Galleries - February 2013

down, Simon Lee Gallery and an immaculate display of work from the major American conceptualist Sherry Levine. Walk through the alleyway to Dover Street and you come face to face with quite another kind of gallery, the brand-new, architecturally impressive Gazelli Art House. Directed by Azerbajani-born, London-trained Mila Askarova, the flavour here is contemporary international: the dark, turbulent work of the British Asian sculptor Saad Qureshi there when I visited both ambitious and moving. The surprises come thick and fast now –400 yards away in Grafton Street, leading New York gallerist David Zwirner has taken over a complete 18th C. town house –3 huge floors of gallery space –with a museum-quality display on two of them of the late, great Minimalist sculptor Fred Sandback. On until 16 February, make sure you don’t miss this. But now, talking of contrasts, you only have to walk 30 yards down Hay Hill to find Bischoff- Weiss, a gallery so small it would fit into half of Zwirner’s ground floor. The quality is right up there however. This British-run (despite its name) refugee from Shoreditch –a rare case round here –was showing the immaculately made Minimalist relief sculptures of East End artist Rana Begum when I went in. Last stop –and in some ways the most surprising of all –is the particularly swanky area between Berkeley and Hanover Squares and up around Claridge’s Hotel. Not the place one would imagine finding a kind of East End vibe, but, thanks it appears to the efforts of the Grosvenor Estate, something like that is going on. Thus, alongside such established big hitters as Sarah Myerscough (showing, towards the end of the month, some handsome abstract paintings by Andy Stewart on canvases bequeathed by his friend and mentor the late John Hoyland), contemporary pioneers Gimpel Fils, photography gallery Hamilton’s, 19/20th C. and Chinese contemporary specialists Pyms and contemporary heavyweights Timothy Taylor, I found a superb pop-up crafts initiative The New Craftsmen (a proper shop nearby soon apparently) and Simon Oldfield, a former Covent Garden space recently relocated, by invitation it would seem, into all four floors of a stylish Edwardian building opposite the Connaught Hotel. Showing a dizzying array of cutting-edge video, sculpture and painting, the feeling, overall, is more arts centre than Mayfair gallery. Actually, this could turn into three articles now I come to think about it . . . NU I find myself forced to divide the area into two and, as it turns out, quite distinct, neighbourhoods – East, and West, of Bond Street. I start, quite arbitrarily, with the West (East in a month or two I hope) and working up from the Piccadilly end around Berkeley, Dover, Grafton and Albemarle Streets, the surprises begin almost immediately. There are, of course, some excellent and well- established galleries in the more mainstream Mayfair mode here – Connaught Brown with its always handsome representation of top-class Ecole de Paris artists; Albemarle with its lively cross-section of groups of younger contemporary artists; Belgravia, who have just taken on distinguished RA painter Maurice Cockrill, and are this month holding shows entitled ‘Pop Art’ and ‘Naked’; and, of course, the grand-daddy (they have been here since the 1960s) of the area’s contemporary scene, Marlborough, who are currently showing a distinguished group of Paula Rego’s ‘Dame with the Goat’s Foot’ paintings. But then the surprises and signs of shifting tectonic plates start to take hold. Walk down Berkeley Street and you find two comparative newcomers. First a very well-appointed and run specialist Russian contemporary gallery Erarta – showing, when I was there, Gennady Zhubkov, from the non-Conformist Group of the 70s – and then, 3 doors 10. GALLERIES FEBRUARY 13 From left: P aula Rego ‘Avarice’ 2012 at Marlborough Andy Stewart at Sarah Myerscough Trish Wylie ‘Marilyn – Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’ at Belgravia Gallery