Ceramics and textiles are increasingly accepted as mainstream art materials. Ashtrays and fans, though, are less likely to come to mind than sculptures and wall hangings. But you can see plenty of both currently. The Belmacz Gallery – an unusual space in that it shows another edge-of-art category, jewellery, alongside paintings and installations – is displaying 91 artists’ ashtrays and related smoking artifacts* – either made by them or chosen from their personal collections. It’s great fun, as in the awkward ‘where to stub it out’ conundrum posed by Nigel and Boris above, and in these three uses of unconventional materials:
Stefan Reiterer: ‘Ashtray’ 2018 – five matchboxes handpainted with lacquer and glue
The Barbican is currently showing perhaps the best-known modern art fans: three of the six which Oskar Kokoschka gave to his lover Alma Mahler (1879-1964), the composer’s widow, which depict aspects of their lives together **.
But the fan and its potential for art is essentially an eastern tradition, so it is appropriate that the Japanese-run White Conduit Project Space *** is showing 50 fans commissioned from contemporary artists.
* The Ashtray Show West at Belmacz Ltd, 45 Davies Street to 12 Jan
** In Modern Couples to 27 Jan at the Barbican Gallery
*** Pacific Breeze at White Conduit Projects, 1 White Conduit Street, Islington: 2 Dec – 13 Jan
Art writer and curator Paul Carey-Kent sees a lot of shows: we asked him to jot down whatever came into his head