Saturday, 27 November 2010

Free Art at the Weekend

First of all, the popup show Marks and Stencils on Berwick Street. This exhibition featured the French street artist Dran, who is a nifty draughtsman and witty with it. There was also an opportunity to join in with re-appropriate-a-postcard competition, to be judged by the artist happening in the basement. There were too many brilliant little witticisms to detail and highlight but I particularly liked the pictures on bits of packing cardboard, often re-appropriating the slogans or instructions printed on the side. Thanks to Art Of The Estate for the heads up.

Secondly, the Bridget Riley exhibition at the Sunley Room in the National Gallery. There are five canvases on show by Riley and two murals which she has painted directly onto the walls of the space. The predominant form is that of what are best described as the abstracted form of tongues of flame, shapes cast from asymmetric curves moving from the vertical to the horizontal. My favourite of these endlessly absorbing paintings was Red With Red 1, below.



Although all the pictures of similar design achieve similar ends, the proximity of the red to the pink in this picture was particularly kinetic. It reminds me of the figure-annihilating canvases of Bonnard or Vuillard. The works are tied in with canvases by Raphael and Seurat (sketches for Bathers at Asnières) to emphasise the importance of colour in composition. There were also a quartet of prints showing the pencil markings that help in their composition.

Finally, the World Press Photo 10 exhibition, being shown in the foyer of the Royal Festival Hall. This is an unfailingly gripping show, perhaps self-evidently as the content of the photos is often dramatic. I was struck by a four-print record of a stoning in Mogadishu and an open act of bigotry in Hebron. Whilst the most fascinating journalist's photos are those caught on the hoof, as it were (horror in Apeldoorn or a remarkable print of a kingfisher from beneath the surface of the water it has just broken) my favourite might well have been the pictures of free-growing foliage in Jakarta where synthetic urban life encourages its growth in unlikely public spaces.

All this after having seen, by chance, the last day of the Ruth Borchard Collection exhibition of British self-portraiture at the King's Place Gallery (following a concert I'd attended). I liked this virtuosic piece by Dorothy Mead.

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