Discover what these West London galleries have to offer in the final instalment of our 3-part series exploring Condo, the capital's collaborative international art fair
Between January and February this year, 15 London galleries have welcomed 36 galleries from around the world in an ambitious exchange that describes itself as a collaborative exhibition. Set up in 2016 by Vanessa Carlos of Carlos/Ishikawa gallery, Condo has grown in its second year from a DIY initiative to include a number of blue-chip galleries such as Sadie Coles and Maureen Paley. Its determination to shake up the art fair model remains however, as emerging artists from younger galleries rub shoulders with well-established names in venues all over the city.
As we round up our 3-part series in this final instalment that covers West London, it is clear that the dispersed nature of Condo is what makes the experience of exploring it so special. Many of the galleries are covertly nestled amongst the unlikely neighbours of office units, local shops and residential areas, making a visit to any of the featured galleries an opportunity to explore areas of London that are rarely, if ever, frequented by those without a distinct purpose for being there. Eradicating the blandness of the expo-centre art fair, Condo provides not only a chance to discover an eclectic display of visual art from around the world but a valuable opportunity to discover and reflect on what is an ever-evolving city.
In line with Condo’s unique tour of London, we have divided our review of the exhibition highlights by area. First up, we visited East London. South London's highlights can be viewed here. Read on for the last in the series, our review of West London.
For Condo this year, Rodeo hosts Berlin’s Supportico Lopez with an exhibition by Swiss artist Franziska Lantz. Collecting objects and material found on the banks of the River Thames for the installation, they are assembled in the space to resemble a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Animal bones, clay pipes, contorted drift wood and camouflage clothing hang from the ceiling from wires like ghosts risen from its polluted depths, while a soundtrack by the artist pumps harsh techno through the space. The dark thuds and beats of the music play from a delicate turntable that sits serenely on a desk, a humorous counterpoint that sets the tone of the exhibition as a whole. Lantz is interested in the lives behind found objects, configuring new meanings through her strange and surprising compositions. Wandering between dangling bones, long-forgotten ephemera and discarded army gear, the experience is intense, unsettling and absurdist. This is an exhibition that exemplifies the playful collisions which have made the Condo initiative so rewarding. HL
Tucked behind their current group exhibition ‘Room’, Sadie Coles hosts New York gallery Bridget Donahue with a solo show from the LA-based artist Martine Syms, one of our top ten artists of 2016. A new video work, placed in the centre of the room, displays a GIF-like loop of Syms dripping in a white gooey substance. It is part of her ongoing series Lessons, an incomplete visual poem about the black radical tradition. Made up of 30 second video clips, the series features found footage from television ads, personal archives and Syms’ performance work.
Behind the video, the gallery’s curved windows have been lined with purple transparency in Syms’ signature cut-out style. It is the only example of a site-specific work, far from the cacophonous collages that papered the walls of her ICA solo show last year. Instead, there is a wall hung with film still prints in which hazily reproduced moments capture fleeting memories: a bathroom mirror selfie, a picture of framed photos distorted by the flash, a woman walking onto a stage. Unstaged and personal, they could be taken directly from a phone’s photo feed. The exhibition shows Syms’ continued exploration of the textured layers that constitute our digital experience, scaled-down and intimate, it provides just a snapshot into her highly evocative style that leaves you wanting more. HL
Situated down a cobbled mews off Dean Street, the Soho gallery Southard Reid is easy to miss, especially since being engulfed by the construction of a new luxury development, whose metal doors advertise its soulless apartments and lock the street off to pedestrians at night. Taking up the small upper floor of the gallery for Condo this year is the Glasgow gallery Koppe Astner, who present a curious series of artworks from the Vienna-based artist Kris Lemsalu. Across the galleries wooden floor, ceramic dog heads poke out of fluorescent sleeping bags. With paint splattered faces, shiny noses and pink panting tongues, the sculptures at first seem comical, or even silly. But the human hands covering their eyes, and curled sleeping figures point to something more sinister.
With the work’s title Phantom Camp, Estonian-born Lemsalu’s reference to the refugee crisis becomes more explicit. With the work she aims to visualise abandoned migrant camps and Western perceptions of refugees as feared or exotisised. Trained initially in ceramics, Lemsalu often creates multi-layered sculptures that tackle dark subjects through humour and irony. Animals often feature in her work, as a facade to thinly mask the more serious themes at work, or to twist the way we perceive things. As is the case with her Condo show, funny looking man-dog sculptures become suddenly chilling at a second glance. Look twice to find the gallery, and look again to get beyond the surface of these strange, thought-provoking works. HL
Overlooking the construction of the new Goldman Sachs building on Holborn Viaduct is the new site of Project Native Informant. Whilst fluorescent orange figures are in the process of erecting what is soon to be a financial powerhouse, a gap has emerged in the city skyline that this gallery is perfectly positioned to observe. Looking down with an aerial view from the gallery windows, the city appears as if to repeat itself; pedestrians wrapped up in dark winter coats flood the pavement below, the thousands of windows that exist beneath the fourth floor alone frame office after office and construction sites decorate any gap in the eyeline.
Turn around from the view and this litany of urban artefacts continues within the office unit turned gallery space. Mirroring the scene outside is Yuri Pattinson’s (directory information) a tree for the desert (x3), a series of server trays placed at the viewer’s feet each housing either an artificial date palm tree, a miniature version of the Ostankino TV Tower or a bespoke model of the tree of the Ténéré. At a glance, the trays sit like model cities and even on closer inspection the difference between what’s at our feet and what’s at our eyeline is slim. The cities we’ve carved have become uncanny replicas of the technology that we’ve built to sustain them.
Drawing your gaze into an infinity mirror effect are art collective åyr’s incandescent light boxes adorned with digital prints of white cube interiors on dynajet fabric. Forming bright tunnels that compete with both the former office space’s harsh lighting and the natural light allowed in through the vacant skyline outside, the subject of light is brought up as a theme that we see again in Mother’s Tankstation-represented artist Kevin Cosgrove’s oil paintings. As light is depicted flooding into manufacturing environments, it hits objects that are in the process of completion. Cusgrove’s objects are half-finished, just as the city outside seems to perpetually exist, held still and highlighted as a crucial part of each painting’s story. It can only be hoped that the same might go for each seemingly repeated element of the half-complete scene outside. MR
Condo is on display until 11th February 2017. For more information, click here.