Managed to squeeze in a visit to the Lisson Gallery on my way back from Church Street market. Richard Deacon – to me still a fashionable British sculptor from before the days when British sculpture could claim to be fashionable – is at the newer space of 29 Bell St. I seem to remember also that he made lyrical curved wooden forms. Nowadays he is offering us almost anything but wood, mainly ceramic, resin, metal. The show notes claim there was wood but I didn’t see any. In the plinths maybe. I didn’t see much lyricism either – it seemed to be sculpture of the Climbing-Frame School.
The best work on show was a monolithic green ceramic piece called ‘Fold’, which slightly suggested the protective screens outside some Chinese towns and cities to ward off hostile spirits by forcing them to move aside. Spirits could only move in straight lines, apparently. Similarly, was forced to walk around this sculpture and wonder to what extent it was dignified by this particularly fine space and its epic plinth of two rolled steel sheets.
Stepping across the road to 52 Bell St, I was reminded of why I like this gallery. You are buzzed in from upstairs and very often I seem to be the only person in the gallery – being alone gives you quite an exciting thrill of discovery whatever you think about the work on show. Today it was Jason Martin, whose work I have seen before at the Lisson. It’s very pleasant and would probably look nice on anyone’s wall. Not what you might expect in a temple of seriousness like the Lisson, perhaps. But abstract art can be very soothing and easy on the eye. Here Martin was showing some paintings with the anisotropic grooves made by combing the paint, but also some reliefs of drippy gloopy paint-like gel cast in metal. I was rather taken with the bronze one – more than the highly reflective copper or chrome ones. It seemed to have great suggestive power – but I’m not sure there was anything really there, just the beautiful patina of the metal. The forms were enticing but ultimately opaque – I could look at it for a long time though.
I should also mention Martin’s large black cube ‘Behemoth’. Nothing to do with the black metal band. A more traditional Lisson style exhibit – a ten foot cube of blackened cork to walk around. It might be everything, or it might be nothing. Very hard to know. But I do leave the gallery looking at small pieces of drifting cellophane wrapping, sensitive momentarily to their elongated twisted shapes and their delicate reflections. That might just be sculpture making me think that.