Frieze London 2017

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.

Olafur Eliasson Frieze Art Fair London 2017

Olafur Eliasson

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.

Matthew Ronay Frieze Art Fair London 2017

Matthew Ronay

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.

Cecily Brown Frieze Art Fair London 2017

Cecily Brown

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?).

Ryan Mosley Frieze Art Fair London

Ryan Mosley

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.

Cristina Iglesias Frieze Art Fair London

Cristina Iglesias

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?

Billy Childish Frieze Art Fair London

Billy Childish

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.

Eddie Peake Frieze Art Fair London

Eddie Peake

Ai Weiwei Frieze Art Fair London

Ai Weiwei

Kiluandi Kia Henji Frieze Art Fair London

Kiluandi Kia Henji

Anne Hardy Frieze Art Fair London

Anne Hardy

Hauser Wirth Frieze Art Fair London

Hauser & Wirth Bronze Age

Jonathan Gardner Frieze Art Fair London

Jonathan Gardner

Jeff Koons Frieze Art Fair London

Jeff Koons

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

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

Lynn Chadwick Retrospectives at Blain Southern

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.

‘Crouching Beast II’ at the Royal Academy, London

‘Crouching Beast II’ at the Royal Academy, London

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.

Lynn Chadwick at Blain Southern

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.

Lynn Chadwick at Blain Southern

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.

Lynn Chadwick at Blain Southern

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!

Lynn Chadwick at Blain Southern

Blain Southern until June 28

Alistair Sooke review in the Telegraph here.

Jackie Wollschläger review in the FT here.

Lynn Chadwick home website here.




marius bercea, adrian ghenie & the cluj school

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

boom or bust for london gallery space?

29 May 2011 § 1 Comment

Jeroen Verhoeven at Blain Southern

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.


Richard Long at Haunch of Venison

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.

Over at Christies et al auction results are back to the (already high) levels seen just before the peak of the market in 2007, the international art fairs report steady results and all the London galleries seem to be surviving or even thriving.
So all is all is rosy then? Has the city’s art market managed to ride out the recession? I suspect it is not quite as hunky dory as it appears, the larger galleries have survived as their wealthy clientelle is less affected whilst smaller ones are surviving on savings from the boom years, international art fairs and a hope of better to come. The big ticket evening sales results are good, whilst the more moderately priced day sales are merely steady. New galleries are coming with new money and not reliant on their past sales.
The near future surely will be a battle with survival only certain for the fittest. I wonder who may not last beyond next year if the forecasts of stagnation in the UK economy are correct?
Jeroen Vehoeven is at Blain Southern,  21 Dering Street, London AS1 1AL until 16 July 2011
Richard Long & Guiseppe Penone are at Haunch of Venison, Burlington Gardens, London W1S 3ET until 20 August 2011

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