saatchi’s own showy and uneven ‘From Selfie to Self-Expression’ is combined with Mexican photographer Narciso Contreras’s impactfully disturbing photo report on the people trade in Libya, and by the second ‘Salon’ project, which gives Vigo Gallery the chance to foreground Bram Bogart’s journey from late 50’s impasto gestures of abstraction to a mature style in which the stuff of paint is pushed towards a void of calm materiality – and all without the distraction of colour.

* Careful! The Saatchi Gallery is prone to irregular closures, so it’s essential to check the website before you visit 

Bram Bogart: Blanc, 2006 , mixed media 48 x 53 cm


Jonny Briggs & Evy Jokhova: The Manicured Wild @ Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery, 533 Old York Road – Wandsworth Town

Jonny Briggs: Untitled (self painted grey, cradling photograph of eye as a child, obscuring my own eyes, in front of backdrop held by partner), 116 x 85cm, Photograph mounted and box framed in black, 2016

I’ve followed these artists for a while (indeed I write the texts on their solo shows last year) and they weren’t an obvious pairing, but it turns out they play off each other very effectively, with various  visual and thematic echoes. Briggs co-opts his family into acting out elaborate not-as-fake-as-they-look psycho-dramatic scenarios as if trying to go back in time to alter how he was brought up.  Jokhova is more concerned with our communal place in time and what might mark it as permanent. Cairns, marble and Venice represent possible strategies, complicated here by such tactics as a prevalence of fake stone effects, the inclusion of video as a sculptural element, and building the classical out of cheese. This packed show is all worth thinking about – and is open steadily through August… 

Installation view with  Evy Jokhova's  Sisypha, 2017, a fake rock which is wheeled up and down the High Street daily


Transient Space @ Parafin, 18 Woodstock Street - Bond Street

To 16 Sept:

Tim Head, Fugitive Space 1, 1982. Hand tinted photographic collage. 33 × 48 cm
This sparkling conjunction unites six artists of disparate form who share an interest in the nature of urban space and how we engage with it: Tim Head renders corporate spaces uncanny through reflection and tinting; Abigail Reynolds opens windows onto time and cultural history by collaging book illustrations, their scenes  cut through to reveal the same place in an earlier year; Nathan Coley proposes that distressed sculptural housing blocks be used for political protest; Mike Ballard appropriates hoardings and derives paintings from wall textures; Melanie Manchot films parkour traceurs navigating Newcastle; and there’s an arrow-heavy ‘ontological painting’ by Keith Coventry in case none of that tells us where we are…


Ruairiadh O'Connell: Profiles in Custody @ Josh Lilley, 44 – 46 Riding House Street - Fitzrovia

Profiles in Custody: Bio-foam I, 2017, Foam impression box, rubber, steel, 147 × 37 × 37 cm
 Flash back to 2013 and star American footballer Aaron Hernandez was arrested for murder on the evidence of the unique wear on the chevrons of his Air Jordan shoes. Ru O’Connell has form with investigating the influence of patterning on life (airplane seat covers, m’ lord, casino carpets and firefighters' uniforms): his actions, too, have accrued a recognisable profile over time. Here he shows foam impressions of his own trainers, putting himself in the frame as the maker of plaster reliefs cast from their chevron patterns and shaped linen wallworks  printed over with same to constitute a rather soleful self-portrait as a moralist of decoration.   

Profiles in Custody: White Marble, 2017, Hessian, plaster, carbon fibre shards, 76 × 48 cm

Profiles in Custody: Lime, Black and Berry, 2017, Hessian, silicone mould rubber, plaster, carbon fibre, ink


Chelpa Ferro: spaceman / caveman @ Sprovieri, 23 Heddon St – Central

To 22 Sept (not Saturdays):

Installation view with hammock occupation

There was no shortage of art activity in London on the weekend of 1-2 July. Most of the East End’s Art Night activities ran six to midnight on the 1st: on 15 main sites with ludicrously long queues, and 60 collateral events more easily accessed. Further west was the ‘London Art Weekend’ (historic art in 42 galleries) and the Mayfair Art Weekend (exhibitions plus talks in 60 galleries with a more contemporary bias) – both, presumably, timed to coincide with the Masterpiece Art Fair. Phew! The Brazilian threesome Chelpa Ferro’s installation was best place to rest. Spaceman/caveman makes a virtue of the gallery’s columns to hang hammocks in a ramshackle sculptural environment in which you could feel the entropy setting in as 40 minutes of sounds sourced from the internet communicated (séance word) with and a primitive lighting to, in the show text’s words ‘rebuild genius gibberish to navigate, in a suspended improvisation, towards the present future’.


Abstract Remix @ New Art Projects, 6D Sheep Lane - Cambridge Heath

To 26 Aug:

Installation with Markus Linnenbrink

Bias alert: this is very like my own 'Show Us Your Process' (nine abstract artists including Jonathan Parsons with an emphasis on methods of making) only bigger and more international. 23 large works across four rooms combine the home gallery's Parsons with guests from the excellent  Taubert Contemporary in Berlin. Markus Linnenbrink shows his poured colours (sometimes cut away to reveal the layers) together with the sculptural result of collecting five years of his drips in a perspex box as he works. Another room shows Beat Zoderer squaring a circle by folding it,  flattening another into something quite other, and using unfolding in his Fold and dip series.. Adrian Esparza unpicks a Serape which takes on a slightly ragged anti-minimalism when woven geometrically between nails on a white wooden framework. Nor are  Joachim Grommek, Jan van der Ploeg, Markus Weggenmann and Parsons himself merely making up the numbers...

Beat Zoderer: Squaring the Circle, 2013 and Ringfaltung #3 (folded ring), 2013

Adrian Esparza: Game Spot, 2014


Jodie Carey: Earthcasts @ Edel Assanti, 74a Newman St – Fitzrovia

With all the Giacometti up in London at the moment*, it’s hard not to find an echo in Jodie Carey’s gallery-filling installation of 50 spindly figure-surrogates. But of course, there’s a lot more to both artists than attenuation. Carey made her earthcasts by burying timbers from the historically resonant source of the V&A, and replacing the wood with plaster – accepting the many contingencies caused by relative ground wetness, soil type and local matter, and adding some of her own such as the cut-aways and flecks of rainbow pastel. Wandering through the forest of casts makes for fascinating variety-in-sameness along with the references to nature, burial, rebirth, ritual… and maybe even Giacometti.  

* Tate Modern, Thomas Gibson, Gagosian Brittania Street


Shana Moulton in Morning Ritual, 2016

There's seems to be more on than usual over August, partly die to a new trend for shows running July-September instead of putting on a new show in September ahead of the expectation of opening something else for Frieze week in early October. That includes big exhibitions chosen by race (SLG and Tate Modern), gender (White Cube Bermondsey - make sure you allow 20 mins to see Shana Moulton's films) or sexuality (Tate Britain) - all worth seeing, though it seems a pity if that's what it takes to see good representation of those groups... Other recommended paying shows are Gregory Crewdson at the Photographer's Gallery (see my review at Alma-Tadema at Leighton House and Sargent at Dulwich as well as the ongoing Giacometti at the Tate (to 10 Sept), and the free triple at the Whitechapel (dust, Hart and Drew) is excellent.

Gregory Grewdson: Pickup Truck, 2014.

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.