The London Art Fair has improved a little each year recently, with more adventurous and fewer dire galleries in the mix and a good curated photo exhibition. The 2014 edition (14-19 Jan) also saw some stimulating match-ups in the project section, for which young galleries were invited to share a stand. All the same, its USP remains as an enjoyable, if unrevelatory, place to find the leading British artists of the last century: plenty of Nicholson, Hepworth, Lanyon, Heron, Riley, Hitchens… Yet there are always less familiar examples mixed in with the more predictable fare. This year my favourites were a Paul Nash at Piano Nobile and the Wilhelmina Barns-Graham retrospective at Art First. Nash’s unique chord is strummed when an aspect of the surreal insinuates itself into the landscape without going the whole ham-fisted hog. Just so, the watercolour River foregrounds an oddly-placed and potentially symbolic pair of empty swings, hinting at childhood trauma or political uncertainty. Barns-Graham (1912-2004),the pre-eminent female painter among the St Ives group, outlived all the men and enjoyed a particularly late phase. Emerald and Cadmium Green is from a lesser-known stream of her richly varied oeuvre, one which merges abstraction and landscape by equating the scientific waves of particle physics with natural waves – here of the sea, perhaps, or of wind in the grass. The result is a buzzy study in dot dynamics which forms some sort of event horizon.
Angela Flowers (1932-2023) founded her eponymous gallery in 1970, initially concentrating on living British artists in Central London before expanding the roster and pioneering the late 90’s trend of galleries moving east
Krittika Sharma co-founded indigo+madder in Deptford in 2019, then moved to a more central location last year –
The National Gallery… it sounds pretty comprehensive, though there’s no sculpture (where’s that national gallery?) and a more accurate title would be something like ‘The National Gallery of European Paintings by Men, 1260 – 1920’, with hardly anything from other continents and just 0.5% by women.
If anyone tells me they are going to White Cube’s Bermondsey space, I advise them to drop in at Cecilia Brunson Projects, which flies comparatively under the radar but is only a stone’s throw away.
- The Top 5 Art Exhibitions to see in London in late September Sentinels, dragons, a lion, octopuses and heritage.
- Marina Abramovic takes over the Royal Academy of Arts. At the age of 76 and still, as vital and provocative as ever, Marina Abramovic has taken over the hallowed…
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- Interreality: 35 artists investigate the spaces between analog & digital art-making in 15,000 sqft at Desmond Tower, Los Angeles. A few blocks from LACMA, Interreality encompasses 15,000+ sq ft & expands on conversations addressing the divide between digital and traditional…