What a trip! Still another week to go and it’s back across the Channel to London again and a final chance to fill in the art and gallery gaps before I headed home to the magical city of Oz, Sydney.
Deep breath, let’s go…
An AMAZING new find was Charlotte Colbert, a London passed photographer and screenwriter who was showing at the beautiful Gazelli Art House in Dover Street. The exhibition, A Day At Home explores femme-maison themes of real and imagined identity, notions of solitude, isolation and confinement. Colbert builds a film noir narrative into each of her images, which are then compressed into a single shot, imparting her work with a cinematic and surreal atmosphere. Working with traditional photographic methods and 35mm black and white film, these haunting images have stayed with me and I’d love to see Colbert’s audience grow. A true talent to watch.
John Martin Gallery had a breathtaking sellout exhibition of paintings by Andrew Gifford. Two Cities: Paintings from Jerusalem and Ramallah is so much more than this humble title suggests. What started as a simple painting trip to Jerusalem in January 2012, evolved into a beautifully poetic and poignant journey through painting, history, identity, land, friendship, pride and heritage in these ancient lands and their surrounding towns and landscape. The significance of this exhibition has been officially recognized and will be touring to both Jerusalem and Ramallah in 2014 with the support of the Al Ma’mal Foundation for Contemporary Art, the A. M. Qattan Foundation and the British Council.
Gagosian's main gallery in Kings Cross was unfortunately closed for the holiday season but their street-front space in Mayfair was playing host to the world renowned architect, Frank Gehry's light sculptures. Created using metal wire, colour-ore Formica, silicon and wood, these giant fish were captivating. To walk amongst them and see them up close was yet another super treat, so was having the whole space to myself!
The physicality of painting and the surface was front and centre at Timothy Taylor Gallery in the current show, Hantaï, Hartung, Soulanges, Tàpies, on view till 18 Jan 2014. This is a stunning exhibition which brings together four of the key artists who were instrumental in the evolution of post-war European Abstraction. At a time when Paris continued to be the nexus of European art, literature and philosophy, the cultural scene in the US was also growing and increasing in confidence. This exhibition explores how these four artists sustained the project of Abstraction for over half a century by pushing the medium of painting and the painting surface to its very limits. A hands down museum quality show and it was such a treat to have had the chance to view it.
It was a complete change of pace next door at Hamilton Gallery who were exhibiting Daido Moriyama, the most celebrated Japanese photographer from the Provoke Movement of the 1960's, . His images are so multi layered, visually and philosophically that it's hard to know where to begin. It is first best to perhaps understand that he was born in Osaka in 1938 and the historical and social significance of this is palpable in his work. The aftermath of WWII, industrialisation, unsettling cultural shifts and urbanisation are issues which all play out in his captivating images. Gallery owner, Tim Jefferies selected 16 images from the Artist's archive and these have been created as screenprints exclusively for the gallery in an edition of 3.
I'm never sure if I'm going to like the shows at The Saatchi Gallery, they've been more miss than hit for me. This time I was pleasantly surprised. The current Body Language show as well as New Order are well worth a visit if you are in London. I found it refreshing to see works by younger artists acknowledged and shown together with more established artists, such as Chantal Joffe. New Order was equally satisfying, I especially enjoyed Alejandro Guijarro photographs of blackboards from academic institutions showing the workings of quantum mechanics. They are philosophically complex images, dealing with issues of mental movement, the speed and repetition of thought, questioning and problem solving. My evening visit was capped off with a trip to the gallery's basement to visit one of my favourite pieces of contemporary art, Richard Wilson's oil installation… as it always does, it took my breath away.
My final day saw me enjoy an early morning visit to the recently re-hung Tate Britain and what a treat it was. The curators have certainly done a magnificent job by beautifully re-working the galleries and breathing new life into ever corner. Pure joy.
My final exhibition visit was initially planned as a purely indulgent treat. It was in the end, rather emotional. Somerset House's current show is called Isabella Blow, Fashion Galore! and it is wonderful. The exhibition thematically charts Blow's life through her extensive fashion, shoe and hat collection. I'm not going to go into detail here on who she was - look her up if you are interested. What I will say is that I had followed and admired her for years, we shared the same birthday (11 years apart) and she died on my wedding anniversary in 2007. Her incredible skill for spotting, mentoring, supporting and promoting young fashion talent (Alexander McQueen most famously) was extraordinary. Her fearlessness, creativity and boldness is something the world needs more of. Seeing Blow's exquisite personal collection of clothes, hats and shoes has brought her back into the public eye but the world is certainly a less colourful place without her.
OVERALL & GENERALLY
It was an incredibly exhausting, stimulating, fascinating and fulfilling 2 1/2 weeks
Work by emerging artists (UK and international) exhibiting in London and Paris was exciting and seemed incredibly affordable
The lower end and blue chip art market is alive and well - the mid market is a struggle
Seeing painting, painting and MORE painting was BLISS
There are some great new, young galleries and gallerinas who are knowledgable, dynamic and BOLD!!
Can I wait to get back to London & Paris? NO
When do I think I might? October for Frieze and Frieze Masters et al - fingers crossed