Good Things Come in Small Packages – Flowers’ Christmas Show

1 Dec

I had been looking forward to seeing Small is Beautiful at Flowers since I first received the invitation which stated that works were guaranteed not to exceed its own size – 9 inches by 7 inches.

Small is Beautiful at Flowers. Own photograph.

I know things like this have been done time and time again (the RCA secret postcard show being a prime example) and this is something of a tradition for Flowers but that didn’t stop me feeling a frisson of excitement.  I was interested to see if all the works conformed and, although I resisted carrying my invite around and sizing up, I reckon most of them did.

Small is Beautiful at Flowers. Own photograph.

The private view was bustling and, with works by 80 artists, that was hardly a surprise.  The pieces couldn’t be more varied, ranging from small-scale paintings to moving sculptures.  Most of Flowers’ big names make an appearance – there’s a Richard Smith work and a Patrick Hughes.  A gorgeous Nicola Hicks’ bear stands proudly on a plinth, reminding everyone of her recent exhibition on Kingsland Road.

Nicola Hicks, There is no moral high ground between a bear and a dog, 2010. Own photograph.

As is so often the case, my time was limited last night (dinner at The Zetter beckoned) and I didn’t get a chance to push past everyone to look closely at all the works but two stood out for me.  Maybe I’m predictable but I loved number 76 – Julian Opie’s Catherine Dancing (pink).  I have long admired Opie.  I remember seeing some of his work at the National Portrait Gallery as part of my AS-level art project.  And, when I returned to school with all my write-ups and drawings, the art teacher scornfully told me that all I had deliberately picked the easiest artist to copy.  No artist is actually easy to copy as anyone who has studied art (except forgers) will know.  I picked Opie because I think he’s wonderful but it certainly antagonised me enough to make me continue looking at his work.

Opie’s works are, of course, instantly recognisable and his career has been preoccupied with the investigation of representation through his own reductive, formal language.  Catherine Dancing is a three-dimensional exploration of a typical Opie figure.

Julian Opie, Catherine Dancing (pink), 2011. Own photograph.

Another highlight for me was displayed just behind the Opie.  I met Tim Lewis a few weeks ago at another Flowers’ event but wasn’t familiar with his work.  Lewis’s Pann is a strange mechanical creature who paces across a platform.  All the pieces in this show are typical snapshots into the artists’ working styles and Pann is no exception.  Lewis’s anthropomorphic entities mix intricate mechanics with a dextrous appreciation of both art and artifice.  His creative drive and obsession with form is apparent but it is contagious; I was quickly captivated, following Pann’s journey, back and forth, back and forth.

Tim Lewis, Pann, 2011. Own photograph.

Normally, at such a busy opening it is inevitable that I will be trodden on but this didn’t happen yesterday as I had decided to don a new pair of shoes. The first comment when I bought them was that they look like a lethal weapon.  If the stiletto is good for moving others’ feet out the way then why not take the theme to the rest of the shoe! Don’t worry, I’m not that vicious but they certainly provoked a reaction.

Small is Beautiful XXIX is at Flowers, Cork Street, until 1st January 2012, www.flowersgalleries.com.

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8 Responses to “Good Things Come in Small Packages – Flowers’ Christmas Show”

  1. deanmelbourne December 1, 2011 at 4:38 pm #

    lovely post. Being outside of london i miss such a lot of these shows so it was nice to have your guided tour. I tried to emulate opie and hume when i was a painting student! I will try and pop along and see this.

    oh and great shoes!

    • chloenelkin December 1, 2011 at 7:16 pm #

      Thanks so much for your comment and I’m pleased you enjoyed the post (and the shoes). It’s a really lovely show and a nice snapshot of works by multiple artists.

      Do let me know what you think if you manage to see it yourself.

      Keep reading and thanks again 🙂

  2. Matt December 3, 2011 at 10:09 pm #

    Another great post. Nice to see that the Shoes are making an impression!

    • chloenelkin December 4, 2011 at 10:28 am #

      Thank you for reading and I’m pleased you enjoyed the post. Yes, people do seem to be enjoying my shoes 🙂

  3. Chantal December 4, 2011 at 8:43 pm #

    isn’t Nicola Hick’s beautiful!
    Just wanted to say thanks for all the reviews – Dean recommended I check out your blog and I’ve been working my way through your back posts and loving them. Not often you get reviews that are both interesting and accessible to read, you’re in my googlereader now too 🙂
    Thanks!

    • Chantal December 4, 2011 at 8:44 pm #

      I meant to say isn’t Nicola Hicks’ “sculpture” beautiful. Although I’m sure she is very lovely in her own right too 🙂

      • chloenelkin December 4, 2011 at 10:54 pm #

        Hehe I realised. She is indeed a lovely person but you’re certainly right about her sculptures, they’re stunning 🙂

    • chloenelkin December 4, 2011 at 10:53 pm #

      Thank you so much for reading and I’m really pleased that you’re enjoying them so much and finding them interesting. (Thanks Dean for spreading the word.)

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