ORGAN: Five Recommended Art Things – Polly Apfelbaum’s boots at Frith Street Gallery, Jessie Stevenson at Sapling, Nabil Anani at Kristin Hjellegjerde, Richard Prince at Sadie Coles, Angela Heisch at Pippy Houldsworth and…

Melike from her just opened Cultivate online solo show

Never mind that, that was then, this, once again is about this week and next and cake and yes, the annoying frustration of or with so much of it so far this year, getting past that art school BS floating in the river right now, a lot of hype, some rather aloof attitudes, galleries and curators seemingly afraid to actually engage, seemingly wanting to play everything by a rather flawed art school book, the annoyance of the new gatekeepers far more aloof and unfriendly than the old ones, that and a big bite of Covid (at last). Back now though, bac kfor more and For what things are worth, here we go with 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 Five Things thing 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…

These exhibitions are free to enter unless otherwise stated…

Polly Apfelbaum, Abstract Flying Geese Landscape, 2021 (Detail)

1: Polly Apfelbaum – These Boots Are Made For Walkin’ at Frith Street Gallery, Golden Square, W1 – with an opening on Thursday 23rd March (6pm until 8pm) and then running from 24th March until 5th May 2023

Featuring large-scale installations of textiles, ceramics and drawings, the work of Polly Apfelbaum is framed by wider political contexts and the legacy of post-war American art. The artist combines a variety of media with eye-catching colours and patterns to blur the lines between painting, sculpture and installation while also exploring the boundaries between art and craft and challenging hierarchies in cultural practice. Taking its title from the 1966 Nancy Sinatra song, this exhibition features new ceramics and woven floor pieces.

The series of twenty-one wall-mounted ceramics are part of a body of work Apfelbaum developed for her 2022 exhibition For the Love of Una Hale at Arcadia University, Pennsylvania (the state where the artist grew up). The pieces here have resulted from this extended residency at the University’s ceramics studio. ‘The goal is to interpret the personal as political,’ the artist explains, citing her history of working with materials associated with craft and everyday life, ‘I’m starting to look back at my own history, where the inspiration came from’.

The exuberant colour palette of these works, which read like abstract paintings, derives from memories of early exposure to Pennsylvania German art. The ceramics have become a means for the artist to reflect on the inception of her artistic sensibility and its investigation into the materiality of colour. Their titles refer to familiar geometric Amish quilt patterns, created by women – waves, diamonds, the stripes of Joseph’s multi-coloured dream coat, flying geese, stars, log cabins and checker boards. Apfelbaum writes: ‘I usually work fast, but ceramics has slowed me down, the drawing comes first, then the painting after. Glazing is like painting and I really love doing it.’

Also included in the exhibition are four large-scale woollen floor pieces in a grayscale palette. Woven in Oaxaca, Mexico by Zapotec artisans indigenous to the region using their traditional weaving and dying methods, they use images from the artist’s earlier The Potential of Women series. The rugs depict a flattened, semi-abstract female face with a black bob hairstyle and reference an illustration which the artist came across for a 1963 book and symposium. Apfelbaum was fascinated by the book’s provocative and ultimately patronising message which imagined a future in which women might be useful contributors to society but completely neglected the current issues and demands of 1960s feminism. Over fifty years later, she borrowed both its graphic subject and its title, which served as the starting point to shine a light on the historical and contemporary dimensions of equality.

When planning this show, Apfelbaum was contemplating the empowerment of women and the concept of ‘women’s work’ whilst looking back at the optimism of the 60s and 70s in light of the recent regression in women’s rights in her native USA. This is the first time the artist has made monochrome rugs, the draining away of the colour perhaps reflecting our current times.

Frith Street Gallery is at 17-18 Golden Square, London, W1F 9JJ. The gallery is open, Tuesday until Saturday, 11am until 6pm (5pm on Saturdays)

Jessie Stevenson. The Circling Deeps.

2: Jessie Stevenson – The Circling Deeps at Sapling – 23rd March until 29 April 2023 – Sapling is delighted to announce Jessie Stevenson: The Circling Deeps, curated by Émilie Streiff and Charlotte Call. The exhibition will feature expansive multi-panel paintings of abstracted marshland landscapes, as well as a suite of small and vibrant oil on wood tableaus. At once euphoric and shadowy, Stevenson’s recent output emanates contrasting senses of paradise and pandemonium. The Circling Deeps is her second solo exhibition with the gallery and presents a new direction inspired by a residency in Spain, while continuing the physical, material, and emotive concerns rooted to the beguiling atmospheres of her North Norfolk origins.

Stevenson’s painting practice embodies a feeling of profound escapism, initiated by a return to her familial home in the English countryside during the pandemic. Following a peripatetic upbringing and studies in London, she was struck by the sublime nature of the surrounding fields and coastlines. The works presented in The Circling Deeps reflect and fragment the flat mud and creeks transpiring across the marshlands, a capricious environment with sudden shifts in lights and climes. The artist describes it as ‘many worlds’, ruled by tides and lunar lines – at times welcoming and at others uncanny and unsettling, a place which ‘can catch you unaware of time passing.’ Charged with gestural energy, her paintings play on the opacities and transparencies of the wetlands, their passages of serenity never far from more ominous and foreboding skies.

This sense of turmoil is furthered in the styles and emotions embraced by Stevenson’s historic touchstones. In late 2022, she was granted the Royal Academy’s Richard Ford Award and subsequently spent a month in Madrid researching the collection and archive of the Museo Nacional del Prado. There she delved into the works of Goya, spending days drawing directly from the Spanish master’s Los Disparates etchings of tangled beasts and figures, which satirise the cruelties of war and the tumultuous societal behaviour caused by the oppressive monastic order. Stevenson’s recent paintings manifest this internal and external turbulence with vivid strokes and muddied colour, simultaneously expressing the purity of pastoral isolation tainted by her return to the endless noise of the city. Wordsworth also looms large in her practice, stemming from a tome of his poetry gifted to the artist by her grandmother. She uses fragments from Wordsworth as titles to her works, Romantic in style yet poignantly relevant to contemporary existence; like Goya, the English poet’s work exudes ‘potent ecstasy and fickle undercurrents’.

A multi-disciplinary artist driven by process, Stevenson continues her studied investigations into materials and supports in The Circling Deeps. Embracing oil for its soft, mud-like consistency and fleshy finish, she manoeuvres the paint with slashes and smudges, zigzagging across the canvas as if navigating through the ridges and banks of marsh creeks. The layers and palimpsests result in perspectival warps and twisting horizons, offering a perplexing terrain for the eye to roam. The artist applies these frenetic marks in the raw tones of Goya’s palette, with deep umbers, scarlets, violets, and phthalo blue. Buoyed by the visual and emotional vernacular encountered in London, Madrid, and Norfolk, Stevenson presents a dichotomy of hope and darkness, scratching the luminous surfaces of her resplendent and meandering landscapes.

Sapling is at 124 Mount Street Mews, London, W1K 3NR. The gallery is open Tuesday to Saturday, midday until 8pm.

Nabil Anani – The Land and I at Kristin Hjellegjerde (London Wandsworth)

3: Nabil Anani – The Land and I at Kristin Hjellegjerde (London Wandsworth) – running from 24th March until 27th April 2023 with an opening on Thursday 23rd March (6.30 until 9pm) – The Palestinian artist Nabil Anani turns the landscape of his homeland into a burning bright patchwork of dreams, memories, cultural and artistic references. A key figure in the Palestinian contemporary art movement, Anani’s work is shaped by folkloric culture and a powerful sense of national pride.

“Anani grew up during a critical period in Palestinian history. He was born in 1943 during the British mandate and his childhood was shaped by the Nakba (literally translated from Arabic as catastrophe) which saw the displacement of Palestinians  by Israel as well as the destruction of many cities, towns and villages. Amid the destruction of his homeland, the artist sought refuge amid the vineyards and rolling hills of Halhul, a city in the southern West Bank, where he completed his early education. Throughout his career, these pastoral scenes and his experiences of village life have remained central to his practice. The landscapes he depicts, however, are not simply representations of his own observations, but rather expressions of collective memory and solidarity with his homeland. Unlike many of his peers, the revolutionary spirit of Anani’s art comes less through his subject matter than through the use of his medium – the revival of folkloric style and the incorporation of organic, local materials such as straw, natural dyes and wood that result in uniquely textured surfaces.

In several of the paintings, the figure of a woman (or women) appears within the landscape as an allegory of Palestine – the mother, the source of nourishment and shelter for her people. In Nudes and Landscape (2021), rows of undulating bodies imply hills or mountainous ranges while in an untitled work from 2022, a gigantic woman in an embroidered skirt rises up from the centre of the earth, her brown hair, filled with blossom, spreads out across the top of the landscape while at the centre of her chest a silhouette of a tree floats within a glowing turquoise orb. In this work, as elsewhere, Anani subtly infuses the landscape with the colours of the Palestinian flag – red, green, white and black – as a symbol of strength and resistance. Elsewhere, vividly coloured fields rendered in scattered brushstrokes take on a post-Impressionistic quality that evokes a sense of both movement and serenity – like a warm wind blowing through the crops.

In this way, the landscapes become sensorial maps that carry us not just through space but also time. Each work is embedded with complex and specific emotional experiences and memories, and yet, the rich textures, vivid colours and bold, geometric shapes invite us to also find connections to the land through our contexts”.

Kristin Hjellegjerde (London Wandsworth) is at 533 Old York Road, London, SW18 1TG. The gallery is open Tuesday through to Saturday, 11am until 6pm

Richard Prince

4: Richard Prince – Everyday at Sadie Coles – Running from 29th March until 5th May 2023 with an opening night on 29th March, 6pm intil 8pm) – Opening in March 2023, Richard Prince will present his seventh solo exhibition at the gallery, entitled Everyday, a body of recent paintings that expand his iconic Joke Paintings series.

In Everyday, Prince replicates the jokes of Rodney Dangerfield (1921-2004), the renowned American stand-up comedian best known for disarming one-liners that captured an everyman humour in the banal or a self-deprecating loss of face.  Prince, known for his collection of counter-cultural material, acquired an index of the comic’s jokes.  Just my luck I was at the airport when my ship came in is the joke repeated in many of the exhibition works, retraced verbatim across several paintings.  Prince knowingly subjects the joke to scrutiny, the repetition adding to its hopeless melancholy.  In other paintings, the roster of one-liners and throwaway gags at first sight deliver their intended punch.  Yet reframed in abstract perpetuity on canvas the impact, like a joke repeated, inevitably wanes, in turn drawing into focus the latent clichés and inflections of society’s aspirations, deceptions, bigotries, sexism and inequalities.

Made during the pandemic, between 2019-2021, these works restage Dangerfield’s jokes in boldly-applied oil stick lettering across the cacophonous back catalogue of the comic’s stage notes from his later years: ‘a black and blue ballpoint pen psychotropic scrawl of automatic writing’.  In recalibrating the notes as readymade collages, Prince draws into relief Dangerfield’s short-hand observations on contemporary life, both exposing and parodying received cultural associations and norms.

Mirroring the litany of impulsively collated notes, many of the paintings are layered with graffiti-like imagery and text that include repeated motifs from Prince’s own repertoire: from the Hippie Drawings, Protest Paintings, Cheque Paintings and High Times, that accumulate to form an altogether more cynical palimpsest portrayal of Americana and its identity.  This extends through several works, in which the jokes appear to disintegrate entirely into variously barbed and suggestive phrases – such as respect, hearsay, sham, addict, NDA, blame.

One of America’s foremost artists working today, Prince’s oeuvre is recognised for his progressive and incisive use of appropriation – encompassing imagery and text drawn from advertisements, comics and mass-media – which he deploys conceptually as a means to unpick, critique and parody the cultural landscape of modern America.

First conceived in the early 1980s, the artist’s Joke Paintings are lifted from magazines such as The New Yorker and Playboy, books and comedy sketches, redrawn in multifarious styles: from economical monochromatic or dichromatic text on canvas that riff on the ascetic formal language of minimalism, Pop Art or commercial signage, to bold lettering effusively layered with collages and drawings.  Throughout the Joke Paintings series, Prince stages an irreverent play on his own use of appropriation and challenge to conventional concepts of authorship; the best jokes succeed in their retelling by others, passing by word of mouth until their origins are ultimately obscured.

The exhibition coincides with the artist’s acclaimed survey exhibition, entitled SAME MAN, at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk, now on view until 10 April 2023.  The project is the first presentation by Richard Prince in Scandinavia and features 89 works, many of which are from the artist’s own extensive archive.

Richard Prince (b. 1949, Panama Canal Zone) had his first solo museum show in 1983 at the Institute of Contemporary Art in London, and has since had numerous major solo exhibitions internationally, most recently including SAME MAN, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk (2023); Weserberg Museum of Modern Art, Bremen (2021); LACMA Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles (2017); Aïshti Foundation, Beirut (2015); It’s a Free Concert, Kunsthaus Bregenz, Bregenz (2014); Prince/Picasso, Museo Picasso Málaga, Spain (2012); Richard Prince. American Prayer, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris (2011); Continuation, Serpentine Gallery, London (2008) and Richard Prince: Spiritual America at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2008).

Sadie Coles is at 62 Kingly Street, London, W1B 5QN. The gallery is open Tuesday through to Saturday, 11am until 6pm.

Angela Heisch – Low Speed Highs

5: Angela Heisch – Low Speed Highs at Pippy Houldsworth – 24th March until 29th April 2023 (with an opening on March 23rd, 6pm until 8pm) – “Pippy Houldsworth Gallery is delighted to present Angela Heisch’s second solo exhibition in London, comprising a new body of paintings and works on paper. Working on her grandest scale to date, Heisch brings together the lavish quality and elaborate style of the Baroque with the creativity of the unconscious mind as espoused by the Surrealists.

In these new works, movement is the subject and Heisch’s signature organic forms are propelled across the canvas in an unfolding geometry that generates waves of energy. Although rendered in meticulous detail there is a sense of gesture and action in the sinuous line and curvature of the artist’s interlocking compositions. Each painting represents a landscape, whether land, sky, sea or deep space, yet stripped of all objective associations they are fundamentally depictions of the elemental, at once familiar and molecular, yet ultimately unknowable. Abstract shapes conjure a range of tangible associations from apples to planetary orbs, anchoring the viewer and creating a point of entry that is stable throughout the body of work.

Heisch’s luminous application of pigment accentuates its physicality and ability to embody weight. Evoking atmospheric descriptors of pressure and light – such as density, dampness and haze – each complex composition concentrates elements with conflicting properties, from delicate contours and soft gradients, to luminous stretches of opaque colour. Such playful contradiction is at the heart of the artist’s practice. In her pastel works on paper, Heisch plays out nascent ideas, allowing intuition to supersede preparation and colour, whose emotive qualities can be a distraction, to surrender itself to mystery. Heisch invites her audience to respond with curiosity, presenting an open-ended state of possibility.

Angela Heisch (b. 1989, Auckland, New Zealand) lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. She received a BA Fine Arts from University at Potsdam, SUNY, NY (2011) and an MFA from University at Albany, SUNY, NY (2014). Recent solo and two person exhibitions include GRIMM, Amsterdam (2022); Pippy Houldsworth Gallery, London (2021); Davidson Gallery, NY (2020, 2019); Projet Pangée, Montréal (2020); Transmitter Gallery, NY (2019); Gallery 106 Green, NY (2018); One River School, Allendale (2017) and No Place Gallery, Columbus (2016). Recent group exhibitions include I Do My Own Stunts, Spazio Amanita, NY (2022); Romancing the Surface, curated by Loie Hollowell, GRIMM Gallery, Amsterdam (2021) and Present Generations, Columbus Museum of Art, OH (2021-2022).

Pippy Houldsworth Gallery is at 6 Heddon Street, London W1B 4BT. The gallery is open Tuesday through to Sunday, 10am until 6pm

And while we’re here, two online shows from Cultivate – Melike’s solo show and the latest Mixtape group exhibition

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