= The Crawford Arts Review: July 2014

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

ENDS SATURDAY: Jim Lambie at Sadie Coles, 62 Kingly Street W1

These are new works by Jim Lambie, site-specific to 62 Kingly Street in one of its previous lives as a nightclub.

The people have gone from the dance floor but Lambie has put them back again. Suspended from long chains of safety pins, single shoes of men and women, mixed together as is their natural disposition, crowd the middle of the floor. They spin and spin, gently gyrating to unheard music. 

Further up each chain, at the dancers' eye level, you find designer shades glinting down at you. As you carefully make your way through the dancers, one pair in particular (see pic) fluorescently stare back "I see you giving me the eye," they seem to say. 
Jim Lambie
Ultratheque (Poppers remix), 2014
upper section

© Jim Lambie
Courtesy the artist and Sadie Coles HQ
Photograph © reviewer 2014

You notice a male shoe (pic below) doing a particularly spritely dance on tiptoe. The entire sole is lacquered orange. You find that the shoe soles are all painted different colours. An hommage to Christian Louboutin. "Nightclubby but nice" might be your reflexive thought, an hommage to Salman Rushdie.

Jim Lambie
Ultratheque (Poppers remix), 2014
lower section

© Jim Lambie
Courtesy the artist and Sadie Coles HQ
Photograph © reviewer 2014

There is plenty to prance about. There on the far wall you find an array of mirror panels, pink. purple, orange, in which to admire yourself. These make an equally dazzling showpiece. They actually consist of a row ot wooden ladders sturdily set up at different angles against the back wall of gallery and to which the mirrors are attached so that they capture the eye.

Ah but they're artified ladders (see pic below). From the front all you see is that the ladders have been adorned with large panels of either plain or tinted glass: jazzy orange, pink and purple. You know of course that you should always look behind sculpture; if possible walk right round it. Here the artist seems to say what if you hadn't looked behind the mirror? You would have missed these. "These" are various jars and vases, suspended from the exposed rungs of the ladders at the back.

Jim Lambie 
View of Sunlight, Here I am, 2014
© Jim Lambie
Courtesy the artist and Sadie Coles HQ
Photograph © reviewer 2014
The exhibition is called Answer Machine and two of the installations seem to refer to old analogue switchboards, the ones where a wire was plugged into the board to make the connection. Perhaps this idea is represented by the wall-mounted high gloss white Ultratheque (Poppers remix), although the title conveys little unless one knows the artist's work

Perhaps the fun we had or should have had in youth, the glitz, the prancing around on dance floors, the admiring ourselves in mirrors, remains and is evoked in the works just discussed

As aging of any dancing generation inexorably takes place, the multiple connections of the present give way or are displaced by the multiple connections (represented by the wall-mounted high gloss black work) of what? An ICU? Perhaps not. But certainly a switchboard that is now dead and gone cold. So the image, if not now "in" the mirror, "through" the mirror to the otherside.

It's a beautifully uncluttered show, leaving space for the viewer to assign what meaning they will to the works.

Sadie Coles HQ
62 Kingly Street
London W1

Sat 116

Monday, 21 July 2014

Julian Schnabel at The Dairy Art Centre Bloomsbury

Ends Sunday 27 July

Julian Schnabel
Gallery entrance
with Untitled (Girl with No Eyes), 2014
© Julian Schnabel
Courtesy the artist and Dairy Art Centre
Photograph © reviewer 2014
The beautiful Dairy Art Centre, renovated brilliantly in 2013 by the architect Jenny Jones, is showing Julian Schnabel's first major solo exhibition for 15 years. (See pic left, with Schnabel's Untitled (Girl With No Eyes), 2014 in place and pic below, a view into the courtyard.)
Entitled "Every Angel has a Dark Side", paintings from the late 1990s to the present, we have 18 works on canvas (or in some cases polyester) from the Julian Schnabel Studio in New York. They hang well here in London. Big and bold, the largest of them 114 x 136" (299.6 x 345.4 cm). 

Gallery side wall with window to yard
Photograph © reviewer 2014
What struck me was that they exhibit a quality often seen in the work of poets, a deeply personal subject, part univeralized, part kept private. Ambiguous, moving the reader to wonder, until somewhere down the line the puzzle unfolds or is unfolded.

With Schnabel, the disguise can be areas of the paint surface whited out (Landscape, 1997); indeed, in this case enamelled out, or in Fifteen Yrs Old and Surrounded by Pigs, 2014, where the whited out surface itself becomes a further canvas for some text. In Grotto, 2013, the surface brushwork (in pink) might be taken to be artistic exuberance. In Untitled (Self Portrait), 2014, the head appears conventionally modelled while the body remains flat. 

Schnabel is an artist who does not allow the rational laws of perspective to get the better of his emotional side. The paintings are, as I say, deeply personal. What for instance are we to make of Untitled (Girl With No Eyes), 2014, shown above, where the black overpainting on what purports to be a straightforward portrait, resembles nothing less than a machine gun, its barrel and enlarged cross hairs pointing at the girl's face. Or is the blackness a less-than-joyous depiction of the Christian cross, the blonde all-American girl disappearing behind it as if retiring to the cloister. As the poet finds when work is printed on the page and they can no longer be there to explain it: the poem is the story.

Julian Schnabel
Untitled (Chinese), 2011
© Julian Schnabel
Courtesy the artist and Dairy Art Centre
Photograph © reviewer 2014
Julian Schnabel
David and Goliath, 2011
© Julian Schnabel
Courtesy the artist and Dairy Art Centre
Photograph © reviewer 2014
Sometimes the surface lines turn lyrical as in Untitled (Chinese), 2011, far left, almost a calligraphy, framing, in the central upper portion of the work, the delicate porcelain oval of a woman's face. Very lovely.

At other times, as if sensing the ambiguity of so many works labelled 'Untitled', the artist will add a subtitle, as in Untitled (Painter in Prison), 2013, which records visits the artist made to a state penitentiary where he helped tutor the inmates. (Schnabel has a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Houston as well as post-graduate study. Well exhibited in the world's art museums, his work is included in public collections from New York to Tokyo.)

Try to see this exhibition more than once. The gallery itself will astound you. The architect (who has worked with OMA) has left the inside clean, minimalist and true to its semi-industrial roots as a former Express Dairy Depot. Free tours take place on Thursday at 1.30 pm and on Saturday and Sunday at 3 pm.

The surrounding area is quintessential Bloomsbury, quiet Georgian streets and university buildings, all round the corner from the Brunswick shopping centre where you can buy a  sandwich and the peaceful green space of St George's Gardens where you can sit and enjoy it.

Don't miss what is possibly Schnabel's best puzzle work, the mighty David and Goliath, 2011, in Room 2 (shown above right). This David has just beheaded his Goliath, the blood still pours from the severed neck. The head, held by its hair by David, appears to be that of the artist. But who is the David in a suit who has metaphorically inflicted such a double wound: a friend, a teacher, a relative, a figure known or imagined from the art world?

CODA follows

Dairy Art Centre
7a Wakefield Street, WC1
Wed to Fri 10am to 5pm
Weekends and bank holidays 11am to 5pm

Monday, 14 July 2014

A little of the art of poetry

Eleanor Farjeon's beautiful hymn to nature written in 1931
 Morning has broken like the first morning;
 Blackbird has spoken like the first bird:
 Praise for the singing, praise for the morning,
 Praise for them springing fresh from the word!
Sweet the rain's new fall, sunlit from heaven,
Like the first dew fall on the first grass:
Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden,
Sprung in completeness where his feet pass.
Mine is the sunlight, mine is the morning
Born of the one light Eden saw play:
Praise with elation, praise every morning,
God's recreation of the new day.

Monday, 7 July 2014

Artistic Integrity in Depicting the Dignity of the Male

New Paintings at Hauser & Wirth
Until Saturday 26 July

Richard Jackson, with an insouciant maleness that speaks to his Californian heritage, in these new works makes free with the intimate parts of the male sex. In Pain-t (2012–2014), a row of sculpted male figures, trousers down and bent over in an ecstasy one supposes of self-loathing, spew the liquid contents of their lower bowels all over the pristine gallery wall behind them. The spews are Technicolor spews, of course, made out of paint.

Examine the figures closely and you will see where the paint went in (at the mouth aperture) and, having travelled down the digestive tract so to speak, where it exits – at the anal aperture. It’s all done with the gentlest humour imaginable, not to mention an exuberance that trumps good taste. I particularly liked the fact that some of the paint had, possibly accidentally, dribbled onto the inside of some of the trouser waistbands. 

Jackson’s paintworks were all created in situ in the gallery – but the artist has left in place all the piping, tubes and gear pumps that show how it was done. And I expect Health and Safety would have objected if anyone had suggested a live show. Only joking.

Laughter turns to pain with Clown (2013–2014), a sad but brightly coloured upside-down creature composed of wood, steel, cloth, aquaresin, paint, paintball gun and electronics and where the paintball gun is the sculpture’s mechanized penis.

The Clown too has spurted on the gallery wall, and, while the paint was still wet, Jackson has tacked up four small canvases, their canvas side to the wall, to collect the results.

By this time you will likely notice that dried-on splashes and dribbles of
paint adorn walls, floor and most other surfaces. We can thus appreciate a kaleidoscopic primary-coloured mess without getting any of it on our persons. Here and there empty 5-litre cans of paint stand on the floor, adding to the illusion. 

House of Pain-t (2012–2014) affords us a view inside an intense and cantilevered structure jazzed up with neon (see pic). As you gaze in, your imagination fills in what might or might not have gone on inside this hermetically sealed space. 

Richard Jackson
House of Pain-t
Fibre board, acrylic paint, glass, neon, hardware, air tanks
287 x 380 x 320 cm / 113 x 149 5/8 x 126 in
Installation view, ‘Richard Jackson. New Paintings’, Hauser & Wirth, London, England, 2014
© Richard Jackson
Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth
Photo: Alex Delfanne

Shower Room (2013–2014) is also superbly understated. Picture a large cubicle, clinically white-tiled within, and empty except for what look like chromium-plated shower heads. Here primary-coloured paints are used to suggest the earlier spurting of body fluids. As the viewer, you know it’s paint but your imagination can probably take you to quite a few grisly moments in horror movies as you stare at the “scenes” which appear to be depicted inside.

Copy Room (2014) records what all manner of girls have done at the office party when sufficiently drunk. A woman sits astride the lens plate of a photocopier, photocopying her vulva – and, I like to think, since multiple copies litter the floor, repeating the action until she gets a good shot. I didn’t mind a bit because Jackson has redressed the balance perfectly by how he depicts his males. Eye opening.

Hauser & Wirth
23 Savile Row

(corner of New Burlington Place)
London W1
Opening hours:

Tue–Sat 10am–6pm