Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Thursday, 25 October 2018

Kiki Smith: Woodland

Earth, 2012

I was so glad to have caught this show - Kiki Smith: Woodland - before it closes at the weekend. Artist Kiki Smith plays the role of a shaman or high priestess creating a powerful alchemy in these magical, allegorical tapestries which weave a dynamic spell. They are truly enchanting, invoking the power of nature, and man, (and woman's), relationships with each other, as well as the animals and plants which inhabit the works. The figures all seem to be contemplating their mortality, and spirituality, and striving to find their place within the natural order of their particular cosmos. There is the mysticism of the Symbolists, and also the dream-like states of the Surrealists imbued within these works, with obvious nods to the works of Redon and Ernst. The tapestries are created using the Jacquard weaving process adapted from Smith's life-sized collaged designs. The exhibition is both enchanting and sublime.

Cathedral (Wolf), 2013

Harbour, (Ocean-rocks-birds), 2015

Spinners (Moths & spiders webs), 2014

Details of the moths and ants busying themselves within the surfaces of some of the tapestries.

Sojourn, 2015

Parliament (Owls), 2017

Visitors, (Stars, multiple crescent moons), 2015

Fortune, 2014

Congregation, 2014

The Seasons Go Away, 2014

I encountered one of Smith's sculptures - Seer (Alice I), at the Frieze sculpture park (here), but thought its power was somewhat diminished in that setting with so many other sculptures competing for attention. Although some of the sculptures here are not as strong visually as the tapestries, in this context they worked harmoniously with them, and were a natural continuation of Smith's iconography and visual language. This was one of the most personally inspiring and gratifying shows visited in London during the very busy art-world merry-go-round instigated by Frieze.

Tiller, 2016

Spiral Nebula (Large), 2017

Eagle in the Pines, 2017

Underground, 2012

Kiki Smith: Woodlands
until 27th October
Timothy Taylor Gallery
15 Carlos Place

Monday, 22 October 2018

Conrad Shawcross: After the Explosion, Before the Collapse

I really enjoyed these elegant, faceted structures by Conrad Shawcross at Victoria Miro Mayfair. Like the work of William De Morgan which I saw recently (here), they also appear to be rooted in nature and the rhythms of mathematical calculations. Based on the geometric tetrahedron, the works in Shawcross's new Fracture series are more open and airy than the  Paradigm series that preceded them and give the illusion of movement. The dynamism and movement in the shapes reminded me of elements of works by the Futurist and Vorticist movements. The variety of surface treatments - jet black, corroded rust, highly polished and mirrored - also add to the sense of movement by absorbing, refracting and reflecting the light.

I also admired this piece Slow Fold Inside a Corner, 2018 sitting up high in a corner of the gallery. It is an articulated piece which can fold in on itself. It emanated a sense of menace and threat, like an insect just watching its prey and waiting to spring.

There were a few preparatory sketches like the one above which displayed an engaging array of mark-making techniques.

Conrad Shawcross: After the Explosion, Before the Collapse
until 27th October
Victoria Miro Mayfair
14 St George Street

Thursday, 18 October 2018

Paula Rego: From Mind to Hand Drawings from 1980 to 2001

"Drawing from the model is more spontaneous than drawing from the imagination... I think if you have something to look at and try and get it, you find that all sorts of things happen" - Paula Rego

There are many big-name art exhibitions on in London presently, celebrating the big, brash and bold in terms of painting, sculpture and installations. One big-name show that bucks this trend by quietly focusing on the power of drawing can be found at Marlborough Gallery. Paula Rego: From Mind to Hand Drawings from 1980 to 2001, is a sheer delight and concentrates on the discipline required and fun to be had in the act of drawing. The exhibition captures Rego's recordings from observation, as well as the development of ideas as a preparation for paintings through a range of media such as pen/brush and ink, watercolour, and pencil. The relatively small scale of the drawings really pulls you in, forging an especially intimate engagement with these works in a way that I hadn't felt with the big paintings and sculptures experienced at other shows that I have visited lately. Rego's drawings here are at turns whimsical, sensual, menacing and harrowing, all executed with the assuredness of a master draughtsman. This is a wonderful exhibition that shows just how central drawing is to Rego's practice, and serves as a reminder that we should all look a little harder, and perhaps strive to draw more. The works featured here are a small selection of two decades worth of drawings on display.

Paula Rego: From Mind to Hand Drawings from 1980 to 2001
until 27th October
6 Albemarle Street