Tuesday, 17 October 2017

LUDICROUS DEMOCRACY? TEN FRIEZE WEEK HIGHLIGHTS




Josef Albers, Homage to the Square: Temperate, 1957 Oil on Masonite, 81.3 by 81.3 cm  at Sotheby's

Estimated at £0.7-1.0m, this  example of Albers' homages to the square made £2.2m, perhaps reflecting that its unusually - indeed, intemperately - luminous in the colour combination which Sotheby's auctionese describes as 'a lusty red nestled in soft violet, a muted navy encased by an exuberant blue'. The series of some 2,000 paintings, which occupied Albers pretty much exclusively from 1950-76, is a means of serving up colour, which he always started from the middle - so that (lusty?) red went on first. 




Sunday, 15 October 2017

CHOICES UP NOW



Up Now in London



Laurent Grasso: The Panoptes Project @ Olivier Malingue, 143 New Bond Street – Central





Laurent Grasso, The Panoptes Project at Olivier Malingue, London. Photo: Marcus Peel


This unusual, dramatically lit, dark-walled show comes from inviting Laurent Grasso (well-known in France as winner of the Turner-equivalent Marcel Duchamp prize in 2008) to combine his own work with choices from the gallery’s secondary market collection: Ernst, Picabia, Picasso, Magritte, Brauner... Grasso immerses us in gazes echoing the myth of Argos Panoptes, a giant covered with a myriad of eyes. His own additions of floating eyes onto found landscapes, and eyes-only copies of historical portraits, act as recurring motifs as surveillance, astrological observation and voyeurism come into play…
 

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Laurent Grasso, The Panoptes Project at Olivier Malingue, London. Photo: Marcus Peel

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Giorgio de Chirico: Getafisica da Giardino @ Nahmad Projects, 2 Cork St and  Reading de Chirico @ Tornabuoni Art, 46 Albemarle St - Central

To 15 Dec (Nahmad) / 10 Jan (Tornabuoni)

Sun and Moon, 1972
Happy times if , like me,you like all phases of de Chirico. Nahmad has the odder of two substantial shows, for which Francesco Vezzoli installs paintings against a wallpaper background of de Chirico motifs, complete with astroturf floor. There are 18 de Chirico’s: first run 1920’s classics, later ‘self-copies’ of the same subjects, some misdated by the artist (can you forge yourself? Discuss), self-portraits in his ‘old master’ style… and an ante-room full of the little-known late motif of the sun as a character which can, for example, sit on a chair. Vezzoli contributes three works: paintings which vary de Chrico’s originals in appropriate spirit, and a classical torso to which he has added a de Chirico head à la tailor’s dummy.  Great fun, and well complemented by the more scholarly presentation of 25 de Chirico's at Tornabuoni.

Installation view at Nahmad Projects

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Tom Wesselmann: Bedroom Paintings @ Gagosian Davies Street & Tom Wesselmann @ Almine Rech, Grosvenor Hill - Mayfair

To Dec 16
Bedroom Painting #21, 1969-1975

I guess one thinks of breasts  for Tom Wesselmann's pictures of body elements, but hands and feet star in the Gagosian half of this double-bill. In the oval Bedroom Painting #21, you might think they are set against abstract elements, but that radical black centre is a curtain, overlapping a green blind, allowing a slither of landscape; and we see yellow flowers, a section of purple wall and a light switch. And if you find it a little cold in its rigorous, formal, implicitly sexual organisation – what are these, adverts for parts of women? - then there’s a warmer, more intimate feel to the complementary show of later work in Almine Rech’s newly-opened basement space, All include the face, such as this mother and baby study, which flowed into a shaped canvas of 1979-91.  

Study for Barbara and Baby, 1979
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Robert Longo: Let the Frame of Things Disjoint at Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Ely House, 37 Dover Street - Central

To 11 Nov:  http://ropac.net/

Study of Eagle, 2017 - 92 x 107 cm


This, Robert Longo's  most substantial show yet in Britain, features 30 works, many of them enormous charcoals in  his signature, darkly radiant, technique.    True, Longo makes images because he loves them, but he looks for subjects which resonate both personally and publicly and come together to form an engaged account of the world with seduction and power at its centre. Here the overview, under a title taken from the doomed Macbeth, incorporates Ely House's former life as the home of the Abelmarle Club, terrorism, resonances from art history, and a unsurprisingly jaundiced view of America now. The backstory and interconnections ratchet up the power of individual works, which include a friend in a Burka, X-rays of famous paintings, a redacted Guernica, bullet holes in glass, a ravaged stars and stripes, and the 'paths of the mind' which merges tree and brain images in the wake of his stroke in 2013.

Untitled (Copenhagen, February 14, 2015), 2017 - 260 x 3015 cm

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Melancholia. A Sebald Variation @ Inigo Rooms, King's College London, Somerset House East Wing 

To 10 Dec: www.kcl.ac.uk/Cultural/-/Projects/Melancholia.aspx

 

Still from Guido van de Werve: Nummer Veertien: Home, 2012

 With so many big shows opening in the run-up to Frieze it would be easy to omit the basement galleries under Somerset House’s East Wing, but that would be a mistake. Rather, you should take two hours out of the  hurly-burly for this paradoxically uplifting exploration of melancholy. Inspired by WG Sebald, especially ‘On The Natural History of Destruction’, it starts with Durer, incorporates the WW2 bombing of Germany and unseen work by Tacita Dean and Anselm Kiefer among others, and pivots on a cinematic presentation of Guido Van der Werve’s hypnotic 54 minute film Number Twelve, Home, which starts on the hour and demands to be seen in full. Then you can ponder whether ‘in the description of the disaster’, as Sebald claimed, ‘lies the possibility of overcoming it’.  

Jeremy Wood: My Ghost, 2015 - a GPS track of his movements around London over 15 years
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Andy Holden & Peter Holden: Natural Selection @ former Newington Library, 155 Walworth Road - Elephant & Castle 






Andy Holden is one of our best artists, and Art Angel have an unrivalled track record the commissioning ambitious new work in unusual places... So it's hardly a surprise that you should visit a disused Victorian library  which was previously father and son-run Cuming Museum. There you will see Holden's collaboration with his ornithologist father through two films with accompanying material and objects. First, 30 minutes on birds’ nests: how are they made and why do they take the form they do? How are the skills inherited? Might they possibly be art? What if Holden himself makes the nests? The other is a social history of collecting bird's eggs - the latter stages of which are either a rogue's gallery or sad case studies of obsessives born out of time (alongside one of the most notorious illegal collections is displayed). This is fascinating and also leads us to reflect on what we take from our parents, to what extent we can escape it, the difference between instinct and art, and what is real here, and what (like the collection of eggs) is not.
 


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Zanele Muholi: Somnyama Ngonyama (Hail, the Dark Lioness) @ Autograph ABP, Rivington Place - Shoreditch

To 28 Oct: www.autograph-abp.co.uk 


Bester V, 2015



Zanele Muholi’s Faces and Phases portraits (from 2006 ongoing) asserting the presence of the black LGBTQI community in South Africa have been widely shown, but here we have only 70-odd self-portraits from 2014-17. Is there room for more such work in the post-Sherman, post-selfie age? This tremendous double exhibition - of her ‘Dark Lioness’ series, and newly commissioned images of Muholi in a kimono in Kyoto and a former prison in Johannesburg - proves there is. Race, class and personal history are more prominent than sexual identity as Muholi intensifies her blackness by increasing the contrast in black and white photographs and uses potentially absurd yet aesthetically potent props to clue us in to back-narratives. The scouring pad hat of Bester V. Mayotte, for example, both dignifies and critiques her mother’s lifetime of domestic labour; while Basizeni XI uses tyres to haunt the memorialising of her late sister with colonial rubber production and execution by ‘necklacing’.



Basizeni XI, Cassilhaus, North Carolina, 2016

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Bernard Piffaretti: Calligram @ Kate MacGarry, 27 Old Nichol St - Shoreditch

To 21 Oct
: www.katemacgarry.com



Untitled, 2017 - acrylic on canvas, 160 x 40 cm
 
'Is he still doing the same old double thing?' asked one painter when I mentioned Bernard Piffareti. And it's true, the French artist's first London solo plays several new canvases against several older ones, all using the method he's followed since 1986: choose a size and shape of canvas, choose an acrylic colour (he never mixes them), use it to paint a vertical spine down the centre, and then proceed to paint either side similarly. It turns out there's plenty to play off in that set-up, one being the back and forth caused by the slight differences between halves, another the unanswerable puzzle which has temporal or hierarchical primacy. Examples here include wall-like, road-like and floral modes, as well as the small, circular 'Tableaux en negative', which suggest a snapshot of part only of a larger painting, the two halves diverging notably from symmetry by capturing different aspects. There's also a text painting, which rearranges the show's title - 'Calligram' - to form a decorative pattern. It's a whole world, and maybe all the paintings - says Piffaretti, are just one large painting. 'And you', I asked back, 'are you still doing the same old single thing?'

Tableaux en negative I, 2010 - acrylic on canvas, 60 x 60cm
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Stano Filko: Reality of Cosmos @ The Mayor Gallery, 21 Cork St

Map of the World (Rockets), 1967 - monotype on map, 95 x 180cm
Lucia Gregorova Stach, of Slovakia’s national gallery, has curated this show of 1960’s work by the second most famous Slovakian conceptualist after Julius Koller. She pitches him as somewhere between Beuys (Filko has a foundation myth of becoming an artist following a near-death experience in a munitions factory) and Kabakov (he’s an oblique satirist of the communist state). Thus Filko (1937-2015) displays proposals for buildings, cobbled together anti-monumentally from found metal, so that they dominate an image of the Bratislava skyline’s socialist utopia. He pitches red blood against blue cosmos, male rockets against cavorting women in a pop-style assertion of erotic over political against the collage background of a world map – which his work, unlike his small country but consistent with what was apparently a big personality, threatens to usurp. 

Models of Observation Towers, 1966-67 - mixed media installation, 12 x 300 x 85cm
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Henri Fantin-Latour: Gladioli and Roses, 1880

Nature Morte @ Guildhall Art Gallery, Guildhall Yard - city of London

To 2 April 2018, £8: www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/things-to-do/visit-the-city/attractions/guildhall-galleries

Caroline McCarthy: Vanitas, 2007

The large but little known Guildhall Art Gallery has a significant collection of Victorian paintings, currently complemented by and integrated with over 100 contemporary still lives. They provide new spins on flora, vanitas, food and domestic objects in a show – organised by Peckham's MOCA – which toured the world three years before arriving in London. You'll find, Andro Semeiko's 1.5m square  "Very big chocolate cake", a tribute to potential excess, more healthily topped by a 2 m high painting of cherries by Martin Gustavsson; and library of woodland books by Conrad Bakker; a Fright Wig made from household dust by Paul Hazelton; Caroline McCarthy's image of a skull made from Ben-Day dots punched out of a binbag hung next to it, waste to waste; and two classic Fantin-Latour florals – while both Philip Pirolo and Michael Petry (also the lead curator) make striking works which equate flower and anus.

Michael Petry: Red Roses, 2009 - one of three blown glass and cut flower arrangements in which the rim of the vase is taken from online submission  of anus shapes, and  each flower choice  represents a man's sexual preferences via the 1970's gay hanky colour code. 



                                 
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Images courtesy / copyright the relevant artists and galleries 




   

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About Me

My photo
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.

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