Lucia Nogueira- at Annely Juda/Anthony Reynolds

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You know the saying: ‘you wait ages for a bus then two come along’?

Quite often I see a show and there may be one stand out piece or even none, in an ordinary mass. Then, in one week  I saw two shows where every piece was perfect and the hang of the show, the design of the show, was sublime so that every piece had its place. The first was Jyll Bradleys’ ‘Currency’. This is the second of the two.

I knew nothing about Lucia Nogueira’s work apart from seeing the front cover of the show at Annely Juda Fine Art in London. So when I walked in the room I was completely blown away.

This is stunning work. Beautiful, poignant, witty and also dark. What more do you want from art?




Frieze London 2016

Yes, it was Frieze again; the merry-go-round of events to tantalise weary global shoppers.

Amidst all of this: art!

A lot to see and do and to recover from, hence my delay in writing.

The week started with the Tate summer party- great fun and you get to see the Turner Prize nominees, which includes some lovely work.







   Anthea Hamilton’s Turner Prize Show at Tate



And the Turbine Hall has the big show on of Phillipe Parreno:


Phillipe Parreno

So many people there enjoying the show.

Started the Frieze day early on Wednesday at  the Serpentine Gallery for an  opening without the crowds. Well worth getting up to see Marc Camille Chaimowicz and Helen Marten.






                                                                                                                                                            Marc Camille Chaimowicz


Then we went in to see the Fred Cohen collection at Fortnum and Mason– some really lovely pieces scattered around a really lovely shop.

Frieze Contemporary and Frieze Masters- a mass of works worth seeing.

A talk at Gucci on Bond Street- I kid you not, which was an excellent talk about Frieze Masters.

Infinite Mix at the Store on the Strand had an evening viewing. Martin Creed film was the standout video, short and sweet. The party was rocking!






                                                                                       The Infinite Mix Party


And the Whitechapel Gallery was showing the William Kentridge show, which was superb (as was the party). Really wonderful work. Everybody raving about it. A great video installation (and a bad photo of it- sorry, but it was the best I could do).






                           William Kentridge part of Thick Time

Camden Arts Centre also worth a look.

So much wonderful art in one town. I wish I could thank all the artists. I managed to be the embarrassing fan only once and do the: ‘I love your show’ to William Kentridge at the party. The others got off light!


Jyll Bradley – at l’etrangere gallery

So I declare self interest, love and deep admiration.  Jyll Bradley makes great art, both in the public sector (Lille and Folkestone Triennial) and in the private gallery space. These are ideas brought to life, creations. They are layered and edgy. They are also very beautiful. Some art is, basically, pants. It is comment, commentary, current and dull saying things about things. This is the stuff itself.  

In the current show there is almost a buzz of sound that radiates out of the work .  Even though they are  completely  still (apart from the film) each piece has some sort of vibrational quality to it. I can’t tell you why. I have had this experience a few times: once thousands of years ago, as a teenager in the old Tate, when there was only the one Tate, in the room of Mark Rothko’s works which I had almost to myself. The works vibrated. Then I had that feeling when walking in to Dia Foundation in NY and then again walking in to the Barnett Newman room at MOMA, NY. Colour and line. Art.

The materials used here are so unusual, carbon paper (who remembers this?) plexiglass (so modern), old hop pole wood, all melded together against themselves, creating spaces, ‘mixing memory and desire’. The film is of a sculpture. Who films a sculpture? Sculptures just are. And then makes the film look like  the sculpture is flowing as water or an ice melt, creating a rainbow myriad as the sun passes through it?

But it is also the entire hang of the show, the creation of space and the works creating space that make this such a wonderful show. Thoughtful, intense, minimal, but very dispersing with the colour radiating outwards, dazzling the senses and yet calming them, allowing you to breathe in the space.

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Brigitte by Jyll Bradley

Everything you want from art.

Go, see.

You can wait a long time to find work of this quality and a show of this sublimeness and amazingly I saw two in one week. This is the first of them.




Jon Thompson; Artist, Curator, Lecturer

Jon Thompson.

If you meet former students of Jon Thompson, the Goldsmiths crowd of the 1980’s, they will all tell you what a brilliant teacher he was. Not gushing. Not always available. Just brilliant, giving remarks and feedback when needed, often at a level that the student didn’t fully comprehend until years later, suddenly a realisation, falling into place.

Everybody will tell you that the show he curated, ‘Falls the Shadow’ was seminal.

At his funeral on Tuesday 22nd March in deepest Kent, UK, many of the art world gathered. The service was wonderful, arranged by Jeremy Ackerman who edited his collected writings and his gallerist Anthony Reynolds. They told of the artist, with Ackerman ending his tale of going to Jon’s studio in Belgium and walking in to see a canvas that almost blinded him with its intensity of colour and Jon saying “Well, what do you think?”.  Anthony Reynolds talked about his giving up painting when he became a lecturer as he found it impossible to do both; painting being so full time. But when he retired suddenly these works appeared, works he must have been planning all those years. “There is only art; the thing itself”. Others told wonderful tales and his family celebrated their wonderful brother and uncle. His partner, Andrew, was too sad to talk.  Andrew Brightman told how he loved an argument, but annoyingly always knew more about any topic than you did, however obscure! His kindness and conviviality, his vast intellect, his art. Sarah Wedderburn read from his essays, words of utter brilliance.

I was lucky enough to sit next to him at a dinner once. As  in life we do not see the future, we do not know when we shall die and I did not realise that this would be the only time I would share such a moment. So I did not record in my mind what we had talked about. I remember talking about a commission he had for work at Broadmoor, a secure facility for severely disturbed and dangerous people. I was fascinated by such a challenge; making work for people who do not know the difference between good and evil, whether there is such a difference. I think a lot of the rest of our conversation was light hearted and fun. I only wish I had met him sooner and that he had lived longer. There was at least another ten years worth of painting in him which we shall now never see.

The art world has lost a master and the world has lost a wonderful soul.

May he be in an heavenly studio full of paint, canvas, delicious food and wonderful wine.

Perfect joy.


Max Mara Prize for Women Artists- Still needed after all these years

Whitechapel Art Gallery in London hosted a very exclusive party for the Max Mara Prize for Women Artists 2015-17, the 6th time this prize has been awarded. I did wonder whether there was going to be a goody bag of something Max Mara, one of their coats, perhaps!  But what a fab party.

Then the director of the Whitechapel got up to introduce the proceedings. Iwona Blazwick is a world renowned curator and director. Her speech was on how this prize is still needed. That women make up 70% of the workforce of FTSE 100 companies, but only 7% of board members. That the top prices for art works are all by men. That most galleries have almost all male artists lists. She said it with spirit and wit, but it is very depressing.

I keep hearing people complaining about being discriminated against because of their colour or religion, but 50% of the people of that colour or religion are being doubly discriminated against, usually by members of the group that are complaining that they are being discriminated against. Black men, gay men, religious men, are not immune to being deeply prejudiced against black women, gay women, religious women and all women of any colour, religion or sexuality.

Women are almost invisible in many areas of life. It is unremarkable when a TV programme contains only men and very remarkable (remarked upon) when it contains only women, unless it is a subject only about women such as maternity. But even then men have set themselves up as the masters of gynaecology, obstetrics and reproductive medicine. They have colonised women’s bodies and lives.. I cannot imagine it the other way around, but I think we all need to so that we understand what that is like.

So yes, the Max Mara Prize for Women Artists is needed. It gives the winner 6 months in Italy to be an artist, hopefully free of other financial burdens. Well of course, by the time you have amassed a body of work that is able to be nominated for such a prize you have also amassed a life, such as a home and family which usually, you cannot abandon for 6 months without some complicated arrangements! But it is a wonderful gift, a time of reflection and creation. The result is then displayed at the Whitechapel and in Italy.

The short list comprised some excellent artists. The winner, Emma Hart, was a very well deserved recipient. Her body of work was exceptionally strong among such competition and she has a very good reason to be in Italy to study Majolica (she works in ceramics and photography). So off she will go for a well deserved 6 months free of the usual constraints artists have to juggle to survive, and female artists juggle much more. Really they do. Their work, therefore, should be double the price of equivalent male artists as the production of great work by women is so hard won and rarer due to so many constraints.

Emma Hart  Folkestone Triennial 2014

So thank you to Max Mara and the male director who made the announcement and gave the award and funds for this very needed prize. Thank you very much.

From Monet to Matisse- Painting the Modern Garden – The Royal Academy

We were lucky enough to be invited to the preview on 26th January 2016 of the ‘Painting the Modern Garden: Monet to Matisse’ exhibition at the Royal Academy. It is showing works of artists in that period of time painting gardens.

We arrived on time and did the clever thing. We walked straight through the exhibition to the end where the huge triptych of Monet’s that have never been hung together since first painted were situated. We walked in and for a few minutes we were the only two people there.

No guards.

No crowds.


Bliss to be surrounded by the paintings in silence.

Monet at Giverny

Monet at Giverny and us alone in the room to take this photo !

Then we walked back through the show. Many of the Monet’s look great from a distance and quite ugly close up. I like that. I like that something ugly transforms to something beautiful depending on where it is seen.

There was a lovely Matisse, Palm Leaf, Tangier 1912. There were extraordinary Kandiinskys. There were three Paul Klee’s we really fancied having on our walls!  There was a modest and lovely Pissaro of a vegetable garden. And there was an intriguing Maurice Denis of nuns in a garden, a little like a Paradise Garden of Persia. Very unusually in colour and form. Lovely.

There were some extraordinary paintings that I did not like of the foreground, but the effect of the light, as if it was from a backlit theatrical set, was wonderful. But I am not a great fan of most impressionism anymore and I never did like Renoir.

For the most part though it is pretty, but a bit sentimental. Also, it was bereft of female artists. Now surely females were allowed to paint flowers and gardens even if not allowed to paint a (fe/male) nude?  But I am sure that even in the time period of Monet females made and painted gardens. So a lack of female artists does annoy.

The whole felt a bit overwhelming, a bit of a large bouquet with a few rare and precious blooms.

For the Monet it will be a sell out show, so I am very grateful to have seen it in peace. A moment of serenity in a place of beauty. That was his intention after all the bloodshed of the First World War and that is his achievement.


Ben Rivers- Camden Art Centre

If you can get to Camden Art Centre in London go!

The current exhibition is by Ben RIvers. I did not know his work until I went to this show. There are videos and a curated room. They are wonderful. Just sit and enjoy. There are so many layers to them and they are a pleasure to watch. They have a resonance with all our lives. They are particular yet universal. Really, really worth seeing. Like an oasis in a desert.


Ai WeiWei at the RA

The blockbuster that is the artist Ai Wei Wei is in London at the Royal Academy on Piccadilly. The show opened a while ago, but due to Frieze London being on, there was a chance to see it without the crowds one evening, so I took that chance.

I had liked the ceramic sunflower seeds at Tate Modern a few years back so I was interested to see this show.

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Tate Modern Ai WeiWei

Ai Wei Wei’s work is monumental. There are a few small pieces, but I think the scale of each of the pieces in this show is, generally, too big. I am not a monumental art fan. It has connotations I don’t like. Most of these pieces I thought would be better smaller, quieter. Then we could see the art because when work is on the monumental scale it can become documentary, memorial and historical centrepiece.

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A lot of it is quite literal.

The carpet of metal representing maps of China I found lovely, but I am not sure that is the intention, to be lovely, as the work is made from the rods retrieved after the earthquake where 20 schools capsized in 2008 and thousands of children died. The names of the children are on the wall in a long placard of remembrance; lives, potentials erased. But the work is quite brutalist. I thought about the studio workers having to collect the metal and straighten it, and wondered how they felt.

The bicycle chandelier was very literal and rather kitsch. The wall papers I thought were a bit childish. I could not find a lot to love. I found the fact that many temples had been destroyed and he had rescued the wood and reused it good. I liked the first room of wooden structures and some of the cubes, but in the end, monumental as it was, political as it was,  I found the show quite thin.




Frieze, London 2015.

Frieze is on, Frieze is on!

I love art fairs where you can see so much in one space. But you need energy!

This year, the opening day (Tuesday 13th Oct) seemed lighter and less crowded. And the place seemed nicer somehow. And the displays seemed airy and spacious.

So much great art (and of course some loud, shouty nonsense) so how to sum up?

Well, there really was an Agnes Martin painting there. I couldn’t believe I could see one so close outside a museum. There was also, like me, part of a family in raptures in front of it (and part of the family not getting it). But more remarkably, on another stand were 17 ‘drawings’ of hers- totally fabulous. Apparently, they are ‘reserved’ for a museum. A bargain.

In the main Frieze, Anthony Reynolds Gallery is showing Paul Graham. Some exquisite and poignant moments captured. Still relevant.

Paul Graham

Ana Lupas– who knew? At P420 Gallery. A Romanian artist, these works are from the 1960s. They are remarkable, beautiful, poignant and political.  I am  new fan. She is a performance artist. Wonderful works.

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Ana Lupas

Fernanda Gomes is being shown at Alison Jaques as well as a South American gallery. Very bare; very minimal (very expensive!). Loved it. Wanted some!

Fernanda Gomes

In fact, South American art seems to be way ahead in general. Some lovely works from the 1970s onwards they are finally getting on the art world map. Of course, not all of it is great, but so much is, and so much of the great art in South America is by women. Now there’s a thing.

The Hauser and Wirth stand is superb in the main Frieze tent.

Sarah Lucas at Sadie Coles.

To coincide there have been other events including Jimmie Durham at the Serpentine. Some other openings too; some of very thin work with no truth to it and some that seem to have plagiarised other people’s work. Really bad.

But the main Frieze tent and the Master’s tent have some beautiful works and some wonderful displays.

All of this great art and human enterprise in one place.

Fabulous. Exhausting. Exhilarating. About the best year of Frieze.

If in town, do go see.



Liam Gillick at Maureen Paley

I think Mr Liam Gillick is an incredibly bright artist. But, somehow, he wears his brightness lightly.

His art is also incredibly bright, brilliantly bright stuff. it is so intelligent. But even though I don’t get all the references, I still enjoy it and that is strange, that it is pleasurable without being obvious. It is witty, without being ‘knowing’ (I don’t like knowing) and joyful.

The current show at Maureen Paley opened last night.. He said that the show has been touring around some strange and not obvious locations. Now we get to see it in London.


The work consists of three rooms with installations, texts, audios or videos. While I realised it was very intellectual, I also just enjoyed it. I think it is meant to be enjoyed. There is even ‘sparkle’ on the floor.

LIAM GILLICK When Do We Need More Tractors (Five Plans), 1999

The sort of wigwam of wood looks like a place to be in, but there is no entrance. He has his meeting places under the perspex fins, a more public space. There is a sense of interaction. I guess there is the interaction of  the maker of the art and the person ‘reading’ the art.

I read the press release before I went. It includes this quote:

“A truly isolated investigator is impossible (…). An isolated investigator without bias and tradition, without forces of mental society acting upon him, and without the effect of the evolution of that society, would be blind and thoughtless. Thinking is a collective activity (…). Its product is a certain picture, which is visible only to anybody who takes part in this social activity, or a thought which is also clear to the members of the collective only. What we do think and how we do see depends on the thought-collective to which we belong” – Ludwik Fleck, 1935

The work looks at this and the interaction between Fleck and Mary Douglas, the anthropologist.  I love Mary Douglas. I quote her in various scenarios. My favourite phrase of hers is ‘dirt is matter in the wrong place’. Brilliant. Well Liam Gillick was interested in this collaboration and in how we do not really invent alone. To quote from a book I am reading (The Epigenetics Revolution by Nessa Carey) she quotes Sir William Bragg, a famous scientist saying ‘The important thing in science is not so much to obtain new facts as to discover new ways of thinking about them.’  Perhaps that is what post-modernism is saying too. And perhaps it is partly what Gillick’s work is, looking anew and seeing how these ideas are reached. Or that is what I got from it.

That we do not invent alone.

That we are all connected.

That ideas are relationships.

There is also a new and lovely book out of his:

From Nineteen Ninety A to Nineteen Ninety D, published by JRP|Ringier.

At £25 it is worth it. Really.

If you want a meditative moment to reflect on thoughts, cultures, ideas and how we got here, a trip to Bethnal Green may help.

I’m sort of blown away by it. I might not get it all, but I loved it.

A brilliant shiny (sparkly) joyful art. Sheer delight.