There’s a surfeit of new things to see just now, as pretty much every commercial gallery in London – and there are a couple of hundred worth seeing – has opened a show which, even if isn’t new, I haven’t seen before. It’s lucky, perhaps, that institutional spaces don’t open until 17 May, so spreading the glut out…
The locked down viewing experience is different:
- Less convenient, as you may need to make an appointment or queue, though you can in practice just walk into many shows
- No old-style sociably crowded openings with drinks and the artist present
- Fewer paper print-outs, more need to read your phone
- Facemasks will be worn
But those features – masks apart – have their merits:
- No danger that the number other visitors will diminish the experience of the art
- Easier to talk to gallerists / artists if they are there
- Although it’s more awkward to read via your phone, the quality of online documentation of shows has undoubtedly been enhanced
There are also some advantages for gallerists: having gone to the trouble of making an appointment, people are likely to stay longer and engage with the art; and both printing paper and old-style openings represent a cost avoided, as does flying foreign artists to Britain – ‘installation by Zoom’ is the thing now.
Anyway, here’s a sample from enjoyable ‘locked down viewing’.
Lucy Sparrow at Lyndsey Ingram. The gallery becomes a fully stocked chemist filled with a vast range of felt pharmaceuticals served by the white-coated Lucy Sparrow herself. This opened on 12 April but could, presumably, have opened earlier as an essential shop. The pre-booked slots are all taken, but I had to queue only briefly to get in without one. Shown: imitation products (top image)
Rafal Zajko at PUBLIC Gallery: the space on Middlesex Street allows for convenient gathering outside, with the artist able to talk to visitors while up to six people are allowed inside in turn – not a bad opening model (and a fascinating show across three floors). Shown: installation of (what else?) works melting frozen synthetic urine.
Conditions favour the smaller galleries, e.g. Yamamoto Keiko Rochaix and Union Pacific – next to each other on Goulston Street in Aldgate – have interesting exhibitions with crowds unlikely. Shown: Katherina Olschbaur: ‘Humility and The Other One in Me’ 2020-21 at Union Pacific (above) and Magda Stawarska-Beavan install shot at Yamamoto Keiko Rochaix (below)
Art writer and curator Paul Carey-Kent sees a lot of shows: we asked him to jot down whatever came into his head