Because it’s not right in the heart of Mayfair Parasol Unit often gets missed off the PV lists but art enclaves now exist all over London and Islington isn’t really as out of the way as many people think. Last night, with dinner plans only a five minute drive away in Clerkenwell, I was determined and went to see Parasol’s new exhibition – Lines of Thought.
A mixed show, the exhibition includes work by Helene Appel, Hemali Bhuta, James Bishop, Raoul De Keyser, Adrian Esparza, Özlem Günyol & Mustafa Kunt, Sol LeWitt, Richard Long, Jorge Macchi, Nasreen Mohamedi, Fred Sandback, Conrad Shawcross, Anne Truitt, and Richard Tuttle.
Özlem Günyol & Mustafa Kunt, Ceaseless Doodle, 2009. Image via www.designweek.co.uk.
Line is one of most powerful forms of artistic expression in history. The exhibition, therefore, was based around a very simple premise. Whether seen as continuous, broken, curved or straight, it’s everywhere and forms the basis for everything. Some of the works show the magnitude and extravagance that can now be achieved through a focus on linear exploration.
Fred Sandback, Untitled Nr 4, 1968/1983. Image via www.designweek.co.uk.
Raoul De Keyser’s paintings, upstairs at Parasol, recall the workings of such Abstract Expressionists as Mark Rothko, where he has divided the small canvases into black and white fields, playing with the horizontal. His paintings are introverted, self-reflections on his varied life.
Downstairs is more dramatic; Hemali Bhuta’s Stepping down is a site-specific installation using thousands of wax stalactites to mimic candles. The impressive installation is somewhat diminished by the range of works in the gallery but the piece is still visually striking, transforming one corner of the room into a cave-like space where dripping formations evolve out of the ceiling.
Hemali Bhuta, Stepping down, 2010. Image via www.parasol-unit.org.
Adrian Esparza’s new work, So Fast and Slow, shows a mounted Mexican blanket that has been partially unravelled. Much of his inspiration comes from his borderland experience in El Paso, where he lives and works, and his daily encounters with political divides. Although So Fast and Slow is a new work this year, Esparza has created similar pieces before. Here, guided through a loom-like maze of nails, the cotton thread becomes a strikingly geometric colourful landscape looking at the turbulent history it represents. Esparza shows the blanket both as a constructed object and as a deconstructed form suggesting the potential for new possibilities from past forms.
Adrian Esparza, So Fast and Slow, 2012. Image via www.parasol-unit.org.
Of course, no exhibition on line would be complete without Richard Long (fresh from Haunch of Venison) and Sol LeWitt’s Wall Drawing #103 from 1971.
For me, Conrad Shawcross’s Harmonic Manifold 1 (5:4) stands out and still has the same mysterious enigma as when I first saw it at Turner Contemporary and then again at Frieze – it’s been around quite a lot. Placed on a raised platform surrounded by Shawcross’s drawings the work commands respect, bringing its own inspirational gravitas to Parasol.
Conrad Shawcross, Harmonic Manifold 1 (5:4), 2011. Own photograph.
The exhibition is a well-thought out idea, nothing radical, nothing subversive. My fellow gallery-goer thought it had crossed the line and was dull. I thought the strength of the disparate works kept it interesting. The main problem is that line can be so manipulated that, in fact, the theme of the exhibition is everything, as everything uses line.
Outside at Parasol. Own photograph.
Parasol will always have the advantage that their stunning gallery space shows off works to their best no matter what they are. It was a warm evening and people were milling outside by the pond, sipping champagne under Yamada’s SAD light and returning to the exhibition with smiles on their faces.
Lines of Thought is at Parasol unit until 13th May 2012, www.parasol-unit.org.