Minimal pleasures at Bartha Contemporary, Margaret Street, W1W, where a show of paintings from the last ten years by Scottish geometric artist Alan Johnston is on until 4 February. The catalogue describes: ‘painted on un-primed supports fields of dark charcoal or pencil-drawn areas on modulated titanium or zinc white acrylic fields respond to each other to create a delicate interplay of opposing forces’.
At Turner Contemporary, Margate from 25 January to 11 May is ‘Making Painting: Helen Frankenthaler and JMW Turner’. A ‘significant body’ of Frankenthaler’s work will be shown, in what is apparently her first exhibition in a public gallery in Britain since 1969! So the exhibition is undoubtedly a good thing, though personally I think that after all this time she deserves a solo outing.
On at Gallery North, Newcastle, from 20 January to 21 February is Colour/Boundary, curated by David Sweet. Included are Caroline de Lannoy, Sharon Hall, Clyde Hopkins, Mali Morris and Sweet himself. The paintings in the exhibition will have an ‘emphasis toward abstraction and a common interest in colour’.
Until 25 January at Tintype, Essex Road, N1 are paintings and constructions by Jost Munster. The press-release suggests: “Munster’s foremost concern is the ‘how’ of making work: how to create the illusion of space, how much or how little is needed to sustain the space that a work frames.” My worry is that Munster veers toward too little a bit too much, but I shall see for myself next week.
At Alison Jacques Gallery from 16 January to 15 February is ‘Matter & Memory’ with work by Helen Barff, Maria Bartuszová, Irma Blank, N. Dash, Philomene Pirecki, Charlotte Posenenske and Erika Verzutti. The press-release is standard stuff (‘the exhibition addresses an object’s relationship to the environment in which it was produced, the performative process by which this production took place, but also the subjectivity which simultaneously enables and prohibits us from seeing it’), but the installation looks striking, in particular the ventilation shaft-like sculptures of German minimalist Charlotte Posenenske, from 1967.
At Fold Gallery from 18 January to 22 February are constructions by Dominic Beattie. In the catalogue intro Ben Street smoothly slips out the cliches of Provisional Painting: ‘This DIY approach to abstraction casts a sidelong glance at modernism’s purist pretensions, while recasting artists of the last century as tinkerers themselves. By assembling a half-remembered modernism out of the discarded stuff of contemporary life, Beattie tinkers with – modifies, corrects, repairs – the afterlife of the century gone.’ But looking beyond the rhetoric is there really the distance from modernism that Street suggests? Can all modernism be dismissed as having ‘purist pretensions’? And can such slight (if attractive) constructions really re-cast, modify, correct or repair our understanding of the artists they seem so obviously to follow in the footsteps of? I hope to review the exhibition in the next fortnight.
Also at Hauser & Wirth are twenty ‘late’ sculptures by Hans Arp, alongside five works by Franz West. From the press-release: ‘Within this exhibition Arp’s works are presented in a dense but irregular installation, forging connections between individual sculptures while becoming immersed in an almost endless metamorphoses of shapes.’
Also on now: it looks like the work of Sara Barker may have benefited from a collaboration with Ryder Architects at Baltic, Gateshead (on until 30 March); collages by Hannah Hoch at The Whitechapel until 23 March; Basil Beattie ‘Step Paintings 1990-2013′ at Hales Gallery until 22 February; paintings by Audrey Reynolds at Ancient & Modern until 1 March; paintings by Nick Moore at the Bridport Art Centre, Dorset, until 22 February, and paintings by Alice Browne at Limoncello until 8 February.