Curated Choices: London Art Exhibitions May 2016 By Paul Carey -Kent

London Art Exhibitions

Paul Carey-Kent curates his choices of London art exhibitions for May 2016. His rolling ten recommended contemporary art shows are all on view now.

Lisa Milroy: Out of Hand @ Laure Genillard, 2 Hanway Place – Tottenham Court Road
To 25 June:

Handbag, 2014, mixed media. approx 90 x 100 x 25cm.  (FXP Photography, London)

Lisa Milroy takes over the whole gallery-flat at Laure Genillard as art blends wittily into fashion and lifestyle to question their boundaries. There  are stops at all of the Slade Head of Painting’s distinctive modes: a painting of shoes serried animatedly on off-white harks back to the 1990’s; figures evoke the Japanese influences which followed; then there are reversible paintings, one of them doubling as a handbag;  woven paintings, some with bags fronting them up; dress ‘n’ painting combos, one with a bedspread thrown in; lipsticks aplenty in the loo; and Lisa’s own range of hand-painted  dresses.   

The Lisa Milroy collection of Hand-painted Dresses


John Smith @ Kate MacGarry,27 Old Nicol St – Shoreditch

Still from ‘Dad’s Stick’, 2012 

It’s good to see John Smith showing solo in a commercial gallery in London, where his wry, structurally-aware films have tended to be shown more often institutionally. Kate MacGarry brings together a neat quartet of films themed for alterations in language: the comical effects of a smartphone’s translator app on the archetypal information overload of shop signage (‘Steve Hates Fish’, 2015); Smith’s droll assessment – heard forwards and backwards – of life in pre-1989 communist regimes (‘White Hole’, 2014);   a portrait of his father which feints towards interpreting his DIY enthusiasms as the art moves of a precursor (‘Dad’s Stick’, 2012); and the 1975 favourite ‘Associations’. 

Still from ‘Steve Hates Fish’, 2015  



XL Catlin Art Prize @ 28 Redchurch St, Shoreditch to 22 May; Aglaé Bassens: Front Parting @ Cabin, Southfields to 11 June; Martine Poppe: Crinkled Escape Routes and Other Somewhat Flat Things @ Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery, Wandsworth to 18 June;Bread & Jam @ 52 Whitbread Rd, Brockley 27 May – 5 June

See Top PhotoJane Hayes Greenwood: In Bits, 2016 (detail, photo Tom Carter)

Early next year, I’ll be curating a show of my favourite young figurative painters, and three of the four just opened on the same night of 5 May! Jane Hayes Greenwood has gone big to big effect in the Caitlin prize show, in which Jamie Fitzpatrick (frenetically), Neal Rock (subtly) and Christopher Gray (horrifically) also stand out for distinctiveness of language.  On to Southfields, near Wimbledon, where Aglaé  Bassens has a beautifully nuanced interplay of transparences*; then Wandsworth, where Martine Poppe’s takes her feathery technique to the cusp of abstraction in paintings derived from photographs of an American road trip.  As for the fourth, Emma Cousin, she’s not idle, but will soon be playing curator herself at the latest of the adventurous Bread & Jam shows in Brockley ( 
* See my text at for more

Martine Poppe installation view with tumbleweed scrunched versions of the photographs featured




Alberto Giacometti & Yves Klein: In Search of the Absolute @ Gagosian Gallery, 
To 11 June:

Installation view (photo Mike Bruce)

Gagosian’s best London show since Serra in 2014, and the best yet in the airy new  central space, has three components. First, 25 works by Giacometti – top notch, but less surprising than the National Portrait Gallery and Luxembourg & Dayan’s recent focus shows. Second, 30 works by Yves Klein, which do indeed  form a dazzling and unpredictable overview. There are, for example, ‘dynamic’ Athropometries which obtain very different results from naked women as blue paintbrushes than do the more often-seen ‘static’ versions, and also a fire version. The third component is the idea of combining the two, which also works brilliantly, pinpointing the existential angst and human traces in Klein’s fire and action paintings and  the conceptual purity of Giacometti’s etiolations.


Yves Klein: Peinture de feu sans titre (F 80), 1961
Scorched cardboard on panel, 175 × 90 cm



                            Simon Mullan: Die Fläche * @ PM / AM, 259-269 Old Marylebone Road – Edgeware Road

To 30 May:

If, Spotify-style, you like Thomas Grünfeld (a favourite of mine who’s now showing at MdC) then you’ll also enjoy Berlin-based Simon Mullan’s similarly sleek series-based way of repurposing design and fashion as art with social import. This impressive installation in a former underground car park presents Mullan’s bomber jacket collages and geometric abstractions from cut tiles against the backdrop of a dark dance film. The film’s audience, if you will, is Mullan’s newest stream: self-standing metal frames which add an extra dimension to the pattern of the grout from the tile pieces, but without any tiles.   

*The Surface

Graham Hudson: I lost my body but found my mind (Or, my only regret, is I did not fuck Che Guevara) @ CANAL, 60 De Beauvoir Crescent – Haggerston

To 14 May:

Without saying you need to be mad to be an artist, it can sometimes help…and Graham Hudson seems to be drawing parallels with the clinically deluded in a show titled for quotes attributed to Jane Fonda. He cites a case study of someone with Cotard’s Syndrome, in whihc you think you’re dead, along with a revolving umbrella-heavy installation on which a light bulb is the stylus for a vinyl record of ‘test sounds’ such as traffic, table tennis and a fire alarm. Another room contains what could be an ironic self-portrait as a tub of muscle-builders’  supplement. However big his body (of work) might look, it seems, the artist will be convinced of its alarmingly slimness. No wonder Jane Fonda’s self-improving mindset comes in for mockery. So can Hudson square the circle of self-doubt and public presentation? He gets as far as rectangling a roll of tape by looping it onto the wall with fluent straightness.

Dalila Gonçalves: The clock has no place in the woods @ Lamb Arts, 10 White Horse Street – Green Park

To May 19:

Edge, 2014: Plastic meridian of a desk globe and light and rotation mechanism

An artist asked to use found objects to explore time and materiality might fear the best ideas had already been taken. Still, how about turning the implied time of playing a CD into a Judd-like specific object of 750? Or arranging coins in order of the extent to which time and human agency had worn away the faces on them? Not bad, but it would be a step up to immerse lumps of dried clay in an aquarium and record and project the  break-down and its rumbling sound as if the scale and speed were geological; and a museum-worthy coup to set the arm from a globe spinning on the wall, creating an implied diurnal temporality out of the absence of our planet, and casting a sundial of shadow. All this and more is in the first London show by Porto-based Dalila Gonçalves. She brings something of a Brazilian sensibility to her practice, though maybe it’s Portugal having a London moment, as another fine show is Carlos Noronha Feio’s at Narrative Projects.
Untitled (CD’s), 2016, 750 CD’s


Francis Bacon / Darren Coffield @ the Herrick Gallery, 93 Picadilly – Central

To 21 May – 

Francis Bacon (?): Untitled, (blue pope) pastel and coloured paper collage, 148x99cm

Alice Herrick, who moved east to west last year, has come up with a fascinating pairing here: the first London chance to see the large drawings somewhat controversially attributed to Francis Bacon (whether his or not, I don’t much like them); photos of Bacon by Neil Libbert; and new work by Darren Coffield, who knew Bacon and is working on a history of his habitual haunt, the Colony Room Club. Coffield (best known for jumbling faces’ ups and downs) shows paintings which are cut into puzzle templates, scrambled and reconstituted so that, as Eric Morcambe might have put it, all the right notes are present, but not necessarily in the right order. This proves a perceptual game with some queasy punch, especially in multiple portraits of a curiously disparate group Coffield happens to know: here are 5 Alexei Sales, 4 Peter Tatchells, 3 Margaret Zuckermans and 3Hattie Hayridges, the pieces swapped across each the groups and sometimes extra unseen versions, too.


Darren Coffield: Peter Tatchel (i), 2015, acrylic on die-cut board, 42 x 32cm                                                               ________________________

Michelle Dovey The Colourful Sausage Trees @ Gimpel Fils, 30 Davies Street – Mayfair

 Midsummer Red Trunk (Colourful Sausage Tree), 2015 – oil on canvas, 92 x 122 cm

There’s no shortage of art gardens and flowers available for spring, principally at the Royal Academy and the National Gallery, but Gimpel Fils provides an alternative splash of colour for spring. Michelle Dovey calls her current subject ‘sausage trees’, hinting slightly comically at how the forms are broken down. They’re made in one-off wet on wet sessions in her back garden in Wales, derive from her favorite oak, and utilise all the colours she sees around her but not (as Eric Morcambe might have told her) necessarily in the right order. The observation in all weathers take us to Monet, while her intuitive derivation of colour taken from – but free of – nature might place her somewhere between Matisse’s Fauve and late periods. Can that be such a bad place to be?
Self Portrait as a Dancing Tree, 2016 – oil on canvas, 92 x 122 cm

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Das Institut @ the Serpentine Gallery – Kensington

One of the 80 slides in the series ‘When You See Me Again It Won’t Be Me’, 2014

Das Institut’s show applies a wide range of languages (graphic alphabets projected in light; slapstick slideshows; self-portrait photograms; marbled paint on mylar; stained glass brushstrokes…)  and a cornucopia of identities – solo, dual, collaborative, fragmented, disguised, subconscious, oppositional. All to the point as the umlauted German duo Kerstin Brätsch and Adele Röder* explore the annihilation of the self through cooperative action (rather than losing one’s identity in the corporate and commercial world).  Rebecca Lewin’s catalogue essay cites Deleuze’s notion of the ‘dividual’, as a ‘a person made of data which can be endlessly subdivided and recombined. It’s complex, yes, but worth spending time on – the more so as the midpoint of a wander via Hilma Af Klint at the other Serpentine space and Slate Projects’ latest at the Averard Hotel.
* say ‘Bretsch’ and ‘Rerder’

Three of Adele Röder’s ‘Solar Body Prints’, 2013


Bonheur de Vivre @ Bernard Jacobson Gallery, 28 Duke St – Central
Henri Matisse: Jeune femme assise en robe grise, 1942

Most shows reflect something of their gallerist, but rarely as explictly as Bernard Jacobson here declares ‘this is me’ through the art joys in his life. Matisse is God in Jacobson’s world, and he makes an annual pilgrimage to the painter’s grave in Nice. Matisse leads by way of colour and light to Miro, Calder, Sam Francis and the show’s only living artist, William Tillyer. Jacobson regards Robert Motherwell as the greatest ever American painter. We differ slightly, as I don’t even rate Motherwell as the best painter in his own house during his marriage to Helen Frankenthaler*, but it’s good to see such a passionate show, and the selection of 16 works is exemplary enough that I was surprised to learn it’s all for sale.  
*that said, I haven’t read Jacobson’s book on Motherwell, which doubtless makes a case

Joan Miró: Femme et oiseau devant la nuit, 1944


Jane Bustin: Rehearsal @ Copperfield, 6 Copperfield Street – Southwark


Faun (2015) acrylic, polyeurathane, copper pins, balsa wood, 50cm x 100cmThere are, I’d say, three ways of ‘infecting’ minimalism with the personal and lyrical: gesture, fragility and implied personal connections or narrative. Jane Bustin’s rigorously poised and openly beautiful geometries typically incorporate backstories, and here it is Nijinsky – in rehearsal, on the stage, in costume – as filtered through her son, who is himself a dancer and whose bodily dimensions are incorporated into the work. There is also some fragility: both in her characteristic use of potentially tarnishable copper, and in her new adoption of porcelain so thin it looks like paper. There’s also a hint of gesture in the circles formed on the porcelain by the rims of beakers – catching not just an implied choreographic movement echoed by studio practice, but Nijinsky’s favourite shape.

La Ronde (2015) Oxides on porcelain 23cm x 18cm


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