It may look an improbable pairing, but two shows opening last Thursday felt as if they had a common core. Terry Rodgers has his first London solo at Jerome Zodo: ten of his characteristically large, lush paintings of beautiful people. They’re in party mode, but hardly having fun: of the 40 figures whose faces are visible, none smile, and nor do they make any connection with each other: expressions which made sense individually loses coherence as separately posed models are brought not-so-together. It’s easy to assume that these are a routine production, but the painting is passionately engaged and Rodgers’ compositions can be daring, as in the radical prominence of a fur in ‘It’s Complicated’, 2017. There are no figures in Clay Ketter’s photographically-based works at Bartha Contemporary, where he has an impressive mini-retrospective. However, his most recent series, emphasises social isolation in a complementary way. Tract (2010-ongoing) – taken from satellite images stitched together with CGI technology – depicts the architecture which part-causes, part-consolidates the distancing which Rodgers depicts; and the formal interest is largely in the baroque interplay of pattern, just as it is in Rodgers. Are we setting up a world – offline and on – in which interaction has been impoverished to such an extent that the individual, never mind community, well-being is under threat? That’s what I take Ketter and Rodgers to fear.
Edward Munch, very much a painter, is easily Norway’s most famous artist, and a new 13-floor building – ‘Munch’ as it is styled – was recently opened in his honour. Walking around Oslo, though, it would be easy to think that sculpture is the national preference: statues dot the streets and I visited four sculpture parks. For example:
The first post-pandemic edition of the London Art Fair is set in April (20th-24th) rather than the usual January, the mix is as before: plenty of bad or predictable material mixed in with enough good stuff to make for an interesting visit.
Lubaina Himid: from ‘Swallow Hard: The Lancaster Dinner Service’, 2007 Two current shows mine parallel strategies with effect to foreground […]
Perhaps, then, the studio is slipping towards historic status. Not that there’s anything wrong with a historic survey (‘A Century of the Artist’s Studio: 1920 – 2020’ to 5 June)