Jeremy Deller – Hayward Gallery The artist we should deserve. This was a n exceptional show of an exceptional artist. Well layed out and structure, with the right approach to letting the audience decide how far they were to engage with each work. This show has a vast amount of work in it and deserves a huge amount from the visitor and most people I was with in the space were giving over a lot to the and being justly rewarded with the debate that was being stimulated. We walked through a recreation of Deller’s childhood bedroom where he staged an early exhibition when his parents were away on holiday. It was funny seeing his posters for imaginary exhibitions of popular culture. Seen as something al most farcical when he created them, they are now almost common place. I am currently in an exhibition of art inspired by The Smiths for example and John Squire’s paintings have been shown regularly, albeit not at the defunct City Racing gallery that Deller’s poster advertises.
I particularly enjoyed hearing Deller’s ‘DVD extra commentary’ on a slide show of non-gallery projects. Highlights being The Butterfly Ball with Peter Stringfellow, the installment of a minimal sculpture in Cumbria that is a greasy pole for one day of the year, his snapshots of a tour of the 2000 world trade fair in Hannover and his insertion of a poster onto the London Underground featuring Ghandi’s quote “There is more to life than increasing it’s speed.”
It was great to be transported back to Manchester after a few days away and enjoy a free cup of tea in Valerie’s café, which I last saw in the Procession and subsequently in Cornerhouse a few years ago. It was a great day spent in a rare bit of sun in Manchester and I spent several months with a brass band version of The Fall’s Hit the North in my head after the Procession, which I am sure I will have again after hearing it on the video.
Acid Brass, genius work, enough said.
Battle of Orgreave is his most vital work for me.
Likewise It is What it is.
I wish I could have stayed through more of The Posters came from the walls, extraordinary in places, not for the obsessive fan part, but more when it dealt with people from the old GDR and Tehran and the extent of defiance is explored.
Brilliant show, brilliant artist. Best of British!
David Shrigley – Hayward Gallery Should have done this show first, Shrigley is great and this was an enjoyable show. Hard not to like and far worse to try and explain it without just doing descriptions. The work contains all you need to know and stimulates all you need in the immediacy of seeing it. On the day I went it was pouring with rain and the two pieces on the terrace were perfect against the drenched brutalist architecture and grey views of the Thames. On one side a lonely diminutive stick man stood bravely against the down pour. On the other the words LOOK AT THIS defiantly diverted your attention from the art in the gallery. Of all his works in the gallery, one drawing stood out, maybe after spending several hours in Deller’s show below. Below a typical Shrigley drawing of a fountain were the words, “Social unrest eased through provision of a water feature.”
Ron Mueck – Hauser and Wirth Not sure why I went in really. I find Mueck’s work a little facile, partly this is due to the slickness, in many ways a work such as ‘Woman with Sticks’ could be read as being close to the themes of a drawing by Rachel Goodyear and I would love that. In Mueck’s trademark style I could not care less. The diminutive tanned man on a lilo is so far from the poignancy of ‘Dead Dad’ which stood out as being so heart felt in the generally heartless Sensation.
Andy Hope 1930 – Hauser and Wirth A show of painting that makes me dislike painting. Nothing here grabbed me, I could not engage, only grow despondent. Ce la vie. Although the work has apparent similarities to Michel Majerus, the work could not be further form one another.
Jamie Shovlin – Haunch of Venison I like Jamie Shovlin’s work, I can remember helping him install his work in New Contemporaries years ago and he stood out as being rigorous, methodical and still irrelevant then, as he is now. The work in the gallery is form his long running interest in the Fonatana Modern Masters series of pocket guides to thinkers which were published in the 1970’s. The first 49 books had a distinctive geometric design for the cover, whilst the final 10 reverted to portraits of the philosopher, scientist or writer which the book covered. And then there were some that were never printed. Or something like that. Shovlin has designed covers for the final ones unworthy of being treated with Oliver Bevan’s original paintings, in the manner of these design classics. These are for me more successfully seen in the book sized watercolours in the first room, whilst large scale abstract paintings more in keeping with Stella, Albers or Noland that they ape loom within the other rooms. However all of it might just be an elaborate hoax, in fact should be if the artist’s past form is anything to go by. Boy cry wolf otherwise.
Wandering Lines II – England & Co This is a thoughtful show from a thoughtful gallery, who have temporarily taken over a new space in the West End. The show takes it’s title from an expression from Gertrude Stein’s first airplane ride where she viewed the ground as like the ‘Wandering lines of (Andre) Masson.’ In the gallery contemporary artists are mixed with 20th century pioneers, though pleasingly there is a unity and timeless quality to the work in the exhibition, which means that dates and times are almost irrelevant. Particular highlights for me were Micheal Druks filmed performances featuring the Israeli artist systematically dividing up the territory of a circle through a ‘game’ involving throwing a knife into sand. The subsequent knowledge that the other protagonists in the 2 films are a German and a Palestinian and that Druks let each become the victor when the work was shown in galleries in Germany and Israel adds a poignant political edge.
Chris Kenny showed beautiful 3D drawings involving floating twigs intricately connected together in a winding geometric labyrinth. John Plowman’s drawn labyrinth went form 6B to 6H in hardness or softness of tone. Harald Smykla showed 2 works, a projected drawing (from the OHP where it was made) of members of the audience at the private view. The manufacture of the piece is far more complex than one would suppose, deep simplicity. A Movie Protocol drawing of The Red Shoes hung close to the entrance, an instance of, for me, a perfectly self contained and magnificent artwork.