|Walter Sickert The rue Notre-Dame des Champs, Paris: the entrance to Sargent's studio|
Yesterday I managed to visit a few shows and saw quite a lot of stuff that was really good. This made me remember that painting and Art in general really is a worthwhile thing and I'm glad to be involved in it.
I was in Oxford for the morning, and managed to get half an hour in the Ashmolean, which has a very nice selection of Walter Sickert paintings. I've always liked Sickert but for me these are some of his best. Small, un-ostentatious murky paintings, describing the full range of greys, browns, mauves and mournful yellows that he is known for. The subjects are also typical - a non-descript street in Paris, an old woman drinking tea. He is a sort of Philip Larkin of painting - subdued, a bit depressive, but somehow wonderfully inspiring.
|Adam Dix and Tim Phillips installation view at Summaria Lunn|
Getting back to London I called in at Sumarria Lunn's space on South Molton Lane to see the 2 man show featuring painter Adam Dix and Sculptor Tim Phillips in a collaboration that works excellently.
Dix makes retro future paintings featuring scenes that could almost be out of illustrated sci-fi comics of the 1950s, were it not for the recurrence of incongruous elements that suggest something stranger and more interesting than the cliches that such subject matter can initially invoke. Elements of Communist mass parades and mystical secret societies mingle in this strange world, subtly described through paired-down, almost monochromatic skeins of thin paint and glaze, giving the resulting works a beautiful ethereal quality.
Tim Phillips skilfully constructs geometric sculpture from various woods, veneers, metals and other elements. These are part modernist religious icons and altar pieces, part 1970s office furniture from a parallel dimension. Harmonious triangular forms are carefully balanced with props and illustrative panels.
The arrangement of these works together in the subterranean, dimly lit gallery space has the feel of a shrine from some strange alien religion. Curation and lighting are used strongly to exaggerate these connotations.
|Shannon Finley at Bischoff/Weiss|
Finley paints small geometric abstracts whose forms are not dissonant with those of Phillips.
Once again a Modernist minimalism is invoked, this time through multi-layered translucent acrylic paint, offset by razor sharp edges - it is this attention to quality of construction that makes these works successful, and raises it above the rank and file of this well populated genre of contemporary painting.