Paul’s Gallery of the Week: Phillida Reid
Joanna Piotrowska in collaboration with Formafantasma: ‘Sub Rosa’, 2022, installation view
Phillida Reid and David Southard founded Southard Reid in 2010, showing in Soho over the following decade. Since 2019 it has been solely operated by Phillida and she has recently opened a spectacular new space the other side of Charing Cross Road, with the gallery now under her name. She’s a New Zealander, and the gallery represents Antipodeans Hany Armanious and Vivian Lynn (1931-2018). All the other artists are UK or American based, including those whose work I know best: Polish photographer Joanna Piotrowska; Welsh conceptual jester Bedwyr Williams; serially adventurous New York painter Ann Craven; and Prem Sahib, who flooded the new gallery with externally viewable ‘liquid gold’ during its renovation. Grape Street, featuring an unusual combination of interior brick and window-only frontage, has two exhibition spaces on the ground floor, plus a basement in which an interesting one hour film programme is currently viewable. ‘Sub Rosa’ (to Dec 16) is a collaboration which recognises the importance of exhibition design: Joanna Piotrowska’s tenebrous photographs of roses are clamped into place by stainless steel fittings, including a band which runs round a whole room and even cuts through the newly refurbished architecture. The design of these ‘anti-framing’ devices, by Studio Formafantasma in collaboration with Piotrowska, is a striking way to emphasise the physicality of the photographs, with the point that it evokes the artist’s experience – when accused of spying in Azerbaijan in 2015 – of being interrogated in the oppressive atmosphere of a holding room with all objects fixed down. After that she made roses her subject: demonstrably ‘safe’, yet long-associated with anti-authoritarian causes.
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