Tuesday, 23 August 2016



Gallery Elena Shchukina, 10 Lees Place, Mayfair (access from Shepherd's Place)

25 Aug - 16 Sept: http://galleryelenashchukina.com/

Evening opening with artist and curator: Wed 7 Sept, 6-9 pm

I'll also be there 5.00 - 5.30 on 25 Aug and 1.45 - 2.30 on 10 Sept

Caterpillar: The question you need is Who Are You?

Aly: Tell him he can see perfectly well who you are

Alice: You can see perfectly well who I am.

Caterpillar: But that’s not true, is it? These outer shells are only versions of ourselves...[i]

Bella Easton develops, replicates and reflects on apparently straightforward scenes from everyday life to generate a complex account of the multiple relationships and contradictions between inside and outside, natural and artificial, open and enclosed, chaos and order, uncanny and familiar, light and dark. In so doing, she takes her source material through a dizzying range of transformations to suggest the various selves that might be in play when we formulate our own identities.  
Identical Twins

Identical Twins, 2013 is an immersive landscape - of One Tree Hill in Honor Oak, near Easton's home in the south of London - that has been fragmented into 48 smaller elements. That arises from Easton’s characteristic hybrid technique of painting and printmaking. Here she has etched copper plates, printing each onto a single piece of paper, the inky marks from which are then offset onto a second piece of paper by running it through the press again – so producing its mirror counterpart. She has repeated this many times incorporating watercolour and graphite powder.  The Rorschach-like result is a coming-together that may look like one complete object or view, but is actually a doubling of two halves. The titles refers to the tendency of such mirroring to set up our natural potential to read faces into the image: that pareidolia emerges as skull-like forms here, and recurs across the related series of works. Those halves are often noticeably different, due to glitches and variations in depth of tone, completeness of impression, or sharpness of registration. Easton accepts and even encourages those chance effects by using the same source repeatedly – ‘murdering the copper plates’, as she puts it, ‘till you can’t get any more from them’. Her method, she says, ‘is a kind of controlled spontaneity which generates abstract effects on the figurative ground. Each section has its own personality, so that when the family of panels are spliced together, harmonies and dissonances arise’. Identical Twins, a one-off by the very nature of how it’s made, acted as the source image for the ‘Chiral’ (meaning ‘hand’ in Greek) series of etchings, drawings and paintings. 

From the Chiral etching series

Each of the Chiral etching series, 2014, selects a detailed sector of Identical Twins for further development, notably by adding watercolour layers to give greater depth and illusion of light, and by cutting in some elements and swapping them over. Hence what look like double moons, which cannot be mapped when superimposed over each other - like opposite hands, they have ‘chiral symmetry’. ‘Creating’, says Easton, ‘is a journey of complementary opposites. I employ actions that are contradicted or opposed until equilibrium is reached’.

Chiral I

These etchings initiated larger works in which selected motifs are reconfigured into immersively-scaled fabrications using a geometric framework: Chiral I, 2014, and Chiral II, 2015, onto 128 and 50 oil painted linen panels; Chiral VI, 2015, in graphite and coloured pencil on 50 paper panels. The process, as shown in the filmed documentation of the progress of Chiral I, scales up and mirrors the minutiae to an almost perverse extent. Each section is individually rendered by applying thin layers of oil paint over a long period of time. These paintings don’t use etching, but relate directly to the etched works as weight, pressure and touch are similarly employed to offset the oil painted and hand drawn marks from one panel to its counterpart, so creating a mirror image - the paint from each of the sections on the positive (left) side is squashed across onto the right.
Chiral VI

Chiral II adds an extra layer of illusion and depth of light by including the green tinge of a synthesized lens flare as if from off kilter photographic documentation. Again, the mirrored circles can read as eyes, but possibly more those of an insect:

Chiral II

A further step then sees Easton come inside: not to the studio - in line with the expected artistic tradition - but into her house, which has a distinctive mixture of Edwardian original features, silkscreened wallpaper by the artist, and Japanese decorative papers used to cover furnishings and fittings. At first it seems that Easton has transported the house, as an autobiographical account of her decorative taste, into the gallery. The Myriorama Room Series - Fireplace, Armchair and Lamp (all 2016, each made from 88 copper plate etchings) give context to what now seem to be windows letting onto landscapes. Yet closer examination reveals that those objects are not so straightforward: each are chiral versions of the same 44 parts twice – so, for example, we see two sets of bellows in the fireplace – or rather, the same pair of bellows twice. Each section is also printed twice with separate colours: first Indian Red, and then black. 


 And while the individual units which make up the chiral forms are mosaic-like squares, the totality of the images combine in a different way. Look at how the skirting boards and picture rail line up: a continuity and interchangeability is implied. We could move the depicted furniture around the room and maintain that. This, consistent with the era of the house’s contents, is a version of the parlour game Myriorama, in which imaginary landscapes could be made by reordering cards designed to ensure matching continuity of the horizontal markers of form.

Is that all? No, the dialectic of inside-outside acquires another shift when we notice that there’s a mirror above the fireplace, and what we see in the mirror is Chiral VI. That hangs on the wall in Armchair, and Fireplace shows its reflection in a mirror – or, rather, half of that reflected image, doubled. Could the domestic intimacy get more fragmented, and the outside come in more complexly?


Through all these transformations, Easton’s work picks up an aesthetic of its own, one which destroys colour and completeness of form to arrive at a washed out process-contingent amalgam of parts. The established romantic appeal of ruins is in the background as the chiral play, near-repetition and range of imperfections are displaced at first glance by a frisson of beauty. That’s only the surface, of course - we shouldn’t need the caterpillar or the artist to remind us of that - but we also know how disturbingly easy it is to slip into equating shell with content, beauty with virtue, appearance with underlying reality.

The construction of the self is also a matter of balancing the interplay of inside and outside. Using the suburban view out to stand in for society, one might draw a comparison with the ‘dialogical self’ propounded by Hubert Hermans. According to him, the self isn’t something internal in the mind, but combines internal and external dialogues so that a ‘society of the mind’ results. That is populated by a multiplicity of ‘self-positions’ that themselves inter-relate – with scope for internal conflict and development.  What Easton gives us is more a ‘society of the chiral’.  Can we ever truly know the inside of another person, whether dialogical or not? It’s an old philosophical conundrum. You can’t expect a painting to answer it, but Easton can be read as posing the question in a way which is true to its peculiar complexities.

Curated by Paul Carey-Kent 

Works in show:

Identical Twins, 2013 - 48 copper plate etchings printed onto watercolour and graphite on 400 gsm velin arches paper, 168 x 121cm

Chiral etching series I - VI, 2014 - hand coloured copper plate etchings on velin arches paper, 59 x 36cm, Edition 5

Chiral I, 2014 - Oil on 128 pieces of linen, 294 x 134cm

Chiral II, 2016 Oil on 50 pieces of linen, 200 x 80cm

Chiral VI, 2015 Graphite and coloured pencil on 50 pieces of paper, 150 x 72cm

Fireplace, Armchair and Lamp, 2016  each
88 copper plate etchings on 400 gsm velin arches paper in handmade Japanese paper frames, 97 x 110cm, Edition 10

[i] Moira Buffini in ‘Advice from a Caterpillar’ in ‘Alice in Wonder.land’, a version of Lewis Carroll’s classic tweaked for the digital age.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016


How To Be Neuter: Paul’s ART STUFF ON A TRAIN #179

Claude Cahun: ‘I Extend My Arms’, 1931-2
There’s been more attention paid of late to pioneering feminist artists: Mary Kelly, Carolee Schneeman, Lynn Hershman Leeson and Maria Lassnig, for example, all receive far more attention now than they did a decade back. Going back further, Claude Cahun (1894 – 1954) has been increasingly prominent. She’s in the new Tate Modern hang, and two teeming multi-artist shows include her highly staged, androgynous and surreally tinged self-portraits which now seem to prefigure Cindy Sherman and the selfie generation. She’s in Duro Olowu’s teeming celebration of the cultural role and artistic parallels of clothing as an aspect of self-identity (Camden Arts Centre to 18 Sept) and Elizabeth Price’s touring Arts Council show ‘In a Dream You Saw a Way to Survive and You Were Full of Joy’ (Whitworth, Manchester, to 31 Oct). Here her arms emerging somewhat comically from a torso of rock; and she poses as an exhibit in the British Museum. Cahun, again well suited to current trends, identified as agender, switching from her given name of Lucy Schwob, while her lifelong partner and step-sibling Suzanne Malherbe adopted the name ‘Marcel Moore’. ‘Neuter’, said Cahun, ‘is the only gender that always suits me’.

Claude Cahun: ‘Crystal Heads, British Museum’, 1936
Most days art Critic Paul Carey-Kent spends hours on the train, traveling between his home in Southampton and his day job in London. Could he, we asked, jot down whatever came into his head?

The Ethics of Dust: Paul’s ART STUFF ON A TRAIN #178


You can rely on Artangel for unusual large scale projects which are persuasively site-related. Just so, during the Parliamentary recess there are two ways of getting into the Palace of Westminster: book a guided tour (£18.50) or arrange to visit the latest Artangel project (free via www.artangel.org.uk/project/the-ethics-of-dust to 1 Sept). The title comes from John Ruskin’s pioneering recognition of the importance of preserving historic buildings. What you see is Jorge Otero-Pailos’ display of the dirt his team have removed from the eastern wall of the thousand year old Westminster Hall. The process was to paint the limestone, section by section, with latex and peel it away together with the surface accumulations of a millennium. Mount the section on a translucent backing fabric and hang the result in front of the wall. Any one section can be viewed three times: a frontal view of the dust, a back view – the wall’s eye view, perhaps – of the dust from the back, and the now-cleaned wall itself (as top to bottom below). The effect is a fascinating palimpsest not unlike a vast (54 x 6m) abstract painting by, say, Lawrence Carroll. That reminds me that Otero-Pailos did the same thing for the Doge’s Palace at the 53rd Venice Biennial in 2009, whereas Carroll represented the Vatican in 2013. Anyway, you can speculate on whether the parliamentary soot comes from, say, the torches at the trail of Guy Fawkes in 1606, though I didn’t find this a much more personalasing connection than the claim that we all contain atoms which were there.

Most days art Critic Paul Carey-Kent spends hours on the train, traveling between his home in Southampton and his day job in London. Could he, we asked, jot down whatever came into his head?

Sexy Abstracts: Paul’s ART STUFF ON A TRAIN #177


Daniel Sinsel: ‘Untitled’, 2016
Daniel Sinsel’s new show (Sadie Coles to 25th Aug), rather typically for him, combines sensitive surface exploration with unusual materials both beneath the painted surface (canvas cut into ribbons then woven together; calf vellum) and on top of it (hazelnut shells, whale’s teeth, pink coral). Just as characteristically, the effect is sensual, to point up which the coral provides its painting with nipples, and there’s a testicular sculpture hanging nearby. That gives abstraction something of the charge more readily associated with the figurative. It occurred to me that among other gay artists, Donald Moffett, achieves some broadly parallel effects; and Prem Sahib mixes minimalism and sex potently. Moreover Sue Williams and Cecily Brown (recently at Thomas Dane) – though their paintings don’t get quite so far from representation – both abstract from sex. Come to that, sexual undertones are often ascribed to Georgia O’Keeffe’s semi-abstracted flowers (as at Tate Modern now) though she denied it. There’s obviously something of the macho male posturing in Pollock, but that’s not quite the same direct symbolism. In fact, I can’t think of the equivalent heterosexual male practitioner – is that just too tricky a position to take, too likely to descend into cliché?

Donald Moffett, ‘Lot 121909 (18/o)’ 2009. Oil on linen with wood panel support. 43 x 43 cm
Most days art Critic Paul Carey-Kent spends hours on the train, traveling between his home in Southampton and his day job in London. Could he, we asked, jot down whatever came into his head?

Open to the Mix: Paul’s ART STUFF ON A TRAIN #176


             David Remfry: ‘Woman With Imaginary Dog II’, oil, 50 x 61 cm
I’m happy to accept the Royal Academy Summer Show (to 16 Aug – hurry along!) for what it is, but it’s often traduced – indeed, bad reviews have become a tradition to rival the 345 year old annual show itself – for its uneven quality, populism, an indigestibly dense hang (1240 works this year) and the clogging effect of veteran RAs being given automatic entry for formulaic work: Ken Howard, Anthony Green, Jeffery Camp, Bill Jacklin – you get the pictures. Another candidate for that list might be David Remfry, a dandy 73 year old who grew up in Hull, but moved to London and then to New York in 1995. A painter of people, he’s perhaps best known for large watercolours of urban scenes and of acquaintances he’s asked to dance in his studio at the Chelsea Hotel. Last year, he showed portraits of people with their dogs. Here, in open-minded mode, I enjoyed modestly-sized oils which played wittily with absence: a woman walking ‘with an imaginary dog’, so poking a little fun at himself; and the moody ‘It Begins Again’ in which the space where the woman’s body might have been added can also read as her torso in flimsy white clothing. Remfry also curated Room VIII, where he showed his view of the Hudson River from the Chelsea Hotel’s window, demonstrated a doubtful taste for the usual suspects named above – but also found room for some wilder work, much of it literally hairy.
Most days art Critic Paul Carey-Kent spends hours on the train, traveling between his home in Southampton and his day job in London. Could he, we asked, jot down whatever came into his head?
remfry 79

                           David Remfry: ‘It Begins Again’ – oil, 112 x 152 cm
‘Could Your Child Have Done That?’ Paul’s ART STUFF ON A TRAIN #175

Mindy Lee: ‘teef gnitniap | painting feet’, acrylic and watercolour on paper, each approx 47 x 34 cm, 2016
The Serpentine has a notably ancient combination currently in Alex Katz (89) and Etal Adnan (91), but at the other end of the age range, two interesting shows are not so much a case of the cliché-critique ‘my child could have done that!’ as the parental pride of ‘my child did that!’. At the Blyth Gallery in Kensington (to 26 Sept in the motherhood-inspired show ‘In Infancy’, with Sarah Gillham), Mindy Lee collaborates with her two year old son. Thus, for example, he used his feet to make the initial marks before she works around and responds to them, adding a Rorshach type print and depictions of both their feet. That process, says Lee, fetishises her son’s gestures and merges ideas of children’s butterfly paintings with psychological testing. Meanwhile, at Damien Hirst’s Newport Street Gallery in Vauxhall (to 16 Oct), Jeff Koons takes fetishising your son’s creations to another level: it was twenty years before he was satisfied with the production quality of the 27 interlocking aluminium pieces which make up his three metre high version of a mound of ‘Play-Doh’ which his two year old son Ludwig proudly showed him in 1994. Koons, notoriously, also shows explicit images of what, if not the moment of his son’s conception, were the relevant actions between him and Ludwig’s mother, the Italian porn star La Cicciolina. He went on, after their divorce, to fight a custody case over Ludwig which lasted almost as long as the making of ‘Play-Doh’…
koons 058

Jeff Koons: Play-Doh, 1994-2014 – polychromed aluminium, 312 x 384 x 348 cm, one of ‘five unique versions’

Naked in Numbers: Paul’s ART STUFF ON A TRAIN #174

tunick hull

People manoeuvre into position as they take part in Sea of Hull by Spencer Tunick, Saturday July 9, 2016

The classic art nude, as painted or in performance, is the single figure. But group nudity, which has less aesthetic-erotic and more anarchic-social import, seems very much on trend at the moment. Veteran of the form Spencer Tunick recently had 3000 naked people paint themselves in marine blues in Hull for his contribution to the port’s programme as UK City of Culture next year. Body painting was very much central to the 1980’s performances of the Neo-Naturists, currently celebrated at Studio Voltaire in a suitably cacophonous installation with five films and two slides shows operating simultaneously. Vitrines of other work, documentation and memorabilia seek to situate their ludic silliness: equal parts a way of showcasing Wilma Johnson and the Binnie sisters’ painting skills; making a relishably provocative impact; and, using the personal body as a metaphor for the social body, pointing to the need to free up Thatcherite Britain. One of the most prominent works in Tate Modern’s newly opened wing has much the same ramshackle spirit: Marvin Gaye Chetwynd’s 2008 film ‘Hermitos Children, the pilot episode’ plays on 32 screens simultaneously, Watching from a sprawling beanbag made from the costumes in the film, you see performances strung into no kind of sensible narrative whuch concludes with ten minutes of naked frolics such as would have done the Neo-Naturists proud. Could this trend for communal self-discovery through nakedness be just what we need to banish the Brexit Blues?


Neo Naturists, Black Rapport Day, Thames Beach Wapping, 17 July 1982 (Jennifer Binnie, Wilma Johnson, Nico Holah and Bruce Lacey) – Courtesy of the Neo Naturists Archive


Marvin Gaye Chetwynd’s ‘Hermitos Children, the pilot episode’, 2008

Most days art Critic Paul Carey-Kent spends hours on the train, traveling between his home in Southampton and his day job in London. Could he, we asked, jot down whatever came into his head?

When Your Name’s Not Vital: Paul’s ART STUFF ON A TRAIN #173

NVNot Vital: 'Landscape', 2013 - marble and plaster

Not Vital: ‘Landscape’, 2013 – marble and plaster

Enigmatic Swiss artist Not Vital has a major showing at Yorkshire Sculpture Park (to Jan 2017) and an attractively focussed one at Ordovas in Savile Row (to 5 Aug). His origins are Romansch-speaking Swiss, but Vital is also fluent in Switzerland’s other – and more widely spoken – official languages of French, German and Italian. In none of them, though, does his name have the curious, if memorable, negative implication it picks up in English. The nomadic Vital has a studio in Beijing, and the London show ‘Muntognas’ (Romansch for ‘Mountains’) presents Chinese marble which he slices open to reveal the Alpine landscapes of his native country, as if the whole world reminds him of home. The process of reading the veins of one geology as the image of another reminded me of Salvador Dali’s paranoiac-critical technique, in which swans prove to be elephants too, and so on. The marble, renowned for its natural striations, is from the Dali area of Yunnan Province in South-West China, and is known as ‘Dali Stone’: not vital, I suppose, but nicely appropriate. That, in turn, reminded me of the set of three Dali collages (at Zurich’s Kunstberatung) which felt like the freshest Salvadorian salvo I’ve seen in years… Here’s a Christmas tree out of butterflies and angels’ wings.

dali las alas

Salvador Dali: ‘The Wings’, 1958 – Watercolour, pen and ink, and collage on paper

Masterpieces and Otherwise: Paul’s ART STUFF ON A TRAIN #172

S.H. Raza: ‘Jala Bindu’, 1998, 120 x 120 cm

‘Masterpiece’ (which ran 30.6 – 7.7 this year) presents a broader mixture than the typical fair. I was fascinated by lizards as medieval door knockers (at Sam Fogg); latex rubber models of mushrooms used to teach the cutomers of 1950’s French chemists what to avoid (Peter Petrou); Clive Sinclair’s version of Marriane Faithful’s torso, silver and near-abstract save for the casting of his then-girlfriend’s nipples (Whitford Fine Art); and a fabulous integration of old furniture with recent abstraction at Antwerp’s Axel Vervoordt. That included a taped-together stack of time cards – one of many objects which Japanese artist Sadaharu Horio leaves around the studio, adding paint daily over several years in a semi-conscious manner to bring everything into his scheme. I was also taken by two other abstractions with a meditative bent. S.H. Raza (born India 1922, but based in France from 1950) switched in 1979 from western-influenced landscapes to tantric meditations built around the bindu (dot) as the ‘I’ at the centre of a geometric universe. At New Dehli’s DAG Modern that read as a black sun over a sea of colour orchestration. Luis Tomasello’s ‘Objet plastique no 550’, 1983 (Dutko Gallery) is unusual among his works for its darkness, which generates brooding quality which plays down the efflorescence he achieves by reflecting colours onto the surface from the reverse of the wooden elements. Are all of those examples ‘masterpieces’? Perhaps not, but why let terminology get in the way of enjoyment?

Luis Tomasello: ‘Objet plastique no 550’, 1983

Group of latex rubber mushrooms, c 1950

Sadaharu Horio: ‘Ironuri (Paint Placements)’, 1987, punch cards, acrylic paint, 20 x 20 x 9 cm

Horse Associations: Paul’s ART STUFF ON A TRAIN #171


Tania Bruguera: ‘Tatlin’s Whisper #5’, 2008 Decontextualization of an action, Unannounced Performance, Behavior Art. Materials: Mounted police, crowd control techniques, audience.

Visitors to Tate Modern last Saturday may have been struck, not just by the newly-opened Switch House expansion, but by the sight of two mounted police officers controlling the crowds on the Turbine Hall Bridge. True, the gallery was busy, but it seemed a little heavy-handed for them to ask me to move on for no greater offence than looking at Ai Wei Wei’s bolted-together tree. Of course, it was an artwork, though Tania Bruguera hopes that isn’t so obvious at first: ‘I like people not to think it’s art, so they can really enjoy it as a lived event and not as a representation of a live event… like a vignette where the audience can have a little piece of experience with power. In this case it is with the police’. Once you know it’s art you may make other links, the obvious one being to Jannis Kounellis’ Arte Povera masterpiece, ‘Untitled (12 Horses)’, 1969, which was recently re-enacted in Gavin Brown’s New York gallery. According to Jerry Salz ‘their presence in an art gallery—peaceful, delicate, humbling—is something we don’t know we need to know until we know them, and then are grateful for knowing. This is an apt metaphor for what art galleries can do.’ Maybe so, but I associate them first with my wife, who loves horses with a passion. So let this column be for her…


Jannis Kounellis: ‘Untitled (12 Horses)’, 1969, at Gavin Brown, 2016

Most days art Critic Paul Carey-Kent spends hours on the train, traveling between his home in Southampton and his day job in London. Could he, we asked, jot down whatever came into his head?

Sunday, 14 August 2016


Up Now in London

Page down to end of current choices to sign up to my mailing list  

Clarisse d'ArcimolesForgotten Tale @ Photographer's Gallery

To 23 Sept

The installation

When she was a girl in France, Clarisse d'Arcimoles persuaded herself that old back and white photographs showed that the world was not then in colour, feeding what proved an ongoing desire to enter the monochrome world as used to be. She's often played on that urge by casting herself – with enough seriousness to emplo a period specialist hairdresser - into remakes of Victorian photography, several of which are on view here. But after some years pursuing the funds, d'Arcimoles has finally realised the grander ambition of recreating the childishly assumed world itself. Her installation replicates the location of a family photographed in a common lodging house in Spitalfields in 1902, the whole walk-in scene meticulously painted in black and white.

The original photograph

MADE YOU LOOK: Dandyism and Black Masculinity @ The Photographer’s Gallery, 16-18 Ramillies St – Oxford Circus

Jeffrey Henson-Scales, Young Man In Plaid, NYC, 1991

Introducing his show, curator Ekow Eshun summairses how black men can be both hyper-visible (due to racial stereotypes of criminality and sexuality) and yet invisible (in terms of their inner life and own concerns). That’s the context for images in which black men assert themselves beyond the constrictions of the white gaze as complex and flamboyant rather than other or estranged, and do so through a dandyism which is less a matter of fashion and pose than a  means of constructing a self-identity. Morrocan-born Hassan Hajjij’s extravagantly patterned friends framed by packets of local products, Samuel Fosso’s self-reinventions, Jeffrey Henson-Scales and Malick Sidibé are among the telling choices.
Hassan Hajjij: Mr J-C Heyford, 2012

Ragnar Kjartansson @ The Barbican

To 4 Sept: www.barbican.org.uk

Detail from Take Me Here by the Dishwasher: Memorial for a Marriage, 2011

The most talked-about show in London now is this one: as many as ten guitarists loll around singing the same phrase all day; two Edwardian women kiss for two hours; a band sings the same song for six hours straight; mother spits at you every five years with no end date set - and plenty more   Ragnar Kjartansson takes the simple idea of repetition and applies it to crazy excess to see what emerges: difference, of course, and an off-beat humour, but also unpredictable outcrops of emotion. And it makes for a challenge: how much can you watch? How much do you want to watch? 

Second Movement, 2016

Performer / Audience / Mirror @ Lisson Gallery, 68 Bell St - Edgeware Road 

Still from Nathalie Djurberg & Hans Berg: Worship, 2016

One of the Lisson's gallery has three rooms dedicated to consective screening of three programmes of films by 18 artists, each emphasising one of the triad performer, audience and mirror from  Dan Graham's seminal performance of that name, here presented within a Dan Graham pavilion. It ranges across classics such as that, Marina Abramovic's combing frenzy Art must be beautiful /Artist must be beautiful and Rodney Graham's Vexation Island to less famous works (Ceal Floyer's Downpour (Thorstrasse), 2004 is particularly neat)  to  new work, notably Nathalie Djurberg & Hans Berg's first claymation film for five years, whihc is relishably fruity. It;s also on line, and while not all the films are easy straight-through watches, especially if you don't plan to stay the whole day, you can ask to have them reordered...

Still from Marina Abramovic:  Art must be beautiful /Artist must be beautiful, 1975


Katherine Murphy: Decay @ Patrick Heide, 11 Church St – Edgeware Road

 To 17 Sept

Labour + Repetition = Decay (no.9), 2015

Katherine Murphy gives obsession a political inflexion, as her labour stands in for the under-acknowledged toil of the many carrying out repetitive tasks in the broader economy. That's explicit in her timesheet-based prints, but equally present in two new streams of work (and I mean work) in this, her first full solo show. The series Labour + Repetition = Decay requires the folding and unfolding of paper over several weeks to reach an aesthetic of ditressed geometry. For Decay by 100,000 pinholes Murphy has pricked as many as that into a large piece of paper, using a decreasing number of random numbers to decide where to pierce, so that ‘blank’ patches increase towards the right. That was six months of labour for – even if the piece is sold – no more than pin money.

Katherine Murphy in front of thousands of holes, not easily spotted in a photograph


Overlay @ White Rainbow, 47 Mortimer St – Fitzrovia

To 17 Sept: 
Installation view with Zoë Paul's Moths and Lizards, 2016, in front of Nancy Holt's Trail Markers, 1969

In the inspiring presence of Nancy Holt’s Trail Markers, four young artists pick up on its aspects of journeys, materiality and sexual roles with an underlying contrast of natural and artificial. Cathy Haynes constructs an alphabet out of plastic imitation wood, each letter framed in real wood faked to look like oak; Claire Potter films herself in male action mode but taking mockingly little action; Zoë Paul plays with ritual through volcanic rock faces, marble staging, and mist machines; Hannah Lees explores wine as paint, incense as a sculptural element, and the detritus of river walks as content immured in plaster. The whole creates a subtle but immersive interplay: kudos to curator Jeremy Millar as well as to the artists.


Niki de Saint Phalle: je Suis une Vache Suisse @ Omer Tiroche Contemporary Art, 21 Conduit St - Mayfair

To 10 Sept:
Je Suis Une Vache Suisse, 1991 - oil, pencil and mirror on wood, 99 x 96 x 20 cm

There are some superb historical shows on at the moment: Louise Nevelson at Pace, Jean Dubuffet at Timothy Taylor, Gego at Dominique Lévy...  Less obvious, perhaps,. is this co-selection with the Yorkshire Sculpture Park of  Niki de Saint Phalle (1930 - 2002). It's seeded with darkness, All Over being one of the collages of everyday items (somewhat akin to Mike Kelley's later 'Memory Ware' series) which she stated making while in a mental institution following depression and prior to her famous shooting paintings. Omitting those, the show fast forwards to her brighter and more animalistic side, including the eponymous Swiss cow with cheesy holes; her usual fun with birds and snakes; and the plaster work showing her friend Clarice Rivers (Larry's wife) pregnant - which was to swell into the Nana series.

All Over, 1959-60 - objects i plaster on wood panel


Jeff Koons: Now @ Newport Street Gallery, Newport Street –  Vauxhall


'Play Doh', 1994-2014
Damien Hirst, in his more than impressive new space, provides a punchily presented and much less predictable overview of Koons than I’d expected: hoovers and basketballs present and welcome, but also early inflatables to tee up the later stainless steel blown-up big ‘can’t-believe-it’s-not-vinyl’ ones; a bigger balloon ‘celebration’ than has been shown in London before; giant eggs as well as Jeff’s own sperm on Illona’s face; the 27 aluminium casts which make up the monstrous child’s play of ‘Play Doh’… 

Three Ball 50/50 Tank (Spalding Dr JK Silver series), 1995



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.