ORGAN: Five Art Shows to check out, Dominic Shepherd, at Charlie Smith, Laurence Edwards at Messums, Graffestival at the Nomadic Community gardens, Julie Cockburn at Flowers, Francesca DiMattio’s Caryatid at Pippy Houldsworth Gallery…


Five recommended art things once more, London art things mostl for that is where we are. September is here, we are trying to be good about this, things have been stirring, art is stirring, London really has been far too quiet in recent times but, to answer last week’s question, things are definitely kicking in again. The Five Art Things feature is intended as a regular, almost certainly weekly, or something like weekly, a weekly round up of recommended art events, five shows exhibitions and things we rather think might be worth checking out. Mostly London for that’s where we currently operate and explore, and with no claims that these are the “Best Five” or the “Top Five”, we’re not one of those advert-cluttered art websites that ignore most things whilst claiming to be covering everything and proclaiming this or that to be the “top thing” or the “best thing”. this is, as we said here last week, simply just regular list of five or so art things coming up soon that we think you might find as interesting as we do…


Laurence Edwards – ‘A Gathering of Uncertainties’ at Messums London

1: Laurence Edwards – ‘A Gathering of Uncertainties’ at Messums London, 28 Cork Street, London W1 “This September, we present a two venue exhibition across our London and Wiltshire galleries by sculptor Laurence Edwards. The preview party will be the first chance to see this extraordinary new body of work with large-scale public and private commissions on view in Wiltshire and recent works and studies in Cork Street. In ‘A Gathering of Uncertainties’ Laurence Edwards seeks to leave a record in which others might imagine or find a maker, or perhaps feel the time in which things were made. It is apposite that he is making figures at the time of ‘The Anthropocene’, when the actions of humans have now registered in the geological record. His work is about brevity set hard. Through the metaphor of bronze casting with its relative permanence, Laurence alludes to the impermanence of earth, land and geology. In the London exhibition you can see evidence of his time spent in Northern Siberia with reindeer herders, whose ancient way of life relies on timeless relations with environment and creatures. Traps, snares, bindings and antler appear amidst compositions collaged with figures. The tendons and sinew of attenuated men stretch over willow frames speaking of ancientness and of a contemporary neurosis and uncertainty. There’s a ticket opening/talk at 6pm and then general admission is from 6.30pm tonight, tonight being Thursday 12th September. The show, both parts of it, look to be full of promise, looks like Cork Street needs to be visited on an afternoon other than the opening night when the crowds will be in the way., looks like those who can make it to Wiltshire are in for something really special. Details here of the London show at Messums London, 28 Cork Street, London, W1S 3NG, The show runs until October 4th.


Julie Cockburn “Lynchpin” (2019) Hand embroidery on found photograph.

2: Julie Cockburn, Telling It Slant at Flowers Gallery, Opening night, Thursday September 12th – “In the nineteenth century, long before the current era of fake news, Emily Dickinson wrote a meditation on truth in her poem Tell all the Truth but Tell it Slant. With a title alluding to the poem, this exhibition of Julie Cockburn’s latest work similarly excavates authentic stories by circuitous means. Using a rich material language, Cockburn embarks on a visual journey to delicately reveal narrative histories and layered meanings in lost and discarded images. Cockburn partially obscures the images in a process she describes as “paradoxically unmasking” their intrinsic truths, layering and embellishing them with exquisitely hand-crafted embroidery, beading, vibrant screen printing and gestural flurries of paint. Recurring patterns, spots, kaleidoscopes, Venn diagrams, harlequins, flower heads, and cages are formally balanced with the existing compositions in response to imagined internal dialogues. Enlarged prints of portrait sitters are given newfound vigour by dazzling polka dot veils, while groups of figures are entwined by pixel-like interlocking geometric grids of embroidered thread. Other figures and objects are lassoed with draped strings of beads and fibre braids or combined with a surrealist enamel cloudscape. Working with the moving image for the first time, The Five Senses offers a discomfiting viewpoint, aligning the entrapment of a rigid sitter in the photographic portrait with the animated movements of a captured insect. The exhibition coincides with a new book Stickybeak, the first comprehensive monograph on the artist’s work published by Chose Commune in September 2019”.Opening night, Thursday September 12th and then 13th Sept until 2nd November at Flowers Gallery, 82 Kingsland Road, London E2 3DP


Francesca DiMattio’s Caryatid at Pippy Houldsworth Gallery,

3: Francesca DiMattio’s Caryatid at Pippy Houldsworth Gallery, opening night Thursday 12th September – “Pippy Houldsworth Gallery is delighted to present Francesca DiMattio’s Caryatid, the artist’s third solo exhibition at the gallery, running from 13 September to 19 October 20­­­­­19. The exhibition comprising a series of new large-scale porcelain sculptures is titled Caryatid after the sculpted female figures used as supporting columns in ancient Greek architecture. These sculptures engage critically with women’s traditional role of support within the domestic sphere and serve to highlight the strength drawn from femininity.

Totemic in structure, the caryatid sculptures are made up of opposites. These hybrids are at once female and male, animal and human, animate and inanimate. Reworking the female form, DiMattio explores conflicting expectations of womanhood, presenting feminine identity as a balancing act, precarious and full of contrasting possibilities. Funereal wreaths are paired with pool floats, a bronze presidential memorial is paired with a gas tank and a mannequin torso is adorned with rococo floral glazes. The resultant forms highlight the surprising closeness of opposing qualities, both cultural and material.

The artist mines the history of sculpture and of ceramics to examine how imagery moves through cultures and history. Ranging from revered Ming vases to disposable knick-knacks, these associations display shifting notions of value and beauty. While DiMattio uses the material to represent the domestic and the feminine, she surprises and subverts by presenting towering and seemingly impossible forms. Translating each reference through her own hand and underlining formal similarities, she unites these seemingly disparate objects, compressing time and space.

The artist’s practice continues to draw on the history of craft and the decorative arts, often re-evaluating their narratives through a feminist lens. By highlighting this instability of meaning, DiMattio collapses hierarchies between high and low culture destabilising fixed perceptions of identity and prompting further questions.

Here DiMattio expands her visual language of the domestic to include the materiality of adornment. Elements typically perceived as ornamental, such as beading, basket ­­weaving, knitting, flower-arranging and gift-wrapping become strong, towering and viral, contradicting the forms they envelop and taking on an ominous tone. Previously motivated by function or beauty, these familiar materials are transformed with new intent calling into question what it means to be feminine.

Francesca DiMattio (b.1981), based in New York, is an artist whose practice encompasses painting and sculpture. She studied at Cooper Union, New York and Columbia University, New York. Solo museum exhibitions include Blaffer Art Museum, Houston and ICA Boston. Collections include Perez Art Museum, Miami; Saatchi Collection, London; Zabludowicz, London; Frances Young Teaching Museum, Saratoga Springs and Paisley Museum and Art Galleries, Glasgow. DiMattio will have a solo exhibition at Art Omi, Ghent, New York later this year and is working towards a solo exhibition at Kentucky Museum of Arts, Louisville and a group show at MASS MoCA, Massachusetts for 2020” – Pippy Houldsworth Gallery, 6 Heddon Street, London, W1B 4BT. The show rums from 13 September to 19 October 2019.


Dominic Shepherd

4: Dominic Shepherd, Downstream at Charlie Smith London – Opening night Thursday September 12th – the gallery say they are “delighted to present ‘Downstream’, Dominic Shepherd’s fifth solo exhibition at the gallery. Shepherd is known for his all-over symbolic painting, seen most emphatically from his early career psychedelic phase until circa 2014. Since then, Shepherd has painted singular scenes that are advertently more subtle, but which retain the ongoing core interests of the artist: mythology, dream, nostalgia, the occult and Englishness. Following on from his 2017 exhibition ‘Old England’, where he painted mostly intimate water scenes as a means to obliquely investigate national identity, Shepherd focuses entirely on waterscapes in this exhibition, and to a heightened level.

Ranging from intimate paintings at 21x24cm to substantial pieces at 92x115cm, Shepherd presents us with a technically superlative combination of swimming figures; those at water’s edge; and water studies. They are celebratory paintings, where the subjects immerse themselves freely in nature, but are also ritualistic. ‘Circle Round the Sun’ and ‘The Source’ suggest the ceremonial and reverential; and are deeply meditative paintings. In fact, the whole series carries an advisory note: slow down and seek stillness in ever changing waters. Shepherd also uses water as a signifier of alternate states. Dream, hallucination and role play have always been at the heart of his work, and the distorting effect of bodies in water suggests transformation. Pools or lakes might become liquid portals or gateways, but to where might they lead? A magical realm? The afterlife? Shepherd, as ever, implies but always retains ambiguity in order to allow the audience free interpretation according to the desire of one’s own imagination”. Charlie Smith London is at 336 Old Street, London, EC1V 9DR – Opening night Thursday September 12th and then until 12th October


5: Graffestival at the Nomadic Community gardens – EndoftheLine end the summer with a Graffestival: Art & Music Jam September 21st & 22nd (open midday til 8/9pm). – “This Autumn EndoftheLine return to the Nomadic Community gardens, this is the 6th graffiti event we’ve hosted on the site since 2014. Since then we’ve hosted the annual Meeting of Styles UK festival 5 times and we’ve expanded the legal walls to include the walls surrounding the Allen Gardens and leading up to Brick Lane. This is a special friends and family jam to celebrate the space which is closing soon and a grand finale to commemorate our involvement over the past 6 years. With over 40 brilliant artists confirmed so far this is also your chance to witness a diverse range of artists and styles, from local and visiting graffiti artists as they team up to paint the home of East London’s largest legal wall spots. Don’t miss the chance to do so in this unique location right nestled in the trainlines with live music, DJ’s, screen printing & graffiti workshops, a range of food options and hot & cold drinks. All of this is part of a free 2 day art and music jam in the heart of East London. More details from the Facebook events page .



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