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.





Bridget Smith- Focal Point Gallery, Essex


We arrived in Southend to see this show a bit early giving us a chance to have a walk around the town. It is a bit like Folkestone in Kent, but this is in Essex, facing out to the estuary and the North Sea. Nice seafront, very 1950’s British.

The Focal Point Gallery is next to a couple of colleges so we thought that this would get some students in, but no, a whole load of people who looked like the Art Crowd, had come to see the show. A very large turn out of people.

No wonder.  I did not really know her work. Wow. What fabulous pieces. Smith has moved from more documentary works to more abstract works. From works with interesting objects to the objects as the subjects. Wow.

The first room had lights like globes and large blue works on aluminium, with the outline of what turned out to be cinema chairs in white, echoing seascapes. Here we were, audience and participators by our absence in the work, by our presence, viewing the work. This image is repeated in another room which contains a similar image, but on just one wall, on draped materials, partly like a curtain, a cinema curtain, and partly a tapestry draping down onto the floor. Where does the art stop and the observer begin? What is being observed, the cinema image or the art? I loved it.



And then, in a corridor facing the glass front of the building a series of Perspex works with a colour pattern engraved onto each piece and a hole in each through which a spotlight falls creating a contrasting colour shadow. Light and shade. Stunning stuff. Completely Original. An artist hits her stride. Confident, vibrant, forceful. Deceptively simple, but so much more, Intellectual, aesthetic, minimal.

Go see. Fabulous.


Dia Foundation- A Temple of Minimalist Art

I find the American system of private funding a challenge. People fund things, philanthropy and charities, in return for something. They feel better about themselves. they get to meet similar minded people, they get an invite to a party, whatever it is. I don’t believe we are truly altruistic. I think we want pay-back. So it was with amazement then that I went to Dia at Beacon, a former biscuit factory up the Hudson river (about 1.5 hours on the train).  A huge building kept simple, warm and clean all by donations, by philanthropy.

And then  the wow of what was inside.

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Dan Flavin

As we entered we turned left, I tend to turn left in shows so I sometimes get is wrong if the curator starts on the right. But turning left here led us into the most amazing space (ok, they all are amazing at Dia). A room of Dan Flavin’s. Just Dan Flavins in this enormous space. And what Dan Flavin’s they were. One was a long screen, like a series of sliding doors in white, red and blue, like the American flag, but doors. Wonderful. There is a companion piece in his friend’s Donald Judd’s New York home Spring Street, which we also visited a few days later.

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Dan Flavin

From the Flavin’s we went in to see the Carl Andre, known, I suppose for his bricks at the Tate many years ago. We had seen a show of his in Margate UK, but this was on another scale. Room after room of them. Again, wonderful.

Then the Richard Serra’s. In one small room a vast metal boat-like structure. Perfect curating. It would be obvious to place it in a large room, but instead, in this cramped space you squeeze by it and you and it feel vulnerable. In the basement a whole load more Serra’s, more maze-like and still massive.

But the real reveal for me were two artists I did not really know well.

Agnes Martin. I had seen a couple of works of hers, but at Dia you get a couple of large rooms. They are stunningly beautiful. Their lightness of touch makes them almost not there.

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Agnes Martin

And then the works that completely blew me away.

Fred Sandbach. Most of the artists at Dia are male apart from Agnes Martin and Louise Bourgeois. Most of the artists are minimalists. Many of them make quite big, butch stuff.

Fred Sandbach in the photos I saw of him looks like he fits in that gang. But his work defies that.

He uses such a tender material, twine, almost like knitting yarn. It can be stretched and you can see the parts of the yarn like tendrils escaping from the twist, decaying at the moment of creation.

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Fred Sandbach

His work defines space with geometric precision. When looking at the space it is as if there is a double mirror reflecting each side, but you can step carefully through. They invite the viewer to complete the space.

I am still in rapture seeing them.

I am still in rapture that Dia exists and am grateful to all the donators, whatever their motives, as their money has brought such beauty for all of us to see.