Galleries - September 2010

from his foot is both a tender portrait and also a conscious homage to the Spinario , one of the best known genres of Hellenistic sculpture. As with all exhibitions by Tillmans, a collection of enthral- ling, mediocre and downright boring images coalesce into a strangely compelling whole. Anyone heading to the St Ives festival this month is doubly for- tunate in that their visit coincides with Trevor Bell's 80th birthday exhibition 'Earth Air Fire Water Aether' at Millennium . Bell moved to Cornwall in 1955 and became a major player in the post-war St Ives scene, being included in the London Tate's 1985 St Ives show as well as the inaugural Tate St Ives exhibition. Still youthful and vigorous (why expect otherwise?) his large, and often irregular In many ways the current exhi- bition by Wolfgang Tillmans at Serpentine Gallery (until 19 Sept- ember) could readily be mistaken for one of those open-submission photography shows that freely jumbles together the work of sev- eral complete strangers. Casually scattered across the gallery walls, his imagery jumps erratically from the sublime to the mundane, from the urban to the pastoral, and from the monumental to the min- ute: a typical passage within the exhibition sees the façade of a rough-cast house sitting adjacent to a massed tower of egg cartons and followed by heptathletes idl- ing away at their starting blocks. Furthermore, many of the photos appear over- or underexposed and frequently highlight the imper- fections to which the photographic process is prone: blurring, fading, errant scratches and speckles of dirt on the lens. As a result, these pictures end up stridently decla- ring that the photographer’s eye for an image is paramount – far above anything as mundane as technical exactitude. What further binds this eclec- ticism together is the idea that images do not exist in isolation. What we see is invariably coloured by what we have witnessed in the past: the personal, the social, the political and the historical, all at once. Tillmans' work also makes constant reference to genres of art other than photography: ‘Lighter’ is a suite of colour-saturated photo- graphs shaped liked Minimalist sculptures; Anders pulling splinter shaped abstracts have a breath- taking simplicity, a 'pared down' quality that suggests the disc- arding of all extraneous material to reach the quintessential 'dyna- mics'. Known for limiting his pa- lette to black on white, when he incorporates colour the results are thrilling, comparable to a chance encounter with the sunrise – cog- ent and unforgettable. This is no birthday retrospective but a new body of work that puts ageism squarely in its place. Along the scenic coast road in Morvah, 'Earth's Rich Store' at Yew Tree Gallery is figurative, joyous and worth the trip. Celebrating the diversity and fecundity of nature, three painter/printmakers instill more than a little nostalgia for the unhurried and uncompromised days of childhood – the joy of lying in long grass or watching ducks at play. Tessa Newcomb's St Ives paintings are here – sideways glances at life that capture the rhy- thm of the moment – as are Mark Hearld's paintings/collages also made locally this summer. Prints by Angie Lewin – lively, stylized and beautifully observed are of studies she made on the Norfolk coast and in Scotland. With so little space to say more and with recent publications by or about all three in the bookshops I can only add that if you have a chance to get there and see their work in the original, then take it. SNAP JUDGMENT P ryle Behrman FERTILEEARTH Pip Palmer W olfgang Tillmans ‘Anders pulling splinter from his foot’ 2004.© W. Tillmans & Maureen Paley Trevor Bell at Millennium