London's galleries and museums are gearing up for a lively October, with Frieze London and Frieze Masters running between 3 and 6 October 2019 at Regent's Park, along with 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair, taking place across the same dates at Somerset House; and the tenth anniversary of the Sunday Art Fair, showcasing new and emerging artists and galleries at Ambika P3, a subterranean exhibition space in Westminster (4–6 October 2019). Tessa Moldan presents her selection of the city's must-see shows in this Ocula Lowdown.
Alvaro Barrington and Teresa Farrell: TALL BOYS & A DOUBLE ESPRESSO
Emalin, Unit 4 Huntingdon Estate, Bethnal Green Road, E1 6JU
7 September–26 October 2019
Emalin in Bethnal Green presents a collaborative exhibition between Alvaro Barrington and Teresa Farrell. The two artists met when they were both at Hunter College in New York and have continued to think and make together over the years, producing paintings, collages, and assemblages. Barrington was born in 1983 in Venezuela before moving to Grenada, where he was raised by his grandmother until he was 8 years old. Later moving to New York with his mother, Barrington teases out his early experiences of Grenada through his paintings and assemblages, namely the use of burlap as canvas—the material being used to carry coffee beans in Granada—that is often sewn together, a skill practiced by his aunts. Barrington possesses a bounty of further influences, which were the subject of a recent exhibition at Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac titled Artists I Steal From (5 June–9 August 2019), which showcased works by 49 artists that have inspired him, ranging from Philip Guston to Picasso and Andy Warhol. This plurality of style is on view at Emalin, where materials collide to formulate a visual dialogue with Teresa Farrell, who draws from her memory bank to construct fantastical narratives, playing with the underlying narratives of image-making.
Alison Jacques Gallery, 16–18 Berners Street, W1T 3LN
2 October–9 November 2019
Once known as the 'den of Abstract Expressionism', mid-century dealer Betty Parsons gained notoriety supporting the 'four horsemen of the apocalypse'—as she referred to Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Barnett Newman, and Clyfford Still—when their work was considered an affront to the traditions of painting. Born into a well-to-do New York family in 1900, Parsons was inspired at age 13 by the works of Picasso, Matisse, and Duchamp, on a visit to the New York Armory Show in 1913, triggering a lifelong passion for art. After stints in California and Paris, where she enrolled in sculpture classes at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière, Parsons returned to New York, opening her gallery in 1946. Here, she championed underrepresented artists, showing works by Agnes Martin, Louise Nevelson, Thomas Sills, Jose Bernal, Roberto Matta, Kenzo Okada, and many others.
Parsons' practice as an artist predated her career as one of New York's most influential dealers, with potent abstraction and intimate sculptures made of jetsam and flotsam from the beach by her Long Island studio defining her output of over six decades. This exhibition at Alison Jacques Gallery is Betty Parsons' first in London in nearly 40 years, and follows the gallery's announcement of its representation of the Estate of Betty Parsons in 2018. The exhibition will capture her output of the 1960s and 70s, including three important wood constructions.
Elizabeth Peyton: Aire and Angels
National Portrait Gallery, St. Martin's Place, Charing Cross, WC2H 0HE
3 October 2019–5 January 2020
An extraordinary combo awaits at the National Portrait Gallery, with Elizabeth Peyton's small, intimate portraits composed of brushy, diluted oil paint to be spread across all galleries, interspersed among permanent exhibitions, while Pre-Raphaelite Sisters (17 October–26 January 2020) will shed light on the roles of 12 women in the movement of Pre-Raphaelitism. The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood consisted of young male artists who sought to challenge painting of the Victorian era, opting to capture mood and atmosphere rather than narrative. This exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery highlights the agency of the women associated with the movement, whether artists in their own rights or models, including Elizabeth Siddal—the figure of John Everett Milliais' famed Ophelia (1851–1852).
Peyton's portraits bristle with emotion, their acute brushwork and intimate size conveying an aura of idolatry around her subjects. The American artist garnered attention in the early 1990s for her paintings of figures arrested in public memory, from Princess Diana to Frida Kahlo, later including friends and figures derived from life, along with secondary sources such as music, literature, film, and opera. The wistful air of Peyton's portraits promises a pairing with Pre-Raphaelite Sisters of romantic sensibility.
Maren Hassinger: Passing Through
Tiwani Contemporary, 16 Little Portland Street, W1W 8BP
2 October–15 November 2019
As a graduate student in the early 1970s, Maren Hassinger voiced her prescient concern that 'nature was on its way out'. Over four decades, Hassinger has moved across sculpture, videos, installations, works on paper, and performances, exploring the relationship between natural and industrial worlds. Her signature sculptures of welded wire rope resemble organic structures such as trees or branches, bestowed with a sense of movement—a technical embodiment of the artist's lifelong dance practice. Her works are reminiscent of Eva Hesse's, which Hassinger first encountered at Pasadena Art Museum in 1973.
Hassinger's practice rose out of the African-American avantgarde movement in Los Angeles, building on the legacies of post-minimalism and abstraction. A graduate of the then newly founded MFA in Fibre Sculpture at UCLA, Hassinger was the first African-American artist to have a solo exhibition at Los Angeles County Museum of Art, where she presented a collection of menacing-looking wire rope bushes titled On Dangerous Ground (1981). Excerpts of the installation will be on view in the artist's first solo exhibition outside of the United States at Tiwani Contemporary, along with other wire rope works, such as Consolation (1996)—a desolate field of wispy strands of wire rope—and more recent sculptures.
I've grown roses in this garden of mine
Goodman Gallery, 26 Cork Street, W1S 3ND
3 October–2 November 2019
Johannesburg- and Cape Town-based Goodman Gallery opens their London branch with I've grown roses in this garden of mine—a group exhibition addressing painful memories and collective experiences to initiate healing. A variety of mediums are presented by 21 artists and 1 artist duo, from the digital—including Gabrielle Goliath's video installation, after which this exhibition is named, that presents a cycle of songs chosen by survivors of rape—to the tangible, such as El Anatsui's immense tapestries of tightly stitched bottle tops, that explore the effects of colonialism on consumption and the environment. Other tactile works include Ghada Amer's brightly coloured embroideries that trace erotic imagery to subvert 'women's craft'; while Mikhael Subotzky deconstructs colonial maps, reassembling them with lengths of sticky tape that resemble plasters. Kapwani Kiwanga, the winner of last year's Frieze Art Award and the Sobey Art Award, will present a previously unseen installation that addresses methods of colonial resistance adopted during the Maji Maji War (1905–1907), looking at the role of traditional healer Kinjeketile, who led the rebellion against Colonial rule in German East Africa, and how his movement has been documented ethnographically in European museums. This is an exhibition that is materially rich, unearthing histories and experiences to imagine social repair.
From Black and White to Living Color: The Collected Motion Pictures and Accompanying Documents of Kara E. Walker, Artist.
Sprüth Magers, 7A Grafton Street, W1S 4EJ
4 October–21 December 2019
Organised by writer and theatre critic Hilton Als, Sprüth Magers presents the first retrospective of Kara Walker's video works. Six videos will be on view at the gallery, starting from Testimony: Narrative of a Negress Burdened by Good Intentions (2004)—a 'revenge fantasy' about the reversal of historical roles, in which we see the artist's early deployment of the silhouette to visualise preconceptions of race, using exaggerated outlines of body shapes and facial features. 'The silhouette says a lot with very little information,' explains Walker, 'but that's also what the stereotype does. So I saw the silhouette and the stereotype as linked.' Later works in the exhibition include Fall Frum Grace, Miss Pipi's Blue Tale (2011), a 17-minute video that employs shadow puppetry to explore the mythology surrounding white Southern sexuality, bringing forth the subtext of racial tensions and violence in the Mississippi Delta. The exhibition will also include a number of artefacts Walker used to produce the videos, including sketches, cut-outs, and puppets.
Anna Maria Maiolino: Making Love Revolutionary
Whitechapel Gallery, 77-82 Whitechapel High St, E1 7QX
25 September 2019–12 January 2020
The title of Anna Maria Maiolino's first institutional solo exhibition in the United Kingdom, Making Love Revolutionary, recalls the power of love manifested in the Mothers of the Plazo de Mayo movement in Buenos Aires, which saw 14 women march on 30 April 1977 against their 'disappeared' children under the country's dictatorship. In breaking the silence imposed under the military junta, they initiated a human rights movement that continues to this day.
Maiolino lived between Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro between 1984 and 1989, having settled in Brazil with her family at the age of 18. Born in Italy during World War II, Maiolino's work reflects on political, personal, and cultural shifts over 60 years, amounting to a vista of humanity. In the mid-1960s, Maiolino adopted woodcut while living in Rio de Janeiro, attending a studio run by Ivan Serpa at the Museum of Modern Art. The hard-edge aesthetic of woodcut is present in works such as Glu Glu Glu (1966), in which a severed figure is divided between a colourful digestive tract on view beneath a red-lipped, open mouth that looks as if it is screaming. Through the 1970s and 80s, much of Maiolino's became politically charged, exploring some of the torment under Brazil's military regime. Hunger and repression are prevalent themes in video and performance works of this time, including In-Out Antropogagia (In-Out Athropophagy) (1973), which features a man's and woman's mouths taped shut, smiling, attempting to speak, or fed with string. Another video work, titled Entrevidas (1981), pictures bare feet carefully navigating a floor scattered with eggs as if moving through a minefield, with every movement necessitating vigilance—a visual expression of the tension that defines our times.
Maria Pinińska-Bereś: Living Pink
The Approach, 1st Floor, 47 Approach Road, E2 9LY
10 September–20 October 2019
Nestled atop a pub in London's East End, The Approach is one of London's more unique gallery spaces. This autumn, the gallery is presenting an exhibition celebrating the performance works of Polish artist, Maria Pinińska-Bereś. The artist, who lived her life in Krakow, tapped into a 'reservoir of femininity-related issues' through sculptures and installations made from soft, lightweight materials in pink hues. With a pop-art sensibility, the forms are playful and have a compositional strength that extends to her lesser-known but equally important practice of performance. In her performances as in her sculptures and installations, Pinińska-Bereś confronted the 'burden of the "standard" of femininity' by focusing on the many facets of feminised labour, whether reproductive, emotional, or domestic.
In her performances, Pinińska-Bereś extends her commentary to politics and nature, in a similar fashion to Cuban American artist Ana Mendieta. In Prayer for Rain (1977), for example, the artist knelt down in a field in Prądnik, outside Krakow, dressed in a blue-green, ritual-like dress and sandals, proceeding to trim a circle in the grass, lining its parameter with pink flags to create an installation reminiscent of land-art. Removing her sandals, the artist proceeded to trample on the grass before lying down in a goddess pose, laying bare the 'natural influences on the female subject'.
On 29 September at 2:30pm, the artist's daughter Bettina will re-enact one of her performances as part of the Frieze East End afternoon.
Kate Macgarry, 27 Old Nichol St, E2 7HR
11 September–19 October 2019
Warsaw-born Goshka Macuga is an accomplished storyteller. Her layered practice has been referred to as cultural archaeology, drawing on archives and historical elements to create new connections between places and times, peoples and stories. The artist's 2009 Bloomberg Commission for Whitechapel Gallery, for instance, looked at the presentation of Picasso's Guernica at the gallery in 1939. In front of the painting's replica, the artist installed a circular wooden table surrounded by leather chairs, resembling the UN hall, opening up a roundtable discussion around legacies of war and violence, with archives from around the 1939 exhibition of Guernica along with other documents encased in glass within the table, to resemble a museum showcase.
At Kate Macgarry, the artist's third solo exhibition at the gallery presents a new collection of collages that refer to the history of computer programming, beginning with mathematician Ada Lovelace in the first half of the 19th century. In these works, Macuga laces graphic paper through images, interrupting them and constructing new groups of visual references as achieved in computer programming. Many of the images are related to our current ecological crisis, offering visual constructions of a post-human future through their associations to computer programming and the organisation of information.
Herald St, 43 Museum St, WC1A 1LY
12 September–26 October 2019
On view at Herald St's Museum Street space in Bloomsbury is a solo exhibition of Burkina Faso-born, New York-based artist Sanou Oumar, whose works on paper in pen, coloured pencil, and felt-tip, vibrate with colour, their shapes and forms carefully positioned between order and disorder. These visual systems are for the most part contained in a finely traced circle, like architectural plans of Oumar's interior world. In other works, the parameter of the circle is lost, allowing candy-coloured shapes to shift around the picture plane, as in the case of 6/13/19 (2019)—a collection of circles of varying sizes that are in some cases filled with dense colour, while others are formed from many fine lines cast from their centres. The interplay between size, colour, and texture comes together in an ecstatic composition, but is the result of an intense meditative state that is part of Oumar's daily ritual of drawing, as suggested by the title of each work.
Sterling Ruby: ACTS + TABLE
Gagosian, 6-24 Britannia St, WC1X 9JD
2 October–14 December 2019
ACTS + TABLE is an exhibition of sculptures by L.A. art star Sterling Ruby that dance between the minimalistic and the expressionistic. Ruby's practice encompasses ceramics, drawing, collage, video, and garments; each work is riotous in colour and materially rich—a visual experience that will be granted in his solo exhibition at Gagosian, where works from his 'ACTS' series (2008–2018) will be on view. These sculptures consist of clear urethane in which trapped dye looks as if it is in the process of unfurling. The blocks are cantilevered atop Formica pedestals that are smudged, scratched, and graffiti-d, negating their near-minimalism and offering instead a 'critique of the authoritarian, exclusionary ideological underpinnings' of the movement. This much can be felt through the series' title, which when expanded reads: 'Absolute Contempt for Total Serenity'. Also on view in the exhibition is TABLE (DOUBLE LAST SUPPER) (2019), which builds on the artist's 'Tables' series—more austere plays of material that explore 'the concept of personal and cultural archaeology', affixing remnants of his studio's previous life as a manufacturing warehouse to the tables.
Marc Bauer: Mal Ȇtre / Performance
Drawing Room, 1-27 Rodney Place, SE17 1PP
12 September–17 November 2019
Moving south of the river, the Drawing Room presents Mal Ȇtre / Performance, a new body of work by Marc Bauer commissioned jointly by the Drawing Room and De La Warr Pavilion and the artist's first solo exhibition in a U.K. public gallery. The artist returns to London after his 2017 presentation at Frieze, for which he worked with Peckham Platform—a creative and educational charity in South London that invites local communities to work with contemporary artists on projects. For his project, Bauer invited young people to respond to themes such as gender fluidity, racial identity, and gentrification to create a series of drawings and objects, some of which were presented at the Frieze fair.
Bauer's drawings reference images drawn from public archives and private family albums, exploring the connections between images and how they define us as individuals. For his commission at the Drawing Room, Bauer has created small and large-scale works on paper, along with a wall drawing and animation, which explore the motif of people on boats throughout history, from ancient Greece to contemporary media footage.
Corvi-Mora, 1a Kempsford Road, SE11 4NU
5 September-26 October 2019
Just under a 20-minute walk away from the Drawing Room is Corvi-Mora in Kennington, where new paintings by Lynette Yiadom-Boakye are on view. 'I admire them for their strength,' Yiadom-Boakye notes of her fictitious subjects. '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'. These are bold oil paintings that, rid of any markers of time or place, allow Yiadom-Boakye's figures to hold their own, while giving viewers the space to construct their own visual narratives.
Between 19 May and 31 August 2020, a survey exhibition of the artist's work will be on view at Tate Britain, highlighting her career thus far. A 2013 Turner Prize finalist, Yiadom-Boakye has entranced audiences with her loose gestural style since graduating from the Falmouth College of Art in 2000, followed by the Royal Academy in 2003. Her expressive representations of the human figure have been likened to portraits by artists such as Velazquez and Degas, albeit in their own, decidedly contemporary manner.
Danh Vo: untitled
South London Gallery, 65-67 Peckham Rd, SE5 8UH
19 September–24 November 2019
Danh Vo's first major solo exhibition in the U.K. is an expansive and collaborative affair, spread across the Main Gallery and Fire Station building, and outdoors in the nearby Pelican housing estate and Art Block—the South London Gallery's permanent space for children on Sceaux Gardens Estate. Of the many works by different individuals that have been included in this exhibition, Japanese American sculptor Isamu Noguchi's Play sculpture (1975–1976) is representative of Vo's practice. Installed at the Pelican housing estate, the glossy red, curvaceous structure is open to sit, rest, or play on, offering a hybrid between art and utility. This openness is characteristic of Vo's practice, which is further highlighted in the Main Gallery with work that includes calligraphic renditions by his father and long-term collaborator, Phung Vo; photographs of his nephew and muse, Gustav by his lover, German photographer Heinz Peter Knes; and a series of gestural paintings on mirror foil—a collection of which are on view at the Arsenale for the 58th Venice Biennale—made by his former professor at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Peter Bonde. Shown alongside fragments of Antique, Medieval, and 19th-century marble statues held together with contemporary brass fittings, Danh Vo mixes works created by disparate people across time, exploring how to exist within and navigate the present.
Vo will discuss his solo exhibition at South London Gallery with writer and performance theorist Joshua Chambers-Letson on 3 October at 7pm, while more of the artist's work can be caught at his concurrent solo exhibition at Marian Goodman Gallery, Cathedral Block, Prayer Stage, Gun Stock (18 September–1 November 2019).
Tony Cokes: If UR Reading This It's 2 Late: Vol I
Goldsmiths Centre for Contemporary Art, St James's, New Cross, SE14 6AD
29 September 2019–19 January 2020
To the east of South London Gallery, Goldsmiths Centre for Contemporary Art presents the first U.K. solo exhibition of Tony Cokes co-produced with the Carpenter Center for Visual Arts, Harvard University, and ARGOS centre for audiovisual arts, Brussels. Hypnotic video essays made up of solid colour, fragmented text, and sound make up what Cokes refers to as 'representational regimes of image and sound' that draw from Hollywood, the media, and popular culture. Cokes, who teaches at Brown University's Modern Culture and Media Department, has been creating his solid-colour slide works since the late 1980s, fusing text and found images to explore systems of cultural production in capitalist society. For his exhibition at Goldsmiths Centre for Contemporary Art, Cokes presents two new works, one of which relates to the Centre's context, taking as its subject the content and cadence of Kodwo Eshun's Mark Fisher Memorial Lecture of 2018, which took place at Goldsmiths, University of London. The late writer and academic was based at Goldsmiths, where he explored the dissemination of capitalism through culture, including music, literature, film, television, and visual art. —[O]