Fat Hands

she used to sit in this cafe, and just face the wall. And it wasn’t coffee she was drinking


Posted by Alix on 15 May 2008

Last Saturday I and Elly went on another art jaunt round the galleries of East London. We had a good day, on balance. Here’s the run-down, in order of visiting:

1. Alex Baggaley’s I Cycle Fatal Path at Alma Enterprises – a small selection of rather lovely pencil and ink drawings of landscapes under moonlight, very evocative of moonbathed nights, and very nicely done shading.

2. Stefan Saffer at Kate MacGarry – I was underwhelmed by this selection of modern abstract sculpture – it felt a little pointless – I think we both felt the pieces would have been redeemed if they had actually done something, moved in some way or produced an effect. As it was they felt a little blank. They were neither beautiful nor useful. The press release from the show highlights my uneasiness around such pieces of writing – they are rarely a good fit with the reality of seeing the art in person, which in my experience usually doesn’t communicate the ideas found in the writing. I always feel a bit guilty for passing over the spiel that goes with many exhibitions, as if I am somehow missing something vital to help me understand the work. It’s only a small amount of guilt though – on the whole I believe art should not need lengthy explanations – it should be appealing or apparent without supporting evidence. I feel, perhaps if some work needs additional explanation in this way, perhaps the sentiment the artist is trying to express would be better done using a different medium.

3. Charley Woolley’s I Built My House On Sand at David Risley – this exhibition seemed to consist of rather unconnected pieces, there was nothing drawing the parts together and it felt unsatisfying. Nothing really stood out about this one, so I shall stop talking about it now.

4. Also on Vyner Street (possibly at the Vyner Street Gallery) was the most enjoyable on the street – can’t remember the artists name, or find anything on the web, but it was a range of mocked up industrial/ broadcasting equipment, things that looked a bit like control panels from signal boxes, with very funny captions under the various switches and sockets. I thoroughly recommend this exhibition, and I’ll update when I know the artist. It was at the place opposite Nettie Horn (we didn’t go in Nettie Horn this time round. It was a bit rubbish last time, and the poster outside didn’t look promising).

5. Next up was Joan Jonas Infernal Paradise/ The Juniper Tree at Wilkinson – I liked these videos, they were rambling without being dull. I feel odd about watching videos in galleries though – unless they’re short I don’t usually feel like sticking around for the whole thing, so my judgment is based on excerpts rather than the whole thing.

6. Then onto Cell Project Space – they’ve transformed it into a very convincing surf shack, but I got the impression it was more for the benefit of the curators than the visitors! It was also phenomenally hot in there, and given that Saturday was already pretty warm we scarpered after a cursory nose round.

7. Then Gone Tomorrow where there was a small room at the top of a building that was very reminiscent of the art block at secondary school (all 1960s stairwells and heavy wooden doors, that sort of thing). The small room contained woodblock prints by David Stewart – these were good, their appeal lay, for me in the untraditional subject matter – for example, adverts from local papers for double glazing, reproduced in stark woodblock.

8. The Alexandre da Cunha exhibition at Vilma Gold was our next stop – this was 10 minutes of my life I’m not getting back. There was nothing here I liked, and we dissolved into laughter at how shitty it was after we left the gallery. Sculpture made from domestic items, was its summary, I believe. It was some mop heads*, some copper piping and a Rastafarian wallhanging. Very poor show. Her press release alludes to Duchamp’s readymades, that these new pieces are not classic readymades, but altered, evolved ones. The allusion seems pointless to me – surely the appeal of the readymade lies in its rawness – a readymade that is altered is something else. I’m not art scholar though, and this notion is embryonic at best, so feel free to pull it to bits.

*are mop heads a thing at the moment? This is the second time I’ve seen some in an exhibition. The other time was better!

9. Gallery Primo Alonso was ok – a group show called Icon, some mildly diverting paintings, and a video that actually did look like what Teletubbies on acid would look like. I know that’s a lazy trope, but it was like that. Well, kind of.

10. Along Columbia Road we popped into StART Space to see some Christopher Campbell paintings – rather grandly entitled Beauty and Apocalypse on the North Circular Road. Again, not a hit with me – billed as realist paintings of suburban houses, the pictures were realistic indeed, but charmless. I found myself wondering why anyone would bother painting them, or why anyone would want to have them on their walls. A photo could have captured the detail better, and probably imparted more atmosphere whilst it was at it. I’m not sure I really like Columbia Road shops much either, they are far too far up their own arses for my liking.

11. Next, after a sandwich in Hoxton Square we visited the Old Shoreditch Station bar where there are currently some Chrissie Abbott (as mentioned on Birdyblog recently) pieces in residence. I liked these – bright colours, plus birds and animals pleases me.

12. Then off to the Tea Building – firstly Hales for the Bob and Roberta Smith I Am A Living Sign. This was great, a wonderful mix of typographic chaos, traditional signwriting and sad/ funny diary extracts.

13. FINALLY next door to the Rocket Gallery which has Danish geometric paintings from 1950-2000 – lovely array of pieces which has whetted my curiosity to find out more about this area of work.

We finished off the day with a slap-up meal at Green Papaya, where I ate far too much tasty food.


6 Responses to “Artabout”

  1. This:

    they are rarely a good fit with the reality of seeing the art in person, which in my experience usually doesn’t communicate the ideas found in the writing.


    also this:

    A photo could have captured the detail better, and probably imparted more atmosphere whilst it was at it


    i should totally go and see moar art, also write it up like this so i don’t forget who/what/where…

  2. laughingowl said

    Elly and I are aiming to go on one of these safaris every couple of months – it really is a great way to spend a day. Writing it up here helps me work out what I think about it all – I find that I’ve developed stronger opinions about stuff by the time I come to blog it, compared to when I’m in the galleries.

  3. Clare said

    Just to let you know that the exhibition you liked (point 4 posted by laughingowl above on 15th May) was at VINEspace on Vyner St (www.vinespace.net) and the artist is Simon Morse….the show was ‘Reckoners/Reckoning’

  4. Hannah said

    Blimey, that’s an impressive art intake!

  5. laughingowl said

    Yes – we do it every few months, it takes all day, but it’s a lot of fun.

  6. laughingowl said

    (oops forgot to say thanks to Clare above for providing the artist details!)

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