10 October 2017 § Leave a comment
October is the very best time of year to see art in the capital. The city is abuzz with the latest blockbuster shows – 2017 brings Jasper Johns as well as Dali/Duchamp to the Royal Academy, Jean-Michel Basquiat at the Barbican and Rachel Whiteread is showing at the Tate. The commercial galleries have pulled out their biggest names – there are Jean Dubuffet at Pace, Jake & Dinos Chapman at Blain Southern and Anselm Kiefer & Robert Longo at Thaddeus Ropac. Meanwhile all the big names auction houses stage their autumn contemporary sales.
Frieze of course also comes to London, not only with the contemporary focused Frieze Art Fair, but the thriving Frieze Masters event just up the Regents Park footpath. The great and the good of the art world come together with a smattering of celebrity names to see the latest that the art world has to offer.
Our annual visit to Frieze is always highly anticipated. Not only to admire some great art but to also to discern new trends, see what the big names have on offer admire the most spectacular works – after all this is the biggest fair in the greatest city in the contemporary art world.
Yet still, and perhaps because of the anticipation, there is again a tinge of anti-climax. Are we expecting too much or could Frieze do better? Their gallery selection process doesn’t help – preferencing worldwide galleries means we seem to get mediocre work from perhaps Peru or Burkino Fasso at the expense of many excellent local galleries (is this not a London art fair after all?).
Gone are the bigger artists names and the spectacular and expensive works that graced earlier shows and we now seem to get more mid level and affordable (?) pieces – even from the big name galleries. One is left with the niggling impression that much of the best work is hidden away and that most of the deals are done back at their base.
The curated ‘Sex Work’ exhibition spread through the show failed to stir us and was rather tame. Still, this is the very best contemporary art fair in Britain, there is plenty of good art to be found and new names to be discovered. There is always something to surprise, people to meet and in the end, where else could you for example pick up a free Passport to Antartica?
Amongst our selection of what we noticed at this years fair were: Olafur Eliasson whose colour-shifting balls drew a large crowd whilst Eddie Peake was eye-catching as usual. We loved Ryan Mosley’s newest works, rather more colourful than usual and Mathew Ronay’s curious pastel-coloured and tactile sculptures. On the other hand Jeff Koon’s Glitterball Jesus and Hauser & Wirth’s Bronze Age pseudo museum display failed to inspire.
So, will we go back next year? Of course we will – and we’re looking forward to it already!
akickupthearts were guests of Frieze London
For more information visit www.frieze.com
6 November 2015 § Leave a comment
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.
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.
Curated by Tony Cragg is at Blain Southern until 29 August 2015. For more information visit www.blainsouthern.com
Tony Cragg is also at the Lisson Gallery Milan until 18 September 2015 For more information visit www.lissongallery.com
24 May 2014 § Leave a comment
To use an old cliche it seems like death was a great career move for the British sculptor Lynn Chadwick. Once acknowledged as a leader of a group of exciting young sculptors that included for example Reg Butler and Kenneth Armitage, and championed by renowned critic Herbert Read he was touted as a successor to the likes of Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth. He enjoyed a burst of fame in the 1950’s that culminated in 1956 when he won the International Prize for Sculpture at the Venice Biennale but from that point onwards until his death, aged 88 in 2003, he was largely ignored by the art establishment and unknown by the British public. Until now.
He has enjoyed a recent and highly deserved renaissance, started by his retrospective in the Tate in 2003 and followed by a number of important galleries, that has led to a series of exhibitions this summer. Four of his works were recently installed in front of the RA and now Osborne Samuel May and Blain Southern are featuring extensive solo shows. In addition there are also exhibitions this summer in Berlin and New York.
Blain Southern‘s impressive new Hanover Square space is an ideal venue to enjoy a range of seminal bronzes from the 1950s and 1960s, amongst them Teddy Boy & Girl (1955) – one of the works that earned Chadwick the International Sculpture Prize at the Venice Biennale in 1956 – as well as the monumental Stranger III (1959). These, along with Beast XVI (1959), Black Beast (1960) and Moon of Alabama (1957), serve to illustrate not only Chadwick’s unerring interest in human and animal forms, but the mainstay of his artistic practice; the manner in which he blurred the lines between figuration and abstraction.
Existential angst and despair is his favoured theme. There are howling beasts and attenuated figures with jagged heads, torsos reminiscent of bat wings and spindly, insect-like legs but while Chadwick is best known for his bronze works on occasion also worked with other materials. His group of Formica on wood ‘Pyramid’ and ‘Split’ sculptures – clean geometric shapes produced in 1966 – are shown in the main galleries and are surprisingly fresh and modern. Downstairs a group of welded stainless steel beasts represents Chadwick’s late exploration of the medium of steel in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Make sure to take the opportunity to view this impressive group of works but Chadwick’s new reputation doesn’t come cheap. It will set you back a cool £150k for one of the smaller works climbing to close to a £million for the larger ones. Enjoy the free entry and start saving!
Blain Southern until June 28
Alistair Sooke review in the Telegraph here.
Jackie Wollschläger review in the FT here.
Lynn Chadwick home website here.
14 September 2011 § 1 Comment
Well, what do I know? Rather unimpressed with Adrian Ghenie at Haunch of Venison the other day (see post) I went to see what the erstwhile owners of Haunch had to offer at Blain Southern. It turns out Marius Bercea is another Rumanian and also from the ‘Cluj School’ – a group of artists I was, up to that point, blissfully unaware of.
I should not have been. Apparently this particular school is sizzling hot in the contemporary art world (why did nobody tell me?) and both shows were completely sold out – so the galleries say – before they even opened. With the works selling for about £5 to £10k and up to about £50k this is no mean feat.
I felt the Ghenie exhibition was a little confused but to be fair I have discovered that the curator (see video at HoV site) actually sought to give an overview of some recent themes. His recent exhibitions have actually individually been much more cohesive and set around more specific ideas such as evolution/Darwin/eugenics and so forth.
Over at Blain Southern his fellow countryman Marius Bercea has only just joined the gallery roster. The similarity with Ghenie is immediately evident in respect of the way that he applies both rough and energetic as well as tight and controlled brush strokes across a canvas replete with complex imagery. Colours are often vivid. He also looks to make socio-political statements with for example derelict buildings and signs of poverty.
The works are probably more reflective than Ghenie’s with dreamlike and surrealist elements. One can gaze deeply in to the canvas where there is a feeling of drifting in and out of complex dreams. Disparate objects co-exist in a strange world which could be memories from past, a view of the present or a vision of the future – perhaps all three, perhaps none of them!
This is a very enjoyable and cohesive small show that gives perspective to the Cluj school. Try and see both together and find out what the fuss is all about.
Blain Southern until 1 October 2011
29 May 2011 § 1 Comment
Blain|Southern have announced that they will be moving from their rather cramped Dering Street premises in to a new gallery at 5 Hanover Square in May 2012. It is big too. The 12,400 sq ft area is one of the largest in London – only Hauser & Wirth are more extensive. Just behind them in the size chart incidentally, is Haunch of Venison, Harry Blain‘s old gallery which he recently left. Both have excellent current exhibitions well worth seeing – my reviews hopefully to come soon.
So how is the downturn affecting London galleries? Hauser & Wirth’s huge new space only opened the end of last year, Halcyon Gallery are opening a new gallery soon at 144 New Bond Street, SumarriaLunn have just had their opening at 36 South Molton Lane and Gazelli hint at a new space in St James. There are pop-ups galore plus other new galleries and yet few seem to be closing.