There’s quite a few gallery openings around the side streets of East London tonight, enticing new art shows and galleries bursting into action for what some insist is the start of the new art season, never really got that new season notion, art doesn’t really stop does it? There’s shows and openings and fairs and events and gatherings of sculptors in woods or street artists in tunnels or contemporary painters in white cubes every single week of the year, can’t remember a week this year that hasn’t involved going to at least a couple of openings or an art event of some kind. Surely art in London never actually stops? New season? Well maybe for the posh galleries who close for their summer holidays, not for the rest of us though, the rest of are here throwing paint and putting on shows 24/7. Okay, so it does feel like there’s something in the air when the nights start to draw in, there is a touch of a buzz in the air when we’re checking out art in the twilight rather than the sunshine. The first Thursday of September is upon us then (we’ve long since given up actually calling it First Thursday now), it might just be the start of something or other, I guess the summer festivals and art events are pretty much over now although there’s still the Art Car Boot Fair to come of course, the fair is a little later this year, one of the summer highlights of any London art year, this Summer’s Art Car Boot Fair is still to come. Nah, there’s no such thing as a new art season, art never stops, I will concede there is a little something in the air as we head out tonight though…
Quite a few shows to check out tonight, geography dictates the evening’s explorations start over on Sheep Lane by the Regent’s Canal, at the Fred Mann’s New Art Projects. The excellent basement gallery is by Broadway Market and not much more than a stone’s throw from the Organ bunker here in East London, the shows there don’t hit the spot every single time, they do more often than not though, New Art Projects has beem one of the more consistently exciting art spaces of East London over the last year or two There’s a return to the white-walled gallery for Zachari Logan tonight as well as a début solo show for painter Francis Wilks. The advance on-line tastes of the Francis Wilks show had promised something particularly intriguing, several side-swipes at the male dominated world of Formula One and the imagery of motor racing, at corporate sponsorship and James Hunt’s infamous breakfast of champions – “How To Sell Death to the Living” looks good as we drop down those stairs, swipes at a world dominated by large corporations, by consumerism and the “all pervasive materialism where men’s success is measured by the shine and speed of their cars” – mostly red and yellow images of 70’s and 80’s Ferraris, of Marlboro logos that become team colours rather than cigarette package logos, of Shell signs and prancing horses. The artist puts herself into those red cockpits and the logo-covered overalls (complete with those dare we say iconic James Hunt “Sex, Breakfast of Champions” patches from back there). It isn’t than women are actually banned from the sport but even the most knowledgeable of fans would be hard pushed to name that many female participants, off hand you tend to maybe think of Suzie Wolff and how she got as far as being a test driver for the Williams team in recent years before she declared the doors closed to her and gave up on the idea of actually competing, and then maybe, if you can remember that far back, Divina Galica, the only female driver who actually managed to get to race in Formula One back in there the 70’s for a brief period. Bold bright paintings, graphic paintings, pop art imagery, the paintings are, according to Frances, of “racing cars in capitalist colours, images that that question the speed of life”. You could read her conversations in her paintings in several ways, is it a feminist kick at it all, or is she a fan? Maybe she’s both? Does she want to be part of that world or is she making fun of it? I suspect I know the answer, rather like not quite knowing for sure though, what is she saying with those impressive yellow, reds and white paintings? With the corporate colours and her name painted on the side of the cars where the names of those male racing drivers should be rather than a girl’s name? A world where women aren’t that welcome unless they want to stand on the grid decorating things..Rather like this show, rather like her style, rather like her conversations, want to ask her a million questions, then again I don;t want to ask her any, great show, powerful show…
Zachari Logan’s work is always kind of restrained, always delicate, delicately strong, this latest show, if you don’t already know his work, probably won’t tell you why he’s held in such high regard by those who know of him. His previous show at New Art Projects, A show called Wreaths, was rather special, this latest show is maybe not quite as immediately striking as Wreaths was, this time the big wreaths and circles of flowers and leaves give way to rather small rather delicate studies of people’s gardens in blue and white. Small pieces in careful white frames (beautifully framed actually), delicate pieces that feel like rather precious book illustrations – polite pieces, layers of gardens, well besides the rather striking rather large self portrait standing out in the middle of it all. If you’re new to the work of Zachari Logan then maybe you won’t quite get what the fuss is all about from just this show, if you already know his work then this is a show that compliments the beauty of previous exhibitions perfectly The two shows, Francis Wilks and Zachari Logan, take up two rooms each, the four open plans rooms of the gallery are shared, two shows in one space, two shows that really shouldn’t work together, they do though, it all works rather well, Two impressive art shows, two shows once again beautifully put together, plenty of space for the art to breathe, good conversations across the room, nothing clashing or interfering, two fine shows, Francis Wilks is clearly a painter to keep an eye on, good to see her given the wall space, we tend to be a little critical of galleries around here, some would say rightly so, tonight the gallery deserves or praise, good to see this Francis Wilks show happening ..
We’re off to a good start on this first Thursday of the so called new season, and it looks like there just might be something going on at the criminally underused Project Space gallery down by the canal just off Broadway and just beyond the Lurkers graffiti? Ain’t Got a Clue what that Lurkers graffiti is doing there? No idea why the rather beautiful Project Space gallery is so underused? There looks to be something on tonight, the bright lights are on, we can see lots of slogans on pieces of paper through the windows, no one much in there besides a rather lonely looking artist or curator sitting at a table, the hastily made sign on the closed front door is instructing us to ring the buzzer, it doesn’t really feel that welcoming, kind of feels like it throws the pressure onto the visitor, really not that inviting, why not just have the door open? Not like the evening is cold or anything, sometimes art galleries can be their own worst enemies, that buzzer and that sign just aren’t that inviting, rather intimidating actually, we’ll resist the invitation and head off to the next gallery. Off to Columbia Road, there’s a couple of why promise to be interesting openings on Columbia Road tonight…
We’re heading for Nelly Duff’s place, Shipton Street Gallery first though, Shipton Street Gallery is pretty much on Columbia Road, there’s a painter called Grace Morgan Pardo opening a show called “Queen of Knots” tonight. it isn’t the biggest of galleries so we’re hard pushed to get a decent look at what’s on the walls, it looks rather intriguing though, it looks like there’s something of substance here, something rather impressive. Rather like these paintings, rather like her “traditional” style, her symbolism, her pastoral warmth, her hints of feminine power, of fertility, The paintings are semi-religious in feel, alive with symbolism and a language almost lost to days long gone, the middle ages, kings and queens, trees heavy with fruit, different languages playing together., the Virgin Mary, the snake, historical, catholic interplay maybe, references to paintings from a long long time ago. Hard to really see the show with all the people in the small gallery for the opening tonight, really like this show though, really really like the layers that are waiting to be peeled back in those delicious paintings, something rather different for this 21st Century. There’s something very personal here, something maybe a little deeper, something that needs to be explored properly on a less crowded day – and paintings all rather beautifully painted, all rather alive with so much, lots to explore here, need to see these paintings again, they’re rather exciting. need a better look
Over at Nelly Duff, smack bang in the middle of Columbia Road itself, there’s yet another rather packed art space, there’s a show opening upstairs at Nelly Duff tonight. The room downstairs is alive with the usual urban art flavoured pop art prints and slogans and unicorns shitting rainbows and such, the bits of pop art, street art, the barbed edges of Aida Wilde and the rest, Nelly Duff#s busy walls are always full from floor to ceiling, more of a shop than a conventional gallery but they do have an opening tonight once you battled through the crowd and up those stairs (I love those stairs actually, when you’re in the space on a quieter day to take a moment to look at the stairs as well as the art on the walls as you make your way up to the top floor rooms. Upstairs there a makeshift bar in one room (and a million more prints and bits of pop art or slick street art on every single inch of every walls), meanwhile in the other room, a take over of all the walls by “the one and only” Anne Lacheiner-Kuhn
“We are so excited to announce a new exhibition with the one and only Anne Lacheiner-Kuhn this September” say Nelly Duff. “As we wave a solemn (but satisfied) goodbye to Summer, we couldn’t think of a better and quite frankly more NSFW (not safe for work) way to usher in the new season” – see, told you some people claim this to be a new season. The place is packed, the small rooms rammed, arms and legs everywhere, people are dressed for the occasion, there’s colour everywhere, colour on the walls, people colourfuly attired, extremely colourful frames – indeed those frames are almost as impressive as the pieces within them, maybe even more so? Was the art made with the frames in mind or did the art come first and then the rather playfully inspired framing later? All very stylish, style over substance maybe? No, that’s far too harsh, Anne Lacheiner-Kuhn’s work is impressive and these frame really do bring it out in the best of (colourful) ways. We’re back in a complete different century now, a complete different century to the one we were in with those beautiful Grace Morgan Pardo paintings we were viewing just a few minutes ago in the previous gallery. Another packed art space and a third impressive show of a rather busy evening. Nelly Duff is alive tonight, tempting to just hang around and explore the “collection of never before seen original works and exclusive printed editions” for the rest of the evening. Nelly Duff tell us that this is “Lacheiner-Kuhn’s work at it’s very best, exploring and illuminating contemporary gender theory and queer identity within an urban art space. To ensure the show reaches it’s full potential as a tongue-in-cheek presentation of Lacheiner-Kuhn’s own exploration of love, sex and pop culture, it is presented by her altar-ego/drag counterpart Annapropriate (who, we have on good authority, will be present at the Private View). Expect the unexpected, but what we can promise will be bespoke Perspex framed original collage works, live music, great drinks and even a disco ball if you’re lucky” – yes it is tempting to just hang around and enjoy the atmosphere and the art in here, these Anne Lacheiner-Kuhn pieces are rather striking, but there’s more art to see, there’s the promise of that Florence Hutchings show to come yet….
The clearly rather ambitious Delphian Gallery team have taken over The print Space on Kingsland Road for a Florence Hutchings tonight, a show that almost immediately on first view though the big windows, lives up to the on-line promise, this looks exiting. Another busy art space, is this the most alive the East London art scene has been for ages? There’s a bit of horsepoop to wade though in terms of actually getting in before the art can be explored properly but it does look exciting, There some bullshit involving the list and someone on the door insisting I sign in to my Facebook account and jump through a hoop or two to get a ticket to get in, “what if I’m not on Facebook?” I ask, “well at least sign up to our mailing list on line, here’s my tablet, if you do it now you can come in” comes the answer, “I don’t want to be on a mailing list, I just want to see the show” I politely reply, “those are the rules” comes the reply, followed by “are you even interested in art?” as she looks me up and down, “do you even know who the artist is?” she asks, “well not personally, but I rather want to see her work” I answer, “do you know anyone in here?”, I think she’s implying I’m only here to scrounge a free beer, I get the impression I don’t look like one of the cool art crowd? What a load of crap, if the art hadn’t looked so good I’d have just walked away, it takes a bit of name-dropping in answer to her questioning to get past the “I don’t make the rules” door woman and the security man who then follows me in to make sure I am actually here for the art and not the free lukewarm larger. Enough of that. those Florence Hutchings paintings look rather wonderful, her big paintings of tables and chairs that I must admit probably doesn’t sound that exciting when you just read it here? Chairs? Who wants painting of chairs and such? But these paintings are bold, these paintings are exciting, her paint is alive, these are striking pieces, pieces alive with abstract colour, paintings alive with shape, with line, with so so (so) much. Once again it proves a little difficult to actually see the work, so many people in here just standing in the way of the art while they chat away and suck down their free cans of beer. A show to return to when the security guy isn’t following me around then, and more importantly a show to return to when people aren’t annoyingly standing blocking the work in that very annoying way people do at openings like this. These Florence Hutchings paintings are really exciting pieces, bold pieces, wonderful paintings, wonderful. “You didn’t even have a beer” say Mr Security man as I leave, “no, I was here for the art” and with that we’re off again, now and again art needs to cut the crap and be a little more friendly. Love those Florence Hutchings paintings…
No time left to get over to the rather florescent looking Ben Rider show tonight, could have continued up the Kingsland Road to that Semi Skinned show but then the guy running it did insist that “art was just another business” the other day so we won’t bother with that one, we’ll just head for home feeling rather satisfied with tonight’s art, head home via another quick look at those Francis Wilks paintings at New Arts Project, head home with the bold paint and delicious colour of those Florence Hutchings paintings still in our heads. If it was a new season, still don’t hold with the idea that it is, then a damn fine start to the new season ir was, bring it all on, bring on more art. art excites, five fine shows and a rewarding first Thursday of September… (sw)
LINKS AND SHOW DETAILS : NEW ART PROJECTS, NELLY DUFF, DELPHIAN GALLERY.
Click on an image to enlarge or to run the fractured slide show
2 thoughts on “ORGAN THING: Francis Wilks and Zachari Logan at New Art Projects, Anne Lacheiner-Kuhn at Nelly Duff, Grace Morgan Pardo at Shipton Street, Florence Hutchings at Delphian Gallery, a little more than just another night of East London art?”
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