They were delicious, so sensual, so pure… no, that’s not right, what was it..? Pure? Pure what? The purity of sculpture. They were like ice cream, no, they were like folded soft fabric, no, not soft fabric, no! I can’t be looking at sculpture or dancing around architecture and talking of ice cream. Intense pieces of steel melted in the heat, no, forget all that, they really need to be touched (we didn’t but it was so so hard not to reach out and caress them, to reach out and stroke them), the sheer pleasure of material? What are they made of? Fabric? Metal? The pleasure of it all, the powerful artwork of Carol Bove so beautifully exhibited on the (very) thick grey concrete-coloured carpet of the David Zwirner gallery. Like folded bales of cloth, or mattresses fixed in place, frozen in time, fresh out of the fridge, no, forget all that, forget ice cream, forget it all – “David Zwirner is pleased to present an exhibition of new sculptures by Carol Bove, marking her third solo show with the gallery. Spanning two floors of the 24 Grafton Street location in London, the exhibition will feature works that relate to the artist’s ongoing series of “collage sculptures” begun in 2016…” – It just isn’t that obvious in terms of what we’re looking at, it doesn’t really matter, but what are those big sculpture made off? Soft? Hard? – “Characterised by square steel tubing that has been crushed and bent into soft folds that belie their material construction, then painted in a uniform colour and variably combined with found pieces of scrap metal and a smooth, highly polished steel disk”. These pieces, generously spread out over the two floors of the plush West End gallery, are beautifully powerful, they’re graceful pieces, they really shouldn’t be graceful, they are though, they’re strong, they’re warm, they’re rich, they’re powerful, they’re glorious actually. Beautiful pieces, beautifully coloured, beautifully tactile, beautifully exhibited, beautiful, love the pieces, love the show..
We’re out exploring the Friday night kick off of the Mayfair Art Weekend, not our usual hunting grounds, the back streets of East London are more our natural habitat, we’re in Mayfair, St. James and the West End of London, dodging around obscenely expensive sports cars, falling over Victoria Beckham’s security men, we’re here for something they’ve called the Gallery Hop night – something like thirty or so galleries open late on the Friday before the art weekend – “Explore the expansive offering of art across Mayfair & St James’s at the Mayfair Art Weekend Gallery HOP! taking place Friday 29 June, 6-8pm. Participating galleries throw open their doors and welcome you to enjoy a summer’s evening of art, hopping from gallery to gallery with Sipsmith Gin in hand” –
No sign of any gin and even if you did manage to get to the West End on the b of bang and you did start exploring dead on six, you’re going to be really pushed to explore everything. For those of us rushing in from the east end after a day of work (or wherever people were coming from) ending the openings at 8pm is way way too early, there’s people still arriving as the galleries start to lock their doors, there’s people rushing around looking for the big green balloons and trying to catch one more space before it all ends. Collective late evening openings are always good things, this one really needed at least another hour or two though. The big green balloons are an excellent touch actually – “there’s one down the end of the street” – and off we all rush hoping they haven’t closed already. The big green balloons are tied outside the participating galleries, they add to the sense of event, when things are done well then art excites, the Carol Bove show on the two floors at the David Zwirner Gallery certainly excites, worth the unbearable heat of the journey in on the central line just for that show. You kind of know that anything at the reliable David Zwirner Gallery is going to be good, but that Carol Bove show is exceptional .
What else? Well it was a bit of rush to see things before the clock struck eight, not everything was exciting, some of it really did deserve more time, the James Ostrer show at Gazelli Art House impressed – Curated by Azu Nwagbogu, “Johnny Just Came” explores the artist’s relationship to racism, insecurity, greed and self-loathing. Set within the framework of post-colonialist dystopia, Ostrer examines the roots within white male society and its wider consequence, triggered by his first trip to Africa in 2016.- James Ostrer certainly had sole or soul or something like that, you don’t really notice the hundreds of shoe soles or the old bed mattresses that make for frames, you don’t notice any of that until later, the work in the frames is what takes the eye first, the mix of sculpture and photography, and then you notice those bricks are actually bits of shoes, only then do you notice what the frames are.
The big Cindy Sherman’s at Sprüth Magers look impressive, the gallery isn’t open, not part of the night, but hey, impressively big windows, we can see in. The real stand-out besides the Carol Bove show, and the impressive bit of Shepard Fairey.in a shop window, in terms of the places we did get to catch before it all closed, was the Martin Finnin show at John Martin Gallery, thankfully the gallery, above a plush shoe shop on Albemarle Street had stayed open a little longer than most of the spaces and those larger pieces of the Irish painter are immediately exciting. There’s noise all around, people chatting, people trying to clear up and close, but those big paintings on the wall block it everything out and demand your full attention straight away. The artist is working in the corner, “During Mayfair Art Weekend, Finnin will re-situate his Cork studio in London, bringing materials and objects to John Martin Gallery where he will be working on a set of final prints. Finnin will be in the gallery all weekend, working and speaking with visitors. Visit the Gallery-come-studio for an opportunity to watch the artist work and collect a special edition Martin Finnin designed Mayfair Art Weekend tote bag, hand silk screened with an original artwork depicting a map of Mayfair. John Martin Gallery will be rehung with a series of Finnin’s etchings overlaid with paint and will offer limited edition badges featuring past prints and drawings by the artist”. and yes, all that is going on and he has his “mood boards” and his work space set up and his etchings on the go (although how anyone can seriously work in a situation like this I’m not sure) . He really is open in terms of talking about his work, a real pleasure to chat with him actually, the etching and the prints and the layers of those pieces are impressive, it really is those big paintings and the layers and colours and the decisions he’s made about those blocks of colour or the placing on the next shape or the next layer needed. The smaller pieces, the etchings, the layers he’s working into those pieces, the blues are exquisite in those smaller pieces but it is really all about those big ones with their bold areas of colour and those decisions made
And so the Friday night of the Mayfair Art Weekend, it needed to stay open a little longer, we needed more time, there wasn’t even a hint of the promised gin, it was fun though, friendly inviting fun, far more friendly and relaxed than the more formal of the east London galleries ever are actually, we didn’t get to see everything, not everything we did see was worth a mention, there’s always something when you go searching around things like this though, got to go have another look a those Carol Bove pieces before the show ends. And so the Friday night of the Mayfair Art Weekend, well worth our time and effort… (SW)
Click on an image to enlarge or to run the fractured slideshow.