12 – 17 October 2010
All photos: nolionsinengland
Hells Half Acre promises to be a Halloween-ish subterranean wandering loosely based upon Dantes’s inferno.
You enter off Leake Street, now one of London’s premier graffiti halls of fame and therefore generally only worked by visiting writers from Prague and New Zealand. The transition from graffiti assault to Circles of Hell central you enter through a short brick lined cave where Dave Choe has been let loose directly on the walls. (er – perhaps i got the wrong impression, just hold on a mo…)
Top highlight inside is the art taxidermist Poly Morgan’s almost luminous explosive cluster of stuffed pigeons. In a more radical and interesting world, this would be available in Ikea.
Conor Harrington has a set of 5 huge canvasses hung in the arc of a circle like something you might chance upon at night in a wood clearing just when you were beginning to believe you had passed the “virgins sacrificed here copse”. Harrington’s work is just made to be shown in this kind of moody The moody dank cellar vibe sets off the lush tones of Harrington’s work to vibrant effect, as usual.
Ian Francis’ work comes on in leaps and bounds, though I would now struggle to tell the Chloe Early from your Ian Francis in an “eyes-wide-open-but-labels-covered” test.
Laz is your consummate leveller with none of the usual “don’t breath/ don’t photograph” preciousness, the website promises “Interaction with the works will be encouraged as part of this multi-sensory experience” though the only interaction I can recall was getting Lady NoLions’ camera wet in a drizzle installation across the width of one of the caverns. Apparently from a certain angle with the wind in the right direction it captures the light and splits it into its spectrum components though, as a visiting gallerist assured me, “it’s quite difficult making rainbows”. No photo.
Anthony Micallef’s work is getting more impressionist and darker with the increasing affinity for charcoal, like the Harrington the utilitarian backdrop really allowed the work to pop.
With a decent art show the experience is the objective dear boy, not the art education. So it’s a pleasure to confess that I couldn’t pin down a large number of the installations to an artists and then reading the blurb after the show, couldn’t identify half the artists’ names on the sheet.
Mark Jenkins hanging humanoid chrysalis artefacts passed me by, they need pretext or context, are we looking into a human battery incubator or the pantry of some vampirish food preserver, dunno.
Jonathon Yeo’s infamy rests on portraits collaged from clippings from porn mags. On this occasion he has pulled of a trompe d’oeil consisting of several layers of perspex with collaged nude clippings on each layer which for a person of a particular height, viewing from a particular point dead ahead combine and resolve into a pair of praying nude females. Tapping into lust as one of Dante’s circles this piece is amusing and delightful, if just a tad gimmicky.
There were many video installations in various terminal offshoots from the circles of hell, the one which captured the eye and the theme of death, torment and decay was a trio of what appeared to be back projected petris dishes with writhing maggots. You feel like standing there egging the buggers on to hatch.
This is the hedonistic green shoots of the London art week, the week where bedlam meets capitalism in the name of decoration. The anointed PV’ers were a phenomenal clash. Italian suit-wearing suave faintly Mediterranean guys and their willowy black dress wearing Tasmins rubbed shoulders with un-shaven artists and the usual suspect forumite Laz fetishists. Graffoto – the blog that is proud to be plus 1! (thank you dear friend and “invitor”, you know who you are).
The curation and staging of this show is superb, as you would expect from Lazarides. I was reminded of the Faile Lost in Glimmering Shadows show in that old school or Paul Insect’s Poison in the old Kings Coss baths. Dwell on the quality of the work and the dream-like nature of the staging as overall I think this show may actually not live up to the hype, the creation of false expectations. This is an “experience” event and the experience is probably a bit conventional and tame when something more fiendish and macabre seemed to be promised by the allusions to Hades, not to mention the dire warnings that under 13s are going to need adult comfort and counselling. I suspect my kids would prefer to go to the London Dungeons.
More photos here