Monica Bonvicini: Beltdecke #6, 2023 from ‘Hardcore’ – black leather men’s belts, rivet screws, steel, site size: 224 x 155 cm – © Monica Bonvicini. Courtesy of The Artist. Photo: Jens Ziehe
Ask London artists who they would most like to show with, and the answer is often ‘Sadie Coles’: her 60-artist gallery has retained the cool image it developed as a supporter of the YBA’s, even as some of those artists now seem less cool. It takes part in the big fairs, is a leading presenter of digital art alongside traditional media, has a philosophy of outreach reflected in the ‘HQ’ of the full title and – with three central spaces – puts on more worthwhile shows in the city than any other commercial gallery. What’s not to like? Sadie Coles OBE – as she has been since 2021 for services to art – set up the gallery in 1997 after working for the Arnolfini in Bristol, London’s then-pre-eminent Anthony d’Offay gallery (where she already dealt with Sarah Lucas) and assisting Jeff Koons in New York.
She credits Lucas and John Currin with provoking her into returning to London to start a gallery before they signed with anyone else, and a transatlantic mix remains characteristic: one might add Monster Chetwynd, Jim Lambie, and Helen Marten from this side, Richard Prince, Jordan Wolfson and Matthew Barney from the other to give a flavour. Mexican, Chinese and Polish artists Gabriel Kuri, Yu Ji and Wilhelm Sasnal illustrate the wider diversity built on that initial positioning. This is the last week to see the provocative group show ‘Hardcore’ in the main space – it aims to show that ‘sex is never identical, it is always unique’ – while Ryan Sullivan at Davies Street and Paloma Varga Weisz at Bury Street complete the varied current programme.
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.