Glen Brown, Come to Dust – Gagosian Mayfair, London

20 February 2018 § Leave a comment

“I am rather like a Dr. Frankenstein, constructing paintings out of the residue or dead parts of other artist’s work. I see their worlds from multiple or schizophrenic perspectives, through all their eyes. Their sources of inspiration suggest things I would never normally see – rocks floating in far-off galaxies, for example, or a bowl of flowers in an 18th-century room, or a child in a fancy-dress costume. The scenes may have been relatively normal to Rembrandt or Fragonard but because of the passage of time and the difference in culture, to me they are fantastical.”    Glenn Brown

Glenn Brown Gagosian Mayfair London

Glenn Brown’s latest show, amazingly his first major UK one since 2009, takes advantage of the large spaces of Gagosian’s recently opened (see here) Mayfair gallery. This is a hugely impressive, state of the art space and Brown’s classical themes and inspirations are well suited to this gallery’s wooden floors and dark walls as opposed to the cliched concrete floored white cubes found in most commercial spaces nearby.

Glenn Brown Gagosian Mayfair London

The lighting is low and each work is spotlight whilst besuited security guards add to the feeling of entering a major London Museum rather than a west end gallery. This seems entirely relevant since Brown appropriates from classical artists that include Rembrandt, Delacroix, Greuze, and Raphael in a variety of genres like landscape, portrait, flower and history painting.

Glenn Brown Gagosian Mayfair London

He usually uses Photoshop to distort, merge and colour the selected sources in sophisticated compositions that fuse diverse histories – Renaissance, Impressionism and Surrealism. The original may in turns be obvious or hardly recognisable. Sometimes he puts them in historic gilt frames to confuse us more.

Glenn Brown Gagosian Mayfair London

In his oils, hybrid figures painted in intricate swirls reveal the sumptuous potential of oil paint. While these paintings give the illusion of thick impasto with volume, closer scrutiny reveals smooth surfaces that glow with a vital force. Up close form also disappears in complex swirls and vortices as if slipping from memory in some drug induced trance or dreamlike haze.

Glenn Brown Gagosian Mayfair London

In graphic works Brown paints using largely black and white lines over a neutral ground. Meticulous, elongated brushstrokes reimagine works from the likes of Raphael and Guido Reni to create depth and animation in portraits that barely seem to exist.

Glenn Brown Gagosian Mayfair London

There are also a significant number of sculptures, which we found slightly less successful. Elaborate masses are built from thick ‘strokes’ of coloured paint – perhaps imagine the likes of a sculptural Kossof. Some partially encase nineteenth-century bronze statues with growths of pulsating, gravity-defying paint.

Glenn Brown Gagosian Mayfair London

This is a stunning exhibition of formidable technical ability and Brown impresses with an artistic language that transcends time and pictorial conventions. In his unique vision the abstract and the visceral, the rational and irrational, the beautiful and grotesque, churn in a dizzying amalgamation of reference and form. Not to be missed.

Glenn Brown Gagosian Mayfair London

Glenn Brown, Come to Dust runs at Gagosian Mayfair until 17 March 2018

For more information visit www.gagosian.com

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 www.mariangoodman.com

‘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 www.the-print-room.org

Images by CELLOPHANELAND* and Marian Goodman Gallery.

William Kentridge at Marian Goodman London

11 October 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 www.mariangoodman.com

‘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 www.the-print-room.org

Images by CELLOPHANELAND* and Marian Goodman Gallery.

exploring the clerkenwell art scene

9 September 2012 § 1 Comment

The Clerkenwell art gallery scene in London is not quite as concentrated as that in say, Mayfair. Neither is it as cutting edge as that in Peckham or Vyner Street, not as hip and trendy as Hoxton nor comfortable as Bloomsbury. It is also not as expensive as the West End or Fitzrovia or even parts of the East end. Almost by default therefore it has recently become the area of choice for a new group of young and ambitious gallerists.

Bettina Buck – Rokeby Gallery

I took the opportunity of a rare sunny Saturday in London to jump on a Boris bike and take a home-made tour. A bicycle by the way is the perfect mode of transport for the maze of narrow one-way back streets, just off the busy main roads, where the galleries are tucked away. The galleries themselves have assisted the touring process by printing a neat little card featuring an extract from the A to Z on one side (upon which neat numbered red spots are liberally scattered) whilst the galleries are listed on t’other side. Seventeen to be precise.

A good place to start would be the Gagosian‘s newish space in Britannia St near Kings Cross. This big, slick space is totally atypical of the usual Clerkenwell gallery as well as being a little on a northern limb, so why not get it out of the way first and move on to the small (and very small!) spaces that typify the scene. It is also open on Saturday and has just opened its new Cy Twombly show – The Last Paintings – eight spectacular large works which are also shown with sixty-six of his photographs. You may not get the afore-mentioned map/card at Gagosian, but you should do at Work close by on Acton Street.

Rod Barton on Paget Street is a little off the track at Paget Street but usually well worth a side-trip to check out their shows which often feature recent graduates of the London art schools.

Gabrielle Beveridge – Rod Barton Gallery

A little farther south Ancient & Modern and Madder 139 on Whitecross Street often have very interesting little exhibitions. I won’t run through all the many other galleries on the list but I will highlight a personal selection of those I would recommend that you should check out. 

The first of these is Breese Little on Gt Sutton Street – the Little part being Henry, latterly of the Contemporary Art Society, so he should really know his stuff! The bold and colourful paintings of Tome de Freston are there in their neat little gallery until 15 September 2012 (above).  Less neat and perfectly formed is the WW Gallery which is down an untidy back corridor and occupies a sequence of scruffy rooms – but we’ll let them off because it is a not-for-profit artist-run space. Despite the chaos it has some good artists – currently  a great show from Ayuko Sugiura is on until 6 October (two images below).

Sell off any spare gold whilst you are in the warren of streets that make up Hatton Garden and then drop in to Tintype – a slick gallery with a small roster of interesting multi-media artists. Do not miss the Rokeby Gallery – well-established (since 2005) with some very well-established top quality artists and who exhibit at shows like the Armory and Hong Kong. A good show from Bettina Buck has just opened and continues until 20 October.

Finish off with the slick and well-organised Laura Bartlett Gallery. Sadly when I sped past they were on a break until October but they do usually have some very impressive  shows from a quality stable of artists.

Nina Beier – Laura Bartlett Gallery

Got any energy left? You could always keep going west and start ticking off the Fitzrovia galleries. Not far from Laura Bartlett these start with great spots like Paradise Row in Newman Street or Rollo in Cleveland Street.

All too much? Finish off in Charlotte Street with a cold beer on the terrace of the uber-cool Charlotte Street Hotel. Cheers Boris!

 

 

 

 

 

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