RA Magazine Autumn 2007
Issue Number: 96
New art this autumn
The Frieze Art Fair has inspired an informal contemporary art season across London. Marjorie Allthorpe-Guyton reports on highlights
GIRL POWER AT VICTORIA MIRO
American artist Sarah Sze captures the fragile beauty of everyday objects, including light bulbs, matches and plants, in ephemeral, site-specific installations, such as Tilting Planet, restaged at Victoria Miro. October sees Japan’s revered contemporary artist and magnificent outsider Yayoi Kusama in her first London show for a decade. Obsession, fantasy and outrage drive her multi-media, hallucinogenic visions and existential themes. As she says, ‘our earth is only one polka dot among millions’.
Sarah Sze, 1–22 Sep; Yayoi Kusama, 9 Oct–10 Nov; both Victoria Miro Gallery (020 7336 8109; www.victoria-miro.com)
INSIDE AND OUT OF THE SERPENTINE
Be first up the ramp of the new Serpentine Pavilion, a collaboration between Kjetil Thorsen of Norway’s Snøhetta architects and Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson, famous for his environmental installations, whose major retrospective opens at San Francisco MOMA this autumn. Eliasson provokes a sense of spatial awareness with his timbered spinning top breaking form with its vertical dimension.
The Serpentine also presents the first major show of American artist Matthew Barney’s work in the UK. The ‘Drawing Restraint’ installations of thermoplastic, oozing petroleum jelly, drawing, performance and film probe the agonies of human endeavour. The psychosexual is the turbo dynamic of Barney’s Herculean productions.
The artist’s performance Mile High Threshold: Flight with the Anal Sadistic Warrior at the Barbara Gladstone Gallery in New York in 1991, where he scaled the walls with ice-screws and a groin harness, was an homage to Houdini and American football player Jim Otto. Barney exhibited at Documenta IX in 1992 and the Venice Biennale a year later.
His delirious ‘Cremaster’ series of films are parables or nightmares, depending on your predilection. Cremaster 4, co-produced with Artangel, features TT sidecars, satyrs and faeries hurtling around the Isle of Man. Cremaster 5, gloriously staged in Budapest, stars Barney as diva, giant and magician lover to Ursula Andress. Like Peter Greenaway, Barney knows all about male abjection, but meshes myth with body and machine. As critic Dan Cameron says, ‘Barney is nothing if not dead serious’.
Olafur Eliasson & Kjetil Thorsen, Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2007, Aug–Nov; Matthew Barney, Serpentine Gallery, 020 7402 6075; www.serpentinegallery.org), 20 Sep–11 Nov
SIOBHAN HAPASKA AT CAMDEN ARTS CENTRE
Irish artist Siobhán Hapaska is a modernist heretic. Her sculpture confounds easy categories: flawless surfaces, strange, animating LED blue lights and found objects. In Delirious, 1996, a fibreglass body with its feet/head pinioned in wooden stocks hums ‘Love Me Tender’ to itself. Shape-shifting and lost in time, her works struck a futuristic cord at Documenta X in 1997. Hapaska represented Ireland at the Venice Biennale in 2001.
Camden Arts Centre presents her first solo exhibition in the UK since her debut ICA show in 1995–96. The new works with glacial synthetics and real body stuffs, a buffalo skull and coyote skin, promise an emotional rollercoaster of uneasy juxtapositions and absurd connections. Hapaska makes us face up to how things are: adrift, needing constant prodding to keep on course and, not least, in shape.
Siobhán Hapaska, Camden Arts Centre, London (020 7472 5500; www.camdenartscentre.org), 28 Sep–25 Nov
EVA ROTHSCHILD IN SOUTH LONDON
A solo show of new work by the sculptor Eva Rothschild offers
close encounters with objects that seem both alien and familiar, yet not quite benign. Born in Dublin in 1972, she studied at Ulster University and Goldsmith’s College.
Her scepticism towards orthodoxies in art and faiths has earned her an international reputation. The artist filled a rubber tyre with burning incense in 2004; in her series of ‘Black Psycore’ paintings and sculptures, of lacquered beech, wire, aluminium and perspex, minimalist purity is shot full of holes.
Rothschild is drawn to the radical Sixties, the hippies and rockers for their ‘crazy mystical stuff’, but has no time for New Age certainties and is intrigued by the prevalence of the irrational and dangers of utopias. The spell of her black pyramids and suspended ceiling pieces cannot hold, as she says, ‘I want them to be pointy and sticky’.
At the South London Gallery, she introduces coiling and rocky forms, and we can expect more sharp resonance from an artist who describes herself as a ‘hardened half believer’.
Eva Rothschild, South London Gallery (020 7703 6120; www.southlondongallery.org), 13 Sep–28 Oct
ZOO ART FAIR AT THE RA, ARTANGEL AT WEMBLEY
Punch drunk after visiting Venice, Documenta and Münster? Clear
your head (and bank balance) with Frieze and the satellite Zoo Art Fair. Launched in 2004, Zoo moves to the RA’s Burlington Gardens site this year. It supports emerging galleries and artists, including new regional UK private galleries and agencies. More than 50 publishers and galleries are selected through an international open application, vetted by an independent panel, including Whitechapel Gallery director Iwona Blazwick, curator David Thorpe and Time Out art critic Ossian Ward. A platform for new artists, such as David Locke whose works on paper feature in a special exhibition, it is a hunting ground for seasoned and rookie collectors who dare to make their own judgements.
The art commissioning agency Artangel brings the American multi-media artist Paul Pfeiffer to the Wembley Stadium. He hones the critical faculties in good time for the Olympics with a panopticon of sound from the nation’s great sporting and cultural moments mixed with local recordings. Empire Day 1924, the World Cup 1966 and the Diana Concert 2007 have all resounded with the call to worship and sacrifice. Pfeiffer’s installation The Saints, next to the site, projects a film and soundtrack of the empty stadium; for fans of sport and art this could be a marriage made in heaven.
Frieze Art Fair, Regent’s Park (0870 890 0514; www.friezeartfair.com), 11–14 Oct; Zoo Art Fair, Burlington Gardens, The Royal Academy of Arts (0207 247 8597; www.zooartfair.com), 12–15 Oct; The Saints, by Paul Pfeiffer, Wembley Stadium (020 7713 1400; www.artangel.org.uk), 26 Sep–24 Oct
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