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]
He is the Patron, and he is your King. He is the God of the artworld, even more than Jeff "vacuum-cleaner" Koons, or Richard Prince, with his visions of "Spiritual America": the nubile young female with the movie-star make-up in the U.S.A-grade bubble-bath. You overheard at Trisha's that he once paid a St Martins graduate to drink a bottle of Newport lighter fluid and vomit it up and set it on fire, like a real-life conceptual dragon, and wondered, idly if this was the same St Martins student who vomi... [more]
Welcome to Iraq: Come in, sit down, drink tea by Phoebe Stubbs Bassim Al-Shaker, Hareth Alhomaam, Cheeman Ismaeel, Furat al Jamil, Akeel Khreef, Kadhim Nwir, Jamal Penjweny, Ali Samiaa, Hashim Taeeh, Yaseen Wami, Abdul Raheem Yassir at South London Gallery
March 15th - June 1st
Welcome to Iraq at the South London Gallery is a restaging of the Iraqi Pavilion from the 2013 Venice Biennale. The original exhibition was an exercise in contrast—a casually furnished home in palatial surroundings, an Iraqi apartment in Venice. Comfortable sofas were covered in beautifully embroidered, colourful fabrics, and books about Iraq were scattered over tables alongside the artwork. In the South London Gallery the exhibition has to work harder to make the vast gallery space welcoming a... [more]
Walking into Camille Henrot’s first UK solo exhibition feels like walking into a storyboard of one of her haptic montage video works: a mishmash of images, advertisements, books, magazines, sculptures and anthropological artefacts are laid out in an entirely blue space.
The Pale Fox is indeed an 'installation version' of the acclaimed film Grosse Fatigue (2013), which was presented at the 55th Venice Biennale last year. The two works are the outcome of a long research process at the Smit... [more]
Let us imagine that we were to hold a costume party where the theme was “artists” – you would undoubtedly get a high volume of Dalis and Frida Kahlos and bald-cap Picassos, yes, but I’d say it was a fairly certain bet that you’d get at least three David Hockneys to boot. What I mean is that Hockney – with his distinctive appearance – is so much a part of the cultural furniture that we can expect to see Hockney-styled shoots in, say, Vogue Hommes Internationa... [more]