Victoria Miro inaugurates her newly renovated Wharf Road building this month with new work by Thomas Demand, who, with fellow Miro Gallery artist Peter Doig, has been directly involved in the gallery’s refurbishment (in collaboration with architect Trevor Horne). Demand, who declares that “photography is less about representing than constructing its objects”, is internationally renowned for photographs that result from an involved process beginning with the selection of an image of an existing, often emotionally loaded, location (a building or an interior) that he then meticulously recreates out of paper and cardboard. Once these models have been photographed they are then destroyed and never exhibited.
The East End’s other blue chip gallery, White Cube2, may have a ceiling of natural light, but its imposing size nonetheless makes it a challenging space for showing paintings.
Rising to the occasion this month are three young German painters, all of whom grew up in Dresden, trained at Dresden Academy and shared the experience of Eastern Bloc isolation and the subsequent upheaval of unification. Thomas Scheibitz’ s large canvases present enigmatic buildings set in planar landscapes, heavily painted in flat blocks of warm, but oddly inert, colour. There’s also a deliberate blankness in Eberhard Havekost’s flattened suburban façades and residential blocks which almost look as if they had been painted from a TV monitor, or a film still.
Less deadpan are Frank Nitsche’s dynamic, twisted images of cars, computers and semi-organic shapes which are indebted to those philosophers of speedy modern life, J.G. Ballard and Paul Virilio.
Anthony d’Offay are showing Anselm Kiefer’s new series, “Let a thousand flowers bloom”. Although made in the last year, these paintings relate to Kiefer’s 1993 journey across China and their title refers to Mao’s description of his cultural revolution which, of course, resulted in wholesale oppression and destruction.
Two very different types of landscape painting are being presented by Modern Art this month: in the main gallery are meticulous enamel paintings by recent Goldsmith’s graduate, Clare Woods, in which details of bushes, twigs and trees appear to be caught in the instant of a camera flash, while, over in Hoxton Street, Brad Kahlhamer’s own very personal take on the American landscape are too large for the gallery dimensions. It comes as no surprise to learn that he is also a musician; these paintings rock.
Less specific, but in their own way just as richly referential, are the abstract paintings of Ross Bleckner which get a welcome trans-Atlantic showing this month. The large new works on show at Interim Art are both glamorous and poetic, with Bleckner conjuring up densely packed, translucent discs reminiscent of constellations, cell structures or diaphanous layers of sequined chiffon.
In the late 80s Donald Moffett was a founding member of the AIDs collective Gran Fury, and he has always used social mores, codes and prejudices as the raw material of work that spans categories and media. His new work at Stephen Friedman centres on 10 traditionally constructed paintings entitled “The incremental commandments”, executed in paint so deep and dense that the surface almost resembles a thick rug, and accompanied by the intermittent sound of the Seventies disco anthem “Le freak” by Chic, played on the great organ of New York’s Cathedral of St John the Divine.
Jeff Burton’s images have been described as “a journey through the sunshine noir of greater Los Angeles” and his new photographs at Sadie Coles continue to zero in on the fleshy, sexually charged details of Hollywood’s anonymous hunks as they lounge, loll and flex on verandas, beaches, condos and poolsides.
It is strictly girl’s time at the Paton Gallery where Ellie Howitt presents over 100 pencil-crayon drawings of the artist pulling faces, accompanied by canvases of provocative painted ladies who stand, feet inverted, gazing out at the viewer, begging (or challenging?) approval.
With so much of London’s art world lubricated by beer, it was probably only a matter of time before there was an art exhibition devoted to the stuff. Oktoberfest at VTO obliges by bringing together an international line-up including, for example, Dan Graham’s elegy to beer, Matthew Higgs’s home-made brewery, and Tim Sheward’s and James White’s own pastoral beer garden. The only mystery is, why is Oktoberfest sponsoring this show and not the innumerable art-supporting beer companies? Perhaps their stocks could not sustain it.
Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'On Demand in Wharf Road'