Sunday, 25 June 2017


Up Now in London

Alastair Gordon & Hugh Mendes: Remains @ Charlie Smith, 336 Old Street, 2nd Floor - Shoreditch

Charlie Smith’s small backroom has been upgraded to ‘project space’ status, more than justified by this tri-dyptich combination of two painters who post-modernise Trompe-l'œil. Paint is paint as Hugh Mendes, known for his obituary paintings, continues his series imagining the use of artist’s self-portraits to memorialise them, and Alastair Gordon documents / re-imagines the studio walls of the artists as the self-portrait was being made. We can read the walls as collateral results of the act of painting and as an extension of the portrait form: Bacon becomes an abstractionist in spite of himself; Craigie Aitchion’s wall is his favourite pink; Michael Andrews pins his study from Giacometti to the wall. Ah yes, Giacometti…



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 resonannt 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

Lisa Yuskavage @ David Zwirner, 24 Grafton Street – Central

Housewarming, 2016 , 203 x 203 cm, oil on linen 

This is ‘art for believers’ – you have to buy into Lisa Yuskavage’s wacky world of 70’s soft porn meets cartoonish distortion meets art history. Once you do, it’s all about painterly experiment and decision-making. The new developments here are more couples, with the ‘emotional formalism’ of colours coding their connectivity (or lack of it) with each other and their surroundings; the use of multi-coloured grounds to signal transformation (as in the renaissance use of cangiante rainbows for angel’s wings) or of flesh ground to represent flesh so that, it might be said, the naked body is the most naked part of the painting; and greater variation than before in the degree of orthodox ‘finish’ within a painting.

Ludlow Street, 2017, 196 x 165 cm, oil on linen


You Are Looking at Something That Never Occurred and Zabludowicz Collection Invites Bea Bonafini @ the Zabludowicz Collection, 176 Prince of Wales Rd – Chalk Farm

 Lucas Blalock: Gaba with Fans, 2012

Paul Luckraft curates an impressive double bill at the Zabludowicz Collection. In the main space, fourteen artists use the indexical image as a mere starting point for their representation of the world, be that through appropriation, staging or manipulation. Lucas Blalock, for example, might be seen as a Brechtian user of Photoshop, making it a visible part of how he ‘depicts’ an oddball choice of subjects. In the project room, Bea Bonafini is the latest young artist to feature in the Collection’s ‘Invites’ series. Riffing on the building’s transition from religious to museological authority, she triple-tweaks hierarchical powerbases with a tapestry-come-carpet derived from battle scenes, a painting of an imagined chapel for non-believers, and a throne too spindly to support power viably.   

Installation view of Dovetail's Nest, 2017(Photo Tim Bowditch)


Sigrid Holmwood: The Peasants Are Revolting!  & Prunella Clough @ Annely Juda Fine Art
3rd & 4th  Floors, 23 Dering Street – central 


Sigrid Holmwood: Peasants fighting with scythes, 2017 - Mayan blue made from woad, ink, and gesso, on calico mordant printed and dyed with dyer’s broom, buckthorn berries, and logwood, on board, 120 x 185 cm

Sigrid Holmwood’s historico-conceptual paintings adopt the peasant as both subject and carrier of attitudes which run counter to the modernist mainstream. Part of that rebellion is against industrialised production, and so Holmwood displays the making of cochineal (from insect-infected catci) and Mayan blue (from the European indigo-producing plant, woad, so adding a colonialist reversal into the mix). The making of the paintings largely creates their subjects, which loop round on themselves with cheerful energy, as in this dance-come-fight with scythes. Add that, upstirs, there’s a reliably stimulating pick ‘n’ mix from across the career of Prunella Clough upstairs, and that Ronchini and Vigo have good shows just now, and Dering Street is well worth a visit… 

Prunella Clough: Waterweed 6, 1988 - oil and string on board, 32 x 38 cm
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Philip Guston: Laughter in the Dark, Drawings from 1971 & 1975 @ Hauser & Wirth, 23 Savile Row - Central

To 29 July:

Late Guston – the work produced 1970-80 following his controversial shift away from abstraction, can seem the go-to influence for every young painter. It’s remarkable, then, to find a 250-strong body of work from that period which has hardly been seen. What’s more Guston’s savage critique of Nixon-the-dickhead’s various shenanigans couldn’t be more timely in the all-too-comparable context of the 45th President. The bulk of these drawings, styled as cartoon-strip but also feeding the paintings, are from a three month blitz in1971, with a separate 1975 group lampooning Nixon’s self-pity while suffering from phlebitis during his political and physical descent, having resigned in 1974.


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


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.



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.