Galleries - January 2013

Finally, still in the neighbourhood, there is, of course, Gagosian Britannia Street, with its pro- gramme of international 20th C. and contemporary international art – currently Chinese wunderkind Zeng Fanzhi. London Group 100 A history of English modernism could probably be written in terms of the reaction and renewal insti- gated by its numerous artistic associations and groupings over the last 125years. For one reason or another not many have surviv- ed, certainly in any very progress- ive form. All of which makes the first event of the London Group’s centenary – 100 works by most of its members spread across the superb interiors of Sir John Soane’s Pitzhanger House in Ealing – something of which to take special note. The answer to its survival lies, fittingly, in the work itself which, in its range and vigour, from painting to video to installation, reveals its constant openness to ideas of personal artistic freedom and ‘difference’. No stagnation or conservatism here but rather, in an increasingly conservative institutional climate, the same sense that ‘anything goes’ which first encouraged Epstein, Spencer Gore, Roger Fry et al to set it up in 1913 . . . putting on a lively double-bill by distinguished veteran painter John Lessore and the Grand Man- ner portraits of the rather younger Adam Birtwistle. It’s a nice con- trast; the former, soberly obser- vational in an essentially School of London tradition, the latter, as its title suggests, altogether more flamboyant, but still very much about the quality of mark-making and close attention to the subject, usually a person, to hand. Meanwhile just by the building’s main entrance, is the wonderfully light-filled space of Pangolin London. Affiliated to one of Eur- ope’s leading sculpture foundries, Pangolin Editions in Gloucester- shire, it is now one of the best galleries in London dedicated to sculpture. Not necessarily always from its own stable or even of cast metal, as last year’s revelatory ‘Two and a Half Dimensions’ show, curated by Marcus Harvey, proved. As it happens their Jan- uary exhibition is of one of the gallery’s long-term artists, Terence Coventry. It’s a major one-man show, three decades of sculp- tures, prints and drawings that trace the development of this versatile artist’s work from 1985to the present, ranging from carved wooden pieces to newer work in corten steel. The figurative themes are the same though – bulls, horses, birds, boars – and reflect an earlier career as a Cornish farmer after he had first left art shool. He knows what he makes and it is reflected in the tender rugged strength he gives them. ANTENNAE 6. GALLERIES JANUARY 13 Optimism in Islington Autumn Statements not with- standing, the London art world seems remarkably resilient and upbeat – new spaces still opening and existing ones putting on a rich and varied programme of shows as London seems to consolidate its position as the key city in a now global art market. And even in dismal, post-Christmas January and with a new contender, Art13 London, on the March horizon, the London Art Fair (16-20 January) is absolutely bulging at the seams, with well over a hundred galleries in the main fair and a further 30 in the experimental Art Projects spaces. Indeed the latter, in the intelligent hands of former Galleries Listings Editor Pryle Behrman, appears in particularly good shape this year, with a very sparky looking selection of largely youngish and super-contemp- orary British galleries. While in this part of the world, it’s a good moment to explore the comparatively recent and now steadily burgeoning art scene here. Early pioneers, viz 2008, on the Islington/King’s Cross bor- ders, have been Kings Place Gallery and Pangolin London. Housed in the same handsome canal-side building that is also home to the Guardian newspaper and some superb concert halls, their excellent exhibition prog- rammes over the last five years have long been essential viewing. Their January shows are a good example, with Kings Place Gallery