Jeff Koons: Now – The Newport Street Gallery

18 May 2016 § Leave a comment

This exhibition by Jeff Koons at Damien Hirst‘s new gallery brings together two titans of the commercial art world. Sitting at first and second place of the world’s wealthiest (Hirst usually pips a rapidly closing Koons) they also are head of lists of the most influential living artists.


Artists, Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst pose during a photocall to launch the Newport Street Gallery in London with Koon’s piece “Play-Doh”.

There are plenty of parallels within their work too. Neither are strangers to the art of appropriation: Koons takes children inflatables and re-constructs them in gleaming painted aluminium, Hirst has enlarged a spastics society figure, Viagra pill and an anatomical model. How about something in a vitrine? Koons is happy to grab ‘ready-made’ basketballs or Hoovers, whilst Hirst takes perhaps severed cows heads, sharks, skulls or pills. All are presented as reflections on life, death, beauty and consumerism.


Linking them too is a mutual appreciation. Hirst has actually collected Koons’ work for over twelve years and has amassed a significant body of the artists work, some of which is being shown in the UK for the first time within this exhibition.



Koons is considered to be one of the most significant artists of the last fifty years and it is therefore quite astonishing to say that ‘Now’ is not only the first major UK exhibition to be devoted to the artist since ‘Jeff Koons: Popeye Series’, at the Serpentine in 2009 but the largest one to date. Spanning thirty-five years of the artist’s extraordinary career it features over thirty paintings, works on paper and sculptures dating from 1979 and including works from Inflatables, The New, Equilibrium, Luxury and Degradation, Made in Heaven, Popeye, and Hulk Elvis, amongst others.



The show begins with an early forerunner of one of Koons’ most enduring themes, the inflatable. Here we see a real inflatable in Flowers from 1979 – small flowers displayed on mirrored floor tiles. It is here presented alongside a number of his iconic Hoover sculptures from the early eighties – unused wall-mounted machines are displayed in acrylic boxes. Two of these Hoovers were actually included for Koons’s first solo show in New York 1980 and part of that installation – originally displayed in the museum’s storefront windows – has been reassembled for this exhibition.

13220558_10154329759729714_7432952929157637835_o 15.03.48


These works show how Koons revels the everyday. Household goods to children toys and the kitsch are all readily employed in his approach to art, utilising mass market objects to communicate with the widest possible audience. The quotidien and fragile becomes monumental whist the ordinary is elevated to special.



There are plenty more of his recognisable works. The show continues with examples of his Total Equilibrium tanks where three basketballs are suspended in a vitrine of salt water – an allegory on unattainable states of being.



Further on a Jim Beam bourbon decanter of china and plastic has been rendered in aluminium. Said to be an “elegy to the age of steam and steel”, Koons’ said of this sculpture  “I wanted to transform it and put it into a different metal but to preserve its soul, and that soul was the alcohol.”



We continue through most of the major series of Koons’ career. Ignoring the less interesting prints it is the sculptures that  catch the eye – a five-metre high stainless steel Balloon Monkey in blue dating from 2013 occupies the whole of one of the side galleries. An inflatable dolphin and lobster dangle from the ceiling whist another lobster balances  precariously on a chair and a bin. A seal and walrus are squeezed behind stack-away plastic seats.



The show culminates in the huge and impressive Play-Doh, a three-metre high mountain of brightly coloured kids plasticine, Surprisingly complex to construct it took Koons and his team over ten years to produce, the result so perfect that it is almost impossible to resist grabbing at the apparently squidgy material.



Only the second exhibition at the Newport Street Gallery space this is another highly impressive exhibition. It confirms that there is more to Koons than simply high kitsch and eye-catching sculptures. There is a strong emotional charge to the work too. We are caught in an irrational and surreal world of fakery, unsure what to make of the oversized objects, impossible poses and improbable materials. At its heart it is an uncanny and unsettling experience. A Night at the Museum is made real – the toys are taking over.


Jeff Koons: Now is on at the Newport Street Gallery, London until 16 October 2016

For more information visit the Newport Street Gallery

Images courtesy of Damien HirstJeff Koons and the Newport Street Gallery and by CELLOPHANELAND*

This post also appears on CELLOPHANLAND*

Wang Guangle: Yellow – Pace Gallery, London

18 March 2016 § Leave a comment

This post is also published on the online Lifestyle Magazine CELLOPHANELAND* (link here)

“The sensation of the passage of time always inspires me. Time changes everything, and when I can detect the pure movement of time, nothing else seems to matter. In these moments, there is very little else I would want to do.” Wang Guangle

Wang Guangle: Yellow – Pace Gallery, London

Pace gallery is one of the world’s leading commercial art galleries. Their artists include modernist icons like Josef Albers and Robert Rauschenberg plus the likes of James Turrell (see our exhibition review here), John Hoyland (see review here) and David Hockney (see review here and ‘On the trail of…’ here).

Wang Guangle: Yellow – Pace Gallery, London

Anyone remotely interested in the ebbs and flows of the contemporary art market would indeed therefore be very wise to keep a close eye on their latest activity. A recent example would be the February 2016 opening of their new gallery space in the cultural desert that is Palo Alto in silicon valley. The ‘out-there’ decision to add Menlo Park to their big city portfolio of London, New York, Beijing, Hong Kong and Paris caught many in the industry by surprise but it is certain that there will be many carefully monitoring its success – or otherwise.

Wang Guangle: Yellow – Pace Gallery, London

Wang Guangle is a younger artist who was born 1971, trained at the Beijing Academy and graduating in 2000. His name will not be familiar to many outside China, indeed Yellow will be his first solo exhibition in Europe, but this is a name that we will probably hear more often. His style of abstraction is easy on the western eye with its superficial similarity to modernists like Albers and Rothko perhaps, although it is an abstraction that actually comes from a more distinct and  recent Chinese angle.

Wang Guangle: Yellow – Pace Gallery, London

Wang is best known for his memento mori style abstraction—inspired by the traditional burial practices of southern China, his tactile works are produced in a process of repetitive layering of different colors of acrylic, his works united by experiments in depth and space. One of the preeminent abstract painters of his generation in Beijing, Wang’s work is rooted in questions of painting’s temporality and the canvas as a vessel of labour and marker of time.

Wang Guangle: Yellow – Pace Gallery, London

The exhibition includes a selection of recent paintings that evince the spirit and style of his work from the past decade, which in this case perhaps unsurprisingly includes an unprecedented use of yellow. Although he has no prescribed meaning for the colour, he apparently embraces its various associations, from timidity and carefulness to a more Chinese connotation of the erotic.

Wang Guangle: Yellow – Pace Gallery, London

A series entitled Coffin paintings, shows thin strips of acrylic paint lining the canvas and wrapping around the frontal surface, leaving the drips along the sides. Multiple layers of paint added over periods of several weeks provide a characteristic striped effect and both illusionistic and real physicality. This layering process has its origins in his home region of Fujian, where elder men annually add a fresh layer of lacquer to their coffins in anticipation of their death.

Wang Guangle: Yellow – Pace Gallery, London

The Untitled paintings mirror this process of scaling and accumulation in the Coffin works while placing a greater emphasis on geometry. Wang paints rectangular fields, each layer progressing farther from the edge and closer to the centre, creating a subtle gradation of colour and the effect of an illuminated rectangle or void. In these works, the question of abstraction arises; for Wang, abstraction is less a means of non-figuration and more of record that most abstract of phenomena: time.

Wang Guangle: Yellow is at Pace London until 16 April 2016

For more information visit

Derek Boshier Rethink/Re-entry Flowers Gallery London

19 November 2015 § Leave a comment

Pop art is very much alive and kicking. The World Goes Pop is currently at the Tate following on the heels of Post Pop: East Meets West at the Saatchi Gallery, the BBC ran a recent series BBC Four Goes PopAllen Jones was at the Royal Academy and Richard Hamilton had a solo show at the Tate last year. That is not even to mention continuing interest in other artists like David Hockney on the edges of the movement.

Derek Boshier Rething/Re-wind at Flowers Gallery London

Maybe it is because we are bored of the self referential world of post-modernism or perhaps there is a recognition of the present day relevance of the movement as we fight off an ever increasing barrage of media imagery. It could well be that Pop Art turns out to be modern art’s most influential movement, parodying all this mass media imagery whilst creating a startlingly prescient take on the world of today: the age of consumerism.

Derek Boshier Rething/Re-wind at Flowers Gallery London

Within this apparent surge of interest the work of Derek Boshier has found a new lease of life. Recently featured on BBC4’s ‘What do artists do all day’ (a series that also featured Sir Peter Blake) he now has a solo show at Flowers Gallery which also coincides with the release of an excellent Thames & Hudson monograph (reviewed here).

Derek Boshier Rething/Re-wind at Flowers Gallery London

The Rethink/ Re-entry exhibition features a fascinating range of rarely seen pieces, much from Boshier’s own collection whilst surveying the shifting emphasis of his art in the late sixties and early seventies. It re-examines his work of the period via the extraordinary variety of his practice – assemblages, collages, drawings, films, graphics and prints alongside more recent films and collages.

Derek Boshier Rething/Re-wind at Flowers Gallery London

In thé ground floor gallery we see the sharp political edge of his work in works like The Stun (1979), a spoof tabloid front page bringing together the Queen and Irish Violence with an incisive wit. Meanwhile in Hi Consumers Don’t Forget Nothing Lasts Forever (1978) Boshier takes a wry shot at consumer culture.

Derek Boshier Rething/Re-wind at Flowers Gallery London

Three perspex vitrines take a more conceptual angle and have a distinctly affinity with John Baldessari works of that time. King George V Avenue Cardiff from 1971 for example features a series of red circles and black columns lined in perspective along a found image of a broad street.

Derek Boshier_Rethink_Re-Entry at Flowers Gallery.

Boshier’s provocative and experimental approach was reflected within the gathering punk movement and also appreciated by David Bowie who commissioned him to work on LP sleeves, as well as stage set design. Featuring both on walls and vitrines are original drawings from Boshier’s collaborations with The Clash on graphics for the CLASH 2nd Songbook, and with Bowie for the 1979 album Lodger. He happily told Boshier ‘do what you like’ for the interior of the gatefold sleeve; Boshier obliged with a collage on mortality that Bowie loved.

Derek Boshier Rething/Re-wind at Flowers Gallery London

His versatility continues with a neat Joseph Cornell style box from 1976, State of Mind, that makes a statement both on consumerism and politics combining a toiletry bottle and newspaper cutting featuring strikers.

Derek Boshier, State of Mind, 1976, Mixed media construction in box frame (c) Derek Boshier, Courtesy of Flowers Gallery

Downstairs three series of photographed images are a different take on Hockney’s photo collages and Ed Ruscha’s Every Building on the Sunset Strip. From his 1978 Routes series a sequential strip of images introduce time as an element as the camera’s lens takes a ‘stroll’ at three different locations.

Boshier Install Rethink/Re-wind Flowers Gallery

In yet another media, film, Boshier’s 1973 Change is also showing, along with three more from 2014. In Change Boshier spliced sequences of still images from an installation at his Whitechapel Gallery retrospective of the same year. It remained unopened for 38 years, until its recent rediscovery provoked his desire to create new films using contemporary digital technologies.

Derek Boshier Rething/Re-wind at Flowers Gallery London

Last but not least are four collaged works from 2014, each edged with his trademark broad black lines.

Derek Boshier Rethink/Re-wind at Flowers Gallery

They look effortless and Boshier reminds us that his talent for drawing, eye for design as well as his desire to make works politically relevant are all still as strong as ever. He remains an important figure not only in the story of Pop Art but also in the contemporary art world.

Rethink/ Re-entry is at Flowers Gallery until 7 November 2015

For more information visit

Images courtesy of the artist, Flowers Gallery and CELLOPHANELAND*

Ryan Gander Fieldwork, Lisson Gallery, London

17 November 2015 § Leave a comment

The title Fieldwork hints at some sort of preparatory work of rough ideas taken from the world at large – the resultant notes, plans and sketches not necessarily drawn in to a final form. This is indeed the format that it takes with an exhibition of interlinking new works by the artist, each offering a glimpse of the inspirations that feed his practice.

Ryan Gander Fieldwork, Lisson Gallery, London

Encompassing everything from a kitchen sink (literally!), the exhibition presents an eclectic selection that includes for example a year’s worth of skies, the clothes of absentee statues, a tent, a helium balloon, the artist’s phone number and a pebble beach. As ever with Gander’s art, the forms convened in Fieldwork are elliptic and opaque, starting stories for the viewer to invent or complete.

Ryan Gander Fieldwork, Lisson Gallery, LondonOccupying the entire back gallery, the titular work Fieldwork 2015 opens a window onto the revolving touchstones of Gander’s art presented on a Generation Game style conveyor belt. Objects from the artist’s collection glide slowly past a window in the gallery wall and unsurprisingly including a ‘Cuddly Toy’ – this is a bear however that has seemingly been ‘tortured’.

Ryan Gander Fieldwork, Lisson Gallery, London

Each piece is seemingly found but on closer inspection uniquely crafted. A National Trust sign proclaims ‘Culturefield’, the artists imaginary artistic utopia. Here there’s a baseball bat covered in nails, a pair of dead pigeons, a chocolate bar swoosh… This is a memory game of strange associations and a prism of connections (a chess set, a tortured teddy bear, a dead chick served on a plate with a napkin signed by Picasso…) through which to consider the rest of the exhibition.

Ryan Gander Fieldwork, Lisson Gallery, London

Perhaps because of the the fact that Ryan Gander’s work is not always self- explanatory, much of its appeal lies in trying to work out what it is all about. Full understanding does often however require a gander (sorry) at the exhibition catalogue: a modern stick for example, has an arrow head attached. It is not self-evident that it is a selfie-stick with a genuine neolithic stone head, the object being cleverly reduced back to what it basically is – a stick that could have been used for example as a weapon in millennia past.

Ryan Gander Fieldwork, Lisson Gallery, LondonPreparation is everything is a work composed of 365 daily attempts to mix the exact colour of the sky in acrylic paint, while the installation Never enough – a shingle beach filling the entirety of the downstairs gallery – likewise refers to the seascape near Gander’s home, the endless pebbles reference an alleged punishment for smugglers: to seal up the perpetrator’s storage cellar with stones.

Ryan Gander Fieldwork, Lisson Gallery, LondonThe entire exhibition is one that deliberately teases, presenting sealed-off worlds and frustrating knowledge. Enigmatic objects on the conveyer belt are tantalisingly out of reach, the cellar of pebbles can be seen but not accessed, in a sealed courtyard space is an internally lit, semi-transparent fibreglass tent while stuck, out of reach, high on a gallery ceiling is what appears to be a helium balloon.

Ryan Gander Fieldwork, Lisson Gallery, London

Some other sculptural works seem to have disappeared entirely and are only suggested through the discarded items that remain while I be… (i) and I be… (ii) are dust-sheeted mirrors as might be found in a closed-up stately home, the sheets however are of marble, the mirrors reflections sealed forever.


Outside the gallery, a giant billboard announces Gander’s phone number to the public. We called the number to receive an apology from Gander for not answering his ‘second phone’ and requesting a message. In the playful spirit of the show we left a message apologising for not being available and asked Gander to leave us a message. We are still waiting!

Ryan Gander Fieldwork, Lisson Gallery, London

Ryan Gander Fieldwork is at the Lisson Gallery until 31 October 2015

Images by CELLOPHANELAND* and Lisson Gallery.

John Hoyland: Power Stations Paintings at Newport Street Gallery

16 November 2015 § Leave a comment

The Newport Street Gallery is the culmination of a long stated Damien Hirst ambition – a desire to publicly show his private collection. It may also be part of an additional desire to prove that an artist can also be a gallerist and curator. Hirst of course broke the mould in 1988 as one of the main mover and shakers behind the notorious Freeze exhibition, where he helped gather together a group of his Goldsmiths art College contemporaries, many of whom later became known as the young British artists (yBa’s).

Newport Street Gallery John Hoyland Power Stations Paintings 1964-1982 Exhibition review on
He has then since collected several thousand pieces for his ‘Murderme’ collection with the eventual aim of its public display. He states “I believe art should be experienced by as many people as possible and I’ve felt guilty owning work that is stored away in boxes where no one can see it. Having a space where I can put on shows from the collection is a dream come true… I couldn’t be happier.”

Newport Street Gallery John Hoyland Power Stations Paintings 1964-1982 Exhibition review on

John Hoyland is perhaps surprising as a choice for the inaugural exhibition at the new space as he and Hirst are not at first glance natural bedfellows. Hoyland, one of Britains foremost abstract (he preferred the term non-figurative) painters, was notoriously anti-conceptual and also felt that artists should be very much ‘hands-on’ and physically creating their own work. Despite Hirst being the antithesis of Hoyland’s ideals the two however became friends with Hirst steadily purchasing dozens of his works.

Newport Street Gallery John Hoyland Power Stations Paintings 1964-1982 Exhibition review on

And what an exhibition it is. Over thirty works pop and sparkle like jewels over the half a dozen airy ‘rooms’ set over two floors. This is a perfect venue for Hoyland’s works, the ‘white cube’ warehouse space a fine foil for the oversized canvases with their gloriously vivid blocks of colour.

Newport Street Gallery John Hoyland Power Stations Paintings 1964-1982 Exhibition review on

Hoyland ‘discovered’ colour in the south of France in the fifties and in the early sixties was heavily influenced by American Abstract Expressionism, having visited New York to seek out artists like Mark Rothko and Barnett Newman. It is these influences from which Hoyland forged his own path and from this time that the first works in this exhibition were painted.

Newport Street Gallery John Hoyland Power Stations Paintings 1964-1982 Exhibition review on

Arranged largely chronologically we begin with pieces from the sixties – the first room full of vivid red works, the second bright green ones. They are clearly heavily Rothko and Newman influenced, with expansive colour fields – the very earliest like 17.5.64 including biomorphic shapes, which in slightly later works have evolved in to roughly delineated colour blocks or columns. Rather than being flat though, there is a sculptural dimension with influence from his sculptor friend, Anthony Caro.

Newport Street Gallery John Hoyland Power Stations Paintings 1964-1982 Exhibition review on

Newport Street Gallery John Hoyland Power Stations Paintings 1964-1982 Exhibition review on

As we move onwards (and upwards) the soft edges of the colour fields harden whilst surface texture increases. In works like 29.12.66 greys appear, whilst in others there are more colours, diagonals and bolder forms make a more graphic statement.

Newport Street Gallery John Hoyland Power Stations Paintings 1964-1982 Exhibition review on

One rather different work 23.2.71 painted in a pale pink and gold comes from a short period in the early seventies spent in his Wiltshire studio where he used a more delicate palette, but it was not long before he was back to powerful blues and reds alongside other strong colours in works like 29.3.80.

Newport Street Gallery John Hoyland Power Stations Paintings 1964-1982 Exhibition review on

Using diverse means of application these forceful compositions include strong diagonals and fractured patches of colour in heavily textured paint.

Newport Street Gallery John Hoyland Power Stations Paintings 1964-1982 Exhibition review on

Perhaps Hirst has selected Hoyland to avoid the more obvious selection of works from fellow yBa’s for example or perhaps he feels an affinity between this sculptural use of colour and his own spot and spin paintings. In any case this is a successful show in a truly wonderful space. Hopefully soon we can follow a Newport Street Gallery visit with a meal in Pharmacy2 due to open on the top floor in 2016.

John Hoyland: Power Stations Paintings 1964-1982 is at Newport Street Gallery until 3rd April 2016.

For further information, visit:

All images by CELLOPHANELAND* and Newport Street Gallery.

William Kentridge at Marian Goodman London

12 November 2015 § Leave a comment

People fleeing from hunger, war and political oppression have always been a staple of the daily news and with the current European crisis refugees are again in the headlines. With Ai Weiwei also now in the media with his latest show at the RA (reviewed here) it seems a particularly  apt time to be dipping in to the politically-charged world of William Kentridge.

William Kentridge More Sweetly lay The Dance Marian Goodman Gallery

At the heart of Kentridge’s first solo presentation in London for fifteen years is a new multi-screen film installation entitled More Sweetly Play the Dance. This substantial exhibition also includes another film, monumental ink-on-paper paintings, sculptures and drawings.

William Kentridge More Sweetly Play The Dance Marian Goodman

This new work is a 45-metre-long frieze that depicts a seemingly endless parade of figures. A combination of dance, shadow puppetry, ballet, theatre, film, and music it features a procession of people, largely in silhouette, moving around us from screen to screen against a bare and evocative landscape, drawn by Kentridge in charcoal.

William Kentridge More Sweetly Play The Dance Marian Goodman

Made using a unique technique which he has called “poor-man’s animation” it involves working on a single piece of paper in charcoal making an expressive drawing before erasing, adding new elements and erasing again. He then animates the images into a mesmeric whole.

William Kentridge More Sweetly lay The Dance Marian Goodman Gallery

It is a sublime work from an artist at his peak. One moment it appears as a political rally or a stream of refugees, at another a funereal cortege. Figures variously carry flags, play instruments, parade with shadow heads. One figure drags a body whilst another wheels a hospital drip.

William Kentridge More Sweetly lay The Dance Marian Goodman Gallery

Some wear military caps, some are in rags. An animated pair of scissors jerks its way around the screen and skeletons dance. It is bizarre, witty, sad, macabre and yet somehow uplifting. The whole is accompanied by a magical accordion and brass band accompaniment reminiscent of New Orleans Jazz funerals.

William Kentridge More Sweetly Play The Dance Marian Goodman

This is Mao’s China, communist Russia, black Africa, the Balkans, post-war Europe and todays Middle East all rolled in to one. The casualties of hunger and war, streams of displaced people, human misery in one tragic everlasting parade.

William Kentridge More Sweetly lay The Dance Marian Goodman Gallery

Born in South Africa to parents who were both anti-apartheid lawyers, his father defending Nelson Mandela among others, Kentridge’s studies inevitably took in politics before including art, film and theatre. Although primarily an artist all these influences are deeply imbedded in his work.

William Kentridge More Sweetly lay The Dance Marian Goodman Gallery

Another film installation, based on Mao’s model operas, features an African ballet dancer, file in hand, in front of changing  notebooks, maps and images of famine and poverty – cleverly highlighting political posturing as populations suffer.

William Kentridge More Sweetly lay The Dance Marian Goodman Gallery

The main gallery downstairs has a new series of works in which political dictums are interwoven throughout giant ink images of flowers drawn on pages of found political text.

William Kentridge More Sweetly lay The Dance Marian Goodman Gallery

Smaller works on paper span two walls including a sequence of doves flying across a sky of Chinese calligraphy. An adjacent room contains two groups of painted bronze heads that developed through research for Kentridge’s production of Alban Berg’s opera ‘Lulu’.

William Kentridge More Sweetly lay The Dance Marian Goodman Gallery

To coincide with this show the play ‘Ubu and the Truth Commission’ is on at the Coronet London. Both surely are amongst the do-not-miss highlights of the year.

William Kentridge More Sweetly Play The Dance at Marian Goodman runs until 24 October 2015. For more information visit

‘Ubu and the Truth Commission’, by William Kentridge, opens at The Coronet on 15 October 2014 for a 3 week season. For more information visit

Images by CELLOPHANELAND* and Marian Goodman Gallery.

Curated by Tony Cragg at Blain Southern London

6 November 2015 § Leave a comment

Arriving recently for a stay at the excellent Ham Yard Hotel near Piccadilly (reviewed here) I was surprised and delighted to find a spectacular new Tony Cragg sculpture ‘Group’ gracing the heart of the eponymous Yard – a mini oasis where Soho relaxes post work, and chic revellers spill out from the hotel’s stylish bar.
Tony Cragg
Dominating the space is a spectacular giant bronze from this Turner Prize winning artist. Resembling wood or stone it could – but not quite – be a  block transplanted from the Grand Canyon or a stump of weathered wood, and will be familiar to anyone who has seen Cragg’s work. Working with stone, wood, glass, stainless steel, aluminium, cast bronze/iron, and found objects, Cragg is constantly pushing to find new relations between people and the material world. His sculptures lie somewhere between plastic imagination and solid reality.
Mathias Lanfer Blain Southern
Coincidentally, I had already planned to visit Blain Southern’s airy new Hanover Square gallery nearby where Cragg is curating an exhibition that features three renowned German artists, all alumni at the Kunstakademie Dusseldorf where he is a long-standing Professor.
Mathias Lanfer Blain Southern
With a predominantly industrial aesthetic, each artist has found different ways to explore the use of materials. Gereon Lepper creates kinetic sculptures that draw upon engineering, technology and physics.  In Der Apparat fast unbewegt, two electric motors controlled by a timer, provide a surge of energy to large propellers  producing a roaring inferno of sound. As the power is cut, the noise and activity subside – the work is a mechanical drama that explores energy and inertia.

Blain Southern

Drawing on his background in design, animation and computer programming, Andreas Schmitten creates sculptures and installations which he describes as ‘props from another, undetermined time’. A new sculptural light installation Prop No. 2 is characteristic of Schmitten’s work, which lies somewhere between installation, autonomous sculpture and model.

Blain Southern

Exploring contrasting ideas of weightlessness and mass with his series of ‘Heavy Air’ sculptures, Mathias Lanfer has used industrial technology and product engineering to create Dicke Luft II. A steel frame is married with a perspex dome that has been blown into soft curves – the opaque dome acting as a counterpoint to the steel block. Heavily influenced by his previous work in plastics factories, aluminium pressing plants and the car industry, Lanfer manipulates materials in order to challenge our preconceived ideas of their industrial nature.

Blain Southern

Curated by Tony Cragg is at Blain Southern until 29 August 2015. For more information visit

Tony Cragg is also at the Lisson Gallery Milan until 18 September 2015 For more information visit

James Turrell LightScape at Houghton Hall

4 November 2015 § Leave a comment

One of my most eagerly anticipated exhibitions of this summer has been this: the arrival of one of the giants of American 20th century art at an 18th century English country house. Not an obvious marriage made in heaven, but it nevertheless presented an intriguing prospect.

James Turrell LightScape

James Turrell is best known for his light art, delighting in creating three dimensional effects from two dimensional projections. Currently notorious is his work in progress: Roden Crater. Located in Arizona, Turrell is turning this natural volcanic feature into a massive naked-eye observatory designed specifically for the viewing of celestial phenomena.

James Turrell LightScape

So what brings this big name Californian artist to rural Norfolk? Certainly his Arizona work suggests an attempt to create his own Stonehenge-style heritage. One could suggest that taking an English pile and adding contemporary light interventions also seeks to create a similar link that merges past and present. Perhaps I’m being rather fanciful but in any case Lord Cholmondeley has been a devout collector for many years and already had a number of works installed at the estate.

James Turrell LightScape

One of these belongs to his numerous ‘Skyspaces’ that are scattered around the world. An oak hut has a square hole in the ceiling framing the changing sky and transforms the viewer’s perception of light distance and colour. What is real? Can we trust what we see? Another in a former water tower is a windowless room with a dim rectangular projection that only becomes apparent after allowing your eyes to adapt to the virtual pitch blackness.

James Turrell LightScape

Inside the house are some of his smaller and older works but it is the entire building which features the centrepiece of the exhibition. Ten thousand or so coloured LEDs illuminate the whole building in gradually evolving work/show. The white stone staircase on the western façade is a bright green, the portico glows white, colonnaded galleries turn into tunnels of red whilst the rooftop domes glow magenta. 

James Turrell LightScape

This 45 minute spectacle begins at dusk and can only be seen on Friday and Saturday evenings, so I hardly need to add that this is of course the time to plan your visit. Take advantage of the later closing times – the restaurant will be open for dinner bookings whilst a pop-up café on the west front will also provide drinks and snacks.

James Turrell LightScape

Once highly unusual this type of exhibition seems to have become more common in recent years. You may recall that only last Autumn we were raving about the stunning Ai Wei Wei exhibition at Blenheim Palace. That exhibition was a huge success and LightScape is a similar triumph. Another do not miss exhibition, or should I say, experience.

James Turrell’s LightScape runs until 24 October 2015

For further information please visit

Florilegia at Grimaldi Gavin London

3 November 2015 § Leave a comment

Grimaldi Gavin (formerly Brancolini Grimaldi) is a modest sized Mayfair gallery that specialises in Contemporary Photography. However you will find little in the way of traditional photography here, no dull landscapes, fashion or journalistic works. No snaps of celebrities or bands dragged out of dusty archives and re-presented as ‘art’. No dreary documentary photography. Here you can enjoy real contemporary art of the highest quality that just happens to involve photography.

Grimaldi Gavin Florilegia

The galleries current exhibition is Florilegia, a group exhibition featuring photographic works by Goldschmied & Chiari, Fabio Zonta, Laura Letinsky, Jonny Briggs, and Sinaida Michalskaja. In medieval Latin a florilegium is a compilation of texts, the word deriving from flos (flower) and leger (to gather). In fitting with this title, Grimaldi Gavin has brought together disparate works in which flowers or plants feature, each offering a distinctive take on sociological and poetic encounters between art and nature.

Grimaldi Gavin Florilegia

For me the stand out works are from the Italian duo, Goldschmied & Chiari. Their Nympheas (2007) are large-scale panoramic photographs deliberately and playfully evoking Claude Monet’s paintings. Subverting the idyllic, unpolluted view of nature offered by the Impressionists, the flowers in Goldschmied & Chiari’s works are made of plastic bags, floating amongst the litter in the Tiber River, Rome.

Fabio_Zonta_Grimaldi Gavin Florilegia

The highly detailed and pristine flowers in Fabio Zonta’s works are removed from their natural context and shot against a stark white backdrop. Each specimen is either in full bloom or is on the edge of decay, the edges of the petals beginning to turn and brown. A reflection on both mortality and the transience of beauty these photographs are a modern memento mori. Apparently this is the first time his beautiful work has been exhibited in the UK.

Laura_Letinsky Grimaldi Gavin Florilegia

Somewhat more enigmatic are Laura Letinsky’s carefully staged photographs that show elegiac arrangements of objects on tables – wilting flowers and petals, food, candle, and pottery. From the snappily titled ‘To Want For Nothing, Hardly More Than Ever and To Say It Isn’t So’ series these works allude to an unseen human presence and are reminiscent of 17th Century Dutch vanities.

Jonny_Briggs_Trompe L'oeil Grimaldi Gavin Florilegia

A very clever young artists, who we have been watching carefully for a few years is Jonny Briggs. This time he has staged photographs of flowers in domestic settings that initially appear to be fake, manipulated or photoshopped. One shows a vase, flowers and backdrop painted magnolia, another a vase with the flowers in the base and the roots on display. These works are part of an ongoing series in which he explores the constructed reality of the family and the boundaries between child/adult, nature/culture and real/fake.

Grimaldi Gavin Florilegia Jonny_Briggs_Orga

Newly discovered young artist Sinaida Michalskaja’s works are a series of large-scale photographs of windows. Each image presents a partially obscured interior and a reflection of the external world. Taking inspiration from the metaphorical and symbolic value of the window, these works show both the domesticated nature inside and a glimpse of untamed nature outside – mediated by the window frame.


Florilegia runs until 28 February 2015

For more information visit

Hiroshi Sugimoto – Still Life at Pace London

2 November 2015 § Leave a comment

At first glance, the latest exhibition at Pace London appears to be the work of a formidably talented wildlife photographer. A pack of hunting wolves gaze across a frozen landscape as they hunt out their next meal, whilst a timid deer peers from within a dark forest landscape. A group of condors watch from a cliff top, a pair of ostrich protect their clutch of eggs.

Hiroshi Sugimoto at Pace London

Television documentaries in mind, one pictures a patient photographer trekking for days, before holing out in an expertly camouflaged hide for days upon end. He awaits the perfect shot, an image of nature’s ultimate perfection, and wildlife at its most liberated.

Hiroshi Sugimoto at Pace London

We soon discover that the truth actually illustrates quite the reverse. These images are simply capturing large-scale dioramas set inside natural history museums. The photographer is in a warm room. Everything is dead. We long to see nature’s grandeur and majesty, but all we get is a hollow reproduction inside a glazed box.

Hiroshi Sugimoto at Pace London

Hiroshi Sugimoto’s latest exhibition is of large format works from his ongoing Diorama series. Composed in crisp black and white and sharp tones, the pristine quality and stillness of these large-scale pieces reveal the inherent artificiality of the constructed worlds contained within their frames.

Hiroshi Sugimoto at Pace London

Sugimoto dwells in the artifice of the images “The only thing absent is life itself. Time comes to a halt and never-ending stillness reigns.”  “All over the planet, nature is being transformed into un-nature at breakneck speed. My life is part of natural history. I long to know where that history came from and where it is going.”

Hiroshi Sugimoto at Pace London

The exhibition highlights recurring themes and images that have sustained Sugimoto’s interest and work for almost four decades.  Essential are the concepts of memory and preservation, evident here in his exploration of nature as mediated through the museum. Since beginning this series, the notion of fossilization has become an important concept for him and this permeates his work.

Hiroshi Sugimoto at Pace London

Exploring it as a historical fact and photographic conceit, the fossil serves as a living record and point of departure into history, crystalizing a moment in time into a singular object. Sugimoto’s process echoes this notion, capturing these frozen scenes on his large-format camera with specific lighting and extended exposures, lasting as long as twenty minutes.

Hiroshi Sugimoto at Pace London

Ironically, the very absence – of natural habitats, unspoilt landscapes and animal species – that these images highlight at the same time, serves to inspires our determination to preserve them. After all we do not want to find the human race represented as exhibits in a Natural History Museum.

Hiroshi Sugimoto: Still Life, is on until 24 January 2015. For further information visit

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