Abstract Critical

Exhibitions of Abstract Art on in January in London

[L] Kate Shepherd, Second Future Painting, 2012, Oil and Enamel on Wood Panel, 177.8 x 106.2 cm; [R] Kate Shepherd, Big Red, 2012, Oil and Enamel on Wood Panel, 142.4 x 106.8 cm

On at Bartha Contemporary until the 2nd of February are works by Kate Shepherd. From the exhibition’s press release: “Intense colour, an exacting sense of touch, attraction to geometry and the articulation of space are the principal aspects of Shepherd’s work. At the centre of this exhibition lies a suite of recent paintings, which revisit some of the artist’s preceding painting series. United by the artist’s signature white line drawings on monochromatic reflective colour fields each work describes a clearly defined period in Shepherd’s oeuvre”.

John Bunker, Totem Smoker, 2012

Frank Bowling, Knightryder, 2005 – Copyright the artist, Courtesy of Hales Gallery, London.

At Standpoint Gallery John Bunker has curated ‘Grit to Gold’. The exhibition presents Bunker’s work alongside that by Frank Bowling and Scott O’Rourke, and examines attitude to collage within abstraction. The exhibition opens on the 18th of January and runs until the 16th of February. There will a discussion in the gallery including Bunker and Bowling on the 9th of February at 3pm. From the exhibition’s press release: “Collage makes a direct connection to the brain’s readiness to associate, to form bridges between objects and spaces, times and places. But it also shatters patterns, disrupts control and breaks laws. Painting, from this perspective, becomes a realm in which the mind’s cognitive processes are echoed or played out. Paint itself acts as a kind of binding agent transforming anything it touches, bringing disparate elements into new relationships, by turns masking and revealing, heeding some boundaries and breaching others.”

Installation view, Fred Sandback, David Zwirner, London, 2013.
© 2013 Fred Sandback Archive; courtesy of David Zwirner, New York/London.

For some ‘classic’ minimalism that might be interestingly thought about in relation to Kate Shepherd’s work, on until the 16th of February at David Zwirner is an installation of string-pieces by Fred Sandback. Here is Sandback on his work from a 1975 statement (quoted in the David Zwirner publication ‘Fred Sandback: Decades’): “My work isn’t environmental. It’s present in pedestrian space, but is not so strong or elaborate that it obscures its context. It doesn’t take over a space, but rather coexists with it. Environmental art makes a new environment and obscures the old one, and that’s as far from what I want as realistic painting is. Most paintings and environmental art are aesthetically discontinuous with ordinary space, which is a quality I don’t want in my work.”

Fiona Rae, Present party for you, 2012, Oil and acrylic on canvas, 84 x 69 in. / 213.4 x 175.3 cm, T008679, Copyright, Fiona Rae; Courtesy, Timothy Taylor Gallery, London

‘Fiona Rae: New Paintings’ is on at the Timothy Taylor Gallery from the 18th of January to the 23rd of February. The press-release notes: “Running through this series of paintings is a leitmotif of cartoonish pandas. Articulated in various ways, they function as abstract compositional devices as well as having both an absurd and uncanny presence.” In a recent statement Rae says of the pandas that: “I could use them as a reason to make a painting. Sometimes itʼs hard to justify the act of painting; its expressive and gestural marks can seem unwarranted and unconnected to anything much in the so-called real world, and even worse, the nightmare of paintingʼs history haunts the studio. With these pandas as mascots, amulets, protagonists, victims, observers, or whatever their role in each painting might be, I can make a painting that has an angle or an eye on itself, while simultaneously being a full-blooded, full-on manifestation of painterly possibility.”

Matthew Macaulay, Coventry Construction

‘Treatment’ at PR Mirabel opens on the 19th of January and closes on the 3rd of March. It seems in line with much the current trend toward ‘modest’ or ‘provisional’ abstraction. Curated by Lisa Denyer it features work by Laura Jane Blake, Neill Clements, Terry Greene, Mark Kennard, Jack Lewis, Matthew Macaulay and Richard Ward. The press release suggests: “Treatment considers the intuitive decision making process of creating a painting, the multi-faceted characteristics of paint, and the consequential actions of painting as an activity. It also investigates contemplation of the physical world. This scrutiny might refer to an avid interest, exploration and interpretation of physical form, or it could refer to ideas of escapism and a complete stripping down of elemental components and anything recognisable.”

Terry Greene, An ever-expanding, loving, joyful, glorious, and harmonious universe

Though perhaps not very abstract, an exhibition at the Estorick Collection of work by Giorgio Morandi can be seen in relation to the ‘modest’ abstraction on show at PS Mirabel. From the press release: “As de Chirico noted, Morandi was a master of uncovering the ‘metaphysical dimensions of the commonest objects’, that is, of discerning the poetry within ‘those things that habit has rendered so familiar to us that we […] often look upon them with the eye of one who sees but does not understand.’” The exhibition, mainly comprised of etchings, runs until the 16th of April.

Giorgio Morandi (1890-1964), Still Life of Vases on a Table, 1931, Etching, 249 x 336 mm, Courtesy Galleria d’Arte Maggiore G.A.M., Bologna (Italy)



  1. Terry said…

    Cheers AbCrit for the mention of the Treatment show at PR Mirabel.

  2. James said…

    See George Little’s work on our site http://theartcabin.co.uk/george-little/

  3. James said…

    We’ll be checking out this show very soon!

  4. Eliz said…

    Yes! It would be brilliant if Abs crit did listings again. A monthly round up like this is really helpful.

  5. Noela Bewry said…

    These exhibitions look really interesting, look forward to seeing Bunker and Bowling in the flesh.
    I clicked onto the Standpoint Gallery link and spotted a fine collage by John Holland, the show is sadly over.
    Abstract Critical used to list exhibitions more extensively at one time. Is that something that might happen again?