ORGAN: Five Recommended Art Things – Gideon Mendel at The Fitzrovia Chapel, Cacotopia 07 at Annka Kultys Gallery, Lulu Bennett at Kristin Hjellegjerde gallery, Martine Poppe, Helen Chadwick and Penny Slinger at Richard Saltoun Gallery and…


Never mind that, that was then, this, once again is about this week and next, back after the end of year whatevers. 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”. This is simply a regular list of five or so recommended art things happening now or coming up very soon that we think you might find as interesting as we think we will…

Gideon Mendel, The Ward: Revisited

1: Gideon Mendel, The Ward: Revisited at The Fitzrovia Chapel – 6th January until 5th February –  “The Fitzrovia Chapel is proud to announce its forthcoming exhibition The Ward – Revisited by Gideon Mendel”. Now this promises to be powerful.

“In 1993 Gideon spent a number of weeks photographing the Broderip and Charles Bell wards at the Middlesex Hospital. The Broderip was the first dedicated AIDS ward in London, and was opened in 1987 by Princess Diana. Twelve of these poignant black and white images were exhibited as The Ward at the chapel in 2017, the location of The Fitzrovia Chapel taking on a special resonance as the chapel is today the only remaining building of the Middlesex. The Ward – Revisited exhibition will comprise a large-screen video installation of many more and previously unseen images with a specially composed soundtrack, as well as a new short film with interviews of people that appear in the original photographs. This new exhibition also ties in with Terence Higgins Trust’s 40th anniversary, the photographs for The Ward being originally commissioned as part of their 10th anniversary in 1993.

Marking thirty years since the photographs were taken, this new film by Gideon Mendel is a visceral depiction of the effects of HIV/AIDS on the lives of the individuals in the photographs, as well as a much broader ques- tioning of the essence of photography and its relationship to memory. Gideon describes: “All the patients I met, many of whom were young, gay men, were facing the terrifying prospect of an early and painful death. I focused my work on John, Andre, Steven and Ian, who all died in the months after the pictures were taken. They were some of the unlucky ones, who became sick just before life-saving antiretroviral treatments became available. Considering the extreme levels of stigma and fear that existed back then, their decision to allow themselves to be photographed, alongside their lovers, families and friends, was an act of considerable bravery. The photographs that I made in this short period have had their own journey over the thirty years since I took them and it has become clear that despite the passing of so much time they still speak deeply to many people. As the period they document recedes into history, interest in them seems to keep growing.”

One of the visitors to The Ward in 2017 was Patsy, the mother of John who often appears with him in the photographs. Contact with her had been lost and the last day of the exhibition provided a serendipitous reunion between Patsy, Gideon and the medical team who had looked after her son. The additional new short film of interviews will be an opportunity to hear first-hand from Patsy as well as other people in the photographs: Sarah and Hannah Feeney, the sister in law and niece of Steven, Dr Rob Miller (now also a trustee of the chapel), Jane Bruton the pioneering sister on the ward, Dr Ade Fakoya, Dr Duncan Churchill, Sarah Macauley a staff nurse on the ward who became close friends with Steven, Chris Mazeika who gave the medical staff shiatsu and who was friends with Steven, as well as Gideon himself, describing how and why these important images were taken.

Screenings of the film will be shown on the hour during opening times, and the running time is approx 45 mins.

The Fitzrovia Chapel
is at 2 Pearson Square, London W1T 3BF. The gallery is open Tuesdays through to Sundays, 11am until 6pm, (midday until 5pm on Sundays) The Fitzrovia Chapel is wheelchair accessible.   

Vickie Vainionpää – coming up at Cocotopia 07

2: Cacotopia 07 opens at Annka Kultys Gallery on the Hackney Road on January 6th and runs until February 4th, there’s an opening night private View (or whatever you wish to call these things) on Thursday January 5th, 6pm until 8pm (you probably need to RSVP via the gallery website). The month-long group show is the tradition from Annka Kultys now, is it really seven years? Have to admit the conventional group show that lasts for a month is nowhere near as expansive or potentially exciting as the previous format of four weekly solo shows that have made up Cacotopia in previous years. We shall see though, these shows have thrown up an exciting artist or two in previous years,,,    

This year’s exhibition features work from Ana Benavides, Jesse Draxler, Lennart Grau, Florïne Ïmo, Rachel de Joode, Sam King, Signe Pierce, Emerson Pullman, Kora Moya Rojo, Juliette Sturlèse, Vickie Vainionpää, Addie Wagenknecht.

The Annka Kultys Gallery is at 472 Hackney Road, Unit 9, London, E2 9EQ. 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. And as is so often the case, there are no signs but it is there in the far corner of the yard. Good to see the galery back in the real world, they spent a lot of their time messing around with NFT foolishness for the second half of 2022).

Lulu Bennett – Ladies’ Pond, 2022 | oil on canvas | 200 x 300cm

3: Lulu Bennett, Alive in Actual Time at Kristin Hjellegjerde gallery –  7th Jan until 4th Feb 2023 – “Two women in white bikinis emerge from the shimmering spray of waves. With their perfect, pearly-white smiles and smooth, sun-kissed skin, it could almost be an advert for a swimsuit campaign and yet the image is split apart by a wide strip of rippling purple, yellow and blue. This vivid channel of swirling paint is evocative of both the sea at night and of a liminal space or passageway, leading beyond the surface into a deeper, mystical realm. Alive in Actual Time, Lulu Bennett’s fourth solo exhibition with Kristin Hjellegjerde gallery heralds an exciting new direction in the artist’s practice. In comparison to Bennett’s previous works which explored histories of power through bold, spliced imagery rendered in searing acid tones, these latest paintings are looser and more gestural in style. Here, references to the past – through interior settings and clothing – are not so much critical as playful, offering the artist a way of exploring her present experience through various female subjectivities”. The Private View is on Saturday the 7th of January 3pm to 6pm, the show runs from 7th Jan until 4th Feb 2023. This one is happening at Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery‘s Wandsworth space at 533 Old York Road, London, SW18 1TG. There is an online viewing room if you like that kind of thing, actually Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery is very good when it comes ot online viewing…

Martine Poppe – Smile harder, 2022 | oil on polyester restoration fabric | 160 x 105cm.

4: Martine Poppe, Peering At The Edge of Daydream atKristin Hjellegjerde gallery – This one is happening at Kristin Hjellegjerde’s Berlin gallery but, as we said up there with the Lulu Bennett preview, the multi-limbed gallery does have a healthy on-line presence and all their shows can be views on their website. Martine Poppe’s work looks brightly inviting and just what we need for a dark wet gloomy East London January – Sun-drenched canvases filled with giant, brightly colored blooms and tangled stems evoke a lush, jungle-like space. These are not, however, visions of Eden – or at least not in any traditional kind of way. Martine Poppe’s overblown landscapes are warped and glitching with pixelated surfaces and strange, shimmering forms. Peering at the Edge of Daydreams, the artist’s sixth solo exhibition with Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery, marries Poppe’s ongoing interest in climate issues and ecofeminism with the tropes of bubblegum minimalism – vivid colours, flowers, sunshine – that are designed to create a sense of joy and ease. The result are quietly complex works that celebrate play and creativity as powerful tools for altering the ways in which we see and engage with the world around us”. View the exhibition online here. if you’re in Berlin then the show runs from 10th January until 18 February. 

Helen Chadwick and Penny Slinger, On Sexuality at Richard Saltoun Gallery

5: Helen Chadwick and Penny Slinger, On Sexuality at Richard Saltoun Gallery – Did mean to mention this one back in December, it is still on until January 14th though, and it is surely worlth catching if you can? On Sexuality presents the early, iconic works of Helen Chadwick and Penny Slinger. Widely considered among the most influential artists in British contemporary art, in the 1970s Chadwick and Slinger broke all taboos and conventions with their bold, visceral works that explored female subjectivity, especially in relation to sexual desire. In a time when debate over gender, sexuality, and equality rages with renewed intensity, this exhibition re-examines the revolutionary scope of their practice and their liberated, uninhibited, and modern vision of humanhood.

Chadwick and Slinger were among the first to celebrate women’s self-determination and sexual independency, and to revolt against female servitude in patriarchal society. The female body played a central part in their work, which was often shocking to the public, peers and critics alike. Despite her short-lived life, Helen Chadwick is considered one of the founding figures of British contemporary art… continue readingRichard Saltoun Gallery is at 41 Dover Street, London W1S 4NS. The gallery is open Tuesday through to Saturday, 10am until 6pm (11am until 5pm on Saturdays). The gallery is back and ope nafter the holidays from January 3rd.  

There is also Penny Slinger‘s 50% The Visible Woman at the same gallery, it can also be explored on line at the momentMore than 50 years have passed since I created the collages and poetry that comprise ‘50% The Visible Woman’. At that time I felt that women, both in the art world and in society itself, needed to be seen and heard and to have the opportunity to fully self-actualize. I felt that the cultural climate as it stood was not very conducive or supportive of this initiative. Therefore 50% was an attempt to break through this malaise and work like an enzyme to re-vamp the system and bring what was suppressed to the light of more

And while we’re here, time to start thinking about the third installment of Mixtape as aprt of a forthoming Spring Season of online shows from Cultivate. meanwhile, here’s the links to Mixtape No.1 and Mixtape no.2.

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