Having been overshadowed by its omnipotent cultural kin – sport – this summer, this autumn should be a phlegmatic return for visual art forms in London. The vestiges of a turbulent few years, socially, economically and culturally, still remain in the city, however, it seems to have inspired a new spate of exhibitions that consider environments and space – from the contemplative, to the laconic and the humourous.
Assessing the physical space around us, how it moulds us, and the way in which we consequently express ourselves in the context of our enviroment, seems to be a pivotal theme arising from the gamut of new shows – the corollary of a city laden with influences from around the globe, that has been submitted to constant construction and reconstruction. Some of the best exhibitions opening in the coming months across the city seem to be taking a literal stance on this idea, with a proliferation of sculpture exhibitions.
In September, some of East London’s highlights include Prop)er, a new exhibition by Christopher Shilling, at the very fine Wayward Gallery, Mowlem Street. Composed of a series of paintings and sculptures which respond to a play written by the artist, the show explores the relativity of different media, examining how they constrain and delineate the viewer’s interpretation – and also creating a situation in which the artist decides the nature of his own contingency. Also opening in September is Ella Finer, Where We Meet, Volumes 1 & 2, a sonic installation comprised of twelve sound boxes in the gallery space at Galerie8 – which attempts to ‘attune to the building’s own resonances and frequencies…listening to the space in order to return sound back to it.’ A number of guests will participate in the project during its run, including Finn Andrews, Daniel Jones, Peter Fraser and The International Western. Also East, The Practice of the Wild, a solo exhibition by mixed media artist and RCA graduate Jesse Wine, opens on 26 September. Wine’s work recalls Ryan Gander’s playfulness with forms – Limoncello is owned by Gander’s wife – and belongs to a crop of brilliant young artists the gallery is putting out.
Anish Kapoor, Artist's studio, 2012; © Anish Kapoor.
In London’s larger commercial spaces and institutions, three dimensions are also more popular than two – and doubling up is de rigeur. The formidable Anish Kapoor takes over both of the Lisson Gallery’s Bell Street premises, in a show that will have been built by an army of unnamed minions and that will no doubt dominate the press. To wit: unavoidable, and probably big. Another famed contemporary sculptor, the Italian Arte Povera exponent Giuseppe Penone, appears, too, in two places, with a new commission at the Whitechapel coinciding with an exhibition at Haunch of Venison.
Hannah Sawtell’s Osculator is the first show to have piqued our interest in a good few months at the ICA – it seems to have plunged into the obtuse bubble of its own trendiness lately with an increasingly obscure programme. Sawtell’s constructions reconfigure manmade productions, often introducing humour to reveal a dystopic vision of the modern world. Osculator is a new commission at the ICA, a site-specific installation and the artist’s first solo gig in the UK, inspired by her experience at the Bloomberg office space during her current residency. A simultaneous, linked installation will also be unveiled at Bloomberg SPACE.
Thomas Houseago, Sitting Woman, 2012, Tuf-Cal, hemp, iron rebar, 241.3 x 248.9 x 205.7 cm / 95 x 98 x 81 in; © Thomas Houseago / Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth / Photo: Fredrik Nilsen.
One of our most anticipated choices of the bunch, however, is figurative sculptor Thomas Houseago, I’ll Be Your Sister and Special Brew, at Hauser & Wirth, Savile Row, until October 20th. Not only does he make huge, gorgeously roughed-up creatures in plaster and plywood, but we have it on learned authority that he is a hilarious man too. This is his debut at the gallery, monumental, menancing, new works that take over both spaces.
All in all, a very ripe harvest is in store for the artistically famished.
(Image at top: Ella Finer, during residency at the Arthaus Building, Summer 2012, Photography by Kitty Walker; courtesy of Galerie8.)