Thursday, May 7, 2015

EAST END GALLERIES

Morning tea and a bowl of cereal in our hotel room--a luxury much appreciated the morning after a late night at the theater.  The hotel also provided a xerox version of the New York Times, allowing us to catch a glimpse of the news back home.  Over here in the UK, distressing news via email from one of my nieces that my sister, after a couple of weeks of unexplained pain, has now been diagnosed with an abdominal blockage and has to go in for surgery this afternoon.  We are sending her wishes for a good outcome and a speedy recovery, but it's a nasty business... We'll stay in constant touch.

What with blogging, breakfasting, showering and the rest, it was past eleven by the time we emerged into a cool, sunny day--though the sun was not to last very long!  By afternoon, it was mostly drizzle and showers and, by evening, the same cold and blustery winds as yesterday.  But this was the day we had chosen to get acquainted with the new East End galleries, and the weather was not about to deter us.  The London Underground took us easily from Knightsbridge to Bethnel Green, whence we started out on foot in completely the wrong direction for a good half mile (thanks to my misreading of the map outside the tube station) before retracing our steps and finding the nest of galleries hidden away on and around Herald Street (Maureen Paley, Laura Bartlett, Herald Street and Campoli Presti.)  We note that the heritage of conceptualism is as strong in England as at home, with results that are sometimes intellectually worthy but not terribly engaging--though we much enjoyed Amy Sillman's contribution to "The Pleasures of the Text" at Campoli Pesti...

(Readers and, especially, I hope, artists will forgive my use of IPhone snapshots without attribution or proper captions for this informal and limited use on The Buddha Diaries...)
Walking north from that area, we found our way to The Approach--a pub that had been recommended as a good lunch spot, with a gallery upstairs.  A glass of IPA beer...


... a bowl of soup, and an excellent vegetable lasagna restored our flagging energies, and a stop upstairs introduced us to the work of John Lavender, who uses various forms of detritus and found objects to build sculptural forms and mixed media two dimensional works...


A longish walk through semi-industrial, semi-residential areas--mostly, it seemed, of Middle Eastern culture--to another small grouping of galleries that included Vilma Gold, Supplement, and Union.  At the latter we saw by far the best work of the day's tour, large-scale paintings by Rose Wylie a woman eighty years of age who deferred to her (fellow painter) husband during family and child-rearing years but has returned with passionate energy and is now gaining a deservedly substantial reputation both here in the UK and internationally. Her painting is Guston-esque, bold, contemptuous of the niceties of representation, unabashedly colorful, "primitive" in its energy without being self-taught (the artist has an excellent record of art education.)  This one is called "Ray's Yellow Airplane"...


And here's one of Wylie's highly individual takes on the movie "Syriana"--with credits hand-painted at the lower edge...


We loved this work!  It proves that advanced age can bring with it the great benefits of maturity and freedom from conventions.

Another long walk brought us to the Brick Lane area...


I recall that my maternal grandmother was born and raised on Brick Lane...


... at that time a primarily working-class Jewish district, if I'm right--though now a mixed area with plenty of upscale shops and restaurants, and hard-to-find galleries in its confusing maze of narrow streets.  After many missteps, we finally located Kate MacGarry, where Patricia Treib, one of the several American artists we saw today, was showing large scale, colorful abstractions and, next door, Jonathan Viner, with an interesting exhibition of L.A.-based artist Amir Nikravan, whose illusionistic, two-dimensional paintings evoke three-dimensional sculptural surfaces. 

We failed in our search for another local gallery, and by this time were too weary to make the additional trek across to Victoria Miro, as we had intended.  Instead, we headed down to the southern end of Brick Lane to the City of London's Whitechapel Gallery at Aldgate.  Here, the main exhibition area was devoted to the photographic archive of "found monochromes" by David Batchelor; regrettably, we were too exhausted by this time to pay more than scant attention to the second major exhibition at the Whitechapel, a collection of photographs by Christopher Williams entitled "The Production Line of Happiness."

The tube offered us an easy journey on the District Line back to South Kensington, and we walked back up the Brompton Road to our hotel on Beaufort Gardens.  I enjoyed a shot of Jamesons in the comfortable hotel lounge...



... and we headed out for a late supper at one of the many Italian restaurants in the neighborhood.  Back at the hotel, we discovered that my sister has made it successfully through her surgery and is currently in recovery.  We shall hear more tomorrow.



1 comment:

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