25 February 2014

Catching up

Though I've been buzzing in and out of exhibitions, it's simply been a matter of looking around, picking up the leaflet, maybe taking some photos ... and not getting around to blogging - ie, considering, evaluating, reassessing, or just plain thinking - about them. And I mostly haven't been taking notes in my black book, as in days of yore. Here, for the record, and in no particular order (but stretching back to early January), are some I'm in danger of forgetting.

Canan Tolon is at Parasol Unit, north London, till 16 March - the show is called Sidesteps - love the room with blobby-painted tiles that look like remembered landscapes -
A convenient bench lets you sit and look around - eventually some part of the wall catches your eye, and it gets to look more and more like an imaginary place ... and you keep looking away and find your eye is pulled back ...

Her work is informed by photography but is not photographs - the painted marks resemble architecture -
(Photos from the gallery's website.)

Next door, at Victoria Miro, is Isaac Julien (till 1 March) - including a seven-screen film installation. One part shows a very modern, minimal, concrete house in a wild and misty place in Iceland - lots of scenes of warm vapour rising into the cold air, nice, but it fits into the "capital(ism)" theme with a narration about how easy it was to get money from the bank to build it ... and then the owner/builder just walked away from it - "the dream ended" - just like the banks in Iceland collapsed. Another section was a diatribe, delivered as monologue/lecture, about the art market, filmed in the gallery next door, which has a very long stretch of narrow steps to its top floor - a little in-joke.

Nearby, as you head towards the bright lights of Islington, is a little gallery (Art Space Gallery) that has been open for 30 years and is mostly underground. Work on show was by John Kiki, and very jolly too - "Myths and Goddesses". See the video here.
Rhiannan (2009) was shown earlier, elsewhere (via)

Not a gallery, but including a little art, was Professor Steve Jones's talk on snails, as part of the Gresham College lecture series. The book ("testaceous malacology...arranged for the use of schools") was published in 1839
and written by Edgar A Poe, better known for other writing. (Photo is one of the slides from the lecture - see them all here.)

"Pandemonium" (till 9 March) is an exhibition at King's College Cultural Institute, Somerset House, celebrating the life and work of Derek Jarman (once a student of humanities at King's) - painter, filmmaker, set designer, diarist, poet, gardener, activist. It marks the 20th anniversary of his death. The musical accompaniment to the exhibition, supplied via a headset, ranges from mendieval incantory music to work by some of his most important collaborators, and a nice little booklet of excerpts from his writings, printed in gold, is also supplied.

At London Print Studio some weeks back, "Captive Light", photo prints by John Phillips - panoramas of Venice and studies of Patarei, an abandoned prison in Estonia - prints exploring captivity - constructing false narratives? In his lecture he said one job of artists/writers is to constantly investigate technology, and mentioned "sidestepping the most common approach". Someone asked "where do we find subjects, when everyone is taking images" to which he replied that "we" need to look in a critical way, unlike popular use of cameras.

Kurt Jackson, The Thames Revisited - at Redfern Gallery - landscapes ... more varied than I expected, and oh so skillful. We were there at the end of the day and didn't have enough time to watch the video of him painting properly. See all the paintings here -

Also seen on Cork St, David Blackburn at Messums ... must say I'm stuck in the past, more attracted to his glowing pastel (Yorkshire!) landscapes than his current more abstract work. This one is from 1997 -

And photographs from Michael Wolf's series "Architecture of Density" at Flowers - which depict "the vibrant city of Hong Kong from an inimitable perspective" and at large scale. They "focus on repetition of pattern and form to cause a visual reaction. The result is a sense of rediscovery, as Wolf frees you of the constraints of a typical photograph." The gallery shot gives you some idea of the scale -

See more of his work on the gallery's website.

Did I already mention Republic of the Moon at Bargehouse Gallery? Like the Cork St shows, that finished some time ago. I particularly remember Katy Patterson's Moonlight Sonata - bouncing a bit of digitised Beethoven off the moon and then recording what comes back to earth - and Leonid Tishkov's crescent moons fallen, so brightly lit, onto Moscow(?) balconies.

To give this cultural digest a bit of balance, a couple of films, seen at BFI (cinema without popcorn and advertisements, hurrah!) - The Night of the Hunter, children on the run; and Lift to the Scaffold (aka Elevator to the Gallows), made in France in 1957 and quite tense, a real thriller.

And a film event of a different sort, screened at the Wiener Library, a film by painter Barbara Loftus, which developed from paintings of her mother's stories of her home in Vienna before fleeing Austria. I was transfixed not just by the film but especially by the story of the stories, their translation from something almost lost into something still not quite real. (If that makes sense?) The title of the film is Lieder Ohne Worte, Images of Memory.
An image of "the confiscation of porcelain) (via)

"Artists Textiles - Picasso to Warhol" at the Fashion & Design Museum is on till 17 May ... they allow photos and I have quite a few, so that will have to be a post on its own.

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