Down in Dering Street

A self portrait seen in borosilicate

Caught two shows in Dering St. First up, at Blain|Southern there was Michael Joo, which has been on for a while. It is one of those shows where even the paint splattered on the wall looks neat: it had an international gloss and it was easy to see it had contemporary museum appeal, but I found little in it. The aggressively glossy surfaces (riot shields and oddly shaped museum ropes) seemed designed to repel the viewer visually and metaphorically – giving a distorted reflection in a barrier.

Next door I went upstairs to see Prunella Clough at Annely Juda. Despite the press release’s claim that she was one of the most significant British artists of the post-war period I had not heard of her and felt no shame. It wasn’t long however before I was engaged and slightly beguiled by these small-scale and rather intriguing paintings. She clearly acknowledged no rules, and her work has a personal quality – it is felt. They are also, to me anyway, rather oblique. Perhaps they refer to an artistic vernacular that has faded from the common memory, and yet they are awkward and unpredictable enough to hold my interest. They have an unusual mix of abstraction and idiosyncracy that means I would be very happy to see any of them again, but I fear I won’t as we are swamped by large-scale, institution-friendly, museum-filling gallery fodder.

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