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2017.10.17 Tue, by
London Mayfair roundup

Wade Guyton at Serpentine Galleries, Ilya & Emilia Kabakov and Robert Longo at Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Gilbert & George at Lévy Gorvy, Enrico David at Michael Werner Gallery, David Hammons, Cody Noland et al at White Cube Masons Yard, Jeff Elrod at Simon Lee Gallery, Sherrie Levine at David Zwirner and Yan Pei Ming at Massimo de Carlo, König Archiv & Souvenir

The best gallery show in London right now is Jake & Dinos Chapman at Blain Southern. It is reviewed here. But the competition was strong. But the best thing in Mayfair was in Hyde Park, a terrific show at the Serpentine Galleries of Wade Guyton’s Das New Yorker Atelier, Abridged. If you don’t get Guyton’s iPhone and jet-printer take on painting, then you need to see this show, which is crammed full with paintings and studies. The centrality of the studio and New York and the artist’s take on self-portraiture comes right out and it is a revelation.

At the galleries, Thaddaeus Ropac put on a striking show of Pictures Generation artist, Robert Longo‘s large-scale charcoal drawings and also a haunting staging of Ilya & Emilia Kabakov‘s “Concert for a Fly (Chamber Music)”. You need time to see both.

Wade Guyton at Serpentine Galleries

Wade Guyton at Serpentine Galleries, with rearranged Marcel Breuer chair

Wade Guyton at Serpentine Galleries

Wade Guyton at Serpentine Galleries

Wade Guyton at Serpentine Galleries – studies in vitrines

Wade Guyton at Serpentine Galleries – studies in vitrines

Ilya & Emilia Solakov at Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac

Ilya & Emilia Kabakov at Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac

Robert Longo at Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac (detail)

Robert Longo at Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac (detail)

Robert Longo at Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Ely House, London

Robert Longo at Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Ely House, London

Meanwhile Lévy Gorvy put on a show of Gilbert & George‘s early large-scale drawings, when the artists just started using their signature grid-format: The General Jungle or Carrying on Sculpting.

Gilbert & George at Lévy Gorvy

Gilbert & George at Lévy Gorvy

Enrico David‘s sculptures operated out of time in the timbered spaces of Michael Werner Gallery, playing on cocoons and metamorphosis. It is like plunging into ancient poetry only to awake in an insect future.

Enrico David at Michael Werner Gallery

Enrico David at Michael Werner Gallery

Enrico David at Michael Werner Gallery

Enrico David at Michael Werner Gallery

At White Cube, “From the Vapor of Gasoline” is timed to coincide with Tate Modern‘s “Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power” which closes soon. It is a terrific and timely show. There is lots of Bruce Nauman, Barbara Kruger, Robert Gober, Christopher Wool, Richard Prince, Steven Parrino and Robert Mapplethorpe. It is a stunningly good show and it needs time to take in. The highlights for me were David Hammons “Phat Free” 1995/1999 video (also in the Tate show) showing him walking along a street kicking a bucket, and Cady Noland‘s disquieting “Rail” with handcuffs and parcel tag.

Cady Noland

Cady Noland “Rail”, 1989, at From the ‘Vapor of Gasoline’ at White Cube Masons Yard

Jeff Elrod at Simon Lee Gallery delivers a literally eye-watering mirage and a nice counterpoint to Wade Guyton too.

Jeff Elrod at Simon Lee Gallery – painful to the naked eye

Jeff Elrod at Simon Lee Gallery – painful to the naked eye

Jeff Elrod at Simon Lee Gallery

Jeff Elrod at Simon Lee Gallery

Meanwhile at David Zwirner, Sherrie Levine‘s Pie Town includes a series of new colour images, After Russell Lee, developing on her famous reconstructions of Walker Evans’s sharecropper documentary photographs for the U.S. Farm Security Administration (FSA) in the 1930s and 1940s. Lee was a lesser-known contemporary of Evans.

Sherrie Levine at David Zwirner (detail)

Sherrie Levine at David Zwirner (detail)

Sherrie Levine 'After Russell Lee: 1-60' 2016 at David Zwirner

Sherrie Levine ‘After Russell Lee: 1-60′ 2016 at David Zwirner

Yan Pei-Ming‘s show at Massimo de Carlo at first blush is underwhelming, and yet. Yan Pei-Ming is a dedicated and talented painter but for some time now it feels like he has been stuck in a rut filled with heroes of the Western Canon. Yan has something important to say though. Yan’s new series A Short History of Power and Death based on a drawing by Jacques Louis David (1748-1825) of Napoleon crowning himself Emperor. I wonder to whom he could be referring? In the basement, dark portraits of Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, Bashar al-Assad and Kim Jong-un face a large painting based on Edouard Manet’s Execution of Emperor Maximilian (1867-8). Yes, I wonder—after all, it is October. Note: after Manet’s death, the painting was cut up into pieces, some of which were sold separately. Edgar Degas acquired the surviving fragments and reassembled the painting. It now hangs in the National Gallery in London. Manet’s Bar at the Folies Begère (1882, also in London, at the Cautauld) appears in Robert Longo’s show too.

Yan Pei-Ming at Massimo de Carlo

Yan Pei-Ming at Massimo de Carlo

Berlin’s Johann König opened König Archiv & Souvenir, a shop in a very Berlin-ish space—a converted underground carpark on Old Marylebone Road. Like Larry Gagosian, König has also brought out his own magazine. Besides Thaddeaus Ropac and König Gallery, another recent immigrant to London is Dublin’s esteemed mother’s tank station at Holborn Viaduct. No Brexit difficulties in the art world apparently. At least, not yet.

David Zink Yi's squid has a drink at the opening of König Archiv & Souvenir in the converted carpark of Winchester House, Marylebone Road.

David Zink Yi’s squid has a drink at the opening of König Archiv & Souvenir in the converted carpark of Winchester House, Marylebone Road.

Another terrific historical show was a mini-retrospective of Ernst Wilhelm Nay at Almine Rech Gallery. I was less impressed by Brice Marden‘s green paintings at Gagosian nearby. It made me green with hubris.

Ernst Wilhelm Nay at Almine Rech Gallery

Ernst Wilhelm Nay at Almine Rech Gallery

Finally there is a really fun Alex Katz show at Timothy Taylor Gallery, complete with 2-D gallery viewers and a selection of his Subway drawings from the 1940s.

Alex Katz at Timothy Taylor

Alex Katz at Timothy Taylor

Alex Katz at Timothy Taylor with two-dimensional viewer—who always faces away from you, another viewer.

Alex Katz at Timothy Taylor with two-dimensional viewer—who always faces away from you, another viewer.