Until 1 November, 2015
With Frieze Art Fair opening this week (it runs from 14 – 17 October and is always worth visiting), there is much art to see all over town. And we can’t recommend anything without first making sure you’re booking tickets for Goya: The Portraits at the National Gallery, which runs until 10th January, 2016. But one of our favourite contemporary shows at the moment is away from the Regents Park action and takes place in the East End.
We’ve been fans of the artist Michael Landy (one of the original YBAs who exhibited at the 1988 Freeze exhibition) ever since we saw his 2001 Artangel commission: Breakdown, in which he destroyed all his possessions in a former department store on Oxford Street. As well as producing large scale and ambitious installations, such as Semi-detached of 2004, the painstaking recreation of the Essex house he grew up in in the Tate Britain’s huge Duveen Galleries, Landy is one of the most skilled draughtsmen of his generation.
His latest show, Breaking News, is a combination both of his drawing skills and his ability to create a whole world in one room, which in this instance is his own studio on Vyner Street in Bethnal Green. Landy has covered his walls and a section of floor with dozens and dozens (hundreds probably) of white and red paintings made on torn fragments of paper. Some of the paintings (in fact they are cut-outs) are funny, some are political, some are idyllically beautiful landscapes. Some are logos or words or newspaper headlines, others are references from other works of art including Picasso’s Guernica (which feels particularly apt given what is happening in Syria), and some are references from Landy’s own body of work. (If you saw his 1995 installation, Scrapheap Services, you’ll recognise his generic human stick figures). The whole effect is a bit like being inside Landy’s head, but it also gets you thinking yourself. It’s not often that you see a show that manages to be witty, thought provoking and moving all in equal measure.
Also, as this is a gallery show, the work is all for sale and because many of the drawings are very small, some of the prices are relatively affordable (from about £250). We had a great time deciding which tiny drawing, out of the many, we’d invest in. It’s not often that you can buy a piece of work by a seriously rated contemporary artist whose work is part of the Tate’s collection.