spotted at frieze 2012

18 October 2012 § Leave a comment

Another uninspiring Frieze his year. I suppose that once the art world has – like every year – built it up to be the London event of the year there is only one result: some degree of disappointment. Despite this Frieze of course remains the best UK contemporary art fair and a must visit to try at catch a whiff of the zeitgeist of the contemporary art market. Here are a few of the things that caught our eye this year. No particular reason. No particular order. No analyses of who sold what. And most definitely no ‘who was seen where’ nonsense.

A small oil by NY artist Amy Bennett. At Galleri Magnus Karlsson

One from handful of skilful watercolours by Maria Nordina – also at Galleri Magnus Karlsson.

The best from a roomful of large and impressive Jonas Wood pieces at David Kordansky.

A melting Paul McCarthy White Snow Head at Hauser & Wirth.

A Gavin Turk neon door.

Julian Opie‘s rather neat sculptures – and a mosaic.

One of a few large and impressive Wolfgang Tillmans images.

A dissection of a curator made of cake.

Something made of some substance made by somebody South American (I think?)

And outside, in the rain a pretty Yayoi Kusama from Victoria Miro.

grayson perry: the tomb of the unknown craftsman at the british museum

13 January 2012 § 1 Comment

Grayson Perry seems to have rather a marmite love-hate relationship with some of the British art world. I suspect that for his critics this is rather more due to the somewhat cosy relationship that he has with the mass media than his artistic abilities, after all what other contemporary artist appears on Have I Got News For You, features in documentaries or stars on TV chat shows? Perhaps he is rather too popular with the public for those who prefer their artists to be a bit more like, well, contemporary artists. In any case he is sure to be even more popular after this wonderful exhibition – will they hate him more or less? I suspect they’ll have to bite their lip and admit his great talent.

At the British Museum Perry has been given free rein to dig in to their vast collection and he has selected exceptionally well. Picking charming and quirky pieces – what else would we expect? – he celebrates the craftsmen and women who have made all those pieces that adorn the museum. Items cover two million years and feature diverse themes – you will find perhaps religious icons, grotesque masks, tiny reliquaries, strange totems, modern badges and pre-Columbian pots. There are inevitably plenty of phalluses, a bit of cross dressing, some sexual politics – all are linked by Perry’s own creations that are slipped in amongst them.

Jumping from culture to culture, leaping through time – and purpose – objects are juxtaposed to great effect. The biggest shock perhaps is that it is virtually seamless. The old and new mingle as if created at least by the same souls or spirits, if not the selfsame hand. Untold millennia of craft merges in to one fascinating, witty and often moving exhibition. The show culminates with the celebratory cast-iron ‘tomb’ which in the form of a boat carries a flint hand axe (the oldest artefact in the museum) as well as vials of blood sweat and tears, and sails ever onward. We emerge with feeling of connection with the past – a glorious celebration of human creativity and cultural diversity. 

At the British Museum until 19 February 2012.

Grayson Perry is represented by Victoria Miro.

latest exhibition openings

8 September 2011 § 1 Comment

After the summer lull the Autumn ‘season’ is off with a bang. Here is a selection of my recommended new exhibitions, starting with those that have opened in the last few days.

Timothy Taylor. Lee Friedlander – America by Car & The New Cars 1964. Fresh from MoMA, breathtaking photographs from a master. Until 1 October 2011.

Hauser & Wirth. Phyllida Barlow – RIG. Urban structures reacting to the gallery space. Until 22 October 2011.

Wilkinson. Thoralf Knobloch – Wegkreuz & Matt Calderwood – Full Scale. Until 2 October 2011.

Stephen Friedman. Paul McDevitt – Running on Woollen Legs. Disney meets De Stijl – fascinating! Until 1 October 2011.

Blain Southern. Marius Bercea – Remains Of Tomorrow. Beautiful but complex landscapes of a fractured society. Until 1 October 2011.

Victoria Miro. Conrad Shawcross – Sequential. Geometrical, metaphysical and ambitious. Sure to be excellent. Until 1 October 2011.

Sumarria Lunn. Modern Frustrations. In particular check out Tim Phillips’ excellent Hyperion – a corporate logo for a new age. 8 to 30 September 2011, just around the corner from….

Haunch of Venison. Adrian Ghenie. Complex figurative paintings back in HoV’s restored original space. 8 September to 8 October 2011.

Alison Jacques. Dan Fischer. Immaculate pencil drawings that ask searching questions about modern icons. 9 September to 8 October 2011.

Gazelli Art House. Air I Breathe. Latest exhibition from an ambitious and innovative pop-up gallery. 9 September to 7 October 2011.

Josh Lilley. Christof Mascher – Urban Ornamental. Painting, ceramics and sculpture recounting mythological narratives. 9 September to 8 October 2011.

All in all it is a mouth-watering selection, I have seen most (will try to review in future blogs) and cannot wait for the rest. Go on, get downtown and create your own gallery tour….

london commercial galleries – top ten

23 September 2010 § 1 Comment

Continuing on from the public gallery top ten here are my commercial gallery selection. This was a much more difficult choice and reflects the fact that curating a commercial gallery is in many ways a harder task. The potential range of art is usually much broader – a good gallerist will need have an eye for the best of these new artists, be able to develop existing ones and at the same time, let us not forget, run a business to make money.  They have to curate interesting shows at close intervals in spaces that are often less than ideal. Many galleries can rarely exploit prime locations – with the cost of retail space in London at exorbitant levels – and they will often need to attract visitors to out-of-the-way locations.

There are however plenty of arty masochists willing to give it a go. A guideline figures for the number of London galleries is impossible to nail down – not least because they open and close faster than Wayne Rooneys flies – but it seems to be somewhere between 300 and 500.  Picking a random selection and dropping in may seem like one way to look at some art, but it will produce very mixed results. A recent trawl around a series of ‘first Thursday’ galleries in the East End nearly made me slit my wrists in frustration – I found nothing that was close to worthwhile looking at over a period of over three hours. Ultimately only a fine curry and a beer on Brick Lane saved the evening!

My advice? Try sticking to names that you may have heard of or those recommended to you. At the same time why not try popping in to their near neighbours – these galleries may be riding on their famous neighbours coat-tails but are often are looking at the same market and at least can afford similar rents. Many of the best galleries are in small clusters in key areas – Hoxton, Vyner Street and Cork Street for example although some are out on a limb and need extra effort. Some the best are big and international, some are small and inventive. Here is a brief and very flawed guide to my ten favourites:

10. Stephen Friedman. An interesting international roster of established contemporary artists that include Yinka Shonibare, Thomas Hirschhorn, Yoshimoto Nara, Catherine Opie and David Shrigley. An OK gallery space close to Cork Street.

9. Hauser & Wirth. An International giant. Represent the estates of Eva Hesse and Allan Kaprow as well as Henry Moore.  Founded in Zurich 1992, the London gallery is in a wonderful historic Sir Edwin Lutyens building on Piccadilly, another branch being on Old Bond Street and yet another opening in Savile Row on 15 October 2010. Important and impressive exhibitions by established artists but are they a little dull?

8. Maureen Paley. Ever black-clad Maureen was one of the first to present contemporary art in the East End. Promotes US and European artists as well as launching new talent from the UK. Gallery artists include Turner winners Tillmans and Wearing plus nominees Gillick and Warren.  Always interesting and worth watching her artists.

7. Gagosian. Another international monster founded by Larry Gagosian with seven galleries: four in the USA, two in London, one in Rome and one in Athens. Built on the legacy of the New York School, abstract expressionism and Pop Art it also showed then contemporary artists like Basquiat. Expect museum quality exhibitions that feature artists of the calibre of Twombly, Picasso, Bacon and Warhol.

6. White Cube was set up by Jay Jopling in 1993 and is arguably one of most influential galleries of the past twenty years. Many of the very biggest names in art have appeared here, Hirst and the YBA’s of course amongst others like Kiefer and Orozco. Has very impressive spaces in both Hoxton and St James’s.

5. Timothy Taylor. A lovely space, just next to the exclusive Connaught Hotel (drop in for tea!), they feature a fascinating mix of established names like Arad, Riley and Katz with an, always interesting, selection of contemporary artists like Martin Maloney and Philip Guston. A good place to watch recently emerged talent.

4. Lisson Gallery. An impressive history which it has continued to build upon. Founded in 1967 artists included the likes of  Sol LeWitt, Donald Judd, Dan Flavin and Art & Language with art that represented an ethos concerning art’s place in a wider cultural and social context. They have continued to feature those like Anish Kapoor and Julian Opie ‘identifying and supporting succeeding generations of artists, each with a radical and distinctive approach to the artistic possibilities  of their times.’ Always interesting.

3. 20 Hoxton Square. Facing White Cube across Hoxton Square this gallery ‘is a collaborative project space, operating as a platform for emerging contemporary artists, whilst also acting as a creative hub for independent projects.’ They also have resident artists, a bookshop, screenings, artists talks and performances. Great place to spot emerging artists.

2. Haunch of Venison. Formerly the Museum of Mankind this vast neo-classical space just off Piccadilly includes ten separate gallery spaces. Often featuring multiple exhibitions its artists are contemporary, cutting edge and top notch. The curation is excellent and the space spectacular. Sometimes the vast open areas can overwhelm the art but who can complain when it features wonderful shows like the recent Joana Vasconcelos. Sadly it is all owned by Christies and widely despised in the art world. It loses money hand over fist and may not be here long – enjoy it whilst it lasts!

1. Victoria Miro. A fabulous big white-cubey space,  a little out on a limb but near enough to Hoxton and East End galleries. Wonderful artist portfolio includes the likes of Eggleston, Neel, Doig, Ofili, Perry and Elmgreen & Dragset. The current Jacco Olivier is excellent too. Make the effort to get there and drop in to the excellent (charitable foundation) Parasol Unit gallery, next door.

Please suggest your own favourites or tell me who I should have included!

jacco olivier at victoria miro – opening

11 September 2010 § Leave a comment

Jacco Olivier - Revolution

 Have you ever looked at a painting and wondered what might happen next? What about if the sun set a little or the model turned around? OK – I know that moving pictures have long been with us – the current Muybridge exhibition at the Tate giving early insight in to its origins – but Dutch artist Jacco Olivier, whilst combining the arts of animation, film and painting does actually create projected works that owe more than usual to the traditions of painting. 

Jacco Olivier - Reflection

Using bold colours and free brush strokes Olivier repeatedly reworks initial paintings, the photographs of each stage in its development ultimately becoming an, often multi-layered, animated  narrative. In his impressive painting style one glimpses the freedom of Matisse and the colours of the Fauves. Their semi abstract nature and emotional treatment of light evokes Howard Hodgkin,  the abstract qualities often resemble those of Gerhard Richter

There is little consistent theme to the works. Instead we are given a window in to a world where we glimpse what seem to be random, informal and seemingly insignificant scenes – simple scenarios from everyday life taking place in their own dreamlike environment. In the past Olivier has shown us such modest events as a plane flying overhead, a frog attempting to cross a road or whale lazily swimming by. He has said that his works represent someone “looking at the things outside, mixing them with his own memories and desires” although he does add “that’s all I need to make it work in my head, but is not necessarily something the viewer sees, or even has to see.” We do see a narrative, but it is just a part of the whole – we are still left to ponder on what is to come. There are no beginnings, no middles, no ends – no neat conclusions. 

Howard Hodgkin - Night & Day

In the latest exhibition at Victoria Miro Olivier has become slightly less intimate than in the past. The works are larger in scale and have less emphasis on story-telling; the paint becomes more noticeable, the animation less so. His subjects, at least in Miro’s downstairs gallery, are traditional – the portrait, still life, landscape and the bather – the figures, where they appear, almost passive. A central family group is dwarfed as the landscape morphs about them (Reflection), a bather casually dries herself (Bath), a man slowly walks in to a pool of water (Transition), an aerial view of the countryside rolls uneventfully along (Landscape). 

Hubble

Upstairs is the impressive, twenty-four minute Revolution – a huge work that occupies the whole rear wall of Miro’s not insubstantial gallery. A day-in-the-life of an imaginary universe which, rotating slowly, reveals fantastical galaxies, clouds of gas and even a wiggling organism. The scale brings a physical presence as it evokes anything from Stanley Kubrick’s Space Odyssey ‘light tunnel’ to electron-microscope images or Hubble supernovas. 

One occasionally yearns for the continuously morphing images to pause for a moment. There is a desire to sink more deeply in to the works and admire their painterly qualities; to perhaps absorb their aesthetic beauty at a more leisurely pace. Despite this one must admit that Olivier has undoubtedly created work with unique charm. Lying part way between painting and film, beautiful, intriguing, enigmatic and strangely hypnotic this is a world that I very much enjoyed being part of. Now perhaps if I cleared out the spare room and painted the wall white….? 

london galleries autumn preview

17 August 2010 § Leave a comment

The mid-summer lull in the London gallery schedules allows a moment for contemplation on what looks like a very mixed bag of Autumn shows. I just cannot quite work myself up in to a frenzy of excitment about this motley assortment of old hands and uninspiring newcomers.

Starting with public galleries the blockbuster Gaugin will undoubtedly be the major event of 2010 and amazingly his first major UK exhibition for 5o years.  The Tate Modern promises that the exhibition will explore ‘the role of the myths around the man.’ Starts 30 September – stick it in the diary! Arrive after the 12 October and see what Ai Weiwei has installed as the 11th Turbine Hall commission. Recently involved in the Beijing Olympic stadium and then almost beaten to death for his political views he has said: ‘Everything is art, everything is politics. You can call it art or you can call it politics, I don’t give a damn.’ Should be interesting. 

Over at Tate Britain the schedule, starting 8 September, is totally underwhelming. Eadweard Muybridge (yes, correctly spelt) was a the 19th century photographer who ‘proved that a horse can fly’ with multiple images and anticipated the coming of cinema with the zoopraxiscope. He also travelled and documented America of the time. Just about worth dropping in. 

Rachel Whiteread Drawings is the other choice – but why? Her casts of varied spaces, apart from being a direct steal from Bruce Nauman are getting tedious. Now she says this:  ‘A lot of the works that I’ve been making over the years have been part of a cyclical process. I often feel a cycle is incomplete and need to tread the same path again.’ So now having run out of (someone else’s) ideas all she can do is more of the same again, but this time in drawings. Keep well away! The Gagosian, Daniels Street, is taking advantage with their own Rachel Whiteread exhibition on the 7 September – and I don’t see any reason to bother with this one either.  

The Turner Prize 2010 exhibition is of course at Tate Britain too – from 5 October. Calming down in its old age but an interesting selection. Dexter Dalwood and Angela de la Cruz painting, sound artist Susan Philipsz and the multi-disciplinary Otolith Group. I like Dalwood but the inventive Otolith Group have to be my favourite.

The second part of Newspeak: British Art Now opens at the Satchi on 27 October. Despite the overwhelming mediocrity of the show it is strangely compulsive viewing, and there is a particularly nice cafe. Apart from that I can not wait to update my critics Saatchi league table from my previous posts

Egon Schiele

The Royal Academy’s Treasures of Budapest starts on 25 September. Although there will be the opportunity to save the air fare to Budapest it doesn’t seem to be a show-stopper, but worth a visit. It promises Raphael, El Greco, Manet, Monet, Schiele and Picasso amongst others. 

And now for something completely different? How about the Barbican with Future Fashion: 30 years of Japanese Fashion. Not ‘art’ but could be spectacular. 

Of the smaller Galleries the Camden Arts Centre always seems to have something interesting. On 23 September Rene Daniels’ opens. His interesting work is ‘permeated through and through with writing, word games, literary references, visual puns, and allusions to art movements, institutions, and mass media.’ 

Of the private galleries Hauser & Wirth’s opens its expansive new Savile Row space on the 15 October with a Fabric Works of Louise Bourgeois – hardly inspirational, but I look forward to seeing the gallery. Of their other exhibitions the Piccadilly branch has the first posthumous show of Jason Rhoades’ opening 24 September. The exhibition features ’1:12 Perfect World’, Rhoades’ scale model of his groundbreaking 1999 exhibition, ‘Perfect World’ in Hamburg. Ho-hum. 

At Haunch of Venison there is the strange choice of Loud Flash: British Punk on Paper, starting 24 September, which nevertheless looks like it may be quite interesting. Meanwhile do not miss the excellent Joana Vasconcelos and quirky animal-stuffer Polly Morgan whose exhibitions are currently on until the 25 September! 

At the White Cube, Masons yard Christian Marclay opens on the 15 October: ‘Over the past 30 years, Christian Marclay has explored the fusion of fine art and audio cultures, transforming sounds and music into a visible, physical form through performance, collage, sculpture, installation, photography and video.’ Meanwhile over at WC Hoxton on 13 October Mark Bradford’s ‘multi-layered collaged paintings incorporating materials found in the urban environment’. Both may be worth a look but hardly captivating.  

 

Jacco Olivier

The pick of the rest are Jacco Olivier at Victoria Miro from 7 September – Olivier fuses colourful paintings with video – his works are delightful and fascinating. Finally Marina Abramovic is at the Lisson – god knows what we will see from the ‘grandmother of performance art’ but it is well worth a detour! 

There we go – the best of the autumn? Not great and, in respect of painting very lop-sided. The public galleries mostly with retrospective painting, the private with, well all sorts from taxidermy to performance but pretty much steering away from anything on canvas . No demand? No talent? Are the private galleries out of sync with what the public wants – or is it the Public galleries? I will leave you to ponder the mystery…. 
If you liked this post please make a comment or like it. If you like the blog please subscribe for regular updates (top right of page). Many thanks! akuta 

 

tabaimo at the parasol unit

1 August 2010 § Leave a comment

 

Wangechi Mutu Untitled

 

In preparation for a visit to the Whitechapel Gallery Alice Neel retrospective I dropped in to see In the Company of Alice at the impressive Victoria Miro Gallery (press release: Portraits and figurative paintings by a diverse group of artists. A number of these artists admire or have been inspired by Alice Neel). Having now told you about it I have to break the news that the exhibition closed a few days ago – but do though browse the works via the website. Elizabeth Payton, Yayoi Kusama, Philip Pearlstein, NS Harsha were amongst those shown although, for me, the amazing Wangechi Mutu stole the show.

However, I digress. The Parasol Unit next door to Miro is always well worth a visit when making the hike out to Miro and this was no exception. I had heard of Tabaimo but not seen any work and so I entered the gallery with few preconceptions. Within minutes I was totally captivated and spent over an hour viewing all her entrancing videos in their entirity. Inspired by traditional Japanese drawings and prints they are neverthless totally modern. She comments on modern Japanese life and how her generation attempts to reconcile today’s realities with traditional values. Skilfully hand drawn and cleverly animated, sometimes on multiple walls, her imagery is in turn beautiful, surreal, voyeuristic and often disturbing. Showing until 6 August I highly recommend hurrying down to visit before it closes!

Avoiding any lengthy and largely futile attempts to convey the realities of a Tabaimo video there is one clip as a taster or try youtube for a handful of others (mostly limited in quality!) . I strongly advise trying to get down to see the real thing – good luck!   ,

Tabaimo

 

About Tabaimo. Born 1975 in Hyogo, Tabaimo lives and works in Nagano. She graduated in 1999 from the Kyoto University of Arts and Design. Her graduation work, Japanese Kitchen, an animated video installation, gained first place in the 1999 Kirin Contemporary Award. In 2001, she was the youngest artist to enter the first

Tabaimo hanabi-ra 2003

 

Yokohama Triennale with Japanese Commuter Train. She has been involved in many international exhibitions and group exhibitions, including the 25th Bienal de São Paulo, the 2006 Biennale of Sydney, and the Venice Biennale 2007’s Italian pavilion. She is represented in NY by James Cohan.

If you liked this post please make a comment or like it. If you like the blog please subscribe for regular updates (top right of page). Many thanks! akuta

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