art in a cold climate

‘Tis bitter chill at the moment, but I’ve warmed myself on a couple of inspiring exhibitions this week. This lunchtime, a brisk and bracing 15 minute walk got me to The Serpentine’s Centre for Possible Studies for a proper look at the Fabelist Imprint show. We’d gone to the launch the previous Friday (I’m a sporadic Fabelist, having contributed a short poem to the Imprint journal) – a buzzy evening, with lots going on, but I wanted to see the visual art in a quieter situation. The standout pieces for me were Twinkle Troughton‘s Read All About It – a map of the UK collaged from newspaper cuttings; and Chantal Powell‘s Relics – deer skulls inscribed with ancient symbols or bedecked with red yarn totemic and mysterious. It was also great to see Polly Bagnall‘s final painting, with its free-flowing gestural markings, having followed the evolution of her piece on the Fabelist blog.

Earlier in the week we braved the plummetting mercury (okay, it’s hardly Siberia, but up until now it’s been a mild winter) for a preview evening at the Lisson Galleries. I’m reserving judgement on the Santiago Sierra exhibition, Dedicated to the Workers and the Unemployed, despite the rousing title. Go instead to 52-54 Bell Street for the retrospective of paintings by Carmen Herrera. The factual titbits in the accompanying pamphlet are intriguing and inspiring: Herrera was born in 1915 in Cuba, she’s still painting, and sold her first painting at the age of 89. And then there are the paintings, which speak for themselves: bold geometric abstracts in vivid colour combinations – crimson and black, burnt orange and royal blue, light cream and grassy green. There is something gloriously life-affirming about these paintings, and I’m glad that I’ve had the chance to see them. I’ll be going again, soon, whatever the weather.


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