26.1.12

The Invisible Show

Brian Griffiths - The Invisible Show
Vilma Gold Gallery
21st January - 19th February




Given the chance, Invisibility would be my super power. That fly-on-the-wall state of being that allows you to poke your nose in at any situation without being noticed. Brian Griffiths, however, subverts this idea in its entirety. Erecting these giant, beige, tarpaulin cuboids, he has managed to consume the entire gallery, each separate structure bound together as Griffith’s toys with the boundaries of the art object.
Creating a negative space, he determines the route around the gallery, restricting you at every turn and forcing you into uncomfortable face-to-face polite conversation which we so frequently avoid these days as our social activity slowly begins to exist only on the internet.

As you meet another visitor, also trying to squeeze their way down the narrow corridors between gallery wall and sagging material structure, you begin to realise how much Griffiths has succeeded in containing you, together. One solution was to merely to get down on your hands and knees, peering underneath the structures edge as a means of easily avoiding all physical confrontation, before suddenly realising you look A) particularly stupid and B) feeling like you are imposing on a crime scene, interfering with the forensic tents which possibly disguise something you feel you rather not ought to be looking at.

These makeshift, primal structures are reminiscent of the expeditions led by the British Empire back in the day, any minute now I expect to see Colonel Mustard marching round the corner exploring this sterile room which offers plenty of narrative in such a restricted space. The Invisible Show makes difficult viewing, in the physical sense, but once you step back from the politics of never talking to strangers, invading somebody’s personal space can be rather liberating.
 
Brian Griffiths is The Guardian's Artist of the Week

12.1.12

BSL | ASL


TABLOID

TABLOID
Directed by Errol Morris

         

OK, so my housemate is a film student and took me to see Tabloid screened at Ritzy Picturehouse last month. I hadn't watched the trailer and she had described the general outline to me, but as usual I wasn't listening properly (she talks too much) and agreed because now and again I like going to the cinema and also fancied a bit of popcorn (sweet, salted can get out of my life). More to the point: I was NOT expecting this.

TABLOID retells the story of Joyce McKinney, a woman who was accused of kidnapping a Mormon missionary and became famous for the debacle during the late '70's. The film follows her through her side of the story, with the added interview from her accomplices and others involved along the way. She doesn't exactly tell the whole picture, or at least if she does, her version is completely romanticised. As the film continues you begin to fall for her "charm" as it were, and the lines are blurred between McKinney's enigmatic dreamworld and reality. It is fun, astonishing and completely ludicrous!

11.1.12

The Solace of Objects - The Wellcome Collection - London

Felicity Powell: A Charmed Life
The Solace of Objects
The Wellcome Collection
6th October 2011 - 26th February 2012
"The horse shoe, as everyone knows, is great magic, but opinions vary as to the conditions under which it becomes lucky." Edward Lovett, 'Magic in Modern London', p. 98

Lower jaw of a small animal with silver mount and suspension chain, used as an amulet

Silver heart-shaped reliquary in two pieces., used as protection from evil.

Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2011: In the Presence

Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2011: In the Presence
Institute of Contemporary Art
23rd November 2011 - 15th January 2012

           


Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2011: In the Presence is an array of new work from 40 recent graduates of UK art school.

The annual exhibition is always one I look forward to. There is always such a diverse range of experimental artwork, and I think, in terms of contemporary art, to be fresh and bold is particularly important. The selection process must be very difficult as the calibre of artwork is always so high.
Here is a (long) list of my favourite works from the show:


Ian Marshall, Berkeley Blooms, 2011

Savinder Bual, Train, 2009

Noel Hensey, Death Is Here, 2009 

Hyun Woo Lee, 17 Times of I Hate This Job, 2011

Kim Kielhofner, Getting Marnie Out of the House, 2010

Sui Kim, Tropical Dream 1, 2011

                                   
                                                Samuel Williams, We are the Robots, 2010


There wasn’t one piece of work I could single out as my favourite. Strong video works were abundant, and Hyun Woo Lee’s 48 second looped video of 17 times of I hate this job (2011) stood out especially. Capturing society's  loathing towards repetitive life in general, Lee’s video consists of a water sprinkler system, spraying water out in circles at the same pace. At each turn of the piston, the words “I hate this job” flash one at a time in sync with the movement of the jet. The sprinkler is personified and we begin to empathise with the machine.


For once I really engaged with a lot of the selected paintings. Sui Kim’s Tropical Dream 1 really caught my attention, and I can’t really put my finger on why. Perhaps it was the haphazard way the paint was applied to the canvas, or perhaps it was the simplicity of the image. Either way, there were not any underlying messages or meanings, it wasn’t overtly contextual and didn’t pretend to be anything other than what you see.

The show in general was brilliant and I could probably go on to talk about each piece I enjoyed but we’ll be here until Christmas. Check the Website here for more information on all the artists exhibiting.

7.1.12

Dara Birnbaum - South London Gallery

Dara Birnbaum
South London Gallery
9th December 2011 - 12 February 2012

Arabesque, 2011

Arabesque presents multiple perspectives on the composer Robert Schumann’s Arabesque Opus 18, 1839, which was composed for his wife Clara. Through a multi-screen video installation, over 4 different screens, we see the switch between still footage, yearning excerpts from Clara’s diary and piano performances of Schumanns’s composition, taken from YouTube and a range of other sources. The quality of the footage varies, as does the degree of skill of each musician in every performance.

Upstairs we find videos from the mid-seventies, they are recorded on handheld cameras, with an amateurish technique. My favourite had to be Everything’s Gonna Be Alright, from 1976, a mash-up up of mass media imagery and pop culture. Conversation interrupted by a scene of a man and woman dancing, back to conversation, it’s fun and you can easily enjoy it in its entirety for almost a full 11 minutes without losing interest.

Everything's Gonna Be Alright, 1976

6.1.12

Fiona MacDonald - Works from the Mirrored Series

Fiona MacDonald Works from the mirrored series 2009-2011
10 Gresham Street, London, EC2N 2BQ
22 September 2011 - 22 January 2012


Europa, 2010
Milky Way, 2010
Faun at Sunset, 2010
Mount of Leda, 2010 
Fiona MacDonald examines the process of translation from object to image, and vice versa, through the act of making. Her paintings underpin the ideas she brings to life through the physicality of her sculptures. This, I think, is due to her choice of materials which allow her to be decorative in both chosen mediums. The silicone rubber sculptures are drenched in paint, the colours bleeding into each other, adding depth to the work’s presence and materiality, while painting allows her to be much more delicate.

There is some figurative about her pieces of work. The forms are familiar, and there is dream-like quality to them, but the faceless forms do not always allow you to understand the composition or distinguish one “person” from another. They remind me of cloud formations, you come to your own assumption about each shape and what it could represent, I think it simply depends on your ability to imagine.

Lucy May - 300 Pounds of Heavenly Joy

Lucy May, 300 Pounds of Heavenly Joy
WW Gallery
1st December - 29th January 2012





Lucy May has described Three Hundred Pounds of Heavenly Joy as “a wry celebration of that iconic symbol of low culture, the doner kebab.”

This signifier of bad taste and low culture is displayed majestically, as one would usually encounter it in the window of a take away in its’ full glory. The urge to touch the surface is overwhelming, but how many times have you recoiled walking past a kebab shop window? Three Hundred Pounds of Heavenly Joy reveals a tension between high art and vulgarity; becoming a hybrid of materiality and decorative style; simultaneously seductive and grotesque.

Clare Woods, The Unquiet Head - The Hepworth Wakefield

Clare Woods: The Unquiet Head
The Hepworth Wakefield
22 October 2011 - 29 January 2012


The Hepworth presents a new group of paintings by Clare Woods in The Unquiet Head. Woods explores the tangible nature of rock formations in a rather psychological manner. She paints in response to their dark and uncontrolled nature, and this is not only manifested in the application of her chosen medium, but the scale in which she has created the work.

The dynamic use of enamel paint and the choice of colour placement is a far cry from the picturesque representations we usually associate with typical landscape portrayals. She doesn’t shy away from abstraction. The shape and form of the rocks is obvious, it is simply the ambiguous use of colour which does not necessarily baffle, but leads into confusion the more we focus on the image.

The size of the work also contributes to this element. From the back of the gallery you grasp the size of each painting, measuring approximately 10m in length, each consuming an entire wall. They fill the space easily, and the amalgamation of colour and shape can become claustrophobic the longer you spend looking at it.

The Unquiet Head is not simply an exhibition of a group of Woods paintings. The sheer scale and composition lends itself to something more abstract. The paintings display pieces of physical earth that make up our landscape: they seem to become physical themselves. Using synthetic colours to depict organic forms creates a fluent contrast and the assured use of medium allows Woods to articulate this imagery easily. The layers of enamel paint on an aluminium surface create a beautiful plane of colour and a luscious reflective surface.

2.1.12

Laure Prouvost


                                    
                                      from the sky / Laure Prouvost from prouvost and sons on Vimeo.



Laure Prouvost’s distinct installations are focused on domestic objects, film and sound. Working with a range of media, she is best known for her video work, where her hectic use of the cinematic implies loose narratives based on a single event, often misleading us according to her whim. These events turn quickly from amusement to exasperation, despite the fact she often tries to instil order into these situations.
Prouvost plays with language, translation and authority, with often straightforward ideas such as the use of basic hand painted signs which are used as tools to instruct us. She seduces and entertains us with her disconnected imagery and mesmerising juxtapositions of text and image.

The Garden of Cosmic Speculation




The Garden of Cosmic Speculation was recommended to me by two close friends. Located near Dumfries in Scotland, it was designed by Charles Jencks and his late wife. Together they take a look into how mathematical and scientific formulae can form elegant, artificial symmetry, natural curves and help to shape how we conceive the world through this false landscape.

Sadly it's only open one day of the year, and would probably be well worth the journey. I'm sure Robert Smithson would have something to say about it anyway.