- Victoria Comstock-Kershaw
FETCH FAVES | FEBRUARY 2023
This month's best London-based art shows, exhibitions, music and more.
SHOWS & EXHIBITIONS
© Jonathan Baldock
Jonathan Baldock | we are flowers of one garden
Stephen Friedman Gallery, 11 & 25-28 Old Burlington St, W1S 3AN
Centred on themes of nature and the cycle of life, this highly personal exhibition draws inspiration from Baldock’s relationship with his mother and her garden. The artist brings together a new body of work comprising ceramics, sculptures and wall hangings. Baldock examines the spectrum of human emotion, brutally and blissfully reflecting on what it means to be alive and how we find our place on Earth.
Flowers, 21 Cork St London, W1S 3LZ
Giles’ large-scale abstract paintings combine a hard-edge approach to line and composition with intuitive markmaking, incorporating expressive gestures amid rigorous formal structures. Her painting style developed from making smaller collages using found scraps and painted cut-outs. The monumental canvases seen in this exhibition begin with elemental forms that emerged from these collages, transforming the interplay of positive and negative forms through scale and painterly means of expression. At times appearing architectural, the paintings suggest the immensity and solidity of the urban skyline, while harmonious earth tones and feathered edges integrate a sense of light and space. Often working flat to control the flow of acrylic paint, Giles works by instinct, moving and re-arranging shapes and panels until new intersecting forms emerge. In this way, the paintings remain in flux throughout their making as well as retaining the palpable edge of the initial collage ‘cut’. The muscular swathes of paint are intersected by the internal boundaries of the individual canvas panels, creating borders and channels that splice through the expressive drips and splashes.
Dawit Adnew | Woven Moments
Addis Fine Art, 21 Eastcastle Street, W1W 8DD
Dawit Adnew’s paintings conjure a sumptuous, dream-like idyll, where figures pose languorously in beautifully patterned dresses in gardens overflowing with luxuriant plants, flowers, and fruits. An atmosphere of perpetual calm prevails, a suggestion of twilight, where colour and pattern are sources of pure pleasure, as in Matisse or Gauguin. His practice is informed by studies in African masks and iconography, and his use of patterns and fabric emerges from his experience as a textile designer.
Recycle Group | Sapient
Gazelli Art House, 39 Dover Street, W1S 4NN
Reflecting on the power-imbalances and opacity of current governmental structures, the artists conceived Sapient, an open-code algorithm combining the will of the living and the infinite to enact bureaucratic rulings. Supplanting orthodox government, Sapient would offer a transparent democracy steered by real people and sustained by post-death data and consciousness uploads to the meta-world. A continuation of conceptual investigations by Recycle Group – spanning Venice Biennale and Pompidou interventions – at its core Sapient aims to explore how technology could improve political fault lines.
Installations spread across two floors open a timely contemplation on the nature of human and AI relationships. Straddling the organic and online, a forest of expired links acts as a portal, where all things biotic are given the ability to lead a virtual existence. Surrounding lightboxes generated by Artificial Intelligence are embedded with Google searches, based on key-words of the future governing order. Upstairs, full immersion into the virtual world awaits; visitors can recline in armchairs surrounded by mesh figures set to accompany them on their virtual journey. The ideals of a utopian republic permeate the space, brought about by the considered absence of any visual symbols of power. Recycle Group had previously explored ideas of iconography in 2015’s Conversion, a satellite event for the 56th Venice Biennale where social media symbols replaced religious imagery. In Sapient, icons are replaced by a neutral intelligence system, and life after death is achievable via the metaverse. A new world order is delineated through the use of ‘0’, a universal sign of equality to the artists, acting as a ‘good-terminator’ and the coordinates for the AI used throughout this exhibition. Using the potentialities of the future, Recycle Group not only subvert ideas of contemporary religion and government, but supplant them entirely.
José Lerma | Guerras Tibias
Almine Rech, Broadbent House, W1K 3JH
José Lerma’s recent hyper-painterly portraits are paradoxically austere. The copious amount of paint loaded onto each canvas counters the scant number of brushstrokes: only three to ten per piece. Though impasto typically conveys dynamism and spontaneity, here it rigidly describes static heads from the front or side. Stark and solemn, the faces in profile evoke Piero della Francesca’s classicizing double portrait of the Duke and Duchess of Urbino. Only in place of the early Renaissance master’s diaphanous oil glazes is the opposite extreme: clotted slabs of acrylic. With so few marks and fast-drying paint thickened with gels and other materials, Lerma’s pictures require careful planning. This methodical process and the profound quietude of the resulting images neutralizes the improvisational bravura associated with gestural brushwork. Beyond the unlikely marriage of seductive expressionism and severe neoclassicism, the series contains many more contradictions that challenge expectations of both painting and portraits.
Jose Lerma | Rafael Luis, Carlota Beatriz, Alina (2022)
MUSIC & FILM
Glaswegian band Cloth give us a glimpse into their upcoming album Secret Measure with warm, sultry vocals and funky, layered guitar, made even better with the addition of a gorgeously funny video.
Alice Diop | Saint Omer
A deeply layered and complex social drama inspired by Diop's own experience of attending a court case in 2016.
Alice, Darling | Mary Nighy
A refreshing role for Anna Kendrick, who plays the heroine of this dramatic thriller about control in relationships.
Cover image © Dawit Adnew