Seven or so days on from all the rushing around of the Frieze weekend and the rest of the whatever the hell it all was, there were (and for that matter still are) a couple of rather decent art shows that deserve a mention before we finally move on and deal with the next things already demanding attention….
Quick bit of house cleaning then, head still full of Thomas Scheibitz’s beautiful big painting and the energy of that painterly collection of Piotr Uklański takes on the Stars and Stripes – the circus has pulled out-of-town now, of course there were other art fairs during Frieze week, it really was all about the main event though. And like we already argued, Frieze is honest, Frieze doesn’t pretend to be anything it isn’t, the others riding on the coattails seem to mostly be an exercise in how much money can be made out of selling over-crowded fair space to galleries and artists. Moniker was probably the best of the rest, Moniker was at best very conservative, those Disneyland railway tracks were embarrassing, the other art fairs really didn’t excite while the fringes offered very little in terms of an alternative. The energy that once threatened down in those car parks and such, the potential threat of a challenge offered a couple of years back, seems to have fizzled out in stew of fractured ego and an insular ex art student complacency that seems to imply most of the artists involved are happy with their lot – the insular scene that celebrates itself, a scene and several sets of artists seemly content in just going to each other’s opening nights and then, without ever feeling the need to reach out beyond their self-congratulating tiny little bubbles, seemly content to congratulate each other with a never-ending parade of congratulating selfies on their self-congratulating social media feeds – it briefly threatened to be potentially more two or three years back – and of course there’s some good art to be found in the car parks and out on the fringes, of course there’s an exciting artist or two lost down there in the fractured strew of selfies, lost in the congratulations and the egos – it once threatened to be so so much more – where’s the ambition? Where’s the desire? The danger? Where’s the punk rock attitude? Or even that YBA attitude that made things briefly exciting? Where’s that Fate Worse Than Death need for something a little more? Nothing appeared to even want to challenge what was a rather conservative Frieze this year, no one appeared to need to reach out beyond their safe little self-celebrating scenes, their fractured little bubbles, where is that better Woolworths? Where was the challenge to Frieze?
And so nothing came anywhere near challenging what was on the whole, beside a stand out painting or painter or two (as well as the event-saving Sex Work thing), a rather conservative Frieze, but there were a couple of shows that opened during the week that we probably should mention before we shut up and move on to this week’s events…
The Friday of Frieze and an afternoon spent down Brick Lane exploring, and trying to find the positives of Moniker presented a healthy opotunity to check out one or two other gallery shows – off to the Moniker Art Fair via Nicholas Cheveldave‘s rather intriguing Fields Of Plastic Flowers show at Emalin Gallery‘s hidden Shoreditch space, that and a flying visit to Josh Kline‘s Civil War show at the born again ex-Wilkinson gallery, the big white cube is now under new management and the guiding hand of Modern Art down the rather depleted Vyner Street, as well as the Ruth Philo and Yves Beumont show of paintings at Redchurch Street’s rather stoic Studio 1.1 gallery
Studio1.1, London is delighted to be showing new work by the Flemish painter Yves Beaumont, together with the UK artist Ruth Philo, in an exhibition which traces the progress from place to abstraction, from topography into paint. The title, inspired by Gainsborough’s famous words – ‘I’m sick of portraits and wish very much to take my Viol da Gamba and walk off to some sweet village, where I can paint Landskips’ gives the broad connection between Beaumont and Philo’s abstract/ed paintings. That Gainsborough’s language recalls for us his love of the Dutch landscape tradition brings us to another connection between the two, Beaumont and Philo habitually using the flat North Sea coasts of Belgium and England respectively as starting points for their wanderings…. read on
Two painters sharing walls in the small Redchurch Street gallery that defiantly hangs in there, a space regularly championed on these pages of course, always a pleasure to see the red door still open and the gallery obviously there for anyone who wishes to to just walk in off the street and explore to do just that. It isn’t immediately clear who has produced what in Landskips (and the lighting really isn’t that brilliant), but there is a chemistry of colour in here, a celebration of surface, of paint, and once you do work out who has done what (and it is rather obvious once you do start to look properly) then Yves Beaumont’s scapes, his landscapes, mindscapes, seascapes, work rather well next to Ruth Philo‘s enquiries, her surfaces, her colour. Landskips is a good show, it isn’t an immediate show, it isn’t a show that instantly excites, that demands a noisy reaction, it doesn’t instantly delight – this is a subtle show, an intelligent slow-burner of a show, a show that requires quiet contemplation (and maybe more than one visit) before you really start to feel something for it. Yves Beaumont’s light, his horizon, his space, is, once you have spent a little time with it, rather beautiful, he really is a painter to enjoy, who slowly reveals the joy, his complex simplicity, his distance, his thought…
Ruth Philo’s work is always enquiring, her surfaces always worth closely examining, the two of them together make for a rather fine (if not that immediate) show of paintings – the real art of painting. Landskips is on at Studio 1.1, Redchurch Street, Shoreditch, London, until October 29th – Do go take the time to see it, it is about taking time, it is a small show, not a show to rush though, do take the time needed to really find the beauty in the work.
Emalin Gallery spent a rather busy week standing out with their monster mouth at Frieze while at the same time hosting a rather “interesting” show at their Shoreditch space – Emalin Gallery‘s mouth has a bit of wit about it, as does the semi-playful ceramic work of Moscow-based Russian artist Evgeny Antufeiev – Emalin are one of the more rewarding of the current signless London galleries (there’s a rather interesting Nicholas Cheveldave show in their Shoreditch space right now if you can work out where the actual door to the gallery is, they also put that brilliant kembra Pfahlar show last year) –
The sound in the gallery hits you almost before the visual art, the photos here are really only felling you a fraction of it, Nicholas Cheveldave is a London-based Canadian-born artist, the installation in the middle of the space dominates the show and the gallery, but it really is the pieces on the wall, the nail-strewed pieces that leave a more lasting impression – Nicholas Cheveldave’s practice engages the ways in which the image economy of Western consumer culture generates and controls both an understanding and the communication of identity – hey look, sound, texture, metal, marks on metal kegs, nails, lots of nails, lots and lots of nail, details.
Find the Nicholas Cheveldave show at Emalin, it runs until November 4th (directly over the road, hiding in plain sight, opposite Shoreditch station and that dreadful Box Park)
Someone, one of the organisers, over at that rather underwhelming Sluice Biennial last week, tried to argue that East London’s Vyner Street was now “very much revitalised” – which kind of told us just how out of touch Sluice actually was with the East London it imposed itself on for a weekend. The one remaining gallery re-branded does not make for a revitalised art street, one big gallery with a new (very small) sign on the front, one gallery on a street where not so long ago there was a dozen or more spaces alive with art. The beautifully big very unfriendly unwelcoming Wilkinson gallery in now called Modern Art, the tiny nameplate outside is still the only indication that the big buiding is actually a gallery,, you still need to press the intimidating buzzer to get in, you still don’t get a smile or a hello when you do so, you still feel as unwelcome as you did under the old regime, and the art inside Modern Art is easily as exciting as anything Wilkinson ever came up with was (a space revitalised rather than a street then…)
And to repeat a slice of a previous piece – Modern Art will open on Vyner Street on October 3rd, the “new” gallery will be inaugurated by Civil War, a major new body of work by the American artist Josh Kline. “Civil War builds upon Kline’s project Unemployment, made and exhibited over the last two years, which looks at the potential human consequences of automation, artificial intelligence, and mass-unemployment in the decades ahead. Civil War explores the socio-political implications of these transformations in the context of the United States – It was always going to be a strong start, a visually rewarding artistically challenging start, how could it not be with Josh Kline kicking things off for Modern Art in terms of Vyner Street?
Not sure if we expected it to be as compelling as this though. To say this is a show to “like” is not quite right, it is very obviously a show to immensely “like”- the imagery, the pieces, the intrigue of it is all extremely likable, but there’s really nothing to “like” here. Is this now? Is this the future? How far in the future? Is this already here? Probably, All this American “stuff” – “stuff” left behind after what? Human consequences? Automation? artificial intelligence, mass-unemployment in the decades ahead? Now? Downstairs, the main gallery space has been divided in two, the larger exhibition space features large-scale installations (or is it one large-scale installation?) of cast sculptures that appear as concrete rubble, behind in an almost secret rather red second space that plays with all kinds of notions and split definitions, while upstairs in blackness. a short film (or maybe films) apparently set in a utopian future America. Civil War is certainly a powerful show, a “big” show, a how to really like lots, a show to really not like, certainly not in a comfortable way – a show to really like just in terms of pieces of art on a (carpeted) gallery floor, just as pieces art, just as “art stuff”, the work excites, but they your mind starts dig through it, to question it, to question the “stuff”, to question the “art stuff” while it, te art, questions you, while it asks what you’re doing in here looking at all this “stuff”, all this “art stuff” – the economics of it all, the lifelessness of it all, the mass production, the humanity, the unemployed humanity, the inhumanity – a rather fitting show to christen this space in this street during this week, this Frieze week, it might just be one of the most challenging, most captivating, most disturbing, most rewarding likeable unlikable question-throwing art shows of the year, it might not be what everyone wants from art, not sure it really is what is really wanted from their “art stuff”, but then that’s probably part of why it works so well…. (sw)
Josh Kline’s compelling Civil War is on at Modern Art, the gallery formally knows as Wilkinson down at the bottom of Vyner Street, London E2 until November 11th
Click on an image to enlarge or to run the fractured slide show….