It’s a coincidence that Parasol unit hasn’t reopened after the coronavirus closures: founder–director Ziba Ardalan had already decided to move on to a less fixed model for her selfless support of artists. Parasol unit foundation for contemporary art will be organising exhibitions and artistic projects in the UK and around the world, but without a fixed location.
It did mean that the end of the Wharf Road programme in London came rather unnoticed, but a handsome tome* now commemorates more than 50 major exhibitions held over the sixteen years 2004-20. I saw most of them. There were some excellent group shows, notably of Iranian artists last year, but what stays in the mind is how single artists could be shown in unusual depth across two floors, and with a substantial publication. So, for example, the best London shows of the following dozen artists have all been at Parasol unit: Darren Almond 2008, Robert Mangold 2009, Adel Abdessemed 2010, David Claerbout 2012, Bharti Kher 2012, Navid Nuur 2013, Katy Moran 2015, Julian Charrière 2016, Rana Begum 2016, Martin Puryear 2017, Lisa Milroy 2018, Heidi Bucher 2018. It’s a little invidious to pick one from such a line-up, but though it seemed right that Martin Puryear’s USA Pavilion was widely lauded at the 2019 Venice Biennale, I thought Parasol unit’s presentation of his work had been even better. It will be interesting to see what comes next as the Parasol unit foundation for contemporary art changes direction.
* Parasol unit London 2004-2020, 290 pages, limited edition of 500
Art writer and curator Paul Carey-Kent sees a lot of shows: we asked him to jot down whatever came into his head