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London galleries: The naked Cubes

Sadie Coles in an eastward position, the Lisson and Tim Taylor times two, photography at Frith Street and Maureen Paley, plus powerful juju at Anthony Reynolds

o Jay Jopling may be showing all new work by his stable in White Cube2, his spacious new Hoxton premises, but he is also making sure that the original White Cube attracts its fair share of visitors this month by using the small but perfectly formed St James’s space to present a hitherto unseen “Naked portrait” by Lucian Freud. Measuring 44” x 35” and completed last year, the painting depicts a very full frontal female figure arranged in the leather studio armchair familiar from many of Freud’s previous works. Along with newly acquired White Cubers Gilbert & George exhibiting their “Naked tree” across town, Freud’s first show in a London commercial gallery for many years is further confirmation of Jopling’s increased pulling power among artists of all generations.

o Diverting the art world traffic moving from west to east London this month is Sadie Coles who has opened up a Hoxton HQ in Hoxton Street, just round the corner from Jopling’s new emporium. Here, like Jopling, she is showing all new work by her gallery artists, who include Sarah Lucas, Don Brown, Jim Lambie, Angus Fairhurst, Simon Periton and Nicola Tyson. Back in the West End, she is showing new paintings by key gallery artist John Currin, the New York-based painter who combines stunning technique with disquieting subject matter to portray often grotesque, but ominously recognisable, members of the human race.

o It seems that everyone is extending themselves in anticipation of London’s Tate-Modern induced art influx. As well as showing Anish Kapoor’s latest sculpture in materials as diverse as resin, water and stainless steel at their Bell Street base, the Lisson Gallery has also branched out into 25,000 square-feet of empty warehouse space in Keane Street, Covent Garden, to present a show of some twenty international artists working in film and video. These include Vanessa Beecroft, Mat Collishaw, Tony Oursler, Douglas Gordon, Igor and Svetlana Kopystiansky, Paul McCarthy and Rodney Graham and the intention is to flag up the fact that “the Lisson Gallery has been pioneering the use of film and video in contemporary art since the 1970s.”

o White South African artist William Kentridge is best known for his film animations, drawings, theatre and opera productions, all of which are underpinned by themes of personal and national dispossession, fragmentation and hybrid identities. For his show of new work at Stephen Friedman Gallery, Kentridge has created a procession of small figurative bronze relief sculptures which refer to the maquettes that he uses for his theatre work and “shadow” films. There are also charcoal, pastel and chalk drawings from his film “Ulisse: ECHO” and his opera production of “Il ritorno d’Ulisse”.

o Tim Taylor reopened his gallery this spring with double the space and a new policy of showing young, emerging artists alongside his more established line-up. Until 3 May he is showing three artists from this year’s BT Young Contemporaries: Athanasios Argianas, whose low key, but haunting, sculptural interventions imply that a possibly destructive incident has taken place; the tiny flotsam and jetsam tableaux of Ian Kiaer, and the kinetically charged sculpture of Nick Laessing. This is followed by a more internationally established figure, Roni Horn, with her “Still water”, fifteen photographs of the surface of the Thames punctuated by numbered footnotes with a ribbon of text running along their base.

o The new photographs of Hannah Starkey on show at Maureen Paley Interim Art continue to play off our expectations and preconceptions of the photographic image: they have an atmospheric dreaminess which is complicated by their contrast with often elaborate compositions and grittily everyday settings—and then made yet more complex by the fact that all the subjects are actors.

o Craigie Horsfield is well known for his intense photographic portrayals of people and places, but recently he has been developing a number of site-specific sound installations that act to intensify the sense of location, community and common experience. In a new installation conceived especially for Frith Street Gallery, Horsfield has created a collage of sounds playing over several hours which includes ambient, classical, electronic and world music.

o Keith Tyson has made a name for himself as an artist whose work embraces the imponderables of our existence. He is currently creating psychological havoc at the British Art Show 5 in Edinburgh by casting spells throughout the show and the city (especially paranoia-inducing is his spell on other works of art, rendering them half as interesting as they were before the spell was cast). More tangible evidence of the often bizarre workings of the Tyson brain are on display at Anthony Reynolds who is showing thirty-three studio wall drawings, revealing the processes of artistic creation, whether worked-up drawings, ongoing formulations of ideas, or informal lists and notes to himself. These artistic insights are on sale for upwards of £3,000.

o This month another high profile member of the Reynolds stable, 1999 Turner Prize winner Steve McQueen is premiering a new film piece, “Cold breath” in Delfina Gallery’s offsite space—just a skip from Tate Modern—at 41 Southwark Street.

Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'The naked Cubes'