ORGAN: Five Recommended Art Things – Leigh Bowery at Fitzrovia Chapel, Nadia Forkosh at The ARX, Cacotopia time at Annka Kultys, Kevin Sinnott at Flowers, Januario Jano at Kristin Hjellegjerde, Systems at New Art Projects and who is Geisha Davis anyway?

A #43leaves piece found….

Five more art things. five art things, five more art things happening somewhere around right now or any moment now. Five art shows to check out in the coming days. An (almost) weekly round up of recommended art events. Five shows, exhibitions or things we rather think might be worth checking out. Mostly London things for that is where we currently operate and explore, and like we said last time, these five recommendations come with no claims that they are “the best five” or the “Top Five”, we’re not one of those annoying art websites that ignore most things whilst claiming to be covering everything and proclaiming this or that to be the “top seven things” or the “best things this weekend”, no, this is simply a regular list of five or so art recommended things coming up soon that we think you might find as interesting as we do.

Five art things happening now and coming up in the next few days in no particular order, and still not a hint of a selfie of any of us hanging out at the damn show next to a piece of art either, just five art things happening around about now

Nadia Forkosh

1: Nadia Forkosh – Unearthly Ventures at The ARX  Opening 13th Jan and then running until Feb 22nd – “The ARX presents Nadia Forkosh’s ‘Unearthly Ventures’. An exhibition of 21 artworks which demonstrates the transformation of the gamut of human experience in an era in flux between digital and virtual realities, through the mediums of both canvas and digital NFTs”. We’ve been sitting on the fence watching the NFT thing, sitting on the fence near our pile of System 2000 video tapes that seemed like a far better option than Betamax at the time. Not been tempted to jump in yet, I still like holding my vinyl, is it just a fad? Do like a bit of synthetic neon

“Working with highly synthetic neon colours, the artist combines these hues with natural forms (faces, human figures), to express the connection between the two worlds, both virtual and real. In the hybrid world, a person doubts differently (Portrait of Hesitation), believes differently (ANGEL), wonders differently (ESTONISHMENT). Society becomes increasingly impersonal (CROWD IN COLORS).  ‘Unearthly Ventures’ reveals human vulnerability in a hybrid world. Forkosh creatively connects the fragmented and dynamic worlds”.

The ARX is ar 197-205 Brompton Rd, Knightsbridge, London, SW3 1LB

Leigh Bowery – Tell Them I’ve Go

2: Leigh Bowery – Tell Them I’ve Gone to Papua New Guinea – Fitzrovia Chapel, Friday 7th January until Friday 21st January 2022 – The Fitzrovia Chapel say they are “delighted to announce an exhibition to celebrate the life and work of renowned performance artist Leigh.  The chapel is the only remaining building of the Middlesex Hospital, where Leigh died from AIDS on New Year’s Eve 1994. Leigh is a legendary figure who spans the worlds of art, fashion, dance, club and music. Essentially he himself was the living breathing work of art, his now iconic designs and costumes were ubiquitous and meant for Leigh, as he pushed his body through ever more extreme creations, designed to shock and thrill onlookers from dance floor to gallery. He was also known as one of Lucian Freud’s most famous models, sitting for the renowned painter for several years and becoming close friends, his large naked bald form becoming almost as recognisable as when wearing his own outlandish and ornately decorated costumes and creations.Leigh died of AIDS on New Year’s Eve 1994, shortly after his last performance at the Freedom Cafe, Soho in November, where people saw for the last time his legendary ‘Birth’ performance where he gave birth to his assistant and close friend Nicola Bateman live on stage, with Freud, Alexander McQueen and his other close friend Sue Tilley all on the front row”.

Any exculse to post this in the middle of the Leigh Bowery bit…

“The Fitzrovia Chapel have worked with the Leigh Bowery Estate and in particular Nicola, whom he married shortly before his death, to create a stunning but poignant exhibition of Leigh’s costumes, presenting several of his iconic ‘looks’ against the backdrop of the gold mosaic ceiling and marble walls of the chapel. There will also be a specially produced short film with interviews with some of Leigh’s close friends and collaborators including Nicola, Sue Tilley, Boy George, Les Child, Richard Torry, David Holah and Lee Benjamin. Dr Rob Miller, who looked after Leigh when he was the Middlesex, and who is now a trustee of the chapel, will also be interviewed.  Artist Charles Atlas will also have his film ‘The Legend of Leigh Bowery’ played as part of the exhibition”.

Fitzrovia Chapel is at 2 Pearson Square, Fitzroy Place, London, W1T 3BF. The event runs for 11.00am Friday 7th January until 5pm on Friday 21st January 2022 You do need to book a timeslot, entrance is free, but you must book (and the slots are filling up fast). COVID safety: A one way system is employed in the exhibition with a maximum capacity, masks must be worn.

László von Dohnányi – A Group of People in a Circle (coming up a Cacotopia 6)

3: CACOTOPIA 06 – Annka Kultys Gallery – 15th January until 12th February with an opening night on January 14th (you do need to go to the gallery website and RSVP for the opening night) – Cacotopia is something that comes along every January at the East London gallery, it takes a little bit of a different format this year if we have our information right. Rather than the series of shows throughout the month, this time it is to be a month long group show. Cacotopia always always throws up good things, new names, this year’s event features Kate Bickmore, Alice Bucknell, Danielle Brathwaite-Shirley, Kim Booker, Shir Cohen, László von Dohnányi, Cecilia Fiona, Lydia Pettit, Leon Pozniakow, Catherine Repko, Ai-Da Robot and Elsa Rouy. “Join us to celebrate the opening of a group exhibition of works by recent art graduates working in painting and animations” say the gallery, although the continued insistence that the whole world revolves around art schools and “recent art graduates” and the need for everyone to wear the art school they went to high up on their sleeves is rather annoying. In my experience an artist need five years to get over the safety net and the relative comfort of art school and deal with existing and evolving as a committed creative artist in the real world before they really start producing constantly interesting art, by which point the art school you went to really doesn’t matter, as much as I like the gallery I really don’t want to walk in to a new show to be told straight away which art school their latest star just graduated from, it would be nice if a gallery or two did broaden their horizons a little bit (and not everyone can afford to go to art school these days anyway can they?). That little moan apart, Cacotopia always throws up something good…  

The Annka Kultys Gallery is at 472 Hackney Road, Unit 9, London, E2 9EQ. For those who haven’t been to the gallery since the Pandemic, it has actyually moved. No longer up those stairs above that shop on the main street, you now need to go around the back through the red gates to the small industrial estate and the gallery is to your left at the back in the far corner.

Futher Annka Kulttys Gallery coverage via these fractured pages. Cactotopia 05 got loas somewhere in the pandemic, however coverage of the first four can be found on these pages – Cacotopia04 at Annka Kultys Gallery closes with the questions of both Garrett Prutner and White English male Artist Richie Culver… or ORGAN THING: Cacotopia 04, week two, Bex Ilsley keeps the standard up at Annka Kultys Gallery… or ORGAN THING: Cacotopia 04 off to a compelling start at Annka Kultys with the lush layers of Nicole Coson… or ORGAN THING: Cacotopia 03, Week Two, Rui Lin at Annka Kultys Gallery – compelling, I couldn’t stop watching… or ORGAN THING: Cacotopia 03 kicks off in style with the exciting lines of Marton Nemes at Annka Kultys Gallery…

And Kate Bickmore did figure in our highlights of last eyar – Our pick of 2021’s Art Things – Deborah Roberts, The Factory Project, Rebel Dykes, New Art Projects, the KLF on Kingsland Road, Kate Bickmore, Sam Nicholson, Gavin Turk taking the piss, Eloise Govier, Pez, Nicola Hicks, Christopher Myers and who else?

Lily Dean, coming up as one of the 43 artists in Deflect.

Can we blow our own trumpets and mention a couple of things going on right now from us loudmouths? Of course we can, this is a self preservation society, god save strawberry jam and the rest of it.. There are leaves being left out there on the street, 43 of them, 43 paintings on found material picked up of the street, another #43Leaves piece. Material found, cleaned up, painted on, and then left hangingback out there on the streets for people to just take should they wish to. The piece will go on throughout January. Meanwhile, we have another carefully cultivated on-line show opening on Tuesday 11th January. Brought to you by Cultivate and hosted here on these Organ pages once more, it is no accident that there are 43 artists involved in this latest show.

Enough of the blatant blowing of our own Trumpets although if we don’t do it then who will? Or should we start telling you which art schools we went to? Or which tunnels we’ve painted in? Are we wearing our cynical smiles once again? Pull back the…

Systems at New Art projects

4: Systems at New Art Projects – The group show opens on 13th January and runs until Saturday 19th of February.  There is no opening night, due to ccvid, instead we understand (very reasonably) that there will an all day stretched out opening to avoid crowds growing too big at any given time.  The gallery say they are “delighted to present Systems We Have a group exhibition curated by Hsi-Nong Huang.  This exhibition includes work by Mitch Vowles, India Stanbra, Amba Sayal-Bennett, Janek Nixon, Rachel Mortlock, Maria Mahfooz and Benjamin Fitton and Hsi-Nong Huang. The exhibition takes its title from Eve Meltzer’s investigation into conceptual art’s relation to structuralist theory. The works included represent a series of interactions between language, identity, process, materials, space, objects the physical and the made”.

The System artists
Mitch Vowles‘ work discusses the cultural context of objects. By questioning the status of objects and exploring their implied associations and settings, his work develops a dialogue that reflects upon nostalgia, British identity, masculinity and classism.
India Stanbra works with moving image, installation and sculpture. Exploring entangled ecologies and the presence of technology in the everyday, her practice asks how our relationship with the artificial might evolve and adapt.
Amba Sayal-Bennett works with drawing, projection and sculptural installation. Her practice explores how agency operates within human and non-human assemblages, from our use of language to materials in her studio.
Janek Nixon’s practice is an ongoing exploration of the relationship between images and sound. Working with a variety of media, his work primarily results in audio- sculptural work that enacts a form of digital distillation.
Rachel Mortlock’s work explores space and built environments and focuses on architectural components and infrastructure. Bringing together building materials and dysfunctional cast objects that emanate familiarity she constructs systems that elude an actual function, and instead create a dialog between her materials.
Maria Mahfooz’s practice is often autobiographical and informed by her identity as a visible Muslim woman of colour. Her works play on the idea of the ‘other’ within popular culture and the digital realm and interrogates themes of representation, construction and selfhood.
Benjamin Fitton uses performance, text and forms of public address to contribute to debates around the politics of presentation, participation and spectatorship. He uses crude materials and appropriated objects, images, video and language to stage moments of deep uncertainty about the consequences of making one thing stand in for another.
Hsi-Nong Huang’s practice creates a dialogue between sculpture, performance and drawing. The social experiences is a multi tool that allows her to bang into different modes of thought whilst interacting with people, and then integrating these elements into her sculpture.

New Art Projects is at 6d Sheep Lane, Hackney, London, E8 4QS.  Just by Broadway Market, not far from the Regents Canal and a stone’s throw from Beck Road and Apsychic TV’s old house (the cross is still on the door).

Kevin Sinnott

5: Kevin Sinnott – Liebestod at Flowers Gallery – 12th Jan until 26th Feb 2022 – Rather looking forward to this one, the gallery say they are “pleased to present an exhibition of new and recent paintings by renowned Welsh artist Kevin Sinnott”.

“Sinnotth describes the scale and theme of Liebestod as “operatic” in its exploration of the tragedy of human love, fusing a personal iconography with references to the legendary doomed lovers Tristan and Isolde. Several paintings in the exhibition feature a supine male figure held in the arms of a woman, recalling the art historical subject of the Pietà. This recurring theme can be seen in Strong Woman, and Fallen Man, and is inverted in Goddess of the Dawn, where an upturned figure is held by his boots, the rest of his body appearing nebulous in a flurry of gestural brushwork.

During 2020, Sinnott returned to sketchbooks kept across the past 30 years, to “quarry,” as he states, “themes invented or discovered throughout my professional life.” The paintings that Sinnott made in response to the sketchbooks contain familiar symbols, such as the mathematical equation within Geometry Lesson (with reference to Cezanne), and the mines and valleys of the Welsh countryside (for example, in Collier’s Boy), often recalling and reimagining stories of local people.  Sinnott’s paintings are characterised by a strong sense of movement, with rhythmic relations between line and billowing passages of colour. The paintings often begin with an emphasis on composition and lyrical mark making, as seen in the dynamic configuration of opposing diagonal forces in the painting Pantygog, where the dramatic pitch of the town in the distance meets the vigorous counterpose of the central figures.

This show is happening at the Flowers Gallery East London space – you find it at 82 Kingsland Road, Shoreditch, London, E2 8DP The gallery is open Tuesday through to Saturday 10am until 6pm. Do check in terms of Covid restrictions though…

Can we have a sicth? Damn straight we can, no one counts these things and this does look like anenticing show.

Januario Jano

5: Januario Jano at Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery – A solo show ‘IMBAMBAS: Unsettled Feelings Of An Object And Self ’ – Opening 7th January and running until February 5th.

“Vibrant strips of fabric and thread are assembled into graphical textile compositions that hang alongside cracked monochromatic portraits and photographs of lush landscapes and stark architectural details printed onto cotton sheets. Angolan artist Januario Jano’s first solo exhibition with Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery entitled Imbambas: Unsettled Feelings of Object & Self takes its departing point from the term imbambas (from the Kimbundu language) which refers to things such as furniture and luggage that have an intrinsic and uncanny relationship to the body and self. While the artworks are aesthetically diverse incorporating different materialities and contexts, they share a powerful physical presence that resonates through time and space to present a profound contemplation of the object’s role in the construction and reinforcement of cultural identity.

Jano’s artistic investigation is typically ignited by a question relating to notions around his own conflicted and prescribed identities in relation to his cultural heritage and wider questions around colonial subjectivities. This investigation drives an in-depth process of research in which the artist refers to multiple archives, including his own photographs and an archive that documents photographs taken by a missionary group from the US who came to Luanda (where Jano grew up) and built churches around the city. “The presence of the church is heavy where I come from,” explains the artist. “To me, these buildings refer back to the hybrid identity of my people while also commenting on the perverse process of colonisation, which I still find unsettling.” This latest series of work features a photographic triptych entitled SDC 004 in which the facade of a church is juxtaposed alongside an image of lush, green fern leaves and a photograph of a figure standing within a desolate building, dressed in a white colonial costume. The photographs are printed onto cotton rag, connoting a strong bodily presence both in terms of its universal relation to clothing and to historical labour, specifically the cultivation of cotton in Africa. By employing cotton as his canvas, Jano reclaims the textile cultures lost to Portuguese colonial practices – which were designed to homogenize and accelerate assimilation into colonial ‘order’ via Christianity and extractive wage labour – while also reflecting on his complex heritage and the culture of the Ambundu people.

Elsewhere, Jano invites a more intimate perspective. The work entitled Nap Nap (Imbamba), for example, depicts a pair of shoes abandoned at the edge of a tent. The leather of the shoes in the photograph holds the shape of their owners’ feet, conveying an absent or spectral presence, which is further complicated by the artist’s own relationship to the object. While Jano took the photograph in Egypt, the dynamic, scattered position of the shoes recalls the artist’s fond memory of his grandfather leaving his shoes near, but “never on” the doormat. By printing the image onto white cotton, Jano once again points to a bodily presence while also leaving space for the viewer to form their own relationship to both the represented object (the shoes) and the artwork.

In a similar way, the larger textile works, in which the artist creates abstract collages composed of cloth, rope and printed photographs, have a dual relationship to the body in the sense that they function as both deconstructed clothing and ‘Mponda’ – traditional belt-like cotton bags used to store daily items as well memories as represented by notes and photographs. Stitched together in bold graphical compositions, the fabrics appear taut, baggy and folded; they’re diverse in colour, texture and opacity once again reflecting a sense of hybridity while also playing with depth and spatiality. This engagement with negative space is fundamental to Jano’s practice and extends to the rooms in which the work is presented. He sees his works as not only interacting with and thus, activating the space, but also making visible its intrinsic materiality. In this way, the space becomes – like the Mponda, shoes, fabric or churches – both an object with its own form, character and context as well as a container for the artworks and our bodies.

As such, the exhibition not only presents a series of uniquely striking artworks, but also curates an experience of the uncanny in which the viewer is invited to consider how the objects that we use, wear and carry bear relationship to cultural histories and hierarchies.

The show is happening at Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery‘s Wandsworth space so don’t be going to London Bridge. Find it at 533 Old York Road, London, SW18 1TG

And while we’re here, just who is Geisha Davis?

Geisha Davis

Who is Geisha Davis? We featured her in one or was two of those Cultivate on line shows last year but who is she? I rather like that no one can really answer that question, I did ask Lennie Lee, he said he didn’t know, I did ask Geisha. “The journey of Geisha Davis 2007-2022 Starring Geisha Davis with Sun Ra Arkestra KnoelScott Asha Tesheka Davis, Eugene Ankomah, Boy George, Daniel Lismore, Kala Kala, Stefon Grant, Lou Lou ReLouLou, Naddy Sane, PlaticSister, Angel Mckenzie, Kevin Kmetz, Shiho Suzuki, Akira Nagahori, Raga Woods, Sorapol, Florence Herbert, David Gersch, Marnie Scarlet, Santiago Girald Zu F, Sue Kreitzman, Featuring Geisha Dresssed in head piece & Jelwery By Anne Sophie Cocheveou….”

2 thoughts on “ORGAN: Five Recommended Art Things – Leigh Bowery at Fitzrovia Chapel, Nadia Forkosh at The ARX, Cacotopia time at Annka Kultys, Kevin Sinnott at Flowers, Januario Jano at Kristin Hjellegjerde, Systems at New Art Projects and who is Geisha Davis anyway?

  1. Pingback: ORGAN: Five Recommended Art Things – James Crowther at New Art Projects, Up Yours! Post Punk & Feminism Revisited at the ICA, Simon the Last at Filet, Andrea Gregson zine launch at Danielle Arnaud Gallery, Teraphim at James Freeman Gallery, The Grot

  2. Pingback: ORGAN: Five Recommended Art Things – James Crowther at New Art Projects, Up Yours! Post Punk & Feminism Revisited at the ICA, Simon the Last at Filet, Andrea Gregson zine launch at Danielle Arnaud Gallery, Teraphim at James Freeman Gallery, The Grot

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