Preparations for Frieze London are in the air. I am crawling the city day and night so that you don’t have to! I am bringing you a selection of the most exciting exhibitions in London’s commercial galleries. The coming weeks are packed with openings and events. Stay in the loop!
Lynette Yiadom-Boakye Sorrow For A Cipher at Corvi-Mora until October 8
“Although they are not real I think of them as people known to me. They are imbued with a power of their own; they have a resonance – something emphatic and otherworldly. I admire them for their strength, their moral fiber. If they are pathetic, they don’t survive; if I feel sorry for someone, I get rid of them. I don’t like to paint victims.” Lynette Yiadom-Boakye
A contemporary master. Her work overwhelms in her ability to express that glimpse of an emotion in-between daily thoughts or maybe an instant of boredom. Yiadom-Boakye typically completes a painting in a day to best capture that fleeting moment or stream of consciousness. With a lack of set narrative, her paintings are a composition of ideas with tight formal considerations. John Singer Sargent’s (1856–1925) use of colour to single out the figure and Walter Richard Sickert’s (1860-1942) loose brushstroke to mark the canvas are references the artist has acknowledged in the past and that she has visibly made her own.
The flat colours and background patterns as well as the use of white in clothes and piercing eyeballs bring out the black figures. There is an economy of marking on canvas. There is no outline; no superfluous details to convey a scenario or an emotion. The bare canvas is a mark in itself. There is no predetermined or hinted narrative. These imagined characters are actually rigid unnatural bodies that redeem themselves through their facial features and hand gestures. The gaze, at times withdrawn from our view and others directed proudly at us, is confident and assured. These figures choose to stand in front of us to show or prove something. Maybe to hide something.
This is Yiadom-Boakye’s first show at Corvi-Mora since last year’s exhibition at The Serpentine Gallery in London. This is an important contemporary painter and you cannot miss it.
Giuseppe Penone Fui, Saro, Non sono (I was, I will be, I am not) at Marian Goodman Gallery until 22 October
With two simultaneous shows taking place in Marian Goodman’s galleries in London and Paris, Giuseppe Penone delves in his love for nature. Penone’s work is enamoured with the contrasting textures of rough clay and glazed ceramic; the organic patterns that nature draws on tree branches, on soil, on leaves, etc. The juxtaposition of bronze-cast tree trunks and marble in Indistinti Confini series honours the sculptural qualities of a slender tree branch. The rough cut of two Carrara marble slabs is an ode to the material favoured by sculptors since Hellenistic times. The exhibitions succeed in exhibiting a sensorial journey. Why would you deny yourself a treat to the senses?
You can also attend two events organised on the occasion of these exhibitions:
London: Walk through with Clare Lilley, Director of Programme, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, on Saturday 8 October, 4pm
Paris: Walk through with Laurent Busine, Curator and former Director of the Musée des Arts Contemporains de la Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles, on Thursday 20 October, 11am
Valerie Beston Artists’ Trust: First Decade at Marlborough London until 17 September
This exhibition celebrates the work of the first ten artists to be awarded the Valerie Beston Artist’s Trust prize. The award was established in 2006 to support young artists at the beginning of their careers and to explore the possibilities of painting as a medium. All ten recipients come together offering the opportunity to follow the progress of their practice and the strength of the award.
My highlights: Lydia Gifford’s rotund canvases where the soft palette compensates the severity endured by the raw materials like nails, cotton, gesso and glue; Caroline Walker’s menacing scenes of an accommodated residence on a sunny day; Katrin Koskaru’s bleach and watercolour on cotton with an ethereal presence where the delicate details of folds and discoloured threads acquire all the relevance; and Gareth Cadwallader’s combination of portraiture, landscape and still life proving that a lemon can be that interesting.