Diego Perrone

MASSIMO DE CARLO | LONDON
55 South Audley Street
September 5–October 8

View of “Diego Perrone: void-cinema-congress-death,” 2014.

Diego Perrone’s latest exhibition engages the viewer in a conversation on the relationship between morphology and history. In the first room of this gallery/apartment, Perrone has chosen to “cool” the space, covering the floor with black linoleum onto which he has drawn a large red dragon. This legendary animal is here an iconic element, or rather an extraordinary motif, which is linked to two nearby sculptures in cast glass, each approximately thirty inches tall. Inspired by Alexander McQueen’s “Armadillo” shoes, these latter works feel like a kick to the face, and on close examination reveal an ear and an eye like fragments of a visage. The artist here also plays with chance, since he does not control the various chemical substances held in these works, which change color, particularly under the strong gallery lights. The sculptures also seem to have no texture: At times, they appear to turn into a transparent frame that allows one to see through them.

Along with his interest in alchemical processes, Perrone also plays with the opposition between the coagulation of materials and the instability of forms. On the gallery’s second floor he tackles ancient bas-relief technique. Here he shows five pieces, each created using various materials (plaster, sheet iron, PVC). Molded chairs emerge from the material, like bodies from the bowels of the earth. Four drawings in red ballpoint pen on paper complete the project; their subjects revive the motif of the glass sculptures in the first room, like the cast of an idea that has produced an autonomous image.

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.

Paola Nicolin

Mary Kelly

PIPPY HOULDSWORTH GALLERY
6 Heddon Street
September 5–October 4

Mary Kelly, Circa 1968, 2004, compressed lint and projected light noise, 100 x 105 x 1".

The works in “On the Passage of a Few People Through a Rather Brief Period of Time,” American artist Mary Kelly’s first London solo exhibition in more than a decade, consider how an era is shaped by political events and their media representations. Circa 1968, 2004, for instance, is a cast of compressed lint depicting photojournalist Jean-Pierre Rey’s iconic image for Life magazine of a girl waving a flag during the May 1968 general strike when Paris was brought to a halt by civil unrest. Kelly’s version, enlarged and rendered in her signature material, is installed directly opposite her latest work, Tahrir, 2014. This work is based on a photograph taken by photojournalist Peter Macdiarmid of protesters in gas masks during the 2011 Tahrir Square uprising in Cairo. The Web address bar at the top of the work reading “www.tahrir.com” is a conspicuous reminder of the important role the Internet’s technological advancements played in the creation of citizen journalism.

A series of lint works, “7 Days,” all 2014, take on the left-leaning magazine of the same name that Kelly cofounded in 1971 with feminists and activists, marking the development of an independent-press movement that went beyond mainstream media in challenging the status quo. Their composition in a quotidian household material places these images in a domestic context—a subtle nod to the connection between public demands for change and rebellion within the private sphere of the home. Their fragility and Kelly’s focus on activist movements also reflect how ephemeral movements can become, mirroring the invisibility of domestic labor.

Ashitha Nagesh

Keith Vaughan

ROYAL PAVILION & MUSEUMS
4/5 Pavilion Buildings
June 10–November 9

Keith Vaughan, Two Interlinked Figures, 1965, gouache on paper, 21 x 17".

“A Volatile Medium,” the title of this exhibition, is also how Keith Vaughan referred to gouache, the material and technique he employed increasingly in the last fifteen years of his life, following his 1962 retrospective at Whitechapel Gallery. He would often mix his gouaches with other materials, such as vinegar, to further increase the process’s volatility, finding a new sort of freedom in chaos and uncontrollability. As journal excerpts included in the exhibition reveal, Vaughan was something of an automatist, producing inspired studies of the male figure faster than his dealer could sell them.

In Warrior, 1960, a male figure is depicted with his back to the viewer. The background landscape is smudged with swaths of color, as is the figure himself, his body nearly becoming one with its surroundings. Often, Vaughan depicted myriad figures in a single image, the delirious thick black lines that form their bodies intersecting and merging, one on top of another, as in an untitled gouache on paper work from 1975.

That there is a certain degree of gloominess haunting these late works is fitting and understandable, given the circumstances under which they were created. Vaughan wrestled throughout most of his life with depression related to his homosexuality and difficulties in sustaining long-term relationships, although these struggles never depleted the prolific outpour of his work. Indeed, his melancholy may well have helped feed his work’s increasingly expressionistic and dreamlike qualities. He was diagnosed with colon cancer in 1975 and committed suicide two years later, documenting the process of dying by writing in his journal as the pills kicked in. Yet the joyful and desirous frenzy of the line emerging in drawings such as Man Feeding Birds, 1975, implies that art was also, for Vaughan, a zone of happiness, and perhaps the sole domain where the potentialities of hope could flourish.

Travis Jeppesen

Jim Lambie

THE FRUITMARKET GALLERY
45 Market Street
June 27–October 19

View of “Jim Lambie,” 2014.

Jim Lambie’s current retrospective opens with a deceptively simple installation. Shaved Ice, 2012–14, is a crop of brightly painted ladders, all extending from floor to ceiling; a mirrored panel fills each space between the rungs, distorting the reflected room and the visitors in it. It’s a trippy transformation that offers the perfect segue to the hypnotic floor-bound installation Zobop, 1999, which starts at the lower landing of Fruitmarket’s main staircase and proceeds to blanket the entire top floor. Composed of concentrically laid strips of Technicolor vinyl tape that follow the outlines of the gallery’s floor plan, Zobop looks like a Lynda Benglis latex pour crossed with a Bridget Riley canvas, and the work’s effect—even though it has been reprised numerous times since its 1999 debut in Lambie’s first solo show—somehow manages to remain fresh.

Zobop is enjoyable enough on its own, but at Fruitmarket, it also plays up the psychedelic tendencies of Lambie’s sculptures, many of which similarly transform quotidian objects into minor fascinations, ranging from a tinfoil mask lined with men’s underwear (The Kid with the Replaceable Head, 1996) to a piece created out of record-album covers taped together into a serpentine accordion (Stakka, 2000) that writhes over the surface of Zobop. The exhibition is rife with allusions to music and, by extension, to Lambie’s involvement with Glasgow’s music scene, which offers a context for understanding his duct-tape-covered shirts and glitter-bombed turntables. But biography is gravy here. At its best, Lambie’s work is mere play, pure color, unabashed love of junkyard-bound material; it embodies a formally restrained exuberance that feels almost incidentally enriched by a wry (and no doubt intentional) relationship to histories of abstraction and the readymade.

Andrea Gyorody