End of year full stops? The best of the music that passed this way has already been rounded up on the previous page, all tied in a red new year bow and thrown your way, but what about the art? How was 2015 in terms of art? Here’s the pick of our adventures in art galleries, on streets, on-line and…
Where do we start? Well there was the delight of Gina Birch‘s shoes in that second hand furniture shop in Hackney, there was David Shillinglaw‘s continued use of word and colour, that has been a graphic delight in 2015, Billy Childish has been doing his stylish thing in a pleasing way, there was Aida Wilde’s hashtag challenging things. Rather pleased with Assemble winning the Turner Prize, pleased both in terms of the prize and so many other things, Assemble and their questions were a breath of fresh air in 2015. Amy kingsmill‘s performances have continued to be delicious, including her collaboration with American performance artist Sheree Rose. Jim Bachor’s ice cream in potholes over in Chicago carried on in 2015, Pussy Riot’s Nadya Tolokonnikova joined The Connor Brothers at Hang Up here in London, rather like what the Connor Brothers have been doing in 2015.
There was Bob and Roberta Smith, the ongoing fight for the Cass and the vexed question of art education in general,.there was Diane Goldie’s glorious opening night and all dancing, painting, parading and more down in the Leake Tunnel over in Waterloo. Rather enjoyed going behind the lines at Frieze, the whney-arse New yorker and kicking out the art fair jams. Surely Frieze is going to be alive with exciting art, surely we can expect that? was the art we found there any more exciting than the things we’ve been encountering in the back streets and diy spaces we usually find ourselves in? There some embroidery over there but surely the boisterous Julia Maddison pieces at the Tottenham Flee Pit last month had more to engage with? That precisely painted red piece over there with those yellow lines, is that really as pin-point and impressive as those pieces Clive Hanz Hancock and Patrick Morrissey have been showing in various car parks and falling-down East London warehouses over the last couple of years? And that precarious looking sculpture over there looks like Roger Clarke’s piece at Play, only not quite so right as Roger’s was..
Felt up in a sex shop, Lucy Sparrow thrilled in Soho in 2015, Laura Bruce’s Love and Other Machines at Fred Mann’s New Art Projects…The triumph behind Pablo Delgado’s yellow door (that probably was our favourite art show of the year). There was street artist Stik fundraising for the NHS, and a whole load of artists spilling guts for Ish… R.I.P Ish, that was indeed one of the best nights down Vyner Street…
And then there was the Dalston Ballet Company at Ritter-Zamet, actually there was Starsha Lee, Deadcuts and a whole load of art, performance, smoke and red light at the Ritter-Zamet gallery here in East London. There were those lemons fly-posted all over Manchester, we weren’t that sure about the Mad C show, the gallery seemed to restrain her. Lisa Wright at Gallery 8 promised lots and indeed delivered.
The Art Car Boot Fair went to Margate for a little bit more than just an hot dog if you know what I mean… There was that bit of English Magic, four painters, a glorious show and a far from dismal land… “Fred Mann is delighted to announce the first exhibitions at his new gallery, New Art Projects. English Magic will be made up of four solo shows by painters James E Crowther, Fergus Hare, Sarah Sparkes and Geraldine Swayne” .And talking of Dismaland and Jeffrey Archer book burning and well that was all quite something…
There was the glorious colour of painter Kim Leutwyler, activist Ollie Henderson and the Archibald Art Prize 2015…the emergence of Skeleton Cardboard as an artist to take seriously. The colour of East London’s Clare Street. More Thierry Noir through a window. Jump leads? Coloured pegs? Paint? Books? One of the questions of 2015 was just who is Cecily Baker? And of course for all the things that might be wrong with it, the Brick Lane Art Car Boot Fair is always one of the highlights of the art year, always a pleasure to take part…and talking of talking part, these were the adventures at the Golden Banana and the potential of Open Call art shows
There was Play of course, a maximalist art exhibition in a warehouse, here’s our take on what went down over that East London weekend back in the summer. The Minesweeper Collective brought along their own energy and attitude. There was Luke Jerram’s powerful fishing boat installation…And Who is Milton Melvin Croissant III? Milton is an artist who lives and works in Baltimore, MD, over there in USA, he’s just created this “surrealist” animated video. Belgium street artist Roa continued to thrill as he adapted for the gallery and continued with his rewarding adventures. Heads, hands and Cosmo Sarson at Pure Evil was a stand out show, and there was the return of Tracey Emin’s bed. Emma Harvey went to Gallery X in Dublin with the Hysterical Women Collective, her art was all over the Irish streets cause a bit of a fuss…
There goes the neighbourhood then, Pop up, f**k Off . Carpets crawling, popping up, pissing off, another weekend and another underground artist-led show in rapidly changing London town – this is why Assemble winning the Turner Prize really mattered, space is an issue and “It really is becoming a weekly event now, art spaces closing, much loved music venues being torn apart, artists-run galleries biting the dust, the never-ending march of the who-gives-a-shit property developer. Yesterday it was the turn of the artists at Broadway Studios over in Tooting to make yet another last defiant stand” This really was one of the most important London art events of the year, and the most popular Organ page of the year in terms of hits and something ignored by almost the entire so-called London art media of course.
There was the exploring of the glow of Dragica Carlin’s painterly solo show over at Lollipop Gallery back in March. And what were Blind Eye Factory doing back in the Spring? There was Laura Hyde Crapo and a woman’s perspective on art, relationships and enlightenment. Australian artist Casey Jenkins was for hire in 2015. Brazilian art duo Bicicleta Sem Freio’s colour hit Hoxton back in March. Banksy went back to Gaza and back in February The London art year kicked off in rather fine style with 2015’s triumphant Chinese Open – it was the car parks of 2014 carrying on in to 2015, the car parks kind of got a little stagnant as the year went on and curator ego kicked in but that wave of energy and attitude was still there at the start of the year at the Chinese Open in that car park…
The Alfreda Benge retrospective featured at Space Studio back in February, Snik and Meggs in the two rooms at Whitechapel’s Stolen Space stood out. There was Santiago Montoya at Halcyon. Then there was Sarah Choo Jing’s observations, Raul at Cock ‘n Bull, Gonzalo Borondo’s Animal at Londonewcastle Project
There was was every episode of the first series of Friends all at once, now that was art….oh and there was 365 pieces of art left on the streets throughout the year but more than enough has already been said about that. (SW)
OUR FAVOURITE FIVE ART SHOWS OF 2015 THEN….
1: Pablo Delgado Opens Tomorrow Morning at the Howard Griffin Gallery right now and until November 1st – Delgado’s 2014 show at the Howard Griffin might have given us a clue to two, there just might be something that’s a little more than just another street artist with a graphic-y gimmick here. With is 2014 show Delgado “wanted to make an exhibition that looks as though it isn’t there, so when you walk in it doesn’t look as though there is an exhibition, you see nothing, but when you look around at the details you can see there are narratives and stories going on.”
And so what is behind that yellow door? If you have a chance to go they you should probably duck out of this review at this point. Stop reading, don’t look at the photos, don’t read any more, just get on that bus or overground train and go explore through the yellow door for yourself.
Spoiler warning out-of-the-way, this show is brilliant, a triumph, the temptation is to let out a loud delighted “Yes!” in the pitch-black darkness broken only by low-powered torch-light and the occasional paint can behind the door. And you do need a torch (provided at the door before you go in), we really are in the dark in here.. This is a show that throws up questions, that makes demands, a show that questions the audience and the notions of art, the gallery, a show that finds Delgado questioning himself,what the hell is going on in here? is this bit part of it? is it open? What is he about? Where’s the big owl? More here
2: ENGLISH MAGIC at New Art Projects – Back in August Fred Mann was “delighted to announce the first exhibitions at his new gallery, New Art Projects. English Magic will be made up of four solo shows by painters James E Crowther, Fergus Hare, Sarah Sparkes and Geraldine Swayne” .- “a strong show, a delightful show, a brilliant show, one of the best of the summer, four rooms, four very fine artists, an exhibition that works as one (brilliantly hung), four strong English painters, four exciting painters, magical, a far from dismal land, sometimes art can just lift things….More here
3: PLAY @ LONDON FIELDS, E8 – A maximalist art exhibition in a warehouse… Play happened back at the start of June, a last stand in a soon to be pulled down space something like forty-three or so artists gathered together under the umbrella of Cultivate and a weekend of painting, installation, performance and artist-led cross-pollination… more here
4: Madame Roxy’s Erotic Emporium – Felt up in a sex shop and Lucy Sparrow’s shop is fun, to dismiss it as just frivolous fun is to do Lucy a disservice though, this is fun, of course this is fun, but Lucy Sparrow’s complete take over of a sex shop in the heart of Soho deep in the west end of London is far more than just fun. Madame Roxy’s Erotic Emporium is an inspired piece of art installation that asks questions… More here
5: POP UP FUCK OFF – The last-minute plan was a simple one, the invited artists turn up in the morning, hang some work, get the space ready, clear out some of the rubble, make the place a little more presentable, open the gates for once last time at 3pm, welcome anyone who wants to come explore some art and then….. Nineteen or so rooms, some of them put almost beyond use by the developers already, some of them begging to be painted on, drawn in. Some rooms dark, lights ripped out, demanding film on the walls, some alive with the smell of freshly dug earth, with strange piles of boots and shoes, with bold installations, people creating things, positive statements, activity, spontaneous creativity and for one last day, a building alive and with a defiant heart. Don’t know how many artists turned up, the invites went out around ten days before the show, an almost word of mouth event once more…. more here
Some visuals from the art year that was our 2015, of course we didn’t get to everything, how could we, so much going on, if you go out and look for it then these a rather exciting times… you’ve got to go look for it though, the media on the whole aren’t telling you….Click on an image to enlarge or run the slide show….