Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Pump House: Michael Beutler at Spike Island

Someone has built a pre-school, prehistoric monument inside Bristol's Spike Island, and it's great.

I’m in a small room, roughly a five-foot square, with two doors. The walls are made from paper and card, structured by a wooden frame. Two are lined with shelves made from bamboo cane and string, on which are an assortment of objects; dollops and curls of plaster, trinket-sized clay sculptures, geometric card constructions, a tray of espresso cups (Material Tests, 2006-2016).



The room is part of a warren of spaces squeezed into the gallery at Spike Island as part of Michael Beutler's exhibition Pump House. The gallery is partitioned by makeshift walls built from multitudinous materials; pastel-coloured corrugated card (Elefant und Schwein, 2010/2016) contrasts with smooth, thin shiny-silver metal sheets (Fat Potpourri, 2016) and magazine pages bundled up inside colourful netting to make rudimentary building blocks (Sausage Walls, 2014/2016).

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Botticelli in the Heaven and Hell of 2016 London

There are two Botticelli shows in London, Botticelli Reimagined at the V&A and Botticelli and Treasures from the Hamilton Collection at the Courtauld Gallery. 

Erwin Blumenfeld, Advertisement from Picture Post, 1969

Sandro Botticelli was born in 1445 in Florence and his best known works, Primavera and The Birth of Venus, are both held by the Uffizi in his hometown and unfortunately don’t travel, but the V&A show, the largest exhibition of Botticelli paintings and drawings ever held in the UK, does have lots of other treasures. Botticelli is, it seems, current and is with us even away from these exhibitions. In London we are able to see no less than nine of his paintings for free on a regular basis at the National Gallery including Venus and Mars and one of my favourites, Portrait of a Young Man (a different painting from the one of the same name at the V&A). I am a little bit obsessed by a series of his paintings, which I have only seen in reproduction, held by the Prado in Madrid and sadly not at the V&A – widescreen ratio panels with a cross sectioned storyboard showing the grizzly tale of Nastagio degli Onesti, which involves a girl being hunted by dogs – they are flatly painted with a hint of naivety and I love looking at them.

Monday, 4 April 2016

Unravel These Knots: Emma Talbot at The Freud Museum,

Alex Michon visits the Freud Museum and finds contemporary art and a symposium

‘Art is not psychoanalysis and psychoanalysis is not art.’
Joanne Morra (speaking at Intimacy Unguarded: Gender, the Unconscious and Contemporary Art).

Emma Talbot, Interpret My Dreams/Case Study, 2016

Walking home this evening, I am struck by the sight of a glorious salmon coloured sky. Something about this excuse-me- while-I-kiss-the-sky purpley haze reminds me of Emma Talbot’s work in Unravel These Knots. Significantly, showing at the Freud Museum, the work deals with thoughts, memories, emotions and psychological associations. Images made concrete from the half glimpsed mists of the mind’s eye.

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Sparkles of Fury

“Raged with curses and sparkles of fury”
from The book of Los by William Blake


Last night something extraordinary happened to my soul, it was awakened and moved in a way that so seldom happens at performance art events. As part of Blake’s Outsiders, Damian and Delaine Le Bas along with the band Noiseferatu enacted a visceral slice of agitprop performance titled Jerusalem? The Ancient Days? Albion? which seemed to stop the clocks. Existing outside and of its time, expressing all the howling, hidden discontent felt towards the Sick Rose at the heart of Angerland.

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Joseph Cornell: Wanderlust at the Royal Academy


Cathy Lomax takes her Cornell with a side order of Stezaker and Bracewell.

Still from Angel (Joseph Cornell and  Rudy Burckhardt, 1953)

I find Joseph Cornell’s fan-like obsessions with film and ballet stars and his collecting and ordering of found objects fascinating and inspiring. I haven’t seen much of his work in the flesh, so a retrospective at the Royal Academy was an exciting prospect. Before going in to see the exhibition I listened to an ‘in conversation’ between the writer Michael Bracewell, a Cornell dissenter who finds his work ‘morbid and dotty’ and the artist John Stezaker, a Cornell admirer.

Monday, 17 August 2015

Peter Doig at Palazzetto Tito

Peter Doig's show at Palazzetto Tito is either the best thing at this year's Venice Biennale or it's an irretrievable, living relic.

Rain in the Port of Spain (White Oak), 2015

Peter Doig’s show at Palazzetto Tito is a neat, clean and sublime experience. The work is sparsely hung, a delight to walk around; the paintings vary in scale but not in intensity. Each one functions as a window into a world where dreamscapes are elevated, the painter within his palace embalmed in a vivid palette.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Some Girls


A visual chronicle of Lucian Freud's relationship with Caroline Blackwood (on display at Ordovas) causes Michael Ajerman to recall the ever-true words – it sucks when it's over.

Girl In Bed (1952)

It has been a little more than four years to the day since the passing of Lucian Freud. Articles continue to gossip (how many kids?!) and curators squint and crunch. Refreshingly, Ordovas provides an antidote and presents the highly focused show, Girl. Visually chronicling the relationship between Freud and his second wife, Caroline BlackwoodAs viewers we plunge into their lives and world within the four paintings on display.