It’s always great to visit London. I just love this city! But let’s be honest here: It’s not a place where you can catch a breath and chillax. The hustle and bustle of this multicultural metropolis sucks you right in and it’s great fun to over-indulge in it’s cultural offerings of which there are many!
So join me on my trip whizzing through the shows London had in store for me on my recent trip to the big smoke…
Gavin Turk at the Newport Street Gallery
However one feels about Damian Hirst, he really puts his wealth to good use by creating a stunning museum to showcase pieces from his personal collection. I love the fact that the entrance is free and that the gift shop is not part of the viewing experience.
The current exhibition centres around Gavin Turk, another YBA and Hirst contemporary. Graduating from the Royal College of Art in 1996, he rose to instant fame when the RCA refused Turk his postgraduate degree based on his graduate show piece called Titled Cave.
It consisted of a whitewashed studio space with a blue heritage plaque on the wall commemorating his own presence as an artist, stating “Gavin Turk worked here, 1989-1991”.
Ballsy move I say! But then again it’s always better to rock the boat and stand out than just fall in line.
Still, the show left me feeling ambivalent. His pieces might play with questions like value and originality but seeing bin bags cast in bronze felt like a tired metaphor I have seen over and over again, starting all the way back with Duchamps urinal from 1917.
Whilst I loved his legendary MA piece the waxworks and sculptures of himself fell a little flat for me also as I feel Cindy Sherman already explored this play on celebrity and identity, and with more success.
I might do his work injustice, but I felt Turks pieces came across like a lovechild of David Shrigleys crude surreal humour, Banksys social commentary and Koons self loving egomania. Not a bad mix but lacking in impact for me.
Still, the execution of the work was great and fitted the space well. More about the exhibition and the artist Turk here…
The next thing I was curious to check out was the museum restaurant Pharmacy 2. When I visited the Koons show last year the space was already closed so today was my chance to see it in all it’s pill popping glory!
What can I say, an exercise in subtleness it’s not: Stuffed to the brim with Hirst-isms like his famous butterflies and pill cabinets, it’s visually stunning for people who don’t mind to indulge. After being shown to a table by a very friendly waitress, the reasonable prices of the menu allowed for having a seat and a quick cocktail to take it all in. Definitely recommended!
Onwards to the…
Banksy Print Gallery
Although Banksy stopped working with Steve Lazarides in 2009, the gallery still owns a massive stash of Banksy prints and artwork. As I already checked out the Lazarides curated exhibition at the MOCO gallery in Amsterdam last year I couldn’t pass on the chance to have a look at this permanent exhibition next to the Mondrian Hotel on the Southbank.
No surprises here, just walls full of Banksy’s Greates Hits! Again, this exhibition was free also and it’s always great to see a Banksy in the flesh. The prints really show why Banksy is so popular: Clever visual puns and a crisp execution.
Tate Modern Switch House
When gallery crawling on the Southbank, the Tate Modern is a must! Especially as I haven’t had the time to see the spectacular extension yet! Dubbed the Switch House, this twisted pyramid structure stands 64.5m tall and has an amazing 360 degree viewing platform on it’s top level.
Nobody does massive as impressive as the Tate Modern, and this new building fit’s right in next to the legendary Turbine Hall!
Whilst taking in the great views I wondered how happy the owners of the luxury loft buildings next to the Switch House must have been having thousands of tourists peeking into their flats every day.
The sign urging visitors to respect their neighbours privacy feels too little too late as the glass walled living rooms across the platform feel like natural extensions of the viewing experience. Let’s just say I am happy the Tate is not planning any viewing platforms next to my flat anytime soon!
No Southbank visit is complete without checking out the Southbank Skatepark! After a long legal battle about it’s relocation in 2016 the park is here to stay and breaks up the row of chain store restaurants that clutter the area rather nicely!
As the sun set it was time to slowly walk over the Millennium Bridge to head towards Soho for the private view of the UNKLE retrospective at the main Lazarides Gallery. I will give this exhibition it’s own in depth review at a later date so let’s just say it was a lot of fun and very, very geeky!
My exhibition crawl ended the next day with a very special show curated by my good friends from Gammaproforma. Run by it’s curator Rob Swain, Gammaproforma is bridging the gap between art, music and print.
Launching their new gallery Gamma/Sector 25 in SE25 with a bang, their first show “Humilitism” examines Social Media and it’s fallout featuring new artwork by SheONE, Will Barras, Swifty and many more. Of cause I had to check it out!
Loved all the pieces on display and it was great to catch up with old friends. As a very special treat I finally got my hands on the Gamma published book by legendary London Designer and Artists Swifty! “Funky Typo-Grafix” is full of his art and design work he did for record labels like Talking Loud, MoWax and more. Check it out here, essential reading!
So there you have it! The first part of my London travelogue… stay tuned for part 2!
Let me sign off with a massive THUMBS UP to all of you via the fourth plinth on Trafalgar Square and the genius of David Shrigley… #goodvibes!