An empty stage, a cow’s stomach and a bed with wings

I went to a trio of shows this week, all of which have now ended so if you are interested in the artists you’ll have to look out for future exhibitions. The Rosenfeld Porcini gallery in the West End had a solo show by Argentinian artist Sebastián Gordin. I hadn’t heard of him but I was intrigued by the publicity images. He has been working since the 1980s but the show was all recent works, which are ‘mini-theatre installations’. They suggest a narrative, something that has just happened or is about to happen in these scenes which are miniature worlds without people.

 

Sebastián Gordin 'you shouldn't go with the flow' 2016
Sebastián Gordin ‘you shouldn’t go with the flow’ 2016

The other thing about them is that they are beautifully crafted, controlled, perfect yet weird, so in one sense dreamlike. The surface of the piece above is water which is running in droplets down the threads.

At the Danielle Arnaud gallery in South London, Elpida Hadzi-Vasileva showed work that uses animal materials in a way that converts them into something beautiful: ‘a transformation of the living towards landscape’. Here, for instance, is Carapace of Beauty 2016, made from a cow stomach and turned wood, and looking like a fabulous Elizabethan accessory of some kind.

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And finally I made it to the Anselm Kiefer show, Walhalla, at White Cube Bermondsey. I know he’s mining the same seam of ideas as he has been for years but I’m still responding to the way he presents those ideas. One of the main installations was rows of steel beds draped with crumpled lead bedsheets and covers; at the far end is a large image of a soldier walking away. There is a sense that this too is a stage which people have just left, throwing back the bedcovers, or perhaps the beds are waiting for people to arrive and collapse into them. Either way there is a sense of interruption but these are not beds of comfort.

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Here is part of San Loreto: a bed with wings to lift you up but with a rock pinning you down. A tension always between beauty and ugliness, visual and spiritual.

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