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Three to see: London

From stealing gallery space to climbing (and almost falling off) Ayers Rock

by Louisa Buck, Hannah McGivern  |  3 March 2017
Three to see: London
Michael Andrews, School I (1977) (Image: © The Estate of Michael Andrews; Courtesy James Hyman Gallery, London) at Gagosian Gallery
Richard Wilson is one of the most original artists working today. His 20:50 (1987), a room full of sump oil, is up there with Walter De Maria’s Earth Room (1977) and Joseph Beuys’s Plight (1985) as one of the great sculptural installations of the 20th century. Despite this, Wilson is not nearly as well-known as he should be, and is why Richard Wilson: Stealing Space (until 25 March) at Annely Juda Fine Art is so welcome. It is not easy to show work devoted to reconfiguring space, but the Juda gallery has risen to the challenge with four new sculptural pieces that almost fill the entire gallery. They are joined by collaged drawings for these projects, as well as exquisite maquettes for some of Wilson’s other best known works.

Michael Andrews was a friend of Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud, Leon Kossoff and Frank Auerbach, all of whom admired his work. But he never enjoyed anything like their acclaim in his lifetime and his reputation still unjustly lags behind. Michael Andrews: Earth Air Water (until 25 March), a wonderful exhibition of his intense, dreamlike and utterly distinctive paintings at Gagosian Gallery confirms that this relatively low profile had more to do with Andrews’s reserved character and fastidiously slow working method than any lack of quality. Virtually all his larger paintings resulted from an exhaustive period of intense observation and adjustment. Not since Turner strapped himself to a ship’s mast in the middle of a storm has a British artist so immersed himself in the elements of what he was depicting. In Scotland, this meant crawling through bogs and mountainsides in the driving rain; in Australia, clambering on, and nearly falling off, Ayers Rock; or wading in the mud by the Thames. The result is work that shimmers with the almost religious strength of this engagement.

Head to the Serpentine Gallery for a glimpse into the anarchic mind of the late British conceptual artist John Latham (1921-2006). John Latham: A World View (until 21 May) ranges across his multifarious practice, including abstract paintings made with tennis balls and spray guns, sculptures and reliefs of semi-destroyed books and evidence of his unlikely foray into government service (he advocated for the preservation of Scottish bings, vast heaps of oil shale waste, as monuments). Meanwhile, the Serpentine Sackler Gallery hosts Speak: Tania Bruguera, Douglas Gordon, Laure Prouvost, Cally Spooner, a four-way tribute to Latham’s lasting influence on other artists. Blink and you’ll miss Prouvost’s tabloid-baiting installation We Will Multiply (2017), a row of used teabags perched on a radiator. The piece refers to her years of drinking tea with Latham as his studio assistant in the early 2000s, according to the BBC.

Click here for a complete list of previously recommended London shows

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