Friday, January 08, 2016

Best in Show: 2015

Stuck this up on Dazed Digital but wanted to archive here too. My best of 2015! 
Apart from my own shows of course...

December is the ideal time to round up an abundance of exhibitions in a tidy top ten – to compare and contrast what we saw, missed, liked and hated. There is no way anyone can be comprehensive. We still mourn missing shows in Paris, NYC, Istanbul, LA and all the rest that aren’t included below. Nonetheless, these are some of the best exhibitions you could see in 2015. Work that made us cry, tingle, laugh, spin out and look at the world in a different way.
Tillmans first major solo exhibition with David Zwirner in New York was jaw-droppingly good. The huge exhibition felt as thorough and expansive as a museum solo show and highlighted how Wolfgang is often at his best when he focuses on the everyday. Some of the show-stoppers were a simple weed in a pavement, a pile of dirty washing and oddly formed tomatoes.
This British painter’s major solo show at The Serpentine proved she is arguably one of the best painters of her generation. Black figures were presented in heroic, hypnotic portraits. This work in particular reinvented the representation of the figure as well as an approach to blackness in one of its most nuanced forms.
Mirza’s show at the Musee Tinguely in Basel was the best exhibition that you probably haven’t seen. The artist layered his work – in the form of his studio Hrm199 – over the museum’s own collection of kinetic art. The British artist presented incredible audio, light and sculptural installation works, including collaborative pieces with artists including Jeremy Deller and Channa Horwitz. If you missed it, at least get the catalogue.
Walking into this space was the most disorientating experience. The floors mirrored with projected clouds floating across them while tables were on the walls. A heavy noise drone played throughout the space – making things even more upside down. One of the most refreshingly odd experiences of the year.
This 3D film work was so well made that thousands came through the doors of Sprüeth Magers Berlin space. The piece focused on weird swaying trees, grown from seed presents (to American Olympic winner Jesse Owens) by the Nazis, and fireworks above the 1936 Olympic Stadium against a looped perfect sample from Alton Ellis’ Blackman’s Word. The work of Gaillard’s career.
The Walker Art Center programming is so good you know why Minneapolis' local Prince stays in the area. The latest show explores the counter-cultural experiments in art, architecture and design – from geodesic domes to the graphic work of Emory Douglas, the show demonstrates how radical creativity in the late 60s really was and what we can learn from it.
Morgan Quaintance is a curator (writer and broadcaster too) with a brilliant take on creating exhibitions. He has now been appointed curator of artist run Cubitt in Islington and his first show with Cecile B Evans, Dazed Emerging Artist Award Winner Lawrence Lek and older artist Manfred Mohr was a great take on the role of software in art.
Rafman’s solo show at London’s Zabludowicz collection, which followed a solo in Montreal, was filled with video installations that were watched lying down on waterbed mattress, sitting on a massage chair, in a pool of floating plastic balls, in hot tight metal cabinets, in the set of a stained teenagers bedroom and in a 3D fake garden maze. The perfection mix of computer nerd tropes and contemporary art dialogues.
Who doesn’t love Mark Leckey? Leckey has created a new film work that debuted at Cabinet gallery that will floor fans of Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore. An incredible cut and paste narrative that brings together the artist’s own biography and themes about changing media interfaces and our relationship to the space race alongside the music and moods of popular culture.
Dazed was ahead of the game when we profiled the late Japanese auteur Tetsumi Kudo, who this year got a deservedly exciting solo show at Hauser & Wirth in London and Zurich. In both spaces, the interior of the gallery was covered with bright green Astroturf to provide a plus setting for Kudo’s straight electro penis cage, acid terrarium sculptures and UV tech-organic installations. Hard to forget.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

A bit Berlin and little of London

I've got some curation things underway. The prints I curated for have launched online - and a selection are on display in the Absolut Art Apartment at Moritzplatz in Berlin Until Dec 6. (and for those who like liquid there is free coffee in the day from 11 and free cocktails between 5 an 7pm daily). Top Floor, Prinzenstrasse 84, Berlin. Artists include Gregor Hilderbrant, Hanna Schwarz, Thomas Helbig, Juliette Bonneviot, Matthias Bitzer and Ei Cortinas.

Londoners save the date -December 17 for #officeparty
The last party with a DJ set by Dave MacLean (Django Django), dance class by Joelle D'Fontaine, and free photocopy artworks by Aaron Angell, Alexandre da Cunha, Jeremy Deller, Benedict Drew, Celia Hempton, Allison Katz, Oscar Murillo, David Noonan, Athena Papadopolos, Peles Empire, Prem Sahib, Daniel Silver, Marianne Spurr, Julie Verhoeven, Jesse Wine, Bedwyr Williams and more...
#officeparty GIF by Ben Sansbury, 2015. Courtesy the artist

Thursday, October 15, 2015

CocksandCunts for Kaleidoscope Videoclub

I was honoured to curated a video project for Kaleidoscopemagazine to coincide with their Art and Sex issue (I've interviewed Celia Hempton in the mag itself and I'm also doing a talk at Frieze Art Fair Reading Room Friday 530pm with her and Julie Verhoeven)

It's called Cocksandcunts Here are more details!

The selected works by The ARKA group, Adham Faramawy, Richard Kern, Reija Merlainen, Julie Verhoeven, John Walter and Zoe Williams explore the representation of sexuality and the naked body, veering from fetishism to playful humour, from choreographed performance to an almost abstract approach. Here, ideas of feminism, movement, power and the structure of art manifest into a deeply human form, emphasizing the human sex as something layered with meaning.

PS Longlyst also printed my Top Ten London galleries

Sunday, October 11, 2015


My recommendations leading up to Frieze are up.

Also if you're there Friday, head to the reading room at 530pm to hear me talk with Celia Hempton and Julie Verhoeven for Kaleidoscope. I'll also be posting a VIDEOCLUB project to coincide next week. News to come!

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Hot off the press

Here is some of the latest work out at the moment

- the cover feature of the Financial Times How To Spend it Magazine

- a six page feature on artists working with poetry and text in Sleek magazine with profiles on David Raymond Conroy, Quinn Latimer, Megan Rooney, Harry Burke and Agnieszka Polska

- lots of top tens for Dazed Digital coming - Art Licks weekend, and pre and post Frieze and Fiac to come

Thursday, July 02, 2015



The performance programme is at the year’s edition of CHART works with demonstrating the vitality of colour and showing how it can be relevant, engaging and complex in a series of conceptual performance art works.

The diverse variety of performance artists is curated by the English curator, writer and editor Francesca Gavin. Gavin has primarily invited Nordic artists who work with different elements such as, architecture, sound, lighting and textile. The artists will create individual performances but are asked to work within the shared thematic of colour in creating their works.

Colour has a bad reputation. From the Grecian concepts of aesthetics though 20th century modernism to contemporary conceptual art, colour is often described as something about spectacle, emotion, expression, the irrational. The responses and experience colour creates in a viewer is often downplayed as simple sensationalism. This programme of performances aims to resist this redundant argument.

The performance programme of CHART draws on David Batchelor’s concept of ‘chromophobia’. He argues, “colour is made out to be the property of some ’foreign’ body – usually the feminine, the oriental, the primitive, the infantile, the vulgar, the queer or the pathological. Colour is relegated to the realm of the superficial, the supplementary, the inessential or the cosmetic… Colour is routinely excluded from the higher concerns of the Mind.”

The aim of these works is to reposition colour as something equally important as line, idea, and form in the creation of art. Show that colour is something important outside of the expected mediums of painting or graphics. That colour can be an intelligent way to engage with politics and meaning, and has an important role in contemporary cultural production and communication.
The artists in this programme will invited to draw on the idea of the spectrum or create a performance around a specific colour (so there could be an excitement amongst viewers to ‘collect’ the experience of different coloured performances).

FRIDAY the 21st of August

Norwegian artist Wrånes creates dramatic aural audio works. Featured in the Sydney biennial and the last Performa, her space-specific performance works that often use hanging elements, props, costume and architecture. For CHART, she will perform a “vision for the future”.

SATURDAY the 22nd of August

Sigurðardóttir’s work focuses on interactive spaces and projects that investigate the idea of the spectrum, space and movement. For CHART, the Icelandic artist will create a Prism performance-installation working with colour as visual information gained from scans of viewers invisible radiant energy.

David Mullett & Duncan Ransom
Director David Mullett is unveiling his first abstract psychedelic virtual reality work as part of the performance programme of CHART. Trained at the Royal College of Art, Mullett is founder of VR agency Virtualize and has written about innovations in Virtual Reality for Dazed, Sleek and Blackbook.
Duncan Ransom is the founder of The Endless, a high-end Virtual Reality content creation studio. With over 10 years experience working for major VFX studios in the feature film industry, he is currently focused on the development of delicious augmented and virtual reality based environments, interactions and applications.

SUNDAY the 23rd of August

Swedish artist Nadine Bryne creates works that reflect an interest in ritual, nature and femininity. Alongside a practise that includes sculpture and film, her performance works have incorporated textiles, dance and fabric elements. For CHART, she will create audio-visual work inspired by the projection and contrast of colour.

Verhoeven’s chaotic performative installation works include objects, sound, sculpture, moving image and painting. She has also created collaborative real time performances at the ICA, London and moving image performance with Jimmy Merris at the Hordaland Arts Centre, Norway. She is creating a new performance inspired by the colour spectrum for CHART.

Peter Jensen was born in Denmark and educated at Central Saint Martins in London. He established his brand in 1999 and is known for a mastery of colour and print, with work that crosses between fashion, art and graphic image. He has collaborated in the past with Tim Walker, Dover Street Market and Topshop, and a retrospective of his work was exhibited at the Copenhagen Arts Museum in 2011. 

Spectrum Risograph Print Project
This commissioned project is a series of six limited risograph prints each inspired by a different colour in the spectrum, which will be given away free. The project aims to rethink ideas of value and consumption within the context of the fair with works that explore wider ideas about the colour spectrum. The contributing artists are Alex da Corte, Clare Woods, James Hoff, John Korner, Peter Linde Busk and Richard Coleman.

Francesca Gavin
Gavin is a curator, writer and editor based in London. She has curated international exhibitions including E-Vapor-8 (319 Scholes and Site Sheffield), The Dark Cube (Palais de Tokyo), and The New Psychedelia (Mu). She is also the Visual Arts Editor of Dazed & Confused, Art Editor of Twin and contributing editor at, Sleek, Le Pan and AnOther. She has written five books including ‘The Book of Hearts’, ‘100 New Artists’ and ‘Hell Bound: New Gothic Art’ and is the curator of the Soho House group collection.