A free hour during the afternoon is always somewhat tempting and yesterday, when a meeting was cancelled, I afforded myself the opportunity to go shopping to peruse the spring collections. Well, a girl’s got to do what a girl’s got to do! I ended up arriving at the Lisson Gallery laden with shopping – something I generally try to avoid. This did mean that I needed help with photography as my hands were full and given the choice of carrying my shopping or the camera my very able companion opted for the latter which helped me no end (thanks go to him).
Coming out of the Bakerloo Line station exit at Edgware Road makes getting to the gallery much simpler and I was there in seconds, joining the masses who were already congregating in the courtyard, gossiping and drinking. Lisson Gallery is currently showing three exhibitions across their two spaces on Bell Street.
In the first gallery is Dan Graham’s Pavilions which includes a range of pavilions and models as he explores the relationship between these architectural environments and those who inhabit them.
Dan Graham, GRAD 1 10004-1, 2011. Own photograph.
It is difficult to establish whether these are fine art sculptures or architectural installations, whether they are functional or purely aesthetic but there’s actually no reason why they can’t be both. The pavilions are made of steel, mirror and glass, creating disorientating spatial effects as one sees ghostly figures stuck between the prison-like walls. The spectator is implicated here as our own reflections become manifest in the installation as well as indulging in the voyeurism of watching others glide through the pavilions. This effect is created by Graham’s use of two-way mirror glass that is both transparent and reflective. The physical reality of those around us becomes blurred with the reflections as Graham’s pavilions create shifting perceptions where we lose ourselves in these semi-virtual spaces.
Dan Graham, GRAD 1 20001, 2011-12. Own photograph.
The work outside was particularly striking, seen in the darkness of a spring evening it perfectly captured the mix of virtual and real, earthly and ethereal. The boys enjoyed posing in the works which became playpens as well as pavilions.
Dan Graham, GRAD 1 20002, 2011-12. Own photograph.
Also in this gallery are drawings by Jorinde Voigt. In contrast to the intrigue of Graham’s works, at first sight I thought these lacked imagination. The large-scale works on paper are composed of intricately drawn networks of sweeping arcs, arrows, lines and labels recalling written recordings of sonic vibrations. However, they are not as simple as they initially appear and Voigt makes use of a unique visual language to create her own complex score that attempts to record the physical world in intense algorithmic detail. The concept behind the drawings is intriguing but the mystique and skill required here and the aim of the works is not apparent without explanation.
Jorinde Voigt, VOIG 100001, 2010. Own photograph.
It was time to follow the trail of people, walking from gallery to gallery with beer in hand.
The second gallery is entirely taken over by Spencer Finch who wished to get back to basics, making something from nothing.
This new body of works explores his focus on light and colour. The exhibition certainly covers a wide-range of media and, for me, this meant the show lost some of its focus although it does illustrate Finch’s skill and diverse training. Ex Nihilo is different to his previous work as Finch explains that he was trying to find a middle ground between representation and abstraction.
Spencer Finch, Paths Through the Studio, 2012. Own photograph.
Darkness, seen in the ground floor gallery, really does test the viewer’s sense of space. A lightbox is used to create darkness, which Finch feels is a form of light, and it takes a few moments for your senses to re-adjust to this new glowing form of dark light.
Spencer Finch, Bee Flight Patterns, 2011. Image via www.lissongallery.com.
The works really do lead us through Finch’s studio routine; one lightbox shows the view across Brooklyn from his studio, one work plays with the fallen flower petals that lay on his kitchen counter and another traces the flight patterns of some bees who took residence under the porch near his studio. Studio Window (Infrared, January, 25 2012, Morning Effect) considers the temperature changes and follows the sun’s journey that day as Finch attached 69 thermometers to his studio window. There is no doubt that these works are quirky and have an inherent connection to Finch’s life.
Spencer Finch, Paper Moon (Studio Wall at Night), 2009. Image via www.lissongallery.com.
Upstairs in the gallery is an installation that re-creates the effect of the night-time shapes and shadows caused by the reflections of the street lamps that appear in his studio. The car headlights from the street create a bright, fast-moving, blue light that Finch finds mesmerising and he has conjured a work that is both theatrical and playful while not taking itself too seriously.
Spencer Finch, detail of Paper Moon (Studio Wall at Night), 2009. Own photograph.
These three exhibitions are certainly varied in subject and form. There have been more striking shows at Lisson in the past but these are interesting, if not edgy, and show the range of their artists.
Dan Graham: Pavilions, Jorinde Voigt: KONNEX and Spencer Finch: Ex Nihilo are all at Lisson Gallery until 28th April 2012, www.lissongallery.com.