= The Crawford Arts Review: March 2014

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

GIACOMO BRUNELLI "Eternal London" at Photographers’ Gallery – Print Sales (level -1) until 27 April

Giacomo Brunelli is a photographer who eschews the digital rather comprehensively. His are analogue studies, black and white, taken with 1960s 35 mm given to him by his father. I expected the results to be just a little sombre. But no, they sparkled off the walls, the light, shadow and contrast manipulated so well that in one a swan almost seems to be a three-dimensional creature emerging from the picture plane.

Brunelli photographed the scenes for Eternal London at dawn, one of the most poetic times to be sure. He then hand printed them in limited editions of 10 [9 ½ x 12”] or 5 [20 x 24”], so over time they’ll become relatively rare. 

Giacomo Brunelli
Untitled from the series Eternal London, 2012–2013
© Giacomo Brunelli
Courtesy of the artist and The Photographers’ Gallery

As well as his signature animals (a dawn-walked dog, a pigeon), Brunelli keeps his close-ups close. We see smartly shod male feet on their way to some exceptionally early meeting: anonymous trouser bottoms, upturned soles, the pavement beneath. It’s a tiny but telling narrative. Then there is the pigeon. This is a pigeon in its pomp, its chest puffed out like a guardsman, marching across Trafalgar Square. It has the whole place to itself, the tourists and boys who chase pigeons are all still asleep. The collection is an exclusive commission for Print Sales, members of whom are always on hand to advise and support anyone who wants to start or maintain a photography collection.

Prices start at £650 + VAT. But you can also enjoy the superb catalogue for just £25. The photographs are printed on high quality gloss and are accompanied by nothing other than an austere page number. There are no accompanying words at all; Brunelli titles all his work in this exhibition ‘Untitled’. The catalogue is also the first thing to buy if you’re thinking of investing.

Until 30 March, the gallery is also showing the work of David Lynch, William S. Burroughs and Andy Warhol. £4 admission will enable you to see all of them. Starting at the top of the gallery, at level 5, there is David Lynch’s The Factory Photographs, the filmmaker taking his camera around derelict industrial landscapes in search of fresh focus and finding it in the lovely geometry of light through grilles and empty windows. Level 4 has William S. Burroughs’ Taking Shots. These include the photographer’s New York neighbourhood: a car crash and a picture of what was probably the predecessor of the cuddly meerkat, the ring-tailed lemur. And at level 2, Andy Warhol’s Photographs 1976–1987, geometric forms, the celebrity NY culture and a rather charming still life of his New York pantry shelf: packets or rice, jars of Hellman’s Mayonnaise and Mott’s Apple Sauce, where he has artfully overexposed so that the glass looks as cleanly sparkling as in a laboratory.

The Photographers' Gallery, 16–18 Ramillies St, London W1F 7LW
Mon–Sat 10.00–18.00, Thu 10.00–20.00, Sun 11.30–18.00
Admission to Warhol, Burroughs and Lynch
£4 (£2.50 concs) Last admission 17.30
Free admission on Monday from 10.00–18.00
and Thursday from 18.00–20.00
Free Entry to under 17s
Contact Print Sales +44 (0)20 7087 9320 or printsales@tpg.org.uk

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Helen Marten at Sadie Coles

Art should inspire. This does. I'm not quite sure why or how. But go in and enjoy it.

This is Helen Marten’s first exhibition at Sadie Coles and I can only imagine her thrill at filling such a vast space and not being intimidated by it. For the space is awe-inspiring. Kingly Street houses the back premises of the grand shops of Regent Street eastside and bridges across to Regent Street itself where massive arched windows give you a spectacular view of the street outside.

The show’s title, ‘Oreo St James’, should give you some idea of its sculptural eclecticism. ‘Oreo’, of course, celebrates an American best-selling cookie and the whole title may celebrate the artist’s cat. For they are everywhere, permanently in suspended animation, seeming to walk backwards off a cliff. Those of us who know and celebrate cats may feel that the cat is merely balancing on its tail and exercising one of its nine lives.

Call it absurdist if you like, but I love the way the work inspires in the lighthearted way that makes you go home thinking you can emulate at least part of it in your own habitat with the help of some  plastic buckets, a led light, some copper wire and string. Well, that is the effect of art - to make you see seemingly ordinary things differently.

It is high concept, every bit of it declaring: I am art; I am permanent; look, I consist of sumptuous leather, ceramic, stained ash wood, copper wire and here and there a cigarette (homage to Sarah Lucas?), cherry stones, pebbles or bent aluminium. Where possible, I incorporate a cat. Helen Marten at her exuberant best.

Helen Marten
Sadie Coles
62 Kingly Street
London W1

Open Tue-Sat, 11-6
Finished Saturday 15 March