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On the List: London

David Cheeseman

Once Ever After, Thrice Removed, Domobaal until Dec 14

Drawn Breath, Tintype until Dec 7

The Twin, Coventry Biennial until Jan 26

This extraordinary installation by the late artist and well-loved tutor David Cheeseman is one of three concurrent events featuring his work. Tintype is showing a series of sculptures and printed works focused on his interest in the philosophy of science, some of which were in progress at the time of Cheeseman’s death last year and have been completed by his partner, artist Mhairi Vari. Beyond London, ‘Matters Not’, the artist’s final installation, is a highlight of the Coventry Biennial exhibition ‘The Twin’ at the Herbert Read Gallery.

‘Once Ever After…’ could have been conceived for the quietly grand main space at Domobaal, but was first shown as part of ‘Solid State’ at Kettle’s Yard in 2001. The scale, the objects and materials used, its allusions to domestic ritual as the grounding element of a highly conceptualised existence, everything about it fits the room and the mood. Visually, it offers a familiar, painterly mise en scene, two chairs, a carpet and a gaming table, but one that has undergone a curious sculptural autopsy. Each object has been cut up to fit a vast series of 58mm2 glass boxes – made from histology slides hinged together with tape, originally used to create a reflective floor covering by the artist in his 1988 RCA degree show – and precisely reassembled back into cuboid place. Monumental in scale, metaphysical in tone yet physically precarious, this hermetic and visually arresting 3-D jigsaw reveals a great deal about the essential practice of a much-missed British artist.

Patricia Trieb

Kate MacGarry until Dec 14

I’ve yet to see Patricia Trieb’s paintings in the flesh, but can imagine the different visual languages they deliver onscreen offer something quite different at true scale. And one described as feeling “closer to the size of a bed than a door” by Joanna Fiduccia in the accompanying text. This rather nice analogy seems equally relevant to descriptions of sculptures as works on canvas. Certainly, her lyrical freehand produces the kind of forms that might adorn the insides of domestic or municipal structures. Leafy shapes and script-like flourishes bring to mind both European and Middle-Eastern design sensibilities, connecting the abstract influence of Matisse’s cut-outs with a raft of ornamental concerns and tonally seductive painterly schemes.

Jockum Nordström

The Anchor Hits the Sand, David Zwirner until Dec 20

There are elements of Swedish artist Jockum Nordström’s works I find particularly appealing. From his tongue-in-cheek avant-garde collage sensibility, to the layering of opaque and semi-transparent surfaces, and the muted palette and cartoon figuration reminiscent of Francis Alÿs. Together they deliver us into a world peopled with characters familiar by form, but in minimally suggestive predicaments designed to trigger our most underused narrative muscles. Each ‘dreamscape’ calls into being those moments, often in passage, in which we’re afforded space to imagine the lives of the human animals around us. The simplicity of the artist’s drawing style belies the sophistication of his observations and compositional choreography. Predatory cowboys, chubby gimps, lumpy pensioners and all manner of marginalised and exoticised subjects appear placed – irrespective of any single pictorial scale or location – in an open painterly realm seemingly informed by marquetry techniques, textile and book illustration, and shadow-puppetry traditions. Alongside a large-scale immersive tableau, the exhibition includes new graphite drawings and watercolours.

Benjamin Cohen

Something that isn’t, Fold until Dec 21

How is it we remembered, our humanness revealed by the things we surround ourselves with and the spaces we temporarily inhabit? Pretty much everything on view in this series of Benjamin Cohen’s multi-media works has come from the house of his late uncle. Possibly directly, but also cast, photographed and reconfigured as parts within his exploration of the expanded material field, they bring together facets of architecture and design across time. The objects and imagery Cohen has assembled reference the formal and decorative specifics of the mausoleum (and the home), fusing different functional and commemorative details to stylish and evocative effect. The blue resin barrier of a cast Victorian fireguard; Modernist diamond latticework, reminiscent of surfaces used to box-out church radiators; printed images of stone cemetery statues on ply, reveal the gap – between the memory and the actuality of things and places – as a space in which to imagine the everyday theatre of lives endlessly passing through.

Sara MacKillop

Returns and Renewals, Peer until Dec 21

Stationery – its colours, application potential, mix of synthetic and natural materials, essential forms fit-for-purpose and inherent collectability – informs this body of work by Sara Mackillop. This two-site project, at Peer and Shoreditch Library, takes the language of Minimalism as its central cue. In the gallery she has arranged office furniture and paraphernalia to create a seemingly functional set. At any moment someone might enter and make official use of the object inventory. Perfunctory things are afforded the kind of presentation space we associate with matter of greater cultural value. Their bright aesthetics and ergonomic forms elevated to sculptural and painterly significance, in solo, multiple-repeat and installation-style configurations. Time and again the associative lines between art and everyday objects are crossed, broken down and retraced to reveal the influence of one on the other.

Nan Goldin

Sirens, Marion Goodman until Jan 11

Nowadays everyone takes pictures at the party, or anywhere, everywhere. In fact, for some, it appears more important to document experience in the name of content creation than to live it. American artist Nan Goldin’s images are flooded with evidence of a ‘livedness’ that operates outside the normal constraints of time and place. Their power is tied up with the complex nature of her observer-subject status – as a member of the communities she photographs, while also a removed documentary eye upon the everyday event history of an extraordinary cast, many of whom lost their lives to AIDS. Known for her uncensored, diaristic portrayal of New York underground culture of the late-seventies and eighties this, the first major exhibition of Goldin’s work in London since 2002, frames moments in the grip of addiction. The install features a new digital slide show of archival images, ‘Memory Lost’, offering a mercurial journey through memories made while under the influence, and the restaging of an existing one: the artist’s seminal 1994 celebration of transgender culture, ‘The Other Side’. Also included are a series of large sky and landscape photographs from the 2000s and two new video works. ‘Sirens’ – comprised of found footage and set to a new score by Mica Levi – and three-screen work ‘Salome’ explore the conditions for temptation and the timeless lure of the temptress as a recurring narrative motif.

Roy Oxlade

Alison Jacques until Jan 11

If you missed Hasting Contemporary’s expansive Roy Oxlade survey that closed in October, this smaller, sumptuous selection offers some consolation as it spans almost 30 years of the late British painter and educator’s practice. Instinctual is a word often used in descriptions of Oxlade’s approach, to both composition and mark-making. Eschewing the pictorial view, his personal library of motifs was informed by everyday things, experiences and life in the studio/art-school crit rooms: from lemon squeezers to the figure in art and the shorthand particulars of his painter wife, Rose Wylie. And, like real life – as opposed to the formally arranged fruit-bowl kind – his works are visceral, sometimes ridiculous and charged with the potential of being subject to renegotiation at any moment. But, for me, always positively edible in terms of their fat-brush, Guston-esque linearity, finger-in-the-butter materiality and the bickering evidence of unlikely chromatic relationships. As images now belonging to art history, they give one the sense of moving between generations and able to discern, from any shouty canvas portal, the arrival of the legacy train and the destinations it has since been afforded passage to.

Selma Parlour

Activities for the Abyss, PiArtworks until Jan 11

If Selma Parlour’s paintings were people, they’d be of the genetically gifted kind – clever and preternaturally attractive. They may have a new-world sense of savvy about them – IG relevance for days – but also speak of the core spatial concerns occupying influential abstract painters like Tim Renshaw, say, or Lothar Goetz. And, similarly, when looking at a room full of them, one is hard-pushed to pick a softly gradated rainbow favourite or find an image that doesn’t make the grade. The title has a literary but also institutional ring to it, bringing to mind the idea of needing to fill time with actions, maintain a physical focus for fear of becoming lost in a virtual sea. And there are various analogue processes in play during the development of these works on linen, apparently involving laser engraving and industrial coding machines. The spaces Parlour creates in her compositions initially appear ripe for mental projection, but actually serve to thwart our ocular need to move through the plane, or locate ourselves within the image by way of secure structural elements. Rather, they deliver a sense of contrary delight, at being prettily slippery and defiantly two-dimensional in an increasingly screen-based world.

South London Gallery from Dec 6-Jan 23

SLG is the second site to host to this year’s selection of artists studying, or having recently completed their studies, in the UK. And, as you’d expect, the exhibition opened with a truly international list of future talent this autumn, in Leeds Art Gallery. BNC remains a vital platform for artists starting out. Participants receive one-to-one peer mentoring with Artquest and recent alumni are eligible for a variety of UK and international studio bursaries and residencies. The painters this year look strong, among a curious mix of practitioners working in all media. They are all potentially ‘ones to watch’, of course, but I’ll be taking a closer look at Paul Jex’s visual critique of art presentation and commentary; Dutch photographer Simone Mudde’s chromogenic colour prints (pictured); Renie Masters’ object paintings; Brazilian Gabriela Giroletti’s curious mode of abstracted figuration; and the film works of Hong Kong national Cyrus Hung, which appear to include interviews with Georg Baselitz and Sean Scully.

Hamish Fulton

A Decision to Choose Only Walking, Parafin until Feb 8

I watched Hamish Fulton engineer a walking performance around a Venetian courtyard earlier this year. It was fascinating, witnessing a group of people – largely unknown to one another – in confined motion for the hour-long duration; what happened to their sense of self and propriety as one of a herd and the micro relationship moments that could be observed. Fulton paced with purpose throughout, as if piloted by a personal directive that would inform him in some specific way about the space and the influence of place and movement on the synapses. As the title of this exhibition suggests, his first at Parafin, Fulton is not an artist that walks, but a walking artist. It has been curated around a famous journey he made in 1973, a 47-day trek from Duncansby Head to Land’s End, but his work has taken him around the world, bringing him into contact with many marginalised communities, and environments/ecosystems under threat. Featuring text works, prints, photographs and artefacts the exhibition explores the communicative potential of the artist’s acts to reconnect us with our physical selves, the land and the changing nature of social spaces.

All photos courtesy of the artists/galleries unless otherwise stated


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