London contemporary galleries: Painting, painting everywhere

Iconic interiors at Gagosian, pucker and slide at Mummery, some great British grub at Holdsworth, painterly lavatory walls at Anthony Reynolds, strange girlish doodles at Cabinet, while Vic Reeves turns artist at Percy Miller


o It was only a matter of time before the Gagosian Gallery began to show British artists on their home turf, and first off are the fantasy interiors of Dexter Dalwood, who exhibited his paintings in Charles Saatchi’s “New neurotic Realism”, as well as writing the catalogue introduction, under the pseudonym of Dick Price. In Dalwood’s new work, however, kitschy excesses give way to darker explorations of celebrity myth and memory, and further to blur the boundaries between fantasy, reality and history, passages of painting in works such as “Brian Jones’s swimming pool” or “Mount Carmel, Waco” quote directly from an eclectic range of classic painters, including Andrew Wyeth, Clifford Still and Edvard Munch.

o Alexis Harding’s painterly language very much his own and is inextricably connected to his now-trademark technique of pouring household gloss through a trough onto another layer of paint and then manipulating the drying process into puckered, slipped grids of colour. His new works at Andrew Mummery are bigger and more architectural but still imbued with a creepy fleshiness that is at odds with their almost mechanical origins.

o There’s more interrogation of the physical properties of paint from Damien Duffy, who uses his fingers as well as his paintbrush to make large scale abstract paintings that in the past have ranged from subtle monochromes to the entire spectrum captured on a single canvas.

In his new work at 30 Underwood Street this Derry-born artist continues to use multifarious methods and layers of paint to refer to the historical struggles facing his native land (in this context finger painting assumes politically loaded connotations) and he also introduces obliquely representational images as well as hidden text messages to form a rich soup of hybrid imagery.

o “Paintings” is the title of Paul Graham’s latest photographs at Anthony Reynolds, and these near-monochrome works with their scratches, scribbles and smears have the appearance of classic works by, say, Twombly, Marsden or Dubuffet. However, what their delicate surfaces really depict is the dirt and hardcore graffiti to be found on the walls of London’s cruising toilets. Simultaneously exquisite and contemplative, and obscenely seething with the extremes of human behaviour, these perplexing works range in price from £4,500 to £5,500 and are in editions of six.

o There’s seduction and revulsion of a more direct kind with Robert Wilson’s new paintings at Houldsworth Fine Art which continue his photorealistic investigation into the promotion and presentation of the food we eat. From pie and veg to genteel slices of cheesecake and mixed berries, every permutation of the Great British Diet in all its lurid glory is depicted here and can be consumed for between £1,000 and £8,000.

o Comedian Vic Reeves briefly studied art at John Cass, but his adopted art school was Goldsmith’s where he performed some of his first stand-up shows. According to Jake and Dinos Chapman, who have written the press release for Reeve’s first solo show of graphic work, paintings and drawings at Percy Miller Gallery the comedian takes “a transversal slide from TV’s Age of Light Entertainment to the vicissitudes of Modern Art” and this “abundance of surreal disjunctions and warped mutations”, which includes an image of a sardine in a hairnet staring at a priest, ranges in price from £2,000 to £70 for a single print.

o There is a sparer vision to be found at Sadie Coles HQ in the uneasy beauty of Don Brown’s latest sculptural explorations of his wife Yoko. Scaled down to exactly half sized, she appears partially dressed, naked in heels, in her underwear, and, most unnervingly, draped in a shroud . Prices range from £7,500 for sculpture and £2,500 for single photographic studies.

o Alan Kane is best known for his unexpected explorations into what it is that art is really meant to be and do: whether it is taking the public on unorthodox walking tours or collaborating with Jeremy Deller and Peter Stringfellow to produce a multimedia event-cum exhibition at the latter’s nightclub. Now at The Showroom, he’s exploring what it means to draw with a show called, with characteristic perversity, “Dry paint”.

o Over at the Cabinet Gallery Lily van der Stokker’s wall drawings and works on paper may be just that, but her girly doodlings have a sweetness that doesn’t quite ring true, rather like Stephen King’s Carrie there’s always a threat that something extremely unpleasant may erupt from out of their candy-coloured patterns.

Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'Painting, painting everywhere'