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Three to see: London

From Annette Messager’s uterus wallpaper at Marian Goodman to a group show on the pioneers of appropriation at Skarstedt Gallery

by Louisa Buck  |  5 May 2017
Three to see: London
Installation view of Annette Messager's Désir (Desire) (2009) and Papier peint utérus (Uterus Wallpaper) (2017) at Marian Goodman Gallery, London  (© Annette Messager; Courtesy of the artist and Marian Goodman Gallery)
Annette Messager may now be in her 70s but she’s more exuberant than ever. In Avec et sans raisons (until 27 May) at Marian Goodman Gallery the everyday turns nasty and body parts run riot in this gathering of rumbustious recent work. Floppy figures made from flaccid stockings cling pathetically to outsized objects—scissors, a hammer, earphones, a handbag— that are sown out of shiny black leatherette and dangle from the ceiling, with their sadomasochistic undertones amplified by an infestation of netted rats at floor level. Barbie dolls are chopped up, painted black and pierced by hooks, while a wooden Pinocchio doll is strung up and engulfed by his own stuffed fabric entrails. The female body dominates throughout this exhibition with an often hilarious ferocity. One room is lined with wallpaper printed with delicately coloured uteruses, some with fallopian tubes that end in a flicking middle finger.    

Not only does David Batchelor’s work revel in intense colour, it is also concerned with examining how we perceive and respond to its retina-sizzling qualities—especially in our technological age. These investigations continue in his current show Psychogeometry (until 11 June) at Matt’s Gallery. Here, in Batchelor’s first-ever wall drawings, mists of fluorescent colour glow around the edges of rectangular stencilled blocks of matt black, conjuring up a vivid experience of darkness and light without the need of electricity. The environment is further complicated by a series of freestanding painted sculptures made from squares, circles and angular corners cut out from the cheapest builder’s yard timber, plywood and MDF. 

An important and tightly curated show, Double Take (until 27 May) at Skarstedt Gallery examines how the practice of appropriating existing photographic images has evolved from the so-called Pictures Generation of the late 1970s and early 1980s—Richard Prince, Barbara Kruger, Louise Lawler—to be reinterpreted and expanded by a new generation of younger artists. In a line-up spanning more than half a century, it is fascinating to plot the many and various ways in which printed pictures plucked from our ever-proliferating visual glut have been reproduced, reframed and then reintroduced back into our collective cultural consciousness, armed with additional message and meaning.  

• For more on these three shows, see Louisa Buck’s Exhibitions: from Annette Messager’s uterus wallpaper to David Batchelor’s mists of colour in London, via an African art odyssey in Paris

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