It feels kind of strange walking down Vyner Street these days, feels so so empty even though the buildings are still kind of occupied (and even though that beautiful oil slick of a taxi garage is still there). These days there’s not often a reason to walk down the once beautiful street, Limewharf is a shadow of its former self, the pub looks desperately quiet and where once there was once a community of fifteen or so galleries and art space there’s really only Stuart Shave’s Modern Art in terms of a gallery actually worth going to (although, hang on, is that a new art space spied amongst the coffee pushers and the cheese pimps?). We did love this street so much, so many people did, such a shame to see it now, do like that big white cube of a space down the bottom of the street though, disappointing to have to walk past all those spaces where galleries once were to get to it, to have to walk past the new blocks of over-priced flats where once the old art spaces and places and people were (people came from all over the world to visit that street), almost depressing to have to walk past the bulshit of the self-proclaimed “future thinker”, past the old paste ups that no one has bothered making the effort to paste over since all the galleries and such were pushed out. Good to see Stuart Shave breathing a little bit of new life into the big white cube that was once the Wilkinson space though, good to see that happening, do like that great big white cube of a space, rather curious to see what sort of scale Eva Rothschild will operate on in that big main room (the shows at Modern Art’s Vyner Street space have been rather rewarding so far)
Eva Rothschild’s large-scale public pieces, those brilliant Cold Corners piece at Tate Britain that used (and almost contradicted) the classical feel of the building in such an exciting way back there, like Empire, a piece in New York that grabbed the artist some much deserved attention back in 2011, like her impressive solo show, Hot Touch, that opened The Hepworth Wakefield gallery back in 2011, as well as exhibitions and pieces since (including several previous shows with Modern Art) that have helped build Eva Rothschild a worldwide reputation as an artist of note, all these things kind of suggested a walk down the old street might well be worth the effort. The big white cube where Modern Art now resides is a wonderful space to view large scale pieces of art, especially if you leave it until the day after the noise of an opening and instead try and catch it on an almost empty afternoon a couple of days later. There’s something to be said for the formal peace and quiet of a space like Modern Art if you’re brave enough to ring the bell and not feel too intimidated by it all – go for it, they don’t bite in there, the worst they’ll do is aloofly ignore you and leave you in peace, and if you do catch it right then you might just have the art almost all to yourself, all there is that big white space, there to just quietly walk around and explore in the glorious peace and quiet..
And this new Eva Rothschild show is well worth exploring, it is worth ringing the bell on the enormous door and waiting for it to slowly open, it is worth the walk along the big wide white corridor and around the corner past the desk and the bowed heads that ignore you, past the bowed heads behind the desk and into the big bright main room where you stop in your tracks to take it all in for a moment, wow. It is worth avoiding any imagery or information ahead of your visit (it is worth avoiding the imagery or the information on this page and just going without knowing anything), it is worth just walking in with no prior knowledge and seeing that big piece beyond the black triangles on the naked concrete blocks – that big piece that immediately demands your eye and takes you beyond the blocks in the foreground . What is that piece made of? Is the colour reflections? What is the material? Are there lights hidden somewhere? Almost impossible to resist touching it while no one is in here (I didn’t, I really really wanted to), I really wanted to explore the texture with more than just an eye, is it cold? is it sharp? Is it steel? What is is? And look at the shape, look at the lines, look at the scale…
Really was looking forward seeing this show, that one large piece doesn’t disappoint, so good to be able to walk around (and around, and around) it, to sit down by it, to look up at it, to look through it, to suddenly find another angle, to joust with those angles and the pinks and the purples on the reds that look so black when you first see it And the upright goodness of it all, it works so well in here. We go to a lot of art shows (well this one, if truth be known, is halfway between my studio and the post office, so hey, not too far out of the way this time), we go to lots of art shows, don’t write about all of them though, don’t write about most of them actually, only the ones really worth taking the time to write about, why cover the average? Why write about the disappointing ones? Hey I’m busy, and if truth be known, we only make the time to cover these things that go on because so few others actually do. Truth is we should have packed up this Organ thing ages ago, but art excites and someone has to do it, it deserves to be covered, and anyway why should art want to hide behind unfriendly doors, seemingly there only for the few, just for the elite? A little mystery is fine but so much art seems to go out of the way to keep itself away from the masses, from the great unwashed, from those not worthy.
This is an exciting show, and exciting body of work, you really should try and go and see it if you get the chance and have the time,. you’ll probably have the big room yo yourself, just you and some beautiful Jesmonite, some wonderful colour that you’ll wonder about, some texture you’ll really be tempted to touch, some time and space you surely can’t fail to engage with? And what about that space? Is that piece there relating to that one? Well obviously it is now in this white room, but is it? And why are those blocks green and would the artist always set them up the same way? And and and…
And what about the rooms upstairs? Upstairs there’s all kind of texture, shape, reflection, the blackness of more Jesmonite and rebar and plaster bandage and aluminium and perspex and shape and is that textile or tactile or…? And look how that form works and a whole variety of scale and technique. And what about those stools and the almost crude textile impressions of material? What kind of language is that? Materials? Materiality? Spiritual meaning? Form? Scale? And the precise point at which narratives might arise out of which formal arrangements? Dancing around it all again (as Mr Zappa once said) And yes, even though the scale is large it feels kind of intimate, kind of small, private, no ,not private, it feels personal, or maybe is that because no one else is in here? I do like outdoor sculpture and the vitality of art in public places, but there is something rather special about the formal peacefulness of a big white cube that comes alive when occupied by pieces of exciting work like these, something the elevates the art and the space and the whole ritual of engaging with it all, something that lifts art above the clutter of everyday. There’s something about a piece of art responding to the space of a gallery like Eva Rothschild’s pieces always seem to, and I do like her “distinctive visual vocabulary.”, the specificity of the silence, I do rather like this latest Eva Rothschild show, I kind of expected I would, kind of glad I walked down the old street, might do again when next I go to the post office. Am I supposed to tell you she’s from Dublin? That she was born in 1971 and now lives and works in London? Is that important? In some ways it is, you do kind of need to know what stage of life an artist is at don’t you? if I were you and you get the chance, then I’d go to this show – those pieces, those sculptures, those textures, they’re rather exciting, art excites…. (sw) .
Stuart Shave/Modern Art is open Wednesday – Saturday 11am until 6pm, you find it hiding in plain sight down at the bottom of Vyner Street in the giant building with very little to tell you save for a very small name plate by a buzzer, do press it, don’t let them deter you. The address is 50-58 Vyner Street, London, E2 9DQ The show runs until 5th May 2018/
Click on an image to enlarge or to run the slide show