Tag Archives: the boys

Laden for Lisson’s Latest

21 Mar

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.

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Octoberfest – Tuesday of Frieze Week

12 Oct

After visiting the Royal Academy Degas show (which will be the subject of a later post), we went for a brilliant lunch at Cecconi’s to sustain us for the busy day ahead.  With openings and art parties all across London, I wanted to see as much as possible and, although, I didn’t make it to everywhere on my to-see list, I did pretty well.

We began at Selfridges’ Museum of Everything.  Launched by art collector, James Brett, in 2009, this is the 4th incarnation of this Outsider Art charity installation.  This weird exhibition has taken over all the store windows (which are completely product-free for the first time ever) and a space on the lower ground floor, normally the Ultralounge, and now unrecognisable.

The Museum of Everything #4 at Selfridges. Own photograph.

Although I love the idea, and I’m pleased that Selfridges are embracing charity exhibition opportunities and exposing unknown artists, the art isn’t great.  In parts, it’s downright creepy and I wish they’d used this opportunity to unearth some real talent.  With over 400 works on display, nothing really struck me in a positive way.  I love the concept of the Museum of Everything and believe it has great potential which I hope they will better fulfil in their next exhibition.

The Museum of Everything #4 at Selfridges. Own photograph.

On to 20 Projects at 64 Margaret Street, who are showing a series of new sculptures by Alex Hoda based on small pieces of nicotine gum – chewed, used and spat out by the artist.  Installation hadn’t really finished when we arrived at 6pm and they were still stencilling the title onto the wall, strangely oblivious of the fact that they had guests.  Hoda’s works reminded me of Alina Szapoznikow’s chewing gum photographs that we exhibited in The Courtauld’s East Wing Collection VIII which concentrated on temporality and the act of leaving some form of mark, making something that is intrinsically rubbish into a work of art.  Obviously both artists are approaching their work from different angles, but the choice of subject is interesting.  Hoda uses a special machine to scan and then enlarge the bits of gum to ensure 100% accuracy when making the pieces in bronze. For him, the sculptures also represent the human form responding to Jean Fautrier’s Hostage series of the 1940s. The sculptures are beautiful but somehow the chewing gum detracts from this for me.

Alex Hoda’s Hostage at 20 Projects. Own photograph.

Moving on, we headed to the Josh Lilley Gallery who are showing Incredulous Zealots – works by four artists from Los Angeles.  Regular readers will know this is one of my favourite spaces in London (and the secret is out after an article in last weekend’s newspapers) – this is another brilliant show which presents the next generation of LA art and shows that the talent there is certainly not diminishing.  The works of two artists immediately grabbed my attention.  One of the girls in my group was so entranced by Annie Lapin’s work that we almost had to drag her away to a different part of the gallery.  Lapin is now exploring the abstract image, using colour and shapes that recall primitive art forms.  Her palette is luminous, using browns, creams, Courbet green, small doses of deep reds and sky blues.  Lapin’s paintings harness monumental experiences, drawing the viewer closer into her work, looking at the depth of layers, like a coloured fog over a hidden scene.

Annie Lapin. Image via www.joshlilleygallery.com

Analia Saban, one of the other LA artists, burns, cuts and destroys her paintings, almost to the point of annihilation before pulling them back to a supreme delicacy.  This destruction of an art form shows Saban’s desire to stand alone and take complete control of her practice, resulting in a re-assessment of the history of painting through a minimal, but beautiful, object.

Incredulous Zealots at Josh Lilley Gallery with Analia Saban work in the distance. Own photograph.

The gallery has been transformed to a more traditional, white contemporary exhibition space, allowing the individual works room to breathe and to be examined in a contemplative space.  Incredulous Zealots seeks to draw on the passion of Los Angeles painters who demand that painting be taken to a new level, persisting with, torturing, and ultimately loving, their chosen art forms.

I was also lucky enough to be able to take a peek at a new Nick Goss work, unusually (for him) painted on board.  Although his act of mark-making continues in the same mould, the painting is in a wholly new style, evoking a completely different feel to his usual works.  Brilliant!

Our feet were already starting to feel sore and, with more galleries still to go, it was taxi time. Have you ever tried to get a taxi in London, in art week, at about 7pm?  It’s impossible.  Finally, we saw one and hailed it, only to have it nabbed, from under our noses, by a ‘taxi thief’.  After my fairly loud comments of shock and belligerence, the driver decided to take pity on us four girls and, much to his surprise, the ‘taxi thief’ found himself moving over, sharing his cab and also letting us use the internet on his iphone (Blackberries still being dead, of course).  So, chivalry is not dead after all.  I have no doubt he was amused by the giggling and gossiping but he made our lives a lot easier and, we are grateful for his generosity.  Thank you, ‘taxi thief’.

Having been dropped at Dering Street, where we briefly, coincidentally coincided with ‘the boys’, we went to Blain Southern to see Rachel Howard’s Folie à Deux. The title is the clinical definition for a shared psychosis, where two or more people enter into a delusional belief induced by an intimate relationship.  Howard’s works play on the minds of people who have wandered far from reality and reason.  Technically, the works are very good – making use of media, including household gloss paint, oil, acrylic and varnish, Howard doesn’t overplay it.  Her paintings are strong and striking but seem to be more subtle variations on her normal work, exploring the intricacies of the human condition.

Rachel Howard’s Folie à Deux at Blain Southern. Own photograph.

The clock was ticking and it was time to head over to the new White Cube at Bermondsey.  Now, as any Blackberry user will know, and as I mentioned before, we’re not having much luck at the moment – unadulterated hell in fact – which meant I was without the internet or my trusty google maps app.

Following advice of ‘the boys’, we headed to Southwark station – not the closest tube as it turns out.  So much for me being geographically challenged.  A short cab ride (no helpful man this time though) took us to the end of a very long queue down Bermondsey Street.  No!  This couldn’t be right.  Sadly, it was.  As our stilettoed feet began to throb, we queued and moaned.  Security guards came down the line telling us to give up, I tried to phone friends who may already have been inside but to no avail.  We waited!

The queue. Own photograph.

And, our waiting paid off.  It felt like we deserved a prize where we finally made it into the forecourt where a thronging mass of people lunged towards the crowd prevention barriers that surrounded the gallery.  I’m not joking.  White Cube has taken hype to a whole new level, as they do so expertly.

Jay Jopling ‘walking’ around the new gallery. Image via www.metro.co.uk

At one point a security guard, atop an office chair, somewhat ironically yelled out, ‘This is not Titanic. There will be a way in. Stop shoving’.  But, of course, people didn’t.  Being small and in sharp shoes had its advantages though and, before too long, we were waiting our turn at the front of the mob.  When at last we got in, I felt slightly underwhelmed.  At 58,000 square feet, this White Cube is the largest commercial gallery in Europe and the space is obviously gorgeous – beautifully lit white boxes much like their other two spaces but on a mammoth scale – though after so much hassle and fuss I had expected more of an opening spectacle.  There seemed to be more private spaces than open gallery rooms so it is hard to gauge the enormity of the gallery.  With 2,000 people supposedly inside, and who knows how many in the courtyard, this was the place to be.  But, aside from serving mini hot dogs (possibly to appease those stuck outside), it wasn’t that different from any other White Cube PV.

Outside the new White Cube. Own photograph.

While many galleries are struggling in the current financial climate, White Cube has defiantly shown that these problems do not affect them or the upper echelons of the art world.  The new gallery is extensive and goes on and on with doors everywhere.  So endless, in fact, that we, along with many others, mistakenly wandered straight into the loos – the entrance looks like just another gallery. Ooops!  The Bermondsey space is stunning with wonderful floors of polished concrete, or something very akin to it.  It is, of course, a triumph.

White Cube on Bermondsey Street. Own photograph.

I’m not going to talk much about their opening exhibition which gets lost among everyone clammering to explore the space, although a smattering of their famous names are included – Gary Hume, Gabriel Orozco, Damien Hirst, Andreas Gursky and so on.  It’s a great show, with a monochrome chic feel running through.  It’s very impressive – the third hub in their never-ending expansion programme.  Where will White Cube turn up next?!

Andreas Gursky, Dusselstrand, 1996, is reflected in Damien Hirst’s Neverland, 2002. Image via www.metro.co.uk

Hobbling out of White Cube and changing, at last, into ballerinas, we stumbled on The Hide where we were able to rest our weary limbs and sink into their comfy sofas with big glasses of wine and dinner.  What a day!

The Museum of Everything #4 is at Selfridges until 25th October 2011, www.musevery.com or www.selfridges.comAlex Hoda: Hostage is at 20 Projects until 23rd October 2011, www.20projects.co.ukIncredulous Zealots: 4 Painterly Interrogations from LA is at the Josh Lilley Gallery until 19th November 2011, www.joshlilleygallery.comRachel Howard: Folie à Deux is at Blain Southern until 22nd December 2011, www.blainsouthern.comStructure & Absence is at White Cube Bermondsey until 26th November 2011, www.whitecube.com.

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