Permindar Kaur with some of the 22 figures in ‘Wound’, 2022.
Niru Ratnam (don’t call him Ratman, a common error!) has popped up across the years in various galleries I’ve visited – I recall him at Aicon, Frith Street and Koenig as well as running fairs. In 2020, though, he opened his own gallery together with his wife, Georgia Griffiths. It’s handily placed, just a few yards from Sadie Coles’ main space, but being upstairs with no frontage is not somewhere you’d spot just walking by. It’s well worth finding, though, as the gallery has quickly established itself as one worth following, with the ‘cool’ atmosphere one might associate with a young gallerist – though Niru is 50, as his experience would suggest. The programme mainly foregrounds upcoming artists such as Lydia Blakeley, Emma Cousin, Adham Faramawy, Matthew Krishanu and Alicia Reyes McNamara.
Yet two of the best exhibitions have seen established artists return from a decade’s gap in their practice. Perhaps Niru is timetabling artists now for 2033… Last year Kutlug Ataman returned after time as a farmer with a show including eight new films of him digging an irrigation stream, playing across twenty televisions suspended on a worn wooden structure. Now Permindar Kaur is showing after a ten year break. I particularly liked the series of 22 figures, based on gingerbread men, which combine copper and steel. Because they have different melting points, the metals are awkward to weld together, and Kaur makes the most of that by conjuring a wide range of patterns which could well be scars. ‘Duality and the tension between two states’, says Niru’s text ‘is both within the material and in the imagery of the works’.
London’s gallery scene is varied, from small artist-run spaces to major institutions and everything in between. Each week, art writer and curator Paul Carey-Kent gives a personal view of a space worth visiting.