New Possibilities: Abstract Paintings from the Seventies
Piper Gallery, until 21 December 2012
Mali Morris RA, 'Purple Heart', 1979. Courtesy of the artist and The Piper Gallery. A new exhibition at the Piper Gallery in London’s Fitzrovia argues that while we may think the post-war progress of abstract art came to a halt in the 1970s – stopped in its tracks by the prominence of minimalist sculpture, conceptualism and performance art – in fact that decade saw a diverse range of artists expand abstract visual vocabulary in interesting new directions.
Fourteen artists, all still active today, are presented in the show, including Academicians Tess Jaray, Frank Bowling, Albert Irvin and Mali Morris. The latter is represented by the wonderful Purple Heart, 1979, which straddles geometric abstraction and the neo-expressionism that was to become the norm of the 1980s.
Josephsohn, 'Untitled' (Vreni), 1985. Brass. 90 x 27 x 23 cm / 35 3/8 x 10 5/8 x 9 in. © Josephsohn Estate. Courtesy Hauser & Wirth and Kesselhaus Josephsohn / Galerie Felix Lehner. Photo: Katalin Deér, Kesselhaus Josephsohn. Josephsohn
Hauser & Wirth, Piccadilly, until 19 January 2013
If you visited the Frieze Art Fair sculpture park in Regent’s Park this year, you would have encountered the work of Hans Josephsohn. The late Zurich-based artist devoted seven decades to representing the human form in statues and reliefs notable for their rough texture – although they are cast bronze, they have the same vitality of wet plaster newly moulded by the artist’s hands.
It is only in the last decade that his reputation has grown outside Switzerland. A survey of his work at Hauser & Wirth in London’s Piccadilly has opened this week, before significant shows at Modern Art Oxford and Yorkshire Sculpture Park in 2013; last year he was the subject of a major solo exhibition at Lismore Castle, for which Emma Crichton Miller wrote a lovely piece for this blog – read it here.
Some of the most affecting works he produced were in his later years: abstracted half-figures and torsos that lack physiological detail, appearing like boulders.
Florian Hecker, 'Chimerization' Process Production Still, 2012. Copyright the artist, courtesy Sadie Coles HQ, London. Florian Hecker
Sadie Coles HQ, until 19 January 2013
For this year’s Documenta 13 art exhibition in Kassel the German-born audio artist Florian Hecker contributed a work entitled Chimerization.
Three speakers suspended from the ceiling broadcast narrations of a text work, based on a libretto by the Iranian philosopher Reza Negarestani, in three different languages: English, Farsi and German. Negarestani’s text had the subject of another triplicate form: the chimera, three-headed beast of Greek mythology formed by serpent, lioness and goat.
But each recording was distorted beyond recognition – the words were mangled in on themselves and warped further by layers of sonic fuzz. Sadie Coles HQ in London’s West End stages Chimerization from this Friday, together with two other works also described by the artist as “text sound pieces”.
House of Voltaire
Mayfair, until 15 December 2012
Studio Voltaire in Clapham, London, is more than just a studio complex; as well as giving artists spaces to practise, it organises significant exhibitions, events and residencies that attract critical acclaim from the most cutting-edge corners of the contemporary art scene.
Courtesy of Studio Voltaire. Photo credit: Mariona Otero.
In order to raise funds for its programmes, it has launched a short-term pop-up shop in Mayfair selling limited-edition prints, unique works, fashion items and objects for the home. Merchandise includes a small sculpture by Sarah Lucas, a silk scarf by Turner Prize nominee Mark Titchner and T-shirts produced collaboratively by fashion designer Lulu Kennedy and RA Schools student Eddie Peake.
Sam Phillips is a London-based arts journalist and contributor to RA Magazine