May 06, 2010

London Reviews

While in London last week I saw four exhibitions:

Eberhard Havekost: Guest
White Cube

The most interesting Havekost paintings were the Gast series (Guest) – quite convincingly 3 dimensional forest forms maybe seen at night, which are at the same time strangely out of focus as you approach them. The thing that is odd about the show is the unexplained interruptions in the flow of the display with canvases which are vaguely floating colour fields. Then there is one strong graphic piece, “Distanz” possibly representing the bottom of a door in a corridor and another painting called “H2O”, the torso of a swimmer – neither seeming to make sense in relation to the night forest paintings. The upper floor mainly features more of the colour field paintings – which in the majority work quite pleasantly. Apparently Havekost starts from a photo and “enacts a process of de-materialisation and re-materialisation, from thought to object.” I think the interchange of figuration to abstraction is an interesting effect but the absence of a connecting logic undermines the whole.

Jia Aili & Lu Chunsheng
iniva at Rivington Place
Jia Aili’s paintings are technically brilliant, though I would locate his iconography and forms with Bacon rather than (as curator David Thorpe suggests) Beckett. Unfortunately, I would say that when he takes the paint beyond the canvas onto the walls and floor they become inauthentic. The painting “Jia Aili, Good Morning” is a case in point: as the paint leaves the canvas at the bottom there is some dynamic spontaneous paint splashing but then other parts are overworked and remarkably clumsily done compared to the rest of the work. This exposed artifice is magnified by elements of broken glass or mirror on the floor which do not make the convincing transition from the image to the gallery spatial reality.
(Sadly I didn’t have time to see Lu Chunsheng’s video).

The Empire Strikes Back: Indian Art Today
Saatchi Gallery
The impressive Saatchi Gallery has a very strong Indian Art exhibition.

Artists who stood out: Shezad Dawood and especially Chitra Ganesh.

Jannis Kounellis
ambika P3

P3 is quite a weird space to visit. I think part of the effect of the final installation is the process of getting to it, though the backside of the urban fa├žade. The Kounellis installation is remarkable. Reading the exhibition notes doesn’t do the effects of this many favours, since it is one of those artistic acts that touches your being beyond language.

The Kounellis and Saatchi exhibitions are strongly recommended.

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