ORGAN: Five Recommended Art Things – Benjamin Murphy at Lychee One, Bob and Roberta Smith’s Thamesmead Codex, Take me with you at The Koppel Project Hive, Mary Anne Francis, This is Not an Art Show, Patrick Heron at The Cristea Roberts Gallery…

A #43Leaves piece.

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, just five art things happening around about now

Benjamin Murphy, Nocturama (Modular Thing), 2021, Charcoal on raw canvas (fixed), Dimensions Variable

1: Benjamin MurphyDisasterpiece at Lychee One –  27th Jan until 12th March 2022 with an opening night on Thursday 2th, 5pm until 9pm – Benjamin Murphy is always an interesting artist, you never quite know what to expect.   “Disasterpiece is a show of dichotomies. Dichotomies between balance and chaos, beauty and disorder, abstraction and representation, extravagance and the abject. It is a show that has been borne out of the hectic and significant portion of history that has been the last two years. Global chaos ran rampant and optimism, beauty, and creativity were hard to find. All over the world the resilience of the human spirit triumphed and many lessons were learnt. This show is tied temporally to that period of history, and as such had become in some ways the artist’s response to it. Indirect and inchoate though it may be. This show has been occupying space in the artist’s mind for over a year. Since that time he has spent time in the unforgiving -30 degree Finnish winter, and that calm and harsh melancholy that pervades the season has found its was into the works also, taking its place in the negative space between forms.  Here attention is turned towards the overlooked, things tainted by dirt and disorder. In the shadows beauty hides, and in the prying open of these neglected spaces discoveries are made.  The works are created in the unforgiving medium of charcoal on raw canvas. Once laid down, any mark or smudge, accident or disaster is there forever, and serves as a reminder of the artists fallibility. Often silhouettes, these images of plants and shadows are sometimes cropped and reordered so as to render their representation codified. Universal symbols of shadow slot together so as to create a labyrinthine mass that is overpowering and dystopian. Nothing is sacred and nowhere is safe. The curation will be site-specific, and so Disasterpiece should therefore be encountered as one immersive experience rather than as a collection of paintings”

Lychee One is at Unit 1 The Gransden, 39-45 Gransden Avenue, Hackney, London, E8 3QA – London Fields would be a better address, in that gap between Mare Street and London Fields itself, just through the alley over the road from London Fields overground station, just past the Fat Cap piece (unless someone has painted over it since I passed it yesterday), open on to the street as part of  one of the fancy new builds (where Play once happened before all the destruction)

2: Bob and Roberta SmithThamesmead Codex at Tate Modern –  27th  Jan 2022 until  2nd  Oct 2022 – Thamesmead Codex celebrates the voices and local community of Thamesmead, London – “

From 2019–2020, artist Bob and Roberta Smith interviewed people who live in Thamesmead, southeast London. Built in 1968 to alleviate London’s housing shortage, Thamesmead was one of many modernist large-scale housing projects constructed across Europe after the Second World War. Smith talked to a number of local residents, from some of its very first occupants to young people growing up during the Covid-19 pandemic. He then turned their conversations into the 24 painted placards you can see here. Reflecting on the work, Smith said ‘I thought I was making a painting about a housing estate, but actually I’ve been painting about the desire to be heard.’

‘Codex’, from the title Thamesmead Codex, is an ancient term for a manuscript or book. Here, the artist presents a modern-day version. The work documents the histories and identities of Thamesmead and its communities. It records memories from the past, and hopes for a post-Covid future. Alongside this record of people’s thoughts and experiences, Smith includes vivid and futuristic landscape scenes much like illustrated pages of a codex.  Bob and Roberta Smith (whose real name is Patrick Brill) brings together sign writing, activism and discarded materials. Talking about his practice, he says he sees ‘art as an important element in democratic life.’

We don’t need to tell you where Tate Modern is do we? Find it at Bankside, London, SE1 9TG

Sarah Ball

2.5: That Sarah Ball exhibition at Stephen Friedman Gallery that we previewed last time opens this week, we got a bit aheas of ourselves – –  ORGAN: Five Recommended Art Things – Trenton Doyle Hancock at Hales, Sarah Ball at Stephen Friedman Gallery, #43Leaves, Have You Eaten Yet? at Deptford X, Rose Wylie at David Zwirner Gallery, Notes on Protesting, Marcus Coates, Peter Liversidge, Goshka Macuga at Kate MacGarry Gallery, Deflect…

Take me with you

3: Take me with you at The Koppel Project Hive – opening night Thursday 27th January, 6pm until 9pm – “Take me with you is a two-episode project at The Koppel Project Hive. This exhibition is Part one of the project which will be open until 18 February 2022, followed by the second part bringing together an art school”. The Koppel Project are throwing up lots of interesting shows in their spaces – “The Koppel Project is pleased to present take me with you, an exhibition of new work by Rolina Blok, Koenraad Claes, Gordon Hon and Alex Schady   This exhibition is pitiful; it implores the viewer, like a desperate, jilted lover, a clingy friend or friendless sibling. It also commands, requests, offers and entreats. There may or may not be an implicit warning; an unspoken “or else…” containing an unspecified threat in its ellipsis. We accept that we are, in WJT Mitchell’s words “stuck with our magical, premodern attitudes toward objects, and that our task is not to “overcome these attitudes,” but neither is to understand them or “work through their symptomatology”. If there is something pathological in our relationships to the inanimate objects that we produce then so be it; the objects will also be symptomatic of unhealthy relationships”. This exhibition assumes that objects have non-human agency; that this agency is unknowable and has nothing to do with the human appetites and desires projected on to them. It is beyond the reification of value and resists commodification. It will outlive capitalism and the human species. It lies dormant in a landfill, an unused scratch-card in the back of a kitchen draw, a painting in an empty gallery.  These collaborations are tactical, a way of escaping the claustrophobia of being alone with the work. A way of avoiding the co-dependency with an indifferent or even hostile object. It is an admission of defeat. We have conceded that we need help in dealing with these objects; that we need another human in the room.  Take me with you is a two-episode project at The Koppel Project Hive. This exhibition is Part one of the project which will be open until 18 February 2022, followed by the second part bringing together at the gallery an Art School with staff and students from Central Saint Martins, City Lit, ENSAV La Cambre and The Royal Academy of Fine Art Antwerp.

Take me with you opens at The Koppel Project Hive in London from 28th January until 18th February 2022. Find the gallery at 26 Holborn Viaduct, London, EC1A 2AT (don’t get it messed up, they do have three spaces at three different addresses). The gallery is open 10am until 6pm Monday to Sunday (until 5pm on the weekends). There is a so called “private view” on Thursday 27th January, 6pm until 9pm.

This is Not an Art Show Chimera di Arezzo, Firenze; Spork and Spife, 2021, Whoisjohngalt,

4: Mary Anne FrancisThis is Not an Art Show: On Mixed Forms of Visual Culture at Handel Street Projects –  29th January until 11th March 2022 –  “More a visual essay than an artwork, this exhibition braves what Dave Beech has described as ‘the Enlightenment horror of motley concoctions’ to demonstrate the latter’s long and lusty history in images and artefacts”. What are we to make of this one? Well we won’t really know until we get along and take a look –

“Handel Street Projects is pleased to announce a show of new work by Mary Anne Francis. More visual essay than artwork, this exhibition builds on her recently published book, Mixed Forms of Visual Culture: From the Cabinet of Curiosities to Digital Diversity (Bloomsbury 2021), with a wall-based text that finds hybrid forms in all kind of cultural spaces: from carnivals to cyborgs, gadgetry to gastronomy and agitprop to architecture. It asks us to review our thoughts about the hodgepodge when presented with the latter’s eclectic history.  Inevitably, perhaps, when this project is materialised as a sprawl of A4 printouts and old postcards, Aby Warburg’s Mnemosyne Atlas is never far away.  But here is an Atlas – in its early stages – for the Anthropocene, which in prospecting the creative principle of synthesis, regards that as productive andproblematic.

Likewise, if Atlas invokes the idea of taxonomy – via its themes and motifs – This is Not an Art Show refuses the comfort of the category as its organising principle.  Decisions about what goes where have been outsourced to a randomising method in order to maximise the possibility of new forms emerging across existing hybrids.  And formal mixture is extended further by the offer of a DIY version of the archive, which visitors can purchase at a modest price. Presented as hard-copy, the essay has been made possible by two digital databases: Wikimedia Commons (to which a percentage of sales income will be donated) and ebay.

Since the 1990s, Mary Anne Francis has been working in the expanded – perhaps ‘mixed’ – field of contemporary art practice, with an extensive output across exhibitions, writing and lecturing. This has often been characterised by a preoccupation with the multifarious – for instance, Mary Anne Francis: Group Show at Beaconsfield, London.  Elsewhere, she has devolved formal diversity to the viewer with interactive work such as ‘High Art Light’ for The Multiple Store, and ‘The Blooming Commons’ for Open Congress at Tate Britain.  Mary Anne’s writing about the heterogeneous has been published in a range of venues including Third Text, as part of an output that spans over 40 publications. Mixed Forms of Visual Culture represents the most extensive articulation of this project to date, and as it includes two visual essays, a significant demonstration of her commitment to formal transgression.  Mary Anne is currently Principal Lecturer in Fine Art at the University of Brighton.

Handel Street Projects is at 14 Florence Street. London. N1 2DX

Patrick Heron – January 1973 : 2, 1973

5: Patrick Heron –  Shaping Colour: Prints 1956–1999 at The Cristea Roberts Gallery – Now we don’t really make a habit of focusing on retrospective by the big names, if we did then maybe we should be mentioning the Francis Bacon exhibition that opens at the RCA this week, but we don’t usually do that kind of thing, do like Patrick Heron though and are rules are for breaking and well, here you are –  “The Cristea Roberts Gallery will stage its first solo exhibition of works by Patrick Heron (1920 – 1999), one of the most innovative figures in twentieth-century British art, from 28 January – 5 March 2022.

“Patrick Heron, Shaping Colour: Prints 1956–1999 will explore the full evolution of his printmaking oeuvre, bringing together almost fifty years of graphic works. The forty prints on display, which come directly from the artist’s estate, begin with his first full experimentation in the medium in 1956 and end with the final work he made in 1999 for The Brushworks Series, completed on the morning of the day that he died. Known foremost as a painter, Heron also worked in variety of media, from the silk scarves he designed for his father’s company Cresta Silks to stained-glass windows. He made a small body of printed work throughout his lifetime, picking it up at important points in the development of his pictorial language. These intense periods of creativity often came about as the result of opportunities to work with master printmakers working in etching, lithography and screenprinting.

Together with his paintings, Heron’s graphic works explored scale, composition and, most importantly, the interaction of colour. The prints often evinced a direct response to the light, colour and shapes that he encountered every day in the idyllic setting of his home in a spectacular location on the west Penwith peninsula in Cornwall. The exhibition begins with a group of lithographs, including Red Garden (1956) and Blue and Black Stripes (1958). Made up of patches and touches of ink, with one shade overlapping another, Heron referred to these compositions as “shapes in colour”.

With the introduction of screenprint – previously known mostly as a commercial technique – as a fine art medium in the 1960s, Heron adopted the medium to achieve clean lines and flattened forms. He defined his new pared down clarity, seen in Six in Vermilion with Red in Red : April 1970 (1970) and Six in Light Orange with Red in Yellow : April 1970 (1970), as “wobbly hard-edge”. Towards the end of the 1970s, Alan Cristea, who had worked with Heron throughout the decade to distribute his prints, suggested Heron try colour etching with aquatint. This combination added the texture and depth seen in Heron’s paintings to prints such as Blue Day Disc : 1979 (1979).

Heron returned to print in his last years to make what became his final body of work, The Brushworks Series (1998–99). This group of eleven etchings, some showing imprints of brushstrokes, have a painterly touch and saw Heron return to the looser and freer style of his early works. Writer Martin Gayford comments in the exhibition catalogue; “In some ways, they strike one as a summation of his career as well as his concluding works. ‘Brushworks No. 11 : 1998–1999’, for example, with its emphatic strokes of red and yellow recalls paintings of 1957 such as ‘Vertical Light’. Indeed, it doesn’t seem fanciful to see a connection between the flowing globular shapes and rich colours of these late prints and designs such as ‘Amaryllis’ he had done for Cresta Silks over sixty years before.”

On the morning of the day he died Heron, aged 79 years, completed the drawing for the colophon page of The Brushworks Series. The artist had continued to develop his highly individual style of abstract art, and his attachment to the spatial qualities of colour, to the very end”.

The Cristea Roberts Gallery is at 43 Pall Mall, London, SW1Y 5JG. The exhibition runs from 28th January until 5 March 2022. The show tuns from Tuesday t oSaturday, 11am untll 5pm, 2pm on Saturdays.

Meanwhile, they go on….

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