Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Until Friday 16 June The American Dream pop to the present at the British Museum

A way with car parts, fluorescent lights and lumber

Found in America at Waddington Custot shows us the work of three American sculptors who, inspired by the stuff of the rapidly industrialising US of the early 20th century, in the process forever changed the art of sculpture itself. The gallery is to be congratulated for assembling a show of the works of these Titans - John Chamberlain, Dan Flavin and Robert Indiana - each of whose work, by its boldness, enabled the eye of surely every artist since.

John Chamberlain, 1927-2011, image courtesy of Wikipedia

John Chamberlain's work is marvellous in its sensibility. taking the already ground-breaking 1940s abstract expressionist painting of the time into a further dimension, that of sculpture.  Shown below is Abby Cassidy, made from painted steel, the metal configured and interlaced in a way that as you gaze into its depths, offers a new delineation of volume. Tate Britain has two of his works from the 1960s.

John Chamberlain, Abby Cassidy, 2006, painted
and chromed steel © 2017 Waddington Custot 
Gallery reference B44034

Chamberlain''s raw materials are pieces of scrapped automobiles he selected from the mechanical car crushers of the time. As early as 1961 the works were shown at MOMA, alongside works by Duchamp, Picasso and Braque. 


 Dan Flavin, 1933-1996, Image courtesy of Wikipedia

I love the work of Dan Flavin. What he did with off-the-shelf fluorescent tubes and a limited colour range has never ceased to amaze and inspire me. I don't know what is at work: the physics of light; the chemistry of light; the physics and chemistry of its industrial production . . .? It all seems simple yet the effect on the optic nerve is profound. Waddington Custot have three works on show "monument" to V. Tatlin (1968), Untitled (1969), and Untitled (to Véronique) (1987). Even if you can't buy, go and see. Your optic nerve will thank you.


 "Robert Indiana [b. 1928] working in Maine" (Photo  courtesy Charles Rotmil, via Wikipedia)

Robert Indiana is our third American sculptor. Indiana, along with Dan Flavin and John Chamberlain, was one of the precursors of this paradigmatic shift in sculptural practice. The Waddington Custot exhibition shows three of his works from the 1960s and early 1970s. Here he recycled sections of wooden roof beams into sculpture. He adds rusted iron wheels and paints on alphanumeric symbols using stencils from commercial signs and packaging, all the materials 'found' and 'repurposed'. His interest in typography led him to create, in 1958, his well known 'Love' image where the letters LO, the O slanting, are stacked on top of the letters VE. Often reproduced, a version of this image can be seen in the complementary exhibition mentioned above at the British Museum. Waddington Custot also show his number sculpture ONE through ZERO (2003) made from panels of Cor-ten (marine grade) steel.

Until Saturday 01 July
Found in America
Monday to Friday, 10am to 6pm
Saturday, 10am to 4pm

Monday, 24 April 2017

Until Saturday 13 May

Eastcastle Street W1, just north of Oxford Street, is now an established fine art destination. It already has a Kaffeine and I should mention too that across Oxford Street to the south you'll find the Photographers' Gallery.

PiArtworks resides at No. 55 Eastcastle Street. The World Made New exhibition is the fourth of five dedicated to a curatorial season that runs until July. The five artists too are from outside the gallery's roster, Sovay Berriman, Ilana Halperin, Iz Öztat, Lindsay Seers and Michelle Williams Gamaker. The show is curated by Oliver Sumner. As in much fine art, less is often more in curation and Sumner doesn't disappoint. 

Here are three works shot at random: 1., 2. Sovay Berriman's Resting Post (installation view) and Falling Wizard, and 3. Iz Öztat's Posthumous Production Series (installation view to street). All five artists deftly explore personal mythologies of birth, transfiguration and constructed identity.




PiArtworks London
55 Eastcastle Street, London, W1
Nearest underground station: Oxford Circus
Ph: + 44 207 6378403

Opening hours:
Monday – Friday: 10:00–18:00
Saturday: 11:00–18:00

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Gavin Turk has a well developed sense of less is more. A cardboard box, a scrunched-up plastic bottle, a selection of throwaways that could easily have you looking twice at objects you put in the bin. All offer themselves unadorned to the visitor's interpretation, in Turk's hands, elevated to art. I rather admire it.

Not that the artist doesn't offer clues - for example, in his titling, part after all, of the work. Thus we have some almost squeezed out paint tubes, curved like ancient toothpaste tubes,  and minus their labels. Their titles are, variously, 'Payne's Grey, 'Raw (and 'Burnt) Sienna' and, wittily accessible even to non-artists, 'Reclining Paint Tube'. 


Each of the paint tube works is subtitled '(Albers Table)', a reference to the fact that their 'plinths' are three of the nesting tables Josef Albers designed in the 1920s (see above).

I'm going to leave it there. The smaller of Turk's two shows is at Ben Brown Fine Arts (until Wednesday 12 April), the bigger solo show is at Damien Hirst's Newport Street Gallery (until Sunday 19 March).

Friday, 17 February 2017

Rodin, but not quite what you expect - Until Saturday 11 March

Rodin employed much tenderness when he sculpted The Kiss* (see pic below). Wrought in marble, he also employed much muscle, as well as all his skills, to create perhaps 'the' emblem of the lovers' embrace.

But look again, here's a close-up.

What has happened? The male has been given a nipple-ring; Out of shot, someone has removed one of his fingers and stuck it on the wall. Look at the female. Her body has been gouged and wormy bits added. Round the back, someone has given her dreadlocks. And look, someone is actually touching the sculpture. 

Ha, it's intentional, so I'll stop teasing dear reader now.
  1. It's not marble, it's a slightly larger than the original copy cast from oil-based modelling clay (Plasticine to give it its trade name).
  2. It is the work of a present-day artist, the very much alive Urs Fischer.
  3. The artistic idea is to confront immutability; to make a copy that is so malleable that it can become a collaborative work, a collaboration between the artist and the viewer - you and me if you like.**

Here's my final pic, the fun bit . . .


I hope the picture speaks for itself. Please note that I visited the exhibition on February 14 - subsequent visitors will have made further changes since then.
Urs Fischer
The Kiss
Sadie Coles
1 Davies Street 
London W1K 3DB 
Tues – Sat 11 – 6 
For all enquiries:

* Rodin also practised a form of co-laboration in that he employed studio assistants who, working from small models, would rough out the basic shapes of a sculpture for the master to complete. Rodin made three signed copies of this work, also in marble. You can see one of them in Tate Britain.  
** Urs Fischer's The Kiss (2017) will be exhibited at Sadie Coles HQ over the course of a single month.

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Elvire Bonduelle at Ronchini Gallery
until Saturday 18 March
French chic from an artist who shows early signs of the flair and humour of a young Claude Lalanne (see earlier review). Of course it may be that it's because both women are French. Bonduelle, a young Parisian trained at the Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux-Arts de Paris, produces work that is spirited, cheeky and poetic. Her black metal benches, austerely unupholstered, may not look all that comfortable (see below), but each pair carries a witty message - 'Cool Raoul' as shown or 'Relax Max'.

22 Dering Street
London W1
Mon-Fri 10-6; Sat 12-5
Note: Walk in from Oxford Street 
into the start of Bond Street and 
take the first turning on the right 
to find Dering Street

Elvire Bonduelle, Cool Raoul, 2016, painted iron (in two parts) each 45 x 40 x 140, 45 x 40 x 120 cm
© Ronchini Gallery and the artist, published with permission

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Les Lalanne until Thursday 26 January

Installation view of the interior artscape created by designer Manfredi della Gherardesca to accompany the work of Claude and the late Francois-Xavier Lalanne at Ben Brown Fine Arts, 12 Brook's Mews, London W1. Open Mon-Fri 11am-6pm,