Galleries - December 2010

16. GALLERIES DECEMBER 10 T RIPLE VISION P ETER BLAKE Peter Blake has always, even by his own tacit admission, been something of an artistic magpie with an eclectic, and often highly unorthodox, range of artistic pref- erences and enthusiasms. He has, famously, from his early Pop Art days, always been a collecting obsessive as well, with houses and studios filled with every kind of collectable you can imagine, from life-size waxwork figures of boxer Sonny Liston to children’s toys and plan-chests stuffed with popular graphic art. This enter- taining new show of his work at Waddington , (to 11 December) entitled ‘Homage 10 x 5’, plays to these strengths with his character- istic visual wit and understanding, consisting of 5 pieces of work paying homage to each of the 10 artists whom he feels have been of particular significance to him. Some, Rauschenberg, Schwitters and Cornell, for example, are rather more familiar and predictable than others – e.g H.C. Westerman, Jack Pierson and Mark Dion – and it is the ‘homages’ to these last in particular that provide, to my mind at least, the freshest and most arresting groups of work here. The Westermans, of found boats and galleons which provide stages for a series of wax figure combats, are both fun and disturbing, the Dions, large collages of found, largely monochrome objects, fresh and engaging. Nicholas Usherwood LEON KOSSOFF ‘These paintings are about one tree’, Leon Kossoff has written about the core pictures in his ex- hibition of 27 recent paintings and drawings at Annely Juda Fine Art (to 17 December) – a cherry tree in his north London garden, one bulky, deteriorating bough but- tressed by two stakes. ‘As time passed it seemed as if the stakes had always been there. This subject, so different from others I had been involved with . . . became my working life.’ In a vibrantly impastoed yet rather attenuated palette of gentle, melancholic tonality, the tree is seen in various seasonal incarna- tions: in autumn, its burdensome bulk and knobbly dignity upheld on two blonde, pert, up-thrusting crutches; in early January the tree appears slighter, darkly evanes- cent against its sturdy, fair, straight-edged supports; here and there, odd solitary garden figures echo the tree-form, their wistful mobility and transparency mirror- ing the tree’s searching, vulner- able presence. There are also muscularly wrought charcoal drawings of this tree-on-crutches – Kossoff’s own dynamic Songs of Innocence contending with Expe- rience, and poignant oil portraits of three studio models, longtime intimates, whose serenely enig- matic miens seem curiously to echo the sturdy quietude of Willesden’s singular cherry tree. Philip Vann ANA MARIA PACHECO It is by the nicest of coincidences that a major new sculptural work by perhaps the most powerful and original of significant artists prac- tising in this country should be on show just up the road from that of one of the greatest of the early moderns, Gauguin, at Tate Modern. For Ana Maria Pacheco’s monu- mental figure tableau, The Shadow of the Wanderer , currently at St John’s Church, Waterloo ( Pratt Contemporary to 23 December) loses nothing by the comparison, this unflinching and profoundly moving meditation on loss and displacement and, by implication, the imagining of death, makes so much else that pretends to such themes appear emotionally and morally puny by comparison. Not a recipe for art world recognition of course, but then Pacheco has long since ceased to worry about that. Meanwhile the experience here is all – mere description of the piece giving no idea of its power – the seven shrouded, life-sized, carved and painted wooden figures that follow behind the central figures of a son carrying his father on his back, vibrating with a latent, inward energy and emotion that draws you inexorably into their experience. To gaze into the (facsimiled) eyes of any of these figures is to receive one in return of such anguish and pain as to rock you back in awe that art can still do such things to us. Nicholas Usherwood A na Maria Pacheco ‘Shadows of the Wanderer’ L eon Kossoff ‘Cherry Tree, Autumn’ (detail) P eter Blake ‘Sea Battle, Farmers v Punks’ 2010