Friday, December 16, 2005

2005 a good year for art

Looking back at 2005 it seems to me that it’s been a really good year for exhibitions in London, with a revival of brainy conceptualism alongside the tedious continued success of basically decorative painting and drawing. The Tate empire has scored well, with a cute Anthony Caro show, Beuys and Jeff Wall standing out. The extravaganza that was “Frida” may have drawn coach parties like babies to a TV screen, but I’d rather see a disassembled Beuys installation any day. Tino Seghal at the ICA was a great experience too, and it’s great to see Jens Hoffman putting art back at the centre of things after so many years of pointless zeitgeisty art/design/advertising shows. I thought ‘London in 6 easy steps’ worked out ok too – at least there was some sense of excitement to it all.

Elsewhere I dug Ryan Gander’s installation at Store (also his Becks Futures contribution), Phyllida Barlow at Bloomberg (although super-ironically her actual work is never going to live up to the wonderful book on her by Black Dog), and ‘An Aside’ curated by a pregnant Tacita Dean. Her hormones may have exaggerated her whimsical tendencies, but this show at Camden Arts Centre was everything an exhibition should be.

Was the Folk Archive exhibition at the Barbican this year as well? I think so. I remember loving it so much at the time I kept on assaulting Alan Kane at the private view and telling him how this was “the perfect contemporary art exhibition, everything is perfectly judged, the tone is so perfect, spot on, and it’s arty as well as documentary, I love it” etc etc.

The year of brainy-art was sealed when Spruth Magers Lee put on a show of early Robert Morris minimalist sculpture. The first chance anyone under 60 has had to see these for real, as it were (although they were in effect replicas of course), in fact it turned out to be something of a damp squib. I reckon Serota’s mirrored cubes are the best thing he did in that phase, so another hats off to the Tate.

Hmm, this is turning into a Tate love-athon.

Rough Diamond turned out to signal the end for ace gallery Program just off Regent Street, as backers fell out with each other, so where do we look now for funky grunge sculpture & formal kicks? Anyway, it seems like there was plenty going on this past year, and people seem to be getting in the mood for difficult, elliptical art again which has got to be a good thing in my book. You don’t get any more inscrutable than Larry Weiner at el Lisson, and I see even Kosuth’s got a show coming up soon. Blimey. Let’s keep it hardcore in 2006.

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