The best ten art things of 2016? No no no, we’re surely not going to be arrogant enough to print one of those top ten lists and make noises about it being the definitive statement on the the best things that happened in art this year? And no, we’re certainly not going to claim to have been at every art event or show or to have covered absolutely everything that happened and we’re almost certainly not going to headline this feature with outlandish click-bait proclamations of the best ten art exhibitions or whatever and make like we have the authority to say.what is and isn’t. .
No end of year claim of we know best here, no best of top ten statement, we’ll leave that to the others, to the ones who do claim to have their fingers on the pulse of everything – you know the ones, the self-appointed London art press who seem to miss out on so so much of what’s actually happening while they swan around their offices reading press releases and congratulate themselves and make their claims and post their lists and their oh so on the ball authoritative top ten statements.
Of course not everything that happened during the London art year has been covered on these fractured Organ pages, of course it hasn’t, no way did we didn’t get to everything. We got to as much as we could though, we were probably out there more than most of the list makers, we saw lots and lots of art during a very busy year, hundreds of shows, events, we saw lots of things (got ourselves banned from entering one or two). Our coverage mostly focused on what’s happened in the undergrowth, the artist-led spaces, the backrooms, basements and things under railway bridges, you surely don’t really need to know what we thought about about that big retrospective or that new show from that pop artist from the 60’s or that glorious German painter who had that big big show that was all over the media? Down here in the dirt of the undergrowth 2016 has been another busy art year, another exciting year – we explored lots, we encountered lots, we debated over lots, argued, got close to what might have tended towards violence here and there. We tried to avoid artists taking selfies of themselves standing by their art, we grew increasingly tired of the growing number of Basquiat.impersonators (how bad is that going to get in 2017 what with the big show happening?), we tried to avoid the disunited egos that destroy potential – London’s alternative art scene is beset by a disjointed set of egos and tiresomely insular attitudes right now, shame really, there are so many exciting things happening, so much to feel positive about, to explore, to see, to experience .
So here then is a list, a top ten list of sort, not a definite declaration of what was best, (we’re not the art-press although we do cover more than most of them) just a list and a positive look back at the best of those art things we encountered in a busy 2016 – the things that stimulated us, engaged with is, provoked us enough to want to take the time to cover them in some way via these fractured pages, some of the shows and events simply didn’t stimulate us enough to deserve coverage, these are the best of the things we engages with, not the definite best of absolutely everything, just the things we encountered during a difficult yet exciting 2016… .
And so here comes a list of the best (mostly) London (for that is where we live and work) art things of 2016….
1: KEMBRA PFAHLER – Where to start this (non) list? Well it surely has to be in that slightly hidden backdoor gallery, the intimate current home of Emalin Gallery, over in Shoreditch and that brilliant opening night of Kembra Pfahler’s very topical Capital Improvements show and her glam rock and her blue, green, yellow and red friends and..
Paint, mess, big hair, glam rock, New York performance artist Kembra Pfahler opens her London show in glorious style….“And instead of crying at the sight of a damaged ruined blown to shreds statue of Liberty like Charlton Heston and instead of crying and saying “what have we done,” I want to get doodled up and stand next to it…”. “Artists help each other, artists help each other, artists help each other…availabism”. The feeling…read on
2: AIDA WILDE – 2016 was, for lots of London artists (and others, bands and such), art studios and smaller galleries, 2016 was mostly about surviving in the city (as it was for Kembra Pfahler in New York and so many others in cites around the globe). Aida Wilde and her print-making street artist allies took the fight on in a very positive way in 2016. Aida’s leading of a gang of do’ers, a group of paste-up print makers, street artists, sweet toof gold peg painters and such, for that glorious assault on those walls of Hackney Wick’s long ago closed-down ever-evolving canvas that is the Lord Napier pub ahead of this year’s (now unofficial) Hackney WickEd festival. That art attack on the pub the weekend before WickED was probably was the very best thing to happen in terms of London art in 2016. That alongside the later Save Yourselves show at Stour Space and the taking on of the Olympic Legacy people and the demands for her ten percent and the wanting of ponies and such as we watched the artistic soul of Hackney Wick being torn out…
ORGAN THING: Save Yourselves, Olympic Legacy and a little more than just another East London art show… The contrast between the art event explored this Friday evening and last Friday’s almost offensive excesses over at Frieze cannot be ignored. The contrasts at Stour Space, the plight of the artists and designers, the plight of the creative community that has thrived for many years over in Hackney Wick, the contrast between the defiance…read on
ORGAN THING: Save Yourselves, Hackney Wick, the Lord Napier, Daxx & Roxane and the day Heavy Metal went to the dogs…. Where were we? Not hanging around underground car parks that’s for sure, that flash of energy long since blew away in a cloud of something or other… Art is forever evolving and the Aida Wilde led interaction with the ever-changing walls of the Lord Napier over in Hackney Wick for this year’s WickEd was…read on
ORGAN THING: Gentrification? It was Aida Wilde’s fault! Damn artists, creating a community! So what did happen in Hackney Wick over the May Day bank holiday? I like Aida Wilde, I like the positive anger, the constructive energy, the whit, I like her colour, her words, I like Aida Wilde’s style and I like her art And as with a lot of us London-based artists right now, a…read on
And there was this piece than involved a lot of interaction with the Wick and that pub – ORGAN THING: blowing trumpets and 43 pieces of art hung around Hackney Wick… – Some in-house Monday morning trumpet blowing and hey, there’s a lot of time spent here sharing other people’s music, art and news, today it is trumpet in hand and this is what I did last weekend. We’ll be back to all the telling you about other people’s music and such later on…. #43ArtDrop, Hackney Wick,…Read on
ORGAN THING: Gentrification? It was Aida Wilde’s fault! Damn artists, creating a community! – So what did happen in Hackney Wick over the May Day bank holiday? I like Aida Wilde, I like the positive anger, the constructive energy, the wit, I like her colour, her words, I like Aida Wilde’s style and I like her art And as with a lot of us London-based artists right now, a…read on
3: ROCCO AND HIS BROTHERS – And then a couple of days after Kembra Pfahler’s Triumphant opening it was Rocco and his Brothers over from Berlin with that basement gallery called BSMT Space cut in half by the train yard fence and the film of his installations along with the adventures of Marr and Kaos – ORGAN THING: Who are Rocco and his Brothers? Four days on from kembra’s voluptuousness, The Right Side Of The Tracks, with Marr and Kaos, makes for yet another excellent East London art show opening…The November rain is pouring down, the wind is blowing hard, this is not a Saturday night to venture out unless you really have to, but the North East London basement space known as BSMT Space is packed once more. Another packed opening night in the Dalston gallery, this time for a show called The… read on
4: NEO NATURISTS – Back in August it was the Neo Naturists, the Raincoats, and lots of naked bodies and performance and celebrating of the subversive, celebrating of people, of performance, the passing on of battens and lots more took place at the ICA, what a brilliant night it was…
ORGAN THING: Celebrating the subversive with the Neo Naturists… – ‘Their performances and actions were never rehearsed; a schedule would often be discussed just hours beforehand, with props sourced and produced last-minute. This refusal to be slick was indicative of the group’s determination for their practice not to be neatly packaged: a deeply non-commercial position. As Grayson Perry remarked ‘…She wasn’t one to have…read on
5: JIMMY CAUTY’S ADP RIOT TOUR has certainly been an artistic highlight of 2016, both inside and outside of that container that’s been crisscrossing this broken land of ours during a rather challenging political riot-inducing year. The interaction on the tour, the social media reaction and the sharing of imagery has almost been as important as the piece inside the container, indeed surely it is very much part of the piece… brilliant interaction.
– ORGAN THING: Jimmy Cauty’s ADP art tour and the colourful social interaction with that once grey shipping container… As Jimmy Cauty’s ADP tour heads towards the final dates of the year in Colchester and then finally Bedford, one of the most interesting exciting aspects revolving around the massive tour, an art tour that started back in April and has been all over the country during the eight non-stop months that the exhibition in…read on
6: LUCY DODD / P.P.O.W GALLERY at FRIEZE – Now we’re deliberately not including any of the big mainstream shows and so so and his retrospective and those Pollock paintings we saw or the time spent in the Turner rooms rather than with the Turner Prize or so and so’s big show at the White Cube but we do want to mention both the paintings/pieces of Lucy Dodd and the entire content of New York’s P.P.O.W. Gallery at Frieze and how New York’s P.P.O.W gallery (politely) excited and those strong charcoal plant drawings, and that collection of pink from Portia Munson, that table can’t fail to… We spent several days exploring the vast monster that is Frieze this year, and yes, for all that is wrong with it, Frieze is worth a mention here, probably more than most of the art fairs and… read on
7: THE ART CAR BOOT FAIR – The boot fair, now kind of firmly established as a vital part of the London art year. The 2016 Art Car Boot Fair may not have been the very best one ever, the unseasonable weather for the entire summer-robbing month before hand and the wind and the rain on the day kind of put pay to that, along with the slight feeling that both artists and media might have been taking the excellent event a little for granted in 2016. It was still a highlight though, and as exciting as ever to take part in, a day when art let’s his or her hair down and engages, might not have been the best one, but still very much a highlight, as was this year’s jaunt to the Hastings seaside and the seagull attacks…. love being part of the Art Car Boot Fair, always one of the highlights of the London art year and still vital in 2016…
ORGAN THING: Last days of Shoreditch? Nah, I loved being part of the Art Car Boot Fair yesterday…. if these are to be the Last days of Shoreditch then the East is going down defiantly. The London art Calendar highlight that is the Brick Lane Art Car Boot Fair happened yesterday, the gods threw their worst at us in the form of torrential rain, gazebo-threatening wind and whatever else they had to hand…read on
Organ Thing: The Art Car Boot Fair, Hastings, seagulls, sunshine and seaside treats… Hastings then, off to the seaside for the second leg of this year’s always keenly anticipated Art Car Boot Fair adventure. The tradition now is to follow the main event down East London’s Brick Lane with an Art Car Boot Fair day trip, in past years the destination has been to take part in the… read on
8: JASON WOODSIDE / EVOCA 1 – Been a number of good shows at Whitechapel’s Stolen Space gallery this year, Jason Woodside’s, alongside the paintings of Evoca 1 over the two rooms of the East London gallery were probably the best of their busy year… ORGAN THING: New York artist Jason Woodside’s crisp kinetic colour fills an East London gallery with smiles… New York based artist Jason Woodside’s latest solo show opened at East London’s Stolen Space last night, a room full of beautifully slick paintings hung perfectly on those raw brick walls of the art gallery. Woodside’s very bold work is alive with vivid colour, with contrasting layers of simple, geometric patterns. The paintings kind of… read on
EVOCA 1 – ORGAN THING: The further exploring of art, five positive things from November First Thursday… – Thursday night in East London, out and about hunting down art. Enough has been spilled already on these pages in terms of the demise of First Thursday, enough of the negative, what about the positives found last night? Was anything discovered on the first Thursday of November? Was the East End alive with the sounds…
8: AMY KINGSMILL has been developing a growing glowing reputation as an artist in recent times, she’s had a more than interesting 2016 with some beautiful performances in various spaces and places… Her rather crowd-silencing appearance at one of our Cultivate events was certainly a highlight for most people who were there (true, it kind of freaked out a few of the street art bloggers), Amy silenced the room in such a beautiful was and Marnie Scarlet’s in her handmade tissue dress deserves a big mention as well…
– ORGAN THING: Artist Emma Harvey on the performances of Marnie Scarlet and Amy kingsmill at Debased Last week both Amy Kingsmill and Marnie Scarlet took part in the opening night of a group show or contemporary painters, performers, street artists, print makers and more, a show called Debased, curated by Cultivate, over at BSMT Space (Dalston, London N16) Both Marnie and Amy has appeared and performed at a number of Cultivate… read on
9: MEGAN PICKERING – Some of the things Megan has been doing during the past couple of years have certainly been worth re-blogging – her very personal zines, her powerful lists on gallery walls, her band – Megan Pickering, Clammy Hands and… her films – getting her powerful miners strike piece as part of one of our shows what a particularly pleasing thing for us, rather proud to have had that piece smack bang in the middle of a show this year..
ORGAN THING: Megan Pickering, Will Anyone Re-blog This? – Megan Pickering is one of the more intriguing of the current crop of London-based artists. It isn’t easy to pin down what it was about the artist from Durham that first ignited curiosity and demanded we take a closer look? Was it the powerful sound of that film she made at the Aylesbury Estate last…
10 OBJECTS OF DESIRE – 10c Objects of Desire is a fascinating show, a curiously good show, dare it be said that this is a vital show? Objects of Desire is a window on to so many lives, minds, interactions, people: – ORGAN THING: Objects of Desire at Red Gallery, a brilliantly human show… Never quite know what to make of Red Gallery, you find it at the top end of Rivington Street, Shoreditch, East London, excellent location, right there on that corner right by the spot where the much-loved Foundry once threw out so much artistic attitude. The people who run the Red space seem far more…:
And while we’re here, also worth a mention….
JIMMY C and his accidental Bowie shrine. Back at the very start of the year, London-based Australian pointillist street artist Jimmy C’s Bowie mural on a Brixton street, a piece from a couple of years back and if we’re honest, then maybe not his very best piece of work became the focus of the world, it wasn’t so much the piece of art itself, it was everything the revolved and evolved around the piece and how it affected the artist for a few months at the start of the year . ORGAN THING: Jimmy C and how an artist became the almost accidental centre of the world’s attention…London-based artist Jimmy C didn’t anticipate the winter he was going to have when he headed off home for an Australian Christmas, he didn’t give too much thought to the David Bowie piece he painted on a wall in Brixton back in 2013. Jimmy painted the piece back when the V&A Bowie exhibition was opening,…
ON THE BRINK was a wood alive with delight – ORGAN THING: On The Brink, nineteen exciting artists, sculptures, installations and some old rope and leaves.. On The Brink opened yesterday, a gathering of twenty invited artists and a collection of sculpture and installation in the expansive grounds and the glorious summer-green lushness the Quaker Meeting House in Leytonstone, East London. Yes it was sunny yesterday! For once this year the frustration gave way and sun was out, the grasshoppers were…
DISPACEMENT, and an art show in rust covered metal workshop – ORGAN THING: Displacement? Words? Another show…. art…. blah blah… this… that…Displacement? Words? Another show…. art…. blah blah… this… that… words? What’s words worth?…. there goes the neighbourhood…. beer…paint…. rust…. people…. words… friends…old friends, new friends…. foes, toes, stepping on toes, artists, egos… words… I was on the way to the show yesterday morning, off along the road, painting under arm, off to hang it in…
And there was also Zachari Logan’s rather splendid leaf-filled exhibition Wreath opens at New Art Projects…. and that remarkable The Gee Vaucher retrospective at Firstsite, Colchester, opens this Friday and the leaf bombing (yes I can mention that) Leaves, she didn’t even notice. Leafbombing? Leaf, an Autumn leaf?. There was Charlie McFarley’s stock car, there was Emma Harvey’s ongoing circle painting – ORGAN THING: Trumpet blowing and more blood spilled, another busy art show in a London basement… and Hiding art in a cabinet of curiosities at Wall And Jones. She wasn’t particularly active in London this year and we didn’t get there but a quick swoon over Swoon and her new show at Library Street Collective… We make no secret of our comtinued swooning over Swoon in 2016…
And there was the excellent Norman Ackroyd show at Eames, and then there was glorious proper old school graff of Oust and for some reason Oust just hit the spot in 2016, There was several flying visits to The Thierry Noir Museum, Mr Noir has spent most of the year in the always interesting long thin East London space that is the Howard Griffin Gallery, over there in Shoreditch. There was Martha Cooper and her book Martha Cooper you and your damn book, you ruined my life! Martha Cooper’s Lifework opens at Stolen Space…
There was so much in 2016, we’re nowhere near in a position to post a top ten, how dare we think we could? And anyway, there’s still ten days of the year left, plenty of time for more to happen before the midnight gongs strike, still time for something to happen under another railway bridge or some such place. 2016 has been a fine art year, maybe not the very best one, but there has been lots of exciting stimulating provoking art in a very busy exciting art packed 2016 Now bring on 2017, it might just be a little more volatile, a little more defiant, a little more tough on us art makers, a little more of a trumped up a year when art and artists really need to pull together and support each other, and to quote Kembra Pfahler and her show ending mantra back at the end of Autumn at Emalin Gallery, 2017 really needs to be a years when “artists help each other, artists help each other, artists help each other…” .. 2017 then, pass the paint and bring it all on, all the circles, the drops, the stitches, the contemporary painters, the printmakers, the spray painters, bring it all on, all of it, can’t wait, art can’t be reduced to a list, bring it all on .. (sw)
And we we really can’t let 2016 close without remembering Ben Cove (1974-2016), a life well lived and a fine artist indeed…
6 thoughts on “ORGAN THING: The Top Ten Art Things of 2016? Kembra? Aida? Rocco? Here then are the London art things that excited us most in a busy 2016…”
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