Philomena Epps

  • picks February 19, 2020

    Lauren Gault

    In 1907, the Irish-born inventor and scientist Martha Craig published an esoteric science-fiction novel titled The Men of Mars under the pseudonym Mithra, a name that invoked the ancient Roman deity and cult of Mithras. Over a century later, her book has become a point of departure for a distant relative, the artist Lauren Gault, who here integrates Craig’s transcendent alias into her sculptures, which envelop the gallery in an obscure caul of mythology and industrial menace.

    The speculative blankness of an awkward, tentlike centerpiece of stretched white Lycra (all works C I T H R A, 2020) brings

  • picks December 06, 2019

    Hilary Lloyd

    Sited within the manicured, mawkish snow globe that is Mayfair during Christmastime, Hilary Lloyd’s exhibition proves a welcome antithesis to the surrounding ostentation. The show opens with Moscow, all works 2019, a saw-edged assortment of three abstract paintings, metal stud partitions, and multiple flat-screens, some connected to meandering equipment cables plugged into crumbling holes smashed in the walls.

    The footage in Moscow, in addition to that of four other videos—Buddleia, Pigeon, Water Rat, and Afghan Hound Archies Nightclub—is captured at close range. With the exception of the latter,

  • picks October 10, 2019

    “Claude Mirrors: Victor Man, Jill Mulleady, Issy Wood”

    This group show is named after the tinted, convex pocket mirrors favored by British landscape painters from the eighteenth century: Claude mirrors. Reflected through the black glass, a surrounding scene would appear in distilled color with a softened focus and a framed perspective. The tool was popular with travelers and artists, notably the originator of the picturesque genre, Reverend William Gilpin, who advocated for its results, which he called akin to “the visions of the imagination” and “the brilliant landscapes of a dream.”

    Gilpin’s praise could be repurposed to describe the visions

  • picks June 24, 2019

    Deborah Roberts

    “Manipulation of the photograph is as old as photography itself,” opens Dawn Adès’s introduction to Photomontage (1976). The term photomontage was popularized by the Berlin Dadaists—Hannah Höch, George Grosz, Raoul Hausmann, und so weiter—as a means to define their “anti-art,” the splicing and collaging of photographs with newspaper and magazine clippings, as genre. Their avant-garde dismembering of reality was rooted in political provocation, and the desire to reconfigure the world by reconfiguring images has endured throughout history.

    Deborah Roberts’s practice has followed this sociopolitical

  • picks April 12, 2019

    Reena Spaulings

    The weekend preceding the opening of Reena Spaulings’s latest presentation was marked by “Act XVIII,” the eighteenth Saturday of mass jacquerie instigated throughout France by the gilets jaunes. Akin to the cipher of Spaulings, a fictional persona orchestrated by an anonymous group of artists, the movement resists monolithic structures or signaled leadership. The reflective yellow hazard vest—originally associated with the working class and recent motoring laws but now inextricable from the insurrection—unifies the protesters, despite their heterogeneous demands.

    The semiotic potential of the

  • picks October 08, 2018

    Noor Afshan Mirza and Brad Butler

    Noor Afshan Mirza and Brad Butler’s five-screen narrative installation, The Scar, 2018, unfolds in three filmic chapters: “The State of the State,” “The Mouth of the Shark,” and “The Gossip”—the latter being a three-channel presentation. The artists began an early iteration of the project in 2015 during their residency here as part of a program titled “The Public Domain.” After the initial premiere of The Scar at HOME in Manchester earlier this year, the artists have brought the work back to where it first began, a homecoming of sorts which will involve an extended schedule of talks,

  • picks July 21, 2018

    “The shape left by the body”

    It seemed appropriate that I visited “The shape left by the body”—a group exhibition rich with the weight of succumbing bodies; bodies on the brink of collapse; and waxy, mutating, or mummified bodies—while partially delirious, suffering from a fever occasioned by the unrelenting London heatwave. The vertiginous staging of the show across two floors provided the option to view work from above and below, and in the case of Alice Channer’s Mechanoreceptor, Icicles (red, red) (double spring, single strip), 2018, even venture under the cage-like elevated structure. Alina Szapocznikow’s black-and-white

  • picks April 27, 2018

    Anne Hardy

    Anne Hardy’s works are richly sensorial: soft, comforting structures that envelop you, holding you close as they almost paradoxically streamline your senses. In the artist’s own special lexicon, these all-encompassing environments are “FIELD works.” The artist characterizes a FIELD as “a landscape; an area of interest; a site that contains you; a physical manifestation of a psychological space.”

    The gallery’s immersive cinema, built to house the debut of Hardy’s new film Area of Overlap, 2018—made on hazy, haptic 16-mm film and transferred to a digital projection—is a plush, magenta room with

  • picks February 26, 2018

    Ian Giles

    Ian Giles’s current exhibition considers the legacy of the influential, pink pages of BUTT magazine, which started in 2001 and ended as a print object in 2011 (BUTT still maintains a website). Issues appear in a small library and vitrine display at the gallery’s entrance, where copies of other gay periodicals such as the 1970s zine Straight to Hell—a journal of anonymous sex stories that was a formative inspiration for BUTT—and recent issues of Attitude, Fantastic Man, and Hello Mr. are also laid out.

    Giles solicited firsthand material through interviews in order to build a narrative for After

  • picks November 27, 2017

    David Panos

    For David Panos, the fabric of a sneaker, text on a high-fashion T-shirt, or the detailing of a baseball cap have the ability to trigger memories. For Reveries & Street Madeleines 2016–17, 2017—one of the pieces that open the exhibition here—the artist has recorded such sartorial cues in furtively shot clips on his iPhone while out and about. For Panos, these moments of now call to mind the aesthetics of 1989: specifically, through the gestures and other forms of expression belonging to various fashion and dance subcultures. His work asks what the revival of these idioms says about how we recycle

  • picks October 03, 2017

    Cookie Mueller and Vittorio Scarpati

    Pink daylight filters through the windows of this former chapel. At its center is a small white box full of drawings. Walking into the space to view these works feels like you’re about to do something very private, such as confess your sins or take in a peep show.

    This is the first time that Italian artist Vittorio Scarpati’s final project, Putti’s Pudding, 1989, has been shown outside the US. Although included in Nan Goldin’s exhibition “Witnesses: Against Our Vanishing,” at New York’s Artists Space in 1989, Putti’s Pudding was originally conceived as a book. Working in collaboration with his

  • picks July 27, 2017

    Monira Al Qadiri

    “The embassy was an alien spacecraft hiding the biggest conspiracy known to man.” I hear this suspicious utterance while sitting in a booth at an artificial American diner—my notebook nestled among salt and pepper shakers, a dispenser of stripy red straws, and bottles of ketchup and mustard—as I immerse myself in Monira Al Qadiri’s installation The Craft (all works 2017). In an accompanying video, the artist meshes old family photographs, shaky VHS footage, and amateur-looking cartoons of extraterrestrials to convey an enigmatic story about her childhood and a galactic conspiracy: a cross between

  • picks May 30, 2017

    Lara Favaretto

    “Absolutely Nothing,” Lara Favaretto’s current (and largest to date) UK exhibition, brings together significant pieces from the last two decades along with new works. The title, however, is misleading, as Favaretto has turned the museum space into a thinking machine. Thinking Head, 2017, a public commission by the gallery, is a sculpture composed of a hidden device emitting water vapor that slowly rises from the roof of the building, inspired by Alighiero Boetti’s last sculpture, My Brain is Smoking, 1993. The intensity of Favaretto’s steam will differ according to the levels of contemplation

  • picks April 14, 2017

    Maeve Brennan

    The Drift, 2017, is Maeve Brennan’s major film commission and first institutional solo exhibition. Brennan’s practice—exemplified by previous work such as Jerusalem Pink, 2015, which considered the relationship between the role of stone in Palestine and her great-grandfather’s occupation there as an architect during the British Mandate—merges serious investigative documentary practices with a sensitive and poetic relationship to using moving image as a means to create subjective and/or staged moments: footage meets fiction.

    Brennan has been based between Beirut and London since 2013. The Drift

  • picks March 16, 2017

    Georgia Horgan

    All Whores are Jacobites, 2017, an installation by Glasgow-based artist Georgia Horgan, makes up her first solo show in London. The artist’s research-based work engages with issues of history, capitalism, and gendered labor. Horgan’s interest in the sharing of information—through broadcast, distribution, or teaching—is derived from a wider concern with how history can be invented and how society might reproduce and consider itself in the contemporary moment. Using a Marxist approach, the artist highlights the sociopolitical conditions that keep capitalism thriving, making the past tangible in

  • picks February 07, 2017

    “Jerwood Solo Presentations 2017”

    In a video, a black sack covers the head of a naked body. The body is filmed in front of a green screen—much like the nonspace of detention environments. This hooded figure reappears in the second part of the film in a montage of aerial shots, onto which a striking poem is superimposed, describing an encounter with a security officer at a London airport. This is Imran Perretta’s single-channel video brother to brother, 2017, which explores the relationship between unmitigated state violence and border surveillance. Shortly after I watched this piece, Donald Trump imposed his ban on Muslims,

  • picks December 02, 2016

    France-Lise McGurn

    Light up a cigarette and enjoy the party—the title of France-Lise McGurn’s solo exhibition here, “Mondo Throb,” signifies a rhythmic, vibrating, and discotheque-style environment. Mondo, which means “world” in Italian, is highlighted through the visceral connotations produced by the strong sound of something throbbing.

    Utilizing a mix of gesso, oil, acrylic, markers, and spray paint, McGurn constructed much of the show in situ, producing Soft, psychic, sweet surprise (all works cited, 2016) a wall mural, and several untitled floor drawings. They cavort and intersect with a number of (mostly)

  • picks November 01, 2016

    Simeon Barclay

    Artist Simeon Barclay’s current solo exhibition is his first in London. This multidisciplinary offering explores the subtleties of gender and memory through a diverse range of references derived from sports journalism, fashion, Afro-Caribbean culture, and British working-class history.

    The quietly embedded symbolism and cultural signposting within Barclay’s works—“semiotically charged” things, as the curator Morgan Quaintance notes—are gently highlighted by the artist’s clever use of various media. Sculpture, printmaking, video, and audio all coexist comfortably within the space, initiating a

  • picks October 17, 2016

    Katia Kameli

    “What language do you speak stranger? . . . Tell me where are you from? It does not matter, here everyone is an outsider. Sit down please, and join my circle of listeners.” We read these words upon entering the space and are invited to take a seat within a re-creation of an al-halqa, the traditional Arab storyteller’s circle. A wooden structure with soft cushions forms the installation accompanying Katia Kameli’s 2012 film The Storyteller, originally commissioned for the Marrakech Biennale of that year. In her first UK solo exhibition, Kameli has crafted a journey through recent works that

  • picks August 09, 2016

    “Made You Look: Dandyism and Black Masculinity”

    This group exhibition explores the disjunction between the simultaneous visibility and vulnerability of black men in contemporary society. Curators Ekow Eshun and Karen McQuaid express that while black men may be lauded as globally influential and cultural trendsetters, the disproportionate rates of arrest and incarceration in both the UK and the US tell another story. In order to eschew the misrepresentations and stereotypes associated with the hypervisibility, or, indeed, hyperinvisibility of black masculinity—a quote from Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man has been stenciled on the wall—the curators