Five shows to see in London this month
Beth Collar – Daddy Issues (until 28/4)
It’s a great title and a ‘problem’ tag experienced by many … including right now, Dutch band Pip Blom, whose current track of the same title appears – like brilliantly accidental indie-rock fanfare – to herald the arrival of this exhibition about the historical representation of women through art and how women’s art is read. ‘Daddy’ here is an umbrella metaphor for the patriarchy in all its guises, as well as a tongue-in-cheek source of blame for the trope of the often-hysterical harridan, an image found frozen in artefacts since museum collections began.
There couldn’t be a more perfect art church than the site at Dilston Grove and Collar appears to have used its celestial atmospherics to her advantage. Working in terracotta and other ‘ancient’ materials, and employing a variety of traditional techniques, she has effectively taken re-ownership of the hobbyist associations historically used to undermine women’s art production, and made a veritable feminist-comedy vessel out of the church-fete craft table. Witness Collar ‘sail’ it with ease across several hundred years of male-authored history.
Be sure to check out the show in the main gallery, Realm, and cross the park to visit Matt’s Gallery’s temporary project space at Ron Henocq Fine Art on Webster Rd (next door to Bermondsey’s Coleman Project Space).
Frith Street Gallery (Golden Square)
Anna Barriball – Fade (until 11/5)
There’s a sense of removal from the event – or having turned up after the defining moment of investment – about Anna Barriball’s process-based practice. It can leave one itch-scratch wanting (a way in, or a way out). Skin always springs to mind when thinking about her practice – the creation of tactile, materially seductive layers equally designed to protect elements of everyday encounters, as engage us with them. Each work appears to exist between the thresholds of image and object, creating a liminal subset between the two in which to effectively trap traces of intangible ideas or unknowable things.
Through Barriball’s past minimal actions, buildings and other entities have appeared as if made from the stuff of imagination as opposed to common-or-garden materials. Yet all produced with an empirically focused, almost forensic attention to detail at odds with the flight of fancy. Her graphite rubbings of architectural sites, for example, provided images in relief that simultaneously referred to the experience as well as the aesthetic anomalies of places; while for the video work ‘Draw’ the placement of a sheet of tracing paper over a fireplace resulted in a chimney breast appearing to breathe.
The world as seen through the lens of the camera is the focus of ‘Fade’, a new large-scale, three-channel video work. Once again, Barriball plays with ideas of time as a material proposition through the use of tinting and other photo/cinematic effects. Also on display, is a new series of window ‘drawings’ made using wax in ways that capture the sense of light passing through stained glass.
Is this Tomorrow? (until 12/5)
Artists and architects have been invited to team up and wrestle with the most pressing, or perhaps even the most trivial, 21st century issues in order to build and offer a window onto the future. The exhibition is a re-boot of the Whitechapel’s seminal 1956 art-and-architecture collaboration of the same title, curated by Bryan Robertson and also featuring work by Richard Hamilton. What does the future look like through the prism of now, many decades on from the visions of silver foil and a predilection for beanbags and clashing brights intrinsically linked to the word futuristic? Judging by the gallery’s PR and the response so far, a few of the G10 appear to have gone well and truly off-map with some wild, wonderful and cyst-poppingly dark imaginings of how we might define ourselves and get by in an increasingly AI world of dwindling natural resources.
The exhibition features: 6a architects, Adjaye Associates, APPARATA, Rachel Armstrong, Rana Begum, Tatiana Bilbao Estudio, Cao Fei, Mariana Castillo Deball, Cécile B. Evans, Simon Fujiwara, Andrés Jaque / Office for Political Innovation, Kapwani Kiwanga, David Kohn Architects, mono office, Farshid Moussavi Architecture, Hardeep Pandhal, Amalia Pica, Jacolby Satterwhite, Zineb Sedira and Marina Tabassum Architects.
Bruno Pacheco: head (red) hand (11/4 until 25/5)
Portuguese painter Bruno Pacheco appears happy to marinate himself in the past. Well, in the history of image-making at least. His beautiful tonal studies of people and objects in unusual scenarios are culled from a variety of found images and reproduced, in the manner of difficult-to-locate memory, on canvas. The light-flooded, faded aesthetic and sometimes absurdist ways in which he frames his subjects, align him with very different schools of contemporary painters. Wilhelm Sasnal’s slick handling of time-based imagery springs to mind, but then again, so does the socio-political characterisation of the human form by the likes of Ansel Krut and Tala Madani.
Essentially, though, Pacheco takes a reductive approach to the job of processing the imagery he is drawn to. As with other series, in the new works, the body – the oldest painterly subject and highly fetishized territory in art – is treated much the same as any other element of the composition. While the figure may be too strong a visual signifier to get lost in context, exactly, his molten Bonnard brushwork licks everything into a desirable, neither abstract nor truly representational, whole.
Pacheco is also showing several books of his works on paper and there is an interesting group – Andrea Büttner, Ruth Proctor, Joachim Schmid and Anne Tallentire – showing in the upstairs space at Hollybush.
Tate Britain Duveen Galleries
Mike Nelson: The Asset Strippers (until 6/10)
Mike Nelson collects and assembles found matter with the conviction of a Prepper and the eye of a cinematographer. Immersive theatre group Punchdrunk is just one of many who owe a debt of gratitude to this man. But it’s Nelson’s sculptural handling of pre-existing things that makes any installation he undertakes a viably everyday (as opposed to theatrical) and often deeply unsettling experience for the viewer.
Even when he is playing directly with the physicality of film sets or particular cinematic stylistics, one is never taken far from real life. The process of negotiating a work is like the Truman show in reverse, in which the simulation of reality reveals more about human narratives than the process of actually being in the world. The Nelsonverse devoid of all gloss, alerts us to the existence – and highly malleable nature – of the personal choices that determine what makes the cut each day in our own version of things.
This is the first of Nelson’s projects I’m aware of that is not, to some extent, a sealed unit within the institution he is working with. For ‘The Asset Strippers’, the relationship between artist and institution/individual and state is centre stage. Nelson has filled the opulent interior of the ludicrously impressive Duveen Galleries with piles of quietly arranged, contextually loaded ordinary things, equally as powerful for the Amazon-era poignance of the storyboard clues they bring. While Nelson’s medium is his message, in the midst of Brexit chaos this project – like Wallinger’s banners before – has more than a whiff of the harbinger (and the art-history classic) about it.