ArtSlant's resident London critics and lovers Philippa Snow and Thogdin Ripley first met at a William S. Burroughs show. They recently revisited the artist and writer's work in Animals in the Wall at London Newcastle Project Space.
Thogdin Ripley: I'm going to put my cards right here on this table to start with. I've always been a big fan of Burroughs’ writing—he was one of the most inventive writers and at times one of the best, in my opinion—but I've never, never really go... [more]
Autumn is high season for art and it’s an impossible task to keep up with the Smoke’s endless openings. Best to spread it out and try to see something of everything. The best exhibitions will kick off the season before Frieze takes over in October and demolishes everything artistic in its path. With this in mind, I’ve pulled together a little bit of this and a little bit of that—but basically, it’s all about the Internet.
Best exhibition for British Art: MIRRORCITY, the Hayward Gallery
Naked Ladies and More by Charlotte Jansen Pawel Althamer, Frank Benson, Huma Bhabha, Katharina Fritsch, Ryan Gander, Rachel Harrison, Georg Herold, Thomas Hirschhorn, Jeff Koons, Paul McCarthy, John Miller, Cady Noland, Ugo Rondinone, Thomas Schütte, Yinka Shonibare, Rebecca Warren, Paloma Varga Weisz, Andro Wekua, Cathy Wilkes at Hayward Gallery
June 17th - September 7th
With the world reeling from recent global events that have severely impacted on our collective conscience—the barrage of scenes of manmade destruction, death, and disaster a vivid testimony of the dark side of humanity—visiting The Human Factor at Hayward Gallery was oddly cathartic.
Of course, the curators were not prophets, but in bringing together twenty-five years of sculpture through twenty-five artists they have created a perspicacious and timely exhibition that reflects on som... [more]
The National Gallery’s summer exhibition Making Colour guides the audience through the spectrum of materials used throughout history to create artists’ pigment—from blues, through reds and oranges, to purples. Each room focuses on a specific colour and the multiple materials used to make it over time, from early earth pigments, through lakes (dyes made into pigment) to the new artificial coal tar derived pigments created around the time of the Impressionists. The function of t... [more]
When asked how it felt to be a surrealist in 2002, Dorothea Tanning, Grand Dame of surrealism (read: last surviving surrealist—then 91 years of age) responded “like a fossil,” with all the implications of stone-held lifelessness that description conjures for an art form that was declared definitely dead sixty years prior. Web of Dreams draws its theme from her work with the figure—a broad remit, and ultimately one that serves as a catch-all to present a chronologically wide-rangi... [more]
Over sixty new works comprise Gilbert and George’s new series, Scapegoating Pictures for London. As always, the well-known duo, now in their seventies, are the stars of their digital photomontages, which are dissected in their familiar multi-panel geometrical style, and dominated by menacing red, black, and white colors.
The eccentric British and Italian couple is known to use familiar images from their local neighborhood in East London, where they have lived for the past 45 years. Dominati... [more]
British Folk Art begins with a disclaimer—customary for surveys of this sprawling, nebulous field—regarding the sheer breadth of ground to be covered, the impossibility of neat or comprehensive classifications, and even the inadequacy of the term "folk art" itself. For exhibitions that draw together art and anthropology, this preliminary airing of curatorial anxieties—and simultaneous disavowal of rigid cataloguing systems—has almost become a ritual in itself. Hence, it s... [more]
Human sounds of drinking, whispering, laughing, and singing surround the old British Army magazine building of the Serpentine Sackler Gallery. The sounds combine from the three parts of the video work Ribbons (2014), which is the central piece of Ed Atkins’ solo show. The voices are as mesmerizing and disturbing as the hyper-real 3D animated films they accompany.
The sound goes out of sync and back again. The three parts of Ribbons are similar and different at the same time. In all three,... [more]
Public art has to strike a difficult balance in a city like London that is constantly evolving. It carries with it associations of permanence but its presence isn’t always welcome and, perhaps worse than being openly disliked, works in situ over long periods of time can turn into street furniture, invisible to those that pass by day in day out—the ‘public’ for whom the work exists.
Tilted Arc (1981), Richard Serra’s public commission for the Foley Federal Plaza in New... [more]
512 Hours at the Serpentine is notorious already, for two reasons: first, for the fact that the show contains no artwork whatsoever, and second, for the way in which it's inspired hysterical, snaking queues outside the gallery—queues of the kind more typically associated with the stadium gigs of her erstwhile pop-star associates Jay-Z and Lady Gaga. Marina Abramovic's medium is nothing, and as such, her critics would argue that her art is nothing, too. Conversely, her many defenders insist that to m... [more]
White box art galleries are strange places for the uninitiated. Work is denied any visual context other than other artworks. People tend to talk quietly, if at all. Their interiors bear no relation to the world outside their doors. Brian O’Doherty discussed this problem in the 1970s in his book Inside The White Cube: “In this context a standing ashtray becomes an almost sacred object”.
Galleries have in the past few years introduced more "offsite" exhibitions to tackle this, but the n... [more]
It may be important that I admit a bias towards the work of Richard Jackson at the outset of this review; I had the pleasure of interviewing the man for a longform article during the opening of New Paintings less than a month ago, and found him an ideal subject – thoughtful and vital and, above all, thoroughly uninterested in system or censorship. Unlike many of his contemporaries – Paul McCarthy say, or his good friend Bruce Nauman – Jackson has remained more or less outside t... [more]
I was very excited when I received a letter from Artangel, and realised it contained not the tickets I bought to their new commission, but rather texts relating to the work itself. The envelope contained a duplication of two historical letters, dated 1974: the first was a request written by Arthur Brown, the former landlord of 87 Hackford Road in London, addressed to the local council asking them to avoid demolishing his property, as it was recently revealed by a local postman that it once housed t... [more]
Phillip Lai and Moyra Davey make a neat double act. At first glance their parallel solo shows at Camden Arts Centre seem worlds apart: Davey's practice is highly personal and heavily image-based, clinging to the walls; Lai's language is sculptural and industrial. Yet this formal disparity masks a shared thematic interest in processes of production, dispersal, displacement, interpretation, and decay.
Davey's exhibition, life without sheets of paper to be scribbled on is masterpiece comprises mult... [more]
Bat Opera by Philippa Snow Marvin Gaye Chetwynd at Sadie Coles HQ - South Audley St
March 11th - April 26th
There are certain words and phrases—certain names, in this instance, but more on that later—which carry enough of their own baggage as to throw the rest of the sentence they're carried by off-course; they're linguistic Trojan horses, derailing any attempt at rational discussion (an anecdotal example of this is a friend of mine who refuses point-blank to speak the word “croissant,” on the grounds that it forces the speaker to contort their face into an angry shape—she refers t... [more]
If pressed, I maintain that the reason I keep up with news about popular culture is that, for me, it adds all-important context to the various forms of "legitimate" art that I take in as a job. Visiting Richard Saltoun’s show of Viennese feminist art (that, specifically speaking, of VALIE EXPORT and Friedl Kubelka) for instance, the phrase "proto-selfies" played continuously in my mind: not a phrase of my own design, but one coined for the exhibition by a writer at Blouin Artinfo. Women these days—famous women, typically, but also the occasional civilian (the much-discussed personal train... [more]