Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Old London town one saturday afternoon...

Last saturday i was at a loose end so i decided to go and check out some shows on in London...

1. Unveiled:New art from the Middle East at The Saatchi gallery
This popped two cherries - the first time i had been to his (Saatchi) new space on Kings Rd (First impressions? fuck me he's rich ) and the first time i had been to a contemporary middle eastern art show. My verdict? i liked it!
Going in with absolutly no expectations or knowledge on middle eastern arts, i was kinda non plussed as i was neither nervous or excited...probably like most of the visitors then, and therefore a good reason why this show had to be put on...the contemporary middle eastern art scene is exciting and next to nothing is known about it in the west...put that down to politics and the often irrational fear / paranoia for anything connected to muslims and islam... i dont know...but this show helped highlight the good art currently being produced there and help prove to many that there is more to the middle east than cliches like suicide bombers, dubai opulence and oil fields burning over US troops.
There are paintings that remind me of Chris Johanson or David Shrigley (Tala Madani), giant naturalistic catherdral installations, rubber oil spill maps, an amazing room full of praying tin foil ghosts, burnt out collages, clever takes on women and housework and Sara Rahbars cool Middle eastern take on the stars and stripes...so, there is a lot to see and enjoy, but if thats not enough, they also have the one exhibit i wanted to see from the previous China exhibition (that i missed) - geriatric world leaders buzzing around on mobility scooters...

2. Dan Colen at Gagosian
I like Dan Colen. I think yes there's hype, but like Dash Snow i think he has the talent to back it up. Look at the work he's already produced - a recreation of his old flat wall covered in posters & paraphenalia, his stone monuments, his bubblegum and bird poo canvases, his large disney smoke paintings, his joint show with Nate Lowman, NEST...well boys got talent for sure...so i was looking forward to this...but it just didnt do it for me...one large canvas, and a free zine that basically i think was pretty shitty...yes i read the work notes, and yes i know what he was doing and saying, but i was dissapointed

3. Andro Wekua at Camden Arts centre
Saw his Nieves zine, and copped one of his books ('if there ever was one'), so i was looking forward to it. The critics slated it or covered it with a shrug, but hey, fuck em i like him. From an aesthetic point of view, i thought it was cool. I think his collage work close up aint grade A, but i still liked a few of the pieces, and i liked the sleek yellow construction inside the old victorian room. The girl on the bike (his trademark) seems to be like marmite...of friends who've seen it, half hate it half like it....if you go let me know what you think!

4. Jonathan Messe at Stuart Shave modern art
Jonathan Messe...what can be said that hasnt already been said? to me he is the fine art worlds version of early Venom albums - heavy metal with a close punk influence. And like punk or heavy metal you might not agree with everything made but you still thank fuck they are around. I didnt like the show (and my girlfriend thought it was very shit) - especially the cum/vomit paintings, but its still more interesting than a million shitty banksy wannabes. Im still gutted i missed his performance at the Tate turbine hall a while back...

5. Peter Blake
First time i've ever been dissapointed by Peter Blake. He is a genuine master of collage and pop art, so him working with vintage Venetian prints? sounds great to me...what was it like? boring, repetitive, predictable and everything else i wasnt expecting and that is the opposite of good....

6. Voodoo at Riflemaker.
This show stinks...literally. My overriding memory of this show was me stopping myself being sick...twice. On the ground floor is a giant slab of wax that smells just absolutly fucking disgusting, and downstairs there is a 'scent maker' which basically stunk like a giant piece of rancid turgid shit. Its really not a good look when my main thoughts of a show is that i kept on having to stop myself wretch....the art? the presentation? awful. I like William Burroughs dream machine, some black and white photos in the basement and Gavin Turks sculpture, but everything else? either rubbish or forgetful (including a Dash Snow collage - and i like Dash Snow)...I like the Riflemaker gallery, and they've had some real good shows on, but this stunk..in all senses.

7. Portrait prize at National Portrait gallery
I met up with my girlfriend as she wanted to go ...so it wasn't on my agenda this show, but i liked some of the entries...BUT there was a hell of a lot of filler...and if you read between the lines there, you would be correct if you thought i hated 90%... the vast crowds made my visit super unpleasant - i mean you would look at a work and then step back but and realise you've suddenly been surrounded by a sea of sweaty people...It was SO claustrophobic and stressful - so much so I really hated being there and therefore couldn't enjoy the work due to the crowds...BUT there were a few pieces i liked...

8. Dispersion at ICA
Dispersion is a collection of artists who deconstruct and remix found images. There are seven artists, mostly working in video art but i'm not a fan of video art...what i did enjoy a lot was Henrik Olesen and Anne Collier.
Henrik Olesens work documented and presented a fascinating art history lesson looking at homosexuality and gay artists. Olesen focused on the secret history, the history that had been covered up or whitewashed. Some of the points were quite sad and shocking, while other case studys were funny and humourous...it was a great, clever, absorbing and educational piece.

The other artist whose work i really liked was Anne colliers photographs, which were compositions of other objects (usually posters). BIEN MERDE!

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