Sue Arrowsmith at Purdy Hicks
London in the fall is a crowded schedule for art lovers, not only are the galleries returning from the long summer break, they are preparing themselves for the onslaught of art fairs and openings at major institutions. This year to beat the rush a myriad of private galleries are opening their shows a full week before the fairs, as well as at many public bodies.
There really are some great shows on at the moment starting with Prem Sahib's Side Onat the ICA. The ICA has had a troubled few years but under the new leadership of Gregor Muir they seem to have really turned things around and this show is a definite hit. It is Sahib's first institutional show in the UK and he has been given both the ground floor and upstairs galleries to explore the queer spaces that are to be found or maybe passed by in London and Berlin. He uses the language of minimalism to explore the tiled spaces of sauna's where sleek laptop-like sculptures sit completely blank. Anyone who has been in a Soho bar will know the certain type of customer who is surrounded by actual men yet has their eyes glued to their phone checking to see who is on Grindr or Scruff, as if there is never enough choice on offer, and that someone else better is just around the next corner or in the park across the street. One of my favourite works in the show is a false inset window high up in the wall of the lower gallery (above) that looks out to parkland and could easily be mistaken for a Robert Gober. Upstairs sweaty looking paintings (resin on aluminium) vie with dark spaces with rudely labeled works or best of all a coffee table held up by two socked feet (below). An orgy that we all just missed... damn.
But then he and his fellow Royal Academy School's grad Eddie Peake are the lads of the moment. Peake's show The Forever Loopat the Barbican Curve gallery is the other must see show and if you are lucky you will get both of them on the decks as was the case at the ICA's party for Sahib. They also help run an occasional club night called Anal House Meltdown, so you can party with them later if you miss it. But don't. I saw the layout for Peake's show in his studio with some of the works and it looks like a real treat and as he is known for his many nude performances it will be interesting to see what the Barbican allow him to get up to. His Facebook page keeps showing things not allowed, Drat!
Thea Djordjadze at the South London Gallery (detail)
The Serpentine opened with a big Jimmie Durham show and Rachel Rose at the Serpentine Sackler, while down in South London Damian Hirst has just opened his brand new museum the Newport Street Gallery with a show dedicated to John Hoyland. Down the road in Peckham the South London Gallery has Thea Djordjadze on show. This is a really interesting exhibition by the Georgian artist who usually recycles her own work. For this commission she has used many locally found objects and bits of building material to make a massive 20 meter long platform that looks like a work but also a divan, and when I walked into the gallery two of the invigilators were laying on it. One sprang up and acted very official and the other just lay there. I was not sure if you could sit on the work and the gallery guide was no guide to such usage, but the poetry of her work is hard to describe.
She has added small touches of paint and ink (above), to colour the found objects, and like small Richard Tuttle works (unlike his massive recent Turbine Hall intervention) the quirkiness is incredibly delicate and successful.
Sue Arrowsmith has some really elegant black and white, and black and black still life paintings on at Purdy Hicks. These are very big works in every sense and several are major pieces that someone like the Tate (just a hundred meters away) should really be looking at to buy for the nation. These works show the artist at the height of her powers, they are really powerful visually and conceptually. The black gloss on black matt are the best, tiny Acer maple leaves can be made out, or trunks of trees in silhouette (above) fade in and out of figuration and abstraction. These updates of Ad Reinhardt's black on black paintings offer a real punch, do not miss them.
Derek Boshier, one of the great pop artists of the 60's who is not as widely known as his fellows (David Hockney, Alan Jones, Peter Blake), has a wonderful gem of a show Re-Think Re-Entry at Flowers curated by Guy Brett, complete with a thick Thames & Hudson survey book to add to the glamour. Boshier shows many figurative whippersnappers a thing or two. The exhibition looks mainly at his collage work from the 1970's as well as his work with David Bowie and the Clash. Boshier did the cover design for Bowie's Lodger record and there are several design stages on show (above). The book gives a better idea of his larger paintings and why he is due a much bigger retrospective at an institutional gallery soon. It is great to see UK institutions starting to support young artists recently out of the graduate schools but the mid-career and older artists who have not been taken up by the mainstream also deserve a shot at wider public view.
All images courtesy of the author.