Galleries - November 2012

there any longer, although, as she also admits, a show like the su- perb survey of ’70s video, ‘Screen Art’ I saw would have been difficult without the huge wall/floor-spaces now available to her (Paule Véz- elay is on in November and Jane is rightly proud that two works from the archive she manages will also be seen in a Tate Modern display ‘Poetry and Dream’ this November.) And it is this, above all, viz the district’s former economic life as the centre of large rag-trade and commercial showrooms, that has made it such a magnet for incoming galleries, like Rose Issa’s glamorous new space almost next door. Meanwhile there are also other refugees here, those arriving from the now steady decline of the once thriving East End scene – it’s too far out and really just too scruffy – like Fred, and Nettie Horn in Riding House Street . . . Meanwhile, further along the road from them is Josh Lilley, a nicely rackety but charming space, which opened in 2009 to show emerging and mid-career artists. The thoughtful, semi-abstract interiors of painter Nick Goss (until 23 November), provided one of the highlights of my day’s exploration. Working my way south down to Newman Street, there’s another interesting and handsome new arrival, Piper Gallery , set up by former Momart employee Megan Piper, with a particular brief to look at British abstract art, and artists, from the late 60s on. When I was there this meant the latest, 12. GALLERIES NOVEMBER 12 FITZROVIA REBORN innovative paintings of 60s icon Tess Jaray, while November prom- ises a major survey of British abstract painting from the 70’s, Barry Cooke, Trevor Sutton and Gary Wragg among them. Cross the road from here and you are finally in Eastcastle Street, with galleries to the left of you, galleries to the right – seven or so in 100 yards! No space to go into detail, though John Akomfrah’s extra- ordinarily moving ‘Hauntologies’ films at Carroll/Fletcher (to 8 November) exploring black hist- ories in the West and Justin Mort- imer’s painterly explorations of sinister, ambiguous spaces at Haunch of Venison (to 24 Nov- ember) were particularly powerful experiences. And with Russian, Danish, German, Australian, Kor- ean, Chinese and Middle Eastern artists among the 16-odd exhi- bitions I saw, it was a very inter- national experience too, encap- sulated for me finally by the cool, immaculate abstracts of Swiss artist Frank Gerritz at Bartha Contemporary in nearby Margaret Street. Situated in a former hat showroom and one of the smaller spaces I visited, this show, of a major European artist largely un- seen in this country was typical of the sheer range and international- ism of this buzzing corner of the London art scene. NU With his acutely perceptive ideas about how the various districts of London never entirely shake off their historical characteristics, Peter Ackroyd would not be sur- prised by the remarkable return of full-on artistic life to the streets of Fitzrovia over the last 4/5 years. Even so, it still comes as some- thing of a shock to a system still rather locked into Mayfair as the art market’s epicentre to make a short circuit, starting with England & Co ’s huge new premises in an ex-bathroom fittings showroom in Great Portland Street, then walk eastward along Riding House Street and then back south, down to Eastcastle Street and along to Mortimer and Margaret Streets – and to encounter 20 or more con- temporary galleries in the process. This is not to say that the district has been exactly bereft of galleries over the last two decades though with Curwen & New Academy (Henry Walsh’s lyrical landscapes on through November), Rebecca Hossack’s two spaces (see p11) and Contemporary Applied Arts all now long-standing and highly successful venues in the streets slightly further north of here. Not to mention some rather newer arrivals in the form of Woolff in Charlotte Street and Gallery Different in Percy Street. But why this huge new flux of galleries just now? In Jane Eng- land’s case, as with a number of others, it has been the largely fashion/life-style boom of Notting Hill that has made art gallery economics impossible to sustain From left: N ick Goss ‘Tin Drum’ installation shot at Josh Lilley Gallery P aule Vézelay ‘Grey and Yellow’ 1953 at England & Co Trevor Sutton 'That Swing 4. K' (1979) at Piper Gallery