Galleries - January 2011

4ft or more) are of people. The landscapes look like childhood memories. Her titles are enigma- tic: The girl in a wood, A gathering, Tipped, Night bathing, Hallucination . By confronting these horrors – the shoals of people like sardines perishing in a trawler’s net, the faceless beings raising their arms in mechanical supplication to an unseen controller – she offers consolation, of a kind. Take nothing for granted. Go and see it. Since Philippe Parreno works with suchan eclectic range of mater- ials – including film, sculpture, performance and text works – he has frequently been given the rather clumsy title of a ‘post- medium’ artist, but for his current show at Serpentine Gallery the focus is very muchon one med- ium alone: the gallery itself. This exhibition of four short films is conceived as a single theatrical experience, withelectronically- controlled sound and lighting that gently prods you to move sequen- tially from one room to the next. Travelling in unison with the other visitors creates a feeling of com- munality, another perennial strand in the artist’s work that has seen him labelled (using another P HILIPPE PARRERO Pryle Behrman 9. GALLERIES JANUARY 11 Twenty-two strong, these new paintings by Evelyn Williams at Martin Tinney – all from 2010 – show this octogenarian Welsh artist continuing the compelling and treacherous (subversive?) themes that have fired her imag- ination for decades. In a nutshell, which is how she presents them, they are about loneliness, help- lessness, fear of the void and of imprisonment, and the limitations of love. Her paintings have limpid colours, light tones blazing aga- inst velvety darks. Her drawing is funny, childlike and clean-cut, working against the hopelessness and chaos that threaten to engulf her – and us – when we stop to look inside ourselves. Some of her pictures are reminiscent of Masaccio’s fres- coes. The sobriety of his work is there, but she is of our time not his, and her concerns cannot be solved by looking back. The surprise, pain and isolation in the faces of her people, the vulner- ability of their naked and bone- less-looking bodies, the pathetic openness of the simple land- scapes with their stick-like trees, the doll-like quality of the girls who wear necklaces set against intric- ately patterned and pulsating backgrounds, are all of today and all the more powerful for being naively painted, by her at any rate. Evelyn Williams introduces us to a world of dreams and night- mares, of childhood disappoint- ments that endure long into adulthood. The majority of paint- ings on show (most measure 4ft x rapidly-fading buzzword) as a ‘relational’ artist. The works themselves combine real communities with imagined ones. Invisibleboy (2010) is a portrait of a young illegal immi- grant in New York’s Chinatown. Scratched directly onto the film are spectral creatures including giant rabbits – imaginary compan- ions conjured from the child’s mind – that hide amongst coats and under a sink or roam the surrounding locale. In June 8, 1968 ( 2009) Parreno pays hom- age to Paul Fusco’s photographs of the mourners who came to witness the train carrying Bobby Kennedy’s body from New York to Washington after his assassi- nation. Parreno does not recon- struct Fusco’s pictures, but rather evokes, with startling beauty, the period details of the age – its towns, cars and psychedelia- inflected clothes. The bystanders at the track’s edge look up at the camera and, through it, become linked to another audience watch- ing them in a very different time and place. The work of Philippe Parreno may tick many of the boxes of contemporary art theory, but it displays some uniquely heart-rending poetry as well. E velyn Williams ‘The Shadow’. At Martin Tinney Philippe Parreno ‘Invisibleboy’ film still, courtesy Centre National des Arts Plastiques, © 2010 Philippe Parreno. At the Serpentine Gallery EVELYN WILLIAMS C aroline Juler