david brian smith – goodwill and the unknown man – at carl freedman

10 November 2012 § Leave a comment

Two years ago I bid for a David Brian Smith work at a charity auction, going to nearly double estimate before dropping out. It turned out I had been up against no less a collector than Charles Saatchi.

He was infact adding to the several Smith works that he already has in his collection – with the added bonus of helping to create a higher market and increasing the value of his own works! Oh to be in such a position….

Carl Freedman has now given Smith a solo show at his newly opened east London space and I would be astonished if it is not already a sell-out. Unfortunately I have yet to make it over there and with just a week to run I would be remiss in not recommending a visit based on previous sight of Smith works.

The exhibition was also recently recommended as ‘Exhibition of the Week’ by no less than Paul Hobson, director of the influential Contemporary Art Society (an organisation any serious collector should join right away!). Since I cannot review first hand I cannot do better than quote from his excellent review:

“[the show] showcases his technical ability and evolving style as a painter and offers further insight into his somewhat hallucinatory vision and underlying autobiographical and art historical references.  The exhibition brings together recent work, medium scale paintings where a figure or figures are situated in psychedelic and symbolic landscapes, alluding to spiritual or heightened emotional interiors. Based on a black and white photograph from the 1930s … the image has poignant autobiographical association for the artist which he often revisits.  Other paintings are based on a 1912 photograph of his great-grandfather, a colonial explorer, which build upon the familial, patriarchal theme of the work.  Painting on herringbone linen Smith allows the underlining herringbone pattern to disrupt and fragment the reading of the image, often asserting the pattern by painting it over final composition, creating a collaged effect and generating a dizzying, altered condition of perception, skilfully handled. 

In this case it would be a wise person who follows Saatchi’s lead and invests in Smith.This is a relatively young artist with a long way to go and his stock will surely rise.

David Brian Smith runs until 17 November 2012 at Carl Freedman Gallery

Images courtesy of Carl Friedman Gallery

fruchtbaresland at carl freedman

14 April 2011 § 1 Comment

Fruchtbaresland (barren land) is, like every Carl Freedman exhibition, makes a detour to the barren lands of East London well worth while. A group exhibition that opens today, it includes Armando Andrade Tudela, Michael Fullerton, Thilo Heinzmann, David Brian Smith and Catherine Story.

At the end of the gallery a fabulous new work by Smith (another future ‘One to Watch’!) grabs the attention. He draws on autobiographical incidents and memories which root his colourful and intricate landscapes in the real world. With their ‘intense palettes, dramatic skies, folkloric subjects, and passages of pure dream-like invention, they radiate an almost spiritual quality’. Saatchi showed his work at British Art Now and has also quietly been buying more of his work.

Fullerton’s painting Something That Originates Or Results From Something Else; Outcome; Issue (2011) enters sexual and political territory and is one of his best. This striking portrait is of Mary Palevsky – is the progeny one of the creators of the atomic bomb – which ushered in the the nuclear age and a new political era. Having been included in British Art Now 7 – In the Days of the Comet,  amongst other important exhibitions, Fullertons reputation is rocketing  – no pun intended!

Thilo Heinzmann’s delicate landscape of splattered pigment is also excellent and gives the exhibition its title. I am not really sure that this title really ties the works on show together and it is clearly an opportunity for Carl to show a number of his stable – but who really cares when everything in this small gallery is well worth seeing?

london art fair 2011

23 January 2011 § 1 Comment

The London Art Fair 2011 kicked off this last week with, let us say, a whimper rather than a bang. Despite being around for some 23 years, it has been on the way down for many years since Frieze stole its thunder a number of years back. Its decline this year was sadly rather evident.

The first thing to strike you was not who was there, but who was not. The big international galleries have long since avoided the fair: White Cube, Hauser & Wirth, Victoria Miro and the like steer well clear. Middle level galleries are now almost completely absent – the likes of Stephen Friedman and Flowers are largely gone. As for small, influential galleries like Carl Freedman – not a chance. Even little West End galleries like John Martin selling popular and easily accessible work – the galleries for who you would imagine this show is perfect are deserting the ship.

So who is left? There was a reasonably good selection of work from Modernist British artists – Ivon Hitchens, Roger Hilton, Alan Davie and the like – shown by galleries such as Anthony Hepworth, Austin Desmond and Richard Green. It was however thoroughly mixed in with contemporary work of generally poor quality from a multiplicity of small galleries – mostly little-known or ‘popping-up’ from unknown origins. 

The whole was exhibited in a maze of alleys and passageways that seems ever more confusing and cramped year by year. The balcony stands afford such little viewing space that it is rather like having a gellery on a tube train whilst the Art Projects section showed some dire stuff in an assortment of back rooms.

The supposed ‘VIP’ tickets afforded a slightly more leisurely experience, but unaccompanied by any drinks until 6pm when some mediocre cava appeared in plastic glasses (the fact it was in relatively generous quantity was a minor blessing). As for the supposed ‘VIP room’ – I wont even go there!

Was it really as bad as I make out – probably not and I passed a pleasant enough couple of hours at the fair – but it was all slightly disappointing and not the sort of event  to inspire the spending of large amounts of money on high quality art – even if you could find it. The first word from some dealers I spoke to backs up this impression – “the worst year yet”, “no buyers around” and “never again”. Verdict: C minus – could try harder. Will we see anything change next year – nope!

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