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).
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.…