Carla Busuttil’s third solo show at Josh Lilley in London entitled The Super-Suburb Defence Authority touches on all of the ills that have infected South Africa since its colonial era. As a South African artist growing up under apartheid but living and working outside her home country since moving to London to attend the Royal Academy Schools in 2005, Busuttil is able to look back on her native land with a dispassionate and impartial lens, picking up on all of the developments and setbacks of a country struggling to cleanse itself of its apartheid history.
Consisting of painting, sculpture, video and bespoke artist wallpaper, this exhibition actively engages the viewer, whether interested in the politics or not, as the installation is a master class in exhibition making and the politically and culturally-charged subject matter is understated, drawing the viewers in instead of slapping them on the face. In the first room of the exhibition, there is a large seemingly innocent painting of six school boys in their uniforms painted in a lurid yellow colour, with their school’s motto printed on the top left corner of the canvas: “Our motto is achieve. And success we will achieve.” Inspired by a school photo of the artist’s husband’s secondary school class in South Africa where he was forced to learn the Afrikaans language that only 13% of the South African population understands, this painting is quintessential Busuttil – revolving around the human form, painted in an abstract contemporary style, using a painterly brushstroke, and touching on the political landscape of a vibrantly coloured South Africa. In the same room, the viewer is confronted with four thickly-impastoed primitive faces reminiscent of African masks but painted on vintage cricket pads found in thrift shops in England, subtly pointing to South Africa’s colonial past. Presented on traditional gallery plinths, these sculptures are all titled Nightwatchman, alluding to the overall theme of this exhibition exploring the South African private security industry that employs more people than the police force and army combined.
In the downstairs gallery spaces, another thought-provoking painting of a car park guard intrigues the viewer as the man’s face is painted blue, matching the painting’s ground and hinting at racial tension, social unrest and the giant chasm between the rich and the poor. Continuing this leitmotif, Busuttil presents for the first time in the UK the video she produced after extensive research in Johannesburg called Mosquito Lightning, a parody advertisement of the private security firm the artist founded while on a residency there earlier this year. Presented on top of bespoke artist wallpaper, this video work is equal parts humour and terror as the entire private security industry profits from fear and its amplification in order to fulfil its corporate promise to eradicate it. This emphasis on the fear of the “other” in society has universal applications at the present moment, whether it be president-elect Trump promising to ban all Muslims from entering the United States or the British majority who voted for Brexit this summer in order to stop immigration into the UK. So through Busuttil’s window with a view of suburban South Africa, the viewer has a glimpse of its own political realities in present-day London.
All in all, this exhibition is definitely worth a visit (on until 23 December 2016) for Busuttil’s tantalising painting technique as well as for its transporting qualities – from a grey wintry day in Fitzrovia to a colour-saturated, bright day in a privileged Johannesburg suburb.
About the Artist
Carla Busuttil (b.1982, Johannesburg, South Africa, lives and works in Oxford) studied at the Royal Academy, London, and University of Witwatersrand, South Africa. Solo exhibitions include Choice. Click.Bait, Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg, 2016; A Change of Tongue, Space K, Seoul, 2014; and Generation V, Josh Lilley, London, 2013. Group exhibitions include We see (in) the Dark, Museum of Africa Design, Johannesburg, 2015; Creative London, Space K, Seoul, Gwacheon & Gwangju, 2012; and Newspeak: British Art Now, Saatchi Gallery, London, 2010.
After several other exhibitions in London this year, Glasgow-based France-Lise McGurn pulls out all the stops for her solo exhibition at Bosse & Baum in Peckham (on until 18th December 2016). Presenting her signature wall and floor paintings alongside her figurative paintings on canvas and a more experimental sound piece, McGurn titled the show Mondo Throb, referencing both the 1970’s mondo genre of exploitation filmmaking as well as excited, inflamed body parts. In stark contrast to her earlier work that fragmented the human body with a more innocent vibe, these paintings are erotically charged with the viewer treated to a parade of bodies and body parts, from one seated nude gazing upon a topless woman in repose to another nude woman masturbating. The titling of the paintings is revelatory as well (e.g., Aerobics gives you herpes, Betty batteries and Hermione Hormone).
The presentation of the paintings on canvas on top of the wall paintings brings to mind an orgy of limbs or a subtle nod toward club culture, an area of activity where McGurn is incredibly active in Glasgow. She runs a club night residency at the poetry club in Glasgow, in collaboration with Katie Shannon, called DAISIES, where they invite DJs and artists to contribute to the décor and installation. The floor paintings and artist-rigged lighting in the gallery space further contribute to that club ambience with the random squiggles of paint on the concrete floor suggestive of the stains and detritus left behind after a wild and crazy night on the dancefloor.
McGurn’s work is developed from her personal archive of collected imagery and moving image files. For this body of work, ecstasy was the focus, and the artist culled imagery from multiple sources from film, television, music and visual culture – from softcore and sexploitation films such as Emanuelle (1974) and Nine and a Half Weeks (1986) to illustrations for Happy Families decks of cards (1939). A visit to this exhibition is strongly recommended whether you are looking for carnal ecstasy or divine ecstasy. It is a visual feast for the eyes.
For those living in Glasgow, look out for McGurn’s work at the Pipe Factory in February 2017.
All photos courtesy of the artist and Bosse & Baum. Photo credit: Oskar Proctor
About the Artist
France-Lise McGurn (b. 1983, Glasgow) lives and works in Glasgow. She graduated with a BA from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art in 2005 and with an MA from the Royal College of Art in 2012. Selected exhibitions include: Nomadic Vitrine, Recent Activity, Birmingham (October 2016); Felicity Black, Vertical Vulnerability, Caustic Coastal (October 2016); The Old Things, Crévecoeur, Paris (July 2016); Sexting, Kate Werble Gallery, New York (July 2016); At Home Salon: Double Acts, Marcelle Joseph Projects, Ascot (May 2016); Only with a light touch will you write well, freely and fast, Supplement, London (2016) and David Dale Gallery, Glasgow (2015); NEO-PAGAN BITCH-WITCH! Evelyn Yard, London (2016); 3am (solo), Collective Gallery, Edinburgh (2015); A collaboration with Marianne Spurr, Studio Leigh, London (2015); Nos Algae’s, a performance at Tramway, Glasgow (2014). She was part of collaborative performance Amygdala N.O.S with Kimberley O’Neill and Cara Tolmie at South London Gallery (2015), for the launch of Love your Parasites, edited by Camilla Wills, which she also contributed to. Upcoming exhibitions include France-Lise McGurn, Zoe Williams & Urara Tsuchiya at The Pipe Factory, Glasgow (February, 2017).
Artist Laurie Nye’s other-worldly paintings filled with omnipotent female cyborgs and organic geometric shapes feature at the current group show at The Dot Project in London entitled “Figure It Out” (until 13thNovember). On the occasion of her European debut, Marcelle Joseph sat down to talk to this LA-based Memphis-born artist about her painting practice and inspirations.
- Your paintings offer a vision of an alternate reality or a fantasy world ruled by women and for women. Could you talk about your subject matter? Is it utopian or feminist in focus?
I’d say my paintings are conjured from a feminine gaze and lean toward a visionary type of pictorial space. I do like to reimagine myths, turning them on their ear and offering a different perspective, flipping roles of hero vs heroine. I feel compelled to look beyond the reality I live in as a woman and a creator in a patriarchal world where I see a history strewn with cruelty, greed and environmental exploitation. I collaborate in an alternative reality with invented muses, which are powerful, intelligent, empathetic and hybrid female energies. That sounds either utopian or escapist, when you think about it.
- Are there narrative threads weaving through your paintings in general? I see for your 2015 LA solo show you transformed the myth of Andromeda, recasting it to empower female characters. Does this theme continue through the works presented at The Dot Project in London?
I was raised in the deep south in the U.S. and southerners do like narratives. I love allegorical painting so I tend to be drawn to ideas and themes. The theme of Andromeda continues to inform my latest work as I consider ways to depict a fantastic realm empowered and shaped by female hybrid beings. I see my work as an ongoing collaboration with these nature-loving muses. The idea of the cyborgian figure and the intermixing of geometric versus organic form continues to evolve in strange and surprising ways in my recent paintings.
- You paint exclusively female figures. Do you consider yourself a feminist or do you just prefer the female form for formal reasons?
My art practice is defined by a strong educational foundation in figurative drawing and painting. I love being a woman, painting women who rule in a reality I’d want to exist within. So far, the main subjects in my paintings have been female, not necessarily to the exclusion of other sexes. If envisioning a galaxy run by women is considered a feminist ideal then I’m a card carrying member.
- Do you use source material or do these female figures come from your imagination?
I enjoy looking at weird sci-fi illustration and I hoard art books and random ephemera. Over time, much of what I’ve collected and researched in the past has been internalised. I draw a lot straight out of my imagination. I’m very in tune with the internal world and I do a lot of paintings from simple pencil drawings of ideas that come to me.
- Let’s talk composition. Your picture plane is dense and crowded with imagery filling up every inch of the canvas. This convention lends an immersive quality to the work for the viewer. What are your intentions as the maker?
As for composition, I want to suck you in beyond the lateral plane of looking at a surface. It’s not enough for me to move your eyes around; I’m interested in a transformative space for the viewer to wonder about over time. The paintings have indeed become more shallow in depth which offers a more intimate space to the viewer and to my mind creates a more complex, figure/ground relationship.
- How do you approach your colour palette as the colours are vibrant and saturated? Do you believe that colour can provoke certain feelings in the viewer?
I’m very much interested in the emotive experience of colour. I think about colour a lot and my colour mood shifts. My last series was, to me, like my neon impressionist phase. Now I’ve returned to black as a marker of emphasis. I love the use of black in Manet’s paintings. I get excited and go through colour stories. I want to go dimmer, deeper, but I keep conjuring these exuberant, velvety, sort of weird palettes. Lots of yellow, pink, blue, red and black. I have ways of layering the colours to make them sing. It’s a balance and sometimes it really hits the right note. When you figure out how to make colours react to each other, a painting will draw out a visceral feeling.
- With your use of motif and pattern, your work is reminiscent of the great Swedish abstract mystic painter Hilma af Klint (1862-1944). At some point, do your figures become abstracted motifs/shapes/forms as well?
*Wow, thank you for the compliment, I have the highest regard for Hilma af Klint’s transcendent paintings. Her work is out of place, out of time and I definitely identify with that. She painted in a vacuum and in a way it seems like a gift to me, to have that autonomy and singularity of space in which to carve out a vision. To answer your question, the figures in my paintings are invented around the idea of hybridity, a changing body which can shift and morph. In my paintings, the figures/creatures/colours/forms are all able to meld and become indistinct from each other and their environment if they so choose.
- You attended the world famous Cal Arts, completing your MFA in 2002. How has your educational background played out into your current practice, if at all?
Cal Arts is becoming a more distant, yet idyllic memory. That place was a hotbed for boundless creative and intellectual experimentation. I was so fortunate to work with many wonderful brains, including the revered conceptual artist and thinker, Michael Asher. He was not an aesthetically minded artist, completely anti-visual and I learned a lot from those rigorous, all-day critiques. I was naive and I benefited from sheer dumb guts to speak up for myself. Many professors back then were anti-painting. That was how I began my passage of grad-school, “why painting?”. Sheesh! I made it out of there feeling I’d achieved an exclusive badge of honor alongside my fellow MFA comrades. We fondly call each other “Martians”. It changed me forever, giving me a broadened dialog outside of my painting practice.
About the Artist
Laurie Nye (b. 1972, Memphis, TN) lives and works in Los Angeles. She earned a BFA from the Memphis College of Art in 1995 and a MFA from the California Institute of the Arts in 2002. Nye’s work has been featured in one- and two-person exhibitions such as Andromeda, 5 Car Garage, Los Angeles, CA (2015); The Crystal Eaters, Statler & Waldorf Gallery, Los Angeles, CA (2013); Nature Diamond Figure, Parker Jones Gallery, Los Angeles, CA (2011); So Forgotten, Material Gallery, Memphis TN; and Laurie Nye and Paula Cane, Karyn Lovegrove Gallery, Los Angeles, CA (2007). Her work has been included in thematic exhibitions including The White Album, Richard Telles Fine Art, Los Angeles, CA (2014); Material Anthology, Material Gallery, Memphis, TN (2013); Unfinished Paintings, LACE, Los Angeles, CA (2011); Like a Soft Summer Rain, Post Gallery, Los Angeles, CA (2010); Boo, Karyn Lovegrove Gallery, Los Angeles, CA (2007); and Sugartown, Elizabeth Dee Gallery, New York, NY (2005).
For the coveted gallery exhibition slot during Frieze Week, Hannah Barry chose two stalwarts of her stable: James Capper and Shaun McDowell, presenting solo shows of new work on each of the two floors of the South London gallery space. Due to unprecedented interest, their solo shows have been extended to 30thNovember so hurry over to Peckham to see James Capper’s EARTH MARKING EXPEDITION: Film, Mobile Sculpture, Component Parts and Shaun McDowell’s Navigator – new paintings from the studio in Redhill.
Capper is a sculptor whose artworks adopt the techniques, materials and actions of industrial objects: hydraulic pumps, cutting blades and ploughs. These monumental steel objects function as mark-making tools, interacting with various terrain during performances that result in abstract compositions in the landscape. For his solo show, Capper presents three earth-marking machines, Hydra Shuffle II, Hydra Stepand Telestep as well as the full family of teeth for the latter two machines, all meticulously arranged in a lush light yellow purpose-built sledge.
For the artist who grew up working on his neighbour’s farm in Kent, these mobile sculptures may seem like a natural progression for Capper, but to tackle these complex problem-solving processes of innovation and engineering, the artist has had to develop his own unique sculptural language. As moving machines that draw on the landscape, these sculptures are conducive to starring in their own films so save time to watch Capper’s film, JAMES CAPPER TELESTEP A GUBBIO! featuring his six-legged mountain-climbing Telestep in the Italian Apennines of Umbria. Although shown inert in the gallery setting, these walking hydraulic gizmos are able to burrow into the viewer’s imagination with their zoomorphic characteristics – one looks like a caterpillar, another a Jurassic spider. All powder-coated in a variety of yellows and blues, these sculptures recall real-life tools used in industrial applications but hint at the inventive mind of a very special contemporary artist.
On the more intimate first floor of the gallery, a group of seven small square abstract oil paintings by McDowell hang at museum height around the four walls of the room. McDowell, the master of the gestural brushstroke and the genius colourist, outdoes himself here at his fifth solo show at Hannah Barry Gallery. After working solidly over the last year in his gargantuan double-wide mechanic’s garage-cum-artist’s studio in suburban Surrey, McDowell presents a well-edited selection of new paintings. Always painted at the same time on the floor of his studio, McDowell moves from board to board, painting layer after layer of lusciously coloured abstract marks, some transparent, some opaque, all curvy or swirly, never straight. The movement in the process is key as the finished works are alive and vibrant, both in colour and expressiveness. Each painting has the adequate space around it for the viewer to take in its unique vitality. Assembled as a whole, Navigator is a pleasurable assault to the senses.
All photos: Courtesy of the artists and Hannah Barry Gallery, London.
Marcelle Joseph’s Instagram page: @marcelle.joseph
About the Artists
James Capper (b. 1987, London) lives and works in London. He received his B.A. in Sculpture from the Chelsea College of Art and Design and his M.A. from the Royal Academy of Art, London, where he was presented with the Jack Goldhill Award for Sculpture. Recent solo exhibitions include those at Hannah Barry Gallery, London (2016, 2015 and 2011), Vigo Gallery, London (2016), Paul Kasmin Gallery, New York (2015), CGP LONDON/Dilston Grove, London (2015); Cass Sculpture Foundation, Goodwood, UK (2015); Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Yorkshire (2013); and Modern Art Oxford, Oxford (2011). His works have been included in other important exhibitions at Kunstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin (2014); The Moving Museum, London (2013); Saatchi Gallery, London (2011); and Victoria and Albert Museum, London (2013). In 2017, Capper has upcoming solo shows in Bath (UK), Oaxaca (Mexico) and New South Wales (Australia).
Shaun McDowell (b. 1981, Sussex) lives and works in Redhill, Surrey. Recent solo exhibitions include those at Hannah Barry Gallery, London (2016, 2014, 2012, 2011 and 2008); and Brickhouse at Nutbrook Studios, London (2011). McDowell takes an active role in curating group exhibitions in his Surrey studio space under the moniker Dynamite Projects (2015-6) and has also curated or co-curated EE=MC2, Evgenij Kozlov, Hannah Barry Gallery, London (2015); Save yourself! Hannah Barry Gallery, London (2014); PeckhamNewYorkParis, Galerie 104 Kleber, Paris; Martos Gallery, New York; and 88 Friary Road, London (all 2013); and Nothing Fixed, Marcelle Joseph Projects, London (2011). Selected group exhibitions include: What’s up 2.0, Lawrence van Hagen, London (2016); Confuses Paroles, Le Cabinet Dentaire, Paris (2015); Figure this Out, Assembly House Studios, Leeds and Passage Choiseul, Paris (2015); Degree of Darkness, Rook & Raven Gallery, London (2014); En-trée, Middlemarch, Brussels (2014); Visible, Invisible: Against the Security of the Real, Parasol Unit, London (2010); and Peckham Pavilion, 53rd Venice Biennale, Venice (2009).
Crampton’s approach to craft and making is a perfect fit with Muggenburg’s finely crafted pieces of jewellery on display. The structures that Crampton has built for the presentation of her sculptures also mimic the display strategies often employed by high-end boutiques and fashion brands. Reminiscent of the work of the Memphis Group of designers in Milan in the 1980’s, in colour, form and materiality, Crampton’s new works slyly straddle the line between craft and fine art, hinting at functionality and playing with various textures and materials. Since she graduated from the Royal Academy Schools in 2014, Crampton has continually surprised viewers with her mastery of new skills – from welding steel and beating copper to woodworking, designing light fixtures, throwing pots and knitting, embroidering and upholstering various textiles.
Featuring three sculptures that resemble shade trees spreading their branches in all directions, the exhibition entitled “Bowers: from form to public” invites the viewer to perform a dance of sorts under the arbour created by these sculptural forms, like a bird fluttering around a garden looking for its hatchling. Accompanying this exhibition are three commissioned poems by Daniel C. Blight. Picking out a few choice lines of verse, Crampton’s work comes alive.
“In movement we will live
A place in the garden
Below the sky
Cancel the summer.”
With her unique sculptural language, Crampton is a confident young artist whose work demands to be seen.
About the Artist
Coco Crampton (b. 1983, London) lives and works in London after graduating from the Royal Academy Schools in 2014. Recent exhibitions include RA Summer Exhibition 2016, Royal Academy of Arts, London; All Over (five-person show), Studio Leigh, London (2016); Gradation (recent graduates of the Royal Academy Schools), Art First, London (2016); Gardeners & Astronomers (a two-person show with Nicole Vinokur), Caustic Coastal, Manchester (2016); Kingly Things (a two-person show with Agata Madejska curated by Gareth Bell-Jones), Chandelier Projects, London (2015); Handles on Romance & Other Girls also Common Tongue, a solo exhibition at The Minories in Colchester (2015); Cassius Clay (group exhibition curated by Marcelle Joseph Projects, London) and Protected Space (two-person exhibition with Jonathan Baldock), Belmacz Gallery, London (2014).
Surrounded by large canvas filled with floating geometric shapes overlaying slashes and other transparent forms of colour, my eye is attracted to the drawings of the human figure contained within these otherwise abstract paintings – the body, crossed fingers, a head that appears to be looking backwards. The colour palette of this suite of new paintings by British artist Alice Browne is particularly appealing. Some paintings are exercises in a single colour – one neon green, another grey/black; others explore a more diverse palette from thin washes of pastel pink and blue to more opaque patches of magenta and purple. Scattered across the burnt red concrete floor of this former printing press is a collection of what the artist describes as ‘photo-objects’ – black-and-white images of indeterminate forms that reference the practice of cleromancy, the casting of lots as a means of divination, such as the rolling of dice.
Aptly titled, Forecast, this solo exhibition in Limoncello’s new London location, questions mankind’s desire to predict the future. Containing figurative depictions for the first time in Browne’s practice, this new body of work was inspired by Botticelli’s illustrations (c. 1485-1500) of Dante’s Divine Comedy (c. 1308-1320), particularly the punishment given to the diviners, astrologers and magicians in Hell of having their heads on backwards. Forced to always look behind them, Dante’s futurologists were physically prevented from predicting the future. In Browne’s paintings, she magically expresses the anxiety of the unknown through beautiful layers of paint that together form a visual paragon of virtue. Browne need not cross her fingers for luck as this new body of work is more Paradise than Inferno.
Browne’s paintings will also be featured this week at the Frieze London booth shared by Limoncello and Taro Nasu, a commercial gallery from Tokyo.
Alice Browne, Forecast, Limoncello, Unit 5, Huntingdon Industrial Estate, Ebor Street, London E1 6JU, 29 September – 5 November 2016.
About the Artist
Alice Browne (b. 1986) is a British artist based in London who completed her MA in Painting at the Royal College of Art, London in 2016 and her BA in Painting at Wimbledon College of Art, London in 2009. Selected recent solo and group shows include: Limoncello, London, UK (2016); OUTPOST, Norwich, UK (2015); Prosjektrom Normanns, Stavanger, Norway (2014); Limoncello, London, UK; annarumma, Naples, Italy; Fjord, Philadelphia, US; Interno 4, Bologna, Italy (all 2013); dienstgebäude, Zurich, Switzerland; Supercollider, Blackpool, UK (both 2012); APT Gallery, London, UK (2011); and A Foundation, Liverpool, UK; ICA, London, UK (both 2010).
What a great night! Congrats to Selma Parlour!
Great opening night at House of St Barnabas for Selma Parlour! She has created a luminously beautiful site-specific painting installation in the Soho Room of this Grade I-listed building in London. It is open for a year so please stop by. The room functions as the members' club restaurant so please visit before lunch or dinner hours for maximum viewing pleasure.
London-based sculptor Jonathan Trayte mines the tropes of today’s food obsessed society in Polyculture, his first solo exhibition in a public gallery in the UK. After showing his work at the Royal Academy of Arts in 2015 as one of the five finalists of the Converse x Dazed Emerging Artists Award, Trayte’s work rises to new heights at The Tetley, a centre for contemporary art and learning, located in the former headquarters of the world-famous Tetley Brewery in Leeds. Having worked his way through university in Canterbury in one of the UK’s first daily farmers’ markets with an on-site food hall and restaurant using only locally-sourced produce, Trayte draws from his culinary background, creating beautifully made, voluptuous and often vibrantly coloured casts of food in bronze, ceramic or concrete that comment on contemporary society’s production, marketing and consumption of food. Trayte is particularly fascinated by the global food packaging industry and its attempt to entice us, which results in his own work having a highly glossy finish, recreating the industry’s similar attempts to create a seductive appeal. For this exhibition, in fact, Trayte picked the brains of Professor Charles Spence at the experimental psychology laboratory at Oxford University, to understand how consumer decision-making is manipulated in commercial environments using various means, materials, lighting and temperatures.
Interested in cutting-edge contemporary art but fancy a late summer day in the English countryside? Make your way to Hauser & Wirth’s outpost in Somerset at Durslade Farm for Martin Creed’s What You Find exhibition (until 11 September 2016).
Turner Prize-winning artist and musician Martin Creed had the pleasure of residing at this idyllic, rural farm for two months this spring before the opening of his solo exhibition in May 2016. Not wanting a press release for his show, Creed gave his gallery the following quote: ‘You find yourself here in this world with feelings and thoughts. It’s difficult to accept what you find you do. But if you can it seems to help.’ This quote is indicative of what is to come in this exhibition, having a little bit of everything from all strands of his conceptual art practice and including new paintings, films, drawings, sculpture, spoken word and performance as well as the release of a new album by his band. From a neon confronting his phobia to cheese to a giant abstract painting made by young local people recruited by the artist, Creed’s work is always equal parts art and life. Other works include a series of portrait paintings made by Creed when blindfolded, a tree in the garden hung with plastic carrier bags (N.B. Creed never throws anything out) as well as an exquisite and hysterical film with a backing track of Creed’s music, featuring the artist at least twenty different times, each time with a different hair style and costume – like the male version of Lady Gaga but with the voice of The Proclaimers. Another highlight is an installation of two vintage Fiat cars and one van from the artist’s burgeoning Fiat collection, each containing a painting in the boot that complements the lines and colour of the respective vehicle. This exhibition is a rare gem as it gives a snapshot of the inner workings of this conceptual genius’s mind.
London-based artist Nicolas Deshayes creates some heat at his debut solo show, Thames Water, at Stuart Shave/Modern Art in London (1st – 24th September 2016).
Upon entering this gallery space housed in former printing works in Clerkenwell, you immediately notice metres and metres of industrial silver piping running across the walls of this pristine white cube with peaked skylights providing lashings of sunlight against the minimalist interior. On closer inspection, these amorphous anatomical concrete-grey protuberances pop into focus, scattered here and there on the walls like three-dimensional drawings made of cast iron. Once you get closer, you feel the heat emanating from these uncanny objects. The epidermis of these warming sculptures is bumpy and scarred, with their forms resembling flattened earthworms or the small intestines of the human alimentary canal. Architectural support and spatial placement seem vital, as these functional objects are hung at radiator height and operate by attaching themselves to the existing water pipes in the gallery.
Akin to Adele naming her latest album “25”, Norwegian artist Ann Cathrin November Høibo turned 36 this year and has titled her third solo show at STANDARD (Oslo) that same number. The expression goes that ‘age is just a number’ but in the press release for this exhibition, the artist references what 36 means in mathematics, measurements, science, religion, culture, sports and other fields. Did you ever know that 36 is the atomic number of krypton or the number of vehicles that run in each race of NASCAR’s Camping World Truck Series? In the exhibition itself, the viewer starts to understand the significance of 36 to Høibo.
The group show “Carpet for a Lord” at the Berlin gallery of Supportico Lopez takes its name from a 1991 work by Henri Chopin (1922-2008), the avant-garde artist, poet and musician, and features the work of eight artists, including early career artists, Charlie Billingham, Than Hussein Clark, Daniel Milvio, Jill Mulleady and Ola Vasiljeva, and established artists, Judith Hopf, Ettore Spalletti and Haim Steinbach. Opening on 8th September and running until 22nd October 2016, this exhibition aspires to create a melody, from the references and forms of the artworks, about aesthetics, representation, enigma, personality, past, future and death.
Kunsthaus Zürich until 25th September 2016
A "kaleidoscopic series of art experiences," says Marcel Duchamp of his lifelong friend Frances Picabia's artistic career. This retrospective exhibition of the work of Frances Picabia (1879-1953), organised by Kunsthaus Zürich and the Museum of Modern Art, New York, will be the first-ever comprehensive survey of the artist's career in the United States once it opens at the MoMA on 20th November 2016. Born in Paris to a French mother and a Cuban father, Picabia led the life of a nomad and a chameleon, adopting a myriad of different styles as an artist from his first Impressionist paintings to Cubist paintings, in and out of the Dadaist movement and then on to technical diagrams, citation from demanding literary works, appropriation from kitsch erotic magazines and quasi-monochrome abstract paintings (the precursor to Damien Hirst's dot paintings). In 1923, Picabia said, "Each artist is a mould. I aspire to be many. One day I'd like to write on the wall of my house: "Artist in all genres."' Throughout his life, he wandered the globe, living in Paris, the French Riviera, New York, Switzerland and Barcelona and reinventing himself as an artist again and again as well as writing poetry, publishing Dadaist magazines and organising galas. Of these wanderings and his complex oeuvre, he mused in 1924, "I am neither a painter, nor a writer, neither Spanish nor Cuban, nor American (...) nor Dada, I am alive." Picabia, a passionately discussed personality and one of the greatest artists of the twentiety century, deserves as much attention as Picasso. Consisting of over two hundred works dating from 1905 and 1951, this is an exhibition of a lifetime. Make sure to seek it out in either Zürich or New York (20 November 2016 - 19 March 2017).
Thomas Dane Gallery, London
Cecily Brown’s homecoming exhibition, Madrepora, at her new gallery Thomas Dane, is an absolute delight. After leaving the UK in 1994 for New York, the British artist, a contemporary of the YBAs, returns to London with an exquisite two-part show in both spaces that Thomas Dane commands on Duke Street in Mayfair. The palette, the gestural brushstrokes, the hints at figuration and flesh, the immersive large canvases… sublime. Brown may have felt more at home in New York over the years given her non-conceptual practice but this show is a return to glory - Britain’s own Willem de Kooning but with an erotic feminine perspective instead. Sexy, luscious, inviting. Madrepora, the title of the show, is a genus of corals found in tropical locations and refers to a passage from Proust, capturing the act of looking at a group of girls on the beach. Taking the artist’s quote from the press release for this show, I leave you with this final clue into the artist’s psyche. “I want there to be a human presence without having to depict it in full.” – Cecily Brown. The exhibition is on until 23rd July.
Victoria Miro Gallery, London until 30 July 2016
Some dots have gone astray when approaching the Victoria Miro Gallery on Wharf Road, as a woman passes by covered in red polka dots. It is a premonition of things to come… The signature style of Yayoi Kusama (born 1929 and calling herself the “Priestess of Polka Dots") includes dots as well as mirrors and pumpkins. As Kusama states: "Since my childhood, I have always made works with polka dots. Earth, moon, sun and human beings all represent dots - a single particle among billions. This is one of my important philosophies, which is accepted by many people." The world around Kusama is recoded in a repetitious and seemingly obsessive manner as she explores themes of infinity, universality and the cosmos in her over sixty-year body of work. Now one of the most widely known Japanese artists in the world, Kusama has long been on the margins of the international art scene. Gaining recognition in New York in the 1970's through the happenings she organized, it wasn't until much later that her work could be seen in museums and institutions around the world. She long stood on her own, braving the art world as a single Japanese woman who committed herself to a mental institution in Tokyo over 40 years ago. The exhibition at Victoria Miro features recent works, such as Where the Lights in My Heart Go, a mirror box permeated with round holes through which daylight gleams and of which the reflections are endlessly multiplied. Other works that are presented include her Infinity Net paintings, a project that she started in the 1950's. as well as other installations featuring her oft-repeated motif of pumpkins covered in polka dots and another mirrored room installation featuring several crystal chandeliers. (Written by MJP intern Anna Bisperink and edited by Marcelle Joseph) Definitely a show not to miss this summer...
At Stour Space in Hackney Wick
Today I visited the Stour Space in Hackney Wick for the first time. It is a proper hyphenated all-purpose space. Artist studios-exhibition space-shop-hipster café. First the art... I went to see the solo exhibition of Thomas Langley entitled "Art type stuff". Tom is a multidisclipinary artist who is currently studying at the Royal Academy Schools. Presenting sculpture and painting in the exhibition, Tom explores the universal truths of the artistic condition with text paintings like "Buy My Mum a House" and anti-aesthetic gloopy sculptures made from bits of coloured polyurethane, wood and foam. My favourite work is a sculptural work called "Blaggers" that incorporates a framed text work on paper that says "The canapés will be great" (see image). Artist NIgel Cooke wrote the exhibition text. My favourite bit of that text that I think appropriately describes Tom's work -- "a contemporary ambivalence made physical, a vacillating question turned into a brute fact". Now on to the food, please visit this space on an empty stomach as the Counter Café - located on the ground floor and spilling out onto the River Lea on a floating wooden terrace - serves a delicious all-day breakfast. My "Veggie Breakfast" had all my faves - poached eggs on sourdough bread, avocado, portobello mushroom, grilled haloumi and roast potatoes.
Last work installed...
...after a full day of angle-grinding. Don't miss this sculpture hidden in the forest in the back garden by Andrew Mealor.
Big shout out to Taco Truck! Love their food...
- Opening Party
- Untitled (Washing Machine)
France-Lise McGurn's vinyl floor painting
Our makeshift nightclub space is coming alive thanks to France-Lise McGurn's vinyl floor painting. Work-in-progress. At Home Salon: Double Acts opens on Saturday, 14th May in Ascot, 6.30pm until late.
Rebecca Ackroyd hard at work. At Home Salon: Double Acts opening 14 May.
at The Serpentine
My new heroine - Hilma af Klint, making abstract paintings in the early 1900's before all the big boys of abstraction.
at the Averard Hotel
Three of my favourite artists all under the same roof. Stefania Batoeva, Emma Hart and Zadie Xa.…
at the RA
Royal Academy Schools annual dinner.