London Galleries in December with Paul Carey-Kent
HOW LONG IS YOUR PROJECT?
London is the central painting at the moment (Leonardo, Degas, Richter, Sasnal, Condo, the Germans of Saatchi, the Canadians of Dulwich…) but that’s not my theme…
Rembrandt’s self-portraits in stimulating interaction with Bacon (in Ordovas until December 16) could be considered a lifelong project. After seven years, Charles Avery is halfway to creating his own world through “The Islanders” (at Pilar Corrias until December 16). This makes his eventual timeline likely to rival Nobson Newtown, for which Paul Noble reached his 26th and penultimate main drawing after 15 years (in Gagosian until December 17). In what context I begin with three shows covering respectively 7, 15 and 35 years. And my other choices feature artists whose individual works seem to be part of a long, undeclared project: no inconsistency strategies by Georg Karl Pfahler, Daniel Buren, Anne Craven, Neil Farber, Nathalie Djurberg, Tomma Abts or Alastair Mackie. One award, however, to Bruce McLean, whose contribution to the fascinating show “ Your Garden is Looking a mess Could You Please Tidy it up ” (to Payne Shurvell until December 17) lasted 40 years …
The King, Island, Train, House, Ship @ Hauser & Wirth Piccadilly, Savile Row St James’ Square – Central (see the top photo) As of January 14 (outdoor sculpture ‘Ship Adrift, Ship of Fools’ through February 15 in St James’s Square)
Not for the faint of heart, but Paul McCarthy’s sprawling three-site takeover of Hauser & Wirth has the fanfare of a show that must be seen. The seven-year “ Pig Island ” project has grown to such magnitude in the provocative veteran’s Los Angeles studio that scales are provided to make it easier to view the orchestrated version. It’s packed with as many deviants, butt plugs, body parts and KFC buckets as you might expect – but looks sweet alongside ‘Train, Mechanical’: Two animatronic cartoons of George Bush sodomize two big guys pigs, whose ears are kissed by smaller pigs. The mechanism whines and whines, Bush’s heads spin, eyes burst and follow you around the room. And there is much, much more – enough to make McCarthy the hero of the romantic artist he debunked at Piccadilly in “ The King ”?
New Work @ Brancolini Grimaldi, 43-44 Albemarle Street – Central To 28 Jan:
Italian photographer Massimo Vitali is known for the washed-out effect he obtains from slight underexposure, and his fifteen-year focus on large color prints of panoramas of Mediterranean beaches as a means of exploring the human interface with nature. This beautiful spectacle sees the features of the landscape increasingly dominate the tourists who once took center stage. These – far from the occasional snapshot – require detailed research and route planning before a team of four with a truck full of gear in what has become Vitali’s summer routine since arriving at the power of Berlusconi. Perhaps, he hinted at the opening, a more drastic shift in tactics could occur now that Berlusconi is gone.
John Smith: Unusual red cardigan at Peer, 97-99 Hoxton St – Hoxton Until December 10:
The increasingly acclaimed but anonymous John Smith ironically acknowledges that his 1976 student film “ The Girl Chewing Gum ” (in which a director’s voice appears to control the action in a street scene) remains its best known – indeed you can see the original at Tate Britain now. He repeated this shoot on the same street corner 35 years later and superimposed it on the previous version, commenting on social transformation. It also features nine internet plagiarisms / tributes from the film and tracks the identity of an online advertiser of its VHS edition: Smith bought and is now exhibiting part of the seller’s eBay offering, including the eponymous ” Unusual Red Cardigan ”. A quirky quirky story about celebrity identity, value, change and whims…
Paintings @ Maria Stenfors, Unit 4, 21 Wren St – Kings Cross Until December 17th:
This is a rare but welcome British exhibit from the estate of Nuremberg-born ceramicist, painter, sculptor and versatile architect Georg Karl Pfahler (1926-2002). He arrived at a resolute style of abstraction in the early sixties, which was closer to emerging American models than to any other German work of the time – although it mostly reminds me of the Swiss Max Bill and his Danish contemporary. , Ib Geertsen. Here, six large canvases of irreproachable clarity suit the gallery perfectly. Several feature a rounded framing arrangement which implies that they are extracted from a larger circle, and which contributes to a satisfactory interaction between the paintings and also to a general feeling of openness.
One Thing To Another, Located Works @ Lisson Gallery, 29 Bell Street – Edgware Rd Until January 14:
Since 1965, influential French artist Daniel Buren has always worked with the 8.7cm wide striping tool – he says turning to something else would be like a similarly established pianist switching to the trumpet. If it seems narrow, the purpose of the stripes is to make you see not them but other things – here, the gallery space, of course, but also perhaps a spiritual dimension: there is a woven optical fibers that come and go with the current, and another colored shadows. Add an outdoor installation and Buren’s next order for the refurbished Tottenham Court Road tube station, and the idea that stripes can keep you busy for almost fifty years seems plausible enough.
Ann Craven Summer @ Southard Reid, 2nd Floor, 67 Dean St – Soho Until January 28:
Southard Reid, above the Black club, has something of a hit with the first British solo exhibition of American painter Ann Craven. For two decades, she’s talked about the sense in which you can’t capture the present until it becomes the past, obsessively repainting similar scenes with a swiftness that aims to defy that logic. Here she tries to stop flowers, portraits and the archetype of the ever-changing but still the same moon. In addition, the moments are sealed in triplicate: through the image itself, striped paintings made with the remains of paint and the palette that contained the paint, itself completed by the “ tag ” of ‘a bird, Craven’s best-known motif. It all comes down to a vibrant anamnesis of the fleeting nature of summer 2011.
Ursa Major @ Pippy Houldsworth Gallery, 1st Floor, 6 Heddon St – Central Until January 14:
The second show in Pippy Houldsworth’s Welcome Return to a Central Venue focuses on the spooky crowded landscapes of Neil Farber, a biting-minded painter who has gained attention as part of the Winnipeg collective The Royal Art Lodge . Hundreds, sometimes thousands of people emerge from acrylic and cast media, often with puddles of gel for heads. They range from criminals to pigheads to the Fraternal Order of Peasants. I particularly like “ Untitled (Better Than), ” which harnesses the whimsy of white frost to initiate a dialogue between living people below and an ethereal cloud crowd above, all of which are whispering words in whose heads are the “ O ”, like the vOices beyond.
Nathalie Djuberg with the music of Hans Berg: A World of Glass at Camden Arts Center, Arkwright Rd – Finchley and Frognal Until January 8:
This is a first major solo exhibition in the UK for Nathalie Djurberg, the Swedish ‘claymation’ host who explores taboos with a delightfully raw and macabre flavor: five older films in a sequence of 35 minutes (including the wonderfully direct “ it’s the mother ” birth reversal) plus four new five-minute tales running alongside the same music. Berg’s score resonates with the striking glass sculptures that stand in front of the screens. They also serve as props in the movies, in which Djurberg’s archetypes show their own frailties: all find desire stronger than sense, like when a buttery woman tricks a bull into licking her out of shape.
Tomma Abts @ Greengrassi, 1a Kempsford Rd – Kennington Until December 22:
The 2006 Tuner Prize winner is no rush: this first London solo that follows, presents eight new drawings and eight new smaller paintings (Abts standard 48 x 38 cm) quietly in harmony with their objectivity. The designs share a red and yellow linear language that alludes to architectural structures. The paintings emerge from the application of successive layers which generate ambiguities between the painted shadows, the constructed elements, the apparent perspectives and the way in which the colors move forward or backward. It would be nice to see them anyway, but there is also an innovation in the form of channels cut completely through the canvas to split them in half: the same, maybe, but a little more.
Alistair Mackie: Copse @ All Visual Arts, Omega Place – King’s Cross Until December 16:
Alastair Mackie characteristically uses natural materials for conceptual purposes. Here he shows a single large installation, of severely pruned trees whose bases have been carved into the table legs. This spiritual conjunction of topicality and potential perfectly reverses Giuseppe Penone’s well-known series revealing the tree in a block of wood: Mackie shows the furniture “ hidden ” in a tree, mixing inside and outside, nature and culture, not without a dark side in the violent combination of the thicket of severed limbs and wooden legs. Ask, and you can also see a cache of Mackie’s other works in the back room, made from wasp nests, mosquitoes, mouse skulls, rhea eggs …