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London galleries: Our past shopping experiences immortalised at Hales Gallery

Maurizio Cattelan kicks out at English football, Paolini frames “the author” at the Lisson Gallery and Halley sticks to paint

“Freaks occupy a status in between inanimate and human” says Edward Lipski, and there is freakishness aplenty in his uncannily distorted, hybrid sculpture, where human and animal forms meet, morph and mutate. For his second solo show at Entwistle, Lipski has transformed the gallery into a darkened enclosure populated by strangely surreal sculptural presences fashioned from leather, rubber, make-up and hair which both engage and repel. These disturbing works range in price from £4,000-£10,000.

Italian-born, New York-based artist Maurizio Cattelan is a master of the subversively unpredictable (for the interview with the artist, see The Art Newspaper, No.88, January 1999, p.73). He delights in triggering an extreme response from his audience, and in the past has exhibited a live donkey under a chandelier, displayed rubble from a Milan art centre which had been bombed in a terrorist attack, and staged a miniature suicide scene with a stuffed squirrel slumped over a table—complete with tiny revolver. Now there are yet more thrills in his current show at Anthony D’Offay in which Cattelan strikes a cruel blow to the footer-loving ranks of the British art world by creating a black granite wall monument to English football which, instead of celebrating its glories, memorialises its failures in a giant carved list of all the games that the English national football team has ever lost. It is a good thing Anthony D’Offay has a lot of wall space.

At the Lisson Gallery, a significant Italian artist of an earlier generation is having his first UK show for over twenty years. In the past, Giulio Paolini was associated with both the Conceptual and Arte Povera movements, but now stands apart from any artistic label. Since the 1960s he has been exploring his complex interrelations between image, vision, observation, time and space and at the Lisson Gallery his “Stanze” feature two important new series of work - in one room canvases and drawings depict “the author” and in the other are a series of empty golden frames which frame profiles of “the spectator” drawn directly onto the wall.

Peter Halley is one of America’s leading artists who has been making installations and site specific work since 1993; and whose current exhibition at Waddington’s marks his first solo show in the UK for a decade. Halley’s paintings have an immediate and explosive impact through his use of scale and hard-edged form and colour, they are based on intuition rather than any programme or system, and he often ups the visual ante with day-glo and metallic paint. At Waddington’s he is showing a complete retina-scorching environment of acrylic paintings displayed against a background of wall drawings and wallpaper format prints. Prices are around £30,000.

The consumerist paraphernalia that dominates all our lives is a regular theme in art these days, but it can still be a rich source of subject matter, as is demonstrated by the four artists in Hales Gallery’s mixed show “Shop”. Rather than attempting to chart and comment on new shopping trends, “Shop” focuses on what is left of the old. Neil Misrahi’s signs and soundtracks present the aims and aspirations of South London’s smaller shops, Myra Stimson makes Renaissance-style egg tempera paintings of shopping lists collected from supermarket trolleys; Jane Wilbraham makes a text plan that refers to the Old Kent Road’s Roman past as well as its future use as the route to the Millennium Dome, while Jill Henderson makes wall drawings and architects plans of fantasy shopping malls which present a very 1970s view of the future.

American artist Jonathan Hammer’s exquisite, leather-bound books of drawings are not only inspired by Dada texts such as those of founding member Hugo Ball, but are also testament to his training as a professional bookbinder. In the past he has collaborated with artists such as John Baldessari, Lari Pittmann and Alexis Rockman to make outrageously ornate volumes that are as much sculpture as book and comment on and caricature the words and images inside. However at Lotta Hammer (no relation) his work is all his own and as well as being between bindings his phantasmagorical drawings in gouache, pastel and coloured pencil also cover the walls.

There is more mixing of media at Eagle Gallery where Charlotte Hode’s “Surfing History” presents a new series of paintings and ceramics, many of which are the result of time spent working in the archive of decorative patterns and pastoral motifs at Spode Ceramic Factory. The subject of Hode’s paintings and ceramics is the depiction of various women from art history and a Dürer Eve, a portrait of Elizabeth I and Gainsborough’s Madame Baccelli are just a few of the figures that are disrupted and disturbed by layer upon layer of decorative patterning.

As always, the natural world is the starting point of paintings by Alice Stephanek and Steven Maslin, and their new paintings at Laure Genillard reflect the artist’s ongoing concern with concepts of nature at the end of the twentieth century. Themes of darkness and light, speed, repetition and aerial perspective are explored and expanded in order to highlight how troubled and ambiguous our relationship with our biological surroundings continues to be.

Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'Past shopping experiences'

Appeared in The Art Newspaper Archive, 92 May 1999