Unlike Ireland, where there seems to be a sympathy towards both the painterly and the abstract, Britain has long maintained a figurative tradition and held abstraction at arms length.
Since the Tate split into Modern and Britain, most of the glory as well as the tourists have flooded into the former power station on the South Bank, very much leaving Tate Britain as a quieter gem of a venue. Still, its Tate Triennial is one of the few events directed toward the current state of art here.
Summers over, but Rothko (Tate Modern), Bacon (Tate Britain), Warhols television and films (The Hayward), and new Gerhard Richters (Serpentine Gallery) have all arrived in London. Robert Irwin is having his firstever exhibition here at White Cube (well, for me thats a blockbuster).
Friends and critics have been entirely charmed by the exhibition at the Camden Arts Centre. The Guardians Adrian Serle describes it as inexplicably odd.
It seems as if this spring is a moment for sculpture, and, in particular, women sculptors. Following a two-year refurbishment, the Whitechapel Gallery is back with two bold women; a stunning Isa Genzken survey and a yearlong commission by the Polish-born 2008 Turner Prize nominee, Goshka Macuga.
What is drawing if not thinking in action. It is the easiest, quickest, most expansive, sometimes laziest, and most challenging of forms.
Today time seems to be moving faster. A visit to Times Square isnt necessary to experience this. Just glance at your iPhone and watch the e-mails tick by; that is, we have so many distractions that slowing down seems nearly impossible. Two shows in London offer interesting perspectives on this.
With the hedonistic grandeur of the World Cup (that month-long international festival of soccer) upon us, as well as the Basel Art Fair attracting art world consumers, the month in London seems more about the ephemeral than the epic.
Representation and narrative seem to be the pervasive components of our current visual culture. Yet the idea of describing reality and telling its stories can take many forms, from painting to printmaking, that have served story-telling very well in the past. And now with installation, a form whose verisimilitude can reach greater heights of realism than most, we seem to have attained a state of hyperreality.
Given our penchant for narrative and fictions these days, the enormity of artists’ projects and attempts at world-making seems to grow and grow. The artist is not just re-presenting the world or documenting it, but rather is now one who creates his/her own world and fills it with stories.
With loosely painted imagery like a rat on a skateboard and giant bubbles floating over a rough ocean, René Daniëls could at first glance be easily dismissed as Neo-Expressionist.
We’ve quickly reached the last days of summer, again. Unlike New York, where things gradually quiet down over the final weeks, some galleries over here seem to use the moment to put on more fanciful and creative endeavors, to give in to the pressure of letting their artists curate and to take a chance to display their own creative personalities.
In another age and another country, Jon Thompson could have been mistaken for either a pattern painter or an Op artist. He is in fact neither, though the appearance of his current work would surely attract fans of both those approaches.
There is no doubt that Phyllida Barlow is a sculptor. That is one who makes objects in the round, and is concerned with the shaping of space and the tactility of materials.
The idea of landscape today seems simple, an offering of nature to the trapped urbanite. Given our increasingly mediated lives and the fragile state of the planet, the need to be reminded of the natural world seems all the more pressing.
Each day seems to find more curators bemoaning the ability of commercial galleries, with less bureaucracy and more financial clout, to create strong shows with speed and efficiency. The frieze art fair proves and disproves just this.
Obstinacy and intensity seem to be the month’s theme. In modern times, we seem to have had a greater separation between the amateur and professional, Sunday painter and schooled artist. The appearance of the modern artist also seems to coincide with the discovery of the outsider. Be it Picasso’s interest in Le Douanier Rousseau or Ben Nicholson’s love of Alfred Wallis, it is as if the primal understanding of composition and storytelling, and unbridled intensity of application provides a salve to the intellectual revolutions and reductions of the modern thinker.
Depending on your point of view, the fall ended either with a bang or a whimper. It seems that few parts of the world have been spared the financial tidal wave of recent months, yet in all the hubbub, there was one ray of complete absurdity.
Just an hour outside London, the Milton Keynes Gallery is collaborating in a new Hayward Touring venture that could provide a quiet revolution of its own: a trilogy of curatorial opens intended to support young UK-based curators. This first one, Quiet Revolution, curated by Chris Fite-Wassilak, is a show of witty and instinctive assemblages and sculptures made from found objects.
Thomas Hirschhorn’s shows tend to create a stir. His Musée Précaire (precious museum) in Paris housed masterpieces from the Pompidou Centre in a cardboard building out in the working class suburbs,
Its October again. Fall has finally arrived and so has the Frieze magazine crew with the 5th edition of its art fair road show
If you strolled onto the grounds of the Southbank Centre over the summer, youd catch a flag by Tracy Emin emblazoned with One secret is to save everything printed over a field of swimming sperm.
The Frieze team has really reshaped the British art worlds calendar. Along with gearing up into social overdrive, the scene benefits from the efforts of museums large and small to capitalize on the moment and put on first-rate exhibitions.
Although they run their programs throughout the summer, London galleries don’t really turn up the heat until around the third week of September, in anticipation of Frieze, the most “fashionable” art fair in the world (October 12–15: friezeartfair.com).
Kenneth Martin (1905-84) and his wife Mary Martin (1907-69) were English Constructivist artists of the Fifties, but to restrict the scope and influence of their work to this period would be a mistake.
When Jens Hoffman was director of exhibitions at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, a distinctive trait of his shows was their immaculate presentation and highly creative approaches to presentation. From the painted walls to the little exhibition guides and atmospheric changes from room to room, each of Hoffman’s efforts raised the bar on exhibition design, perhaps a holdover from his non-art background of theatre direction.
Quite unlike the Whitney Biennial, the Tate Triennial, or the British Art show (a quinquennale), which are summations of a moment in a specific place, most biennialsVenice asideare dialogues or contrasts between the local and the international.
How to make an image but still construct a painting is the question that John Wilkins has repeatedly tried to solve over the years. Unless youre familiar with London painting at the end of the last century, it is unlikely that you know Wilkinss work.
The discovery of Le Douanier Rousseau by Picasso in Paris, and the naïve fisherman-artist Alfred Wallis by the British modernist Ben Nicholson in Cornwall, provided inspiration for new approaches to making art. What opened their eyes was a freedom of material, expression, and mostly of composition that worked purely within the terms of the frame.
Despite the fact that were now nearing the end of the first decade of the 21st century, there is still much to be said about doing things the old-fashioned way.
Several years ago Jerry Saltz argued against the New York art worlds status quo by calling for small groups of artists, curators and supporters to counter supply-and-demand thinking with a production-and-experience thinking. The argument being to create a culture in which many voices were heard rather than being dictated to by the singular drone of the market.
Sometimes doing something poetic can become political, and sometimes doing something political can become poetic, reads the wall alongside Francis Alÿss video, The Green Line (2004).
In stark contrast to Claydons efforts, the ceramicist Grayson Perry has worked with Englands Arts Council to curate an exhibition drawn from their collection.