London galleries: Natural forms intergenerational in Asprey-Jaques' Kovats and Hepworth joint show

Tony Cragg goes wild at the Lisson, Emily Tsingou gets repetitive and Manchot’s middle-aged mum is at Zelda Cheatle


o Two very different artists, who both share an obsession with the landscape, come together at Asprey-Jacques, where new work by British artist Tania Kovats is being shown alongside classic abstract pieces by Dame Barbara Hepworth. Whereas Hepworth famously declared “I, the sculptor, am the landscape”, and tapped directly into the contours and forms of nature, Ms Kovats is more preoccupied by how we define terrain in terms of its margins and our memories, and her new pieces on show represent hollowed and eroded landscape forms: a cove, a cliff and a peninsula each of which plays with and off notions of the picturesque and the sublime. Conventional categories of artistic classification and assessment promise to be worn away in this new series of shows where new works by young contemporary artists are exhibited alongside more established or historical figures from modern or contemporary art.

o Two other important shows of new sculpture are Kerry Stewart—best known for her fibre glass “charity box” style sculptures—at Stephen Friedman Gallery, and the Lisson Gallery’s exhibition of new work by Tony Cragg, his first solo show since his Whitechapel exhibition in 1996. Gallery director Barry Barker describes the Cragg exhibition as an “open ended feast”, whose contents are still under discussion as we go to press. However, as well as new sculptures in bronze and glass, Mr Barker can reveal that Cragg is also currently working right up to the last minute on some new plaster pieces which he says will introduce a “wild element” into the exhibition. Prepare to be surprised.

o Masakatsu Kondo paints epic images from nature using “exotic” photographs of snow covered mountains from travel books and magazines to create paradoxical works which manage to emphasise both the scale and the artificiality of his subject matter. This month he is sharing a show at Wigmore Fine Art with another artist who interacts with photographic imagery: Glenys Johnson’s new paintings and works on paper, all made with the monoprint technique, are based mostly on newspaper images of women and present fragments of recognisable reality that are both powerful and fragile in appearance. Prices range from £1,250 to £3,800 depending on size.

o The monochrome paintings of Zebedee Jones at Waddington’s are made by applying a thick layer of oil paint onto the canvas and then texturing it with a brush or palette knife. The result is a surface that seems almost as much modelled as applied, and the works have a strong physical presence that is also strangely delicate as sparks of light play across its surface. There are more rich surfaces to be found at Laure Genillard’s “Close up on pattern”, a mixed show of four London-based painters: Sean Dawson, Dan Hays, Mike Ralph and Daniel Sturgis, whose works on canvas may seem to be representative, but who draw on sources ranging from mail-order catalogues to genetically engineered flower designs in order to explore issues of abstraction. Each artist has contributed a large and a small work and the top price is £7,000 for a new painting of a hamster cage by 1997 John Moores prizewinner Dan Hayes.

o Repetition is a central theme in “Time after time”, the first group exhibition at Emily Tsingou where a formidable international lineup including Tatsuo Miyajima, Larry Clarke, Vanessa Beecroft and Fischli & Weiss investigate how time and space are explored in contemporary art. From Beecroft’s A-4 drawings of anorexic girls to Miyajima’s digital presentation of moving, changing numbers or Henry Bond’s photographs from “The cult of the street” time appears in a multitude of incarnations and can, it seems, suit all pockets with prices ranging from £800 to £20,000.

o Hamish Fulton is one of the most uncompromising conceptual artists working in Britain today, whose work originates from experience gained during walks made in the landscape. It is the walk which is the artwork, and the resulting drawings, wall paintings and text pieces on show at the Annely Juda Gallery, unlike those of his contemporaries at Richard Long, are simply clues and symbols: small words to conjure up the big experience of his encounters with nature. Prices range from £1,300 for a framed rubber stamp piece, to £30,000 for a full installation.

o “Let’s play risk” is the appropriate title of a subversive video and installation programme which has come to rest in the newly opened, trendy “juice” bar in Covent Garden. Organised by the peripatetic no fixed abode (aka Nick Baker, formerly of Anthony D’Offay’s publication department and Zoe Foster), this line-up often insanely ritualistic videos and projections spans from William Wegman’s art star Weimaraner, Man Ray, lapping milk and an absurdist cookery lesson from Paul Macarthy, to Tim Noble’s head filmed for eighteen minutes in a tank of goldfish. It’s enough to make you choke on your melon milkshake.

o Chantal Ackerman is recognised as one of Europe’s leading film makers, with a career spanning thirty years, and edited passages from some of her best known films feature in her first solo show in the UK at Frith St Gallery. Details from works including “Jean Dielman”, “D’est”, and “Hotel Monterey” are accompanied by a narrative read by the artist, written by her after her father’s death.

As well as this video installation, there are fourteen film stills (the only photographs that she has ever made as works of art) which are for sale at $2,000 each.

o At Zelda Cheatle Melanie Manchot’s photographs of her middle-aged mother, printed directly onto large canvases and then further worked upon with charcoal, graphite and paint are tender tributes to the mutability of both the human body and the medium of photography. The canvases are unique and sell for between £1,200 and £1,500, and there are also silver gelatin prints in editions of five for between £1,500-£1,600.

o The Shaftesbury Park Estate in Battersea consists of 1,500 dwellings constructed in the 1870s which was dubbed “The workmen’s city” by Disraeli. Over a hundred years later, this “village within the metropolis” remains virtually intact, many of its current inhabitants having been born on the estate and some families going back four generations. The photographs of Patricia Ayre and Rosie Potter at the Battersea Arts Centre are more than a document of a community, they touch into the web of relationships and dependencies that make us all human.

Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'Natural forms cross the generations at Asprey-Jaques'