Yesterday was spent visiting London galleries, firstly Alison Watts exhibition at Paraffin in West London. The starting point for her new work is Venus Frigada (1614) by Peter Paul Rubens. Her paintings have titles such as Venus(2015), Slip (2015) and Moor (2015) where the human form is suggested in an ambiguous manner.
I was surprised about a number of things; firstly the scale of the work is much smaller than I expected. In Star (2015) and Sphere(2015) Watt paints a sphere. In Star a white, solid ball and Sphere a black, blurred sphere or hole. White is the predominant colour in her fabric paintings which I have been drawn to because of her depiction of the fold. Up close there are subtle colours such as yellow and pink and they posses more texture in their surfaces than is evident in the reproductions. The edges of her paintings are less finished: the ‘edges’ of the composition are also the internal edges around the dark openings of the folds.
The second exhibition which I came across was Michael Joo at BLAIN/SOUTHERN an unplanned visit but an interesting one. His materials include silver nitrate, epoxy ink, quarry marble and steel.The silver nitrate gave a mirrored, refractive surface to his canvas’. His Caloric Tray Paintings are made from using old, commercial baking trays that have a caloric value stamped on. The number of calories were calculated by Joo on the number of calories individuals expend performing various actions. Each mirrored tray is hung at height level creating a self portrait for each viewer. This for me was only clear after reading the information provided by the gallery. Joo is interested in energy and transformation and I found his use of silver nitrate particularly beautiful.
The last exhibition that I saw was by Mark Wallinger at Hauser & Wirth; his new paintings are called the id paintings which are a record of actions that appear to be intuitive. Freud claimed that the id is driven by the pleasure principle and that it is the source of all psychic energy. They are huge paintings that are the same height as Wallinger with his arms stretched. Walllinger uses symmetrical body gestures on the two halves of the canvas to mirror one another. References are being made to the bilateral symmetry of Leonardo da Vinci’s “Vitruvian Man” and to the Rorschach test.
Wallinger has sculpture and video work in another building at Hauser & Wirth called the South Gallery. “Superego”(2016) is a mirrored piece that is inspired by the revolving new Scotland Yard sign. It’s constant rotation symbolises the ceaseless vigilance of the police.
“Shadow Walker” (2011) captures Wallinger’s shadow walking along Shaftesbury Avenue. This piece is reminiscent of a modern-day Peter Pan and his lost shadow.