Friday, 21 October 2011

Phyllida's house

Went to the Phyllida Barlow show, Rig, at Hauser & Wirth in 196a Picadilly - this is an old Midland bank, complete with basement safe rooms and dark wood panelled walls. Oddly, one of my first summer jobs as a student was at the old Nat West bank at 208 Picadilly , so I immediately had flashbacks to 1977 as I entered the show.

Every room, including the basement and the loft is crammed full of her work - it felt like the masses had stormed the citadel of banking and was now searching the building for its money - but the bankers have stripped it clean.

Ordinary people are represented by the use of everyday materials , wood offcuts, coloured fabric pieces , polystyrene moulded and painted to look like concrete and coloured tubing and foam. The juxtaposition of these materials with the austere setting of an old bank is very effective - and by jamming so much work into every separate space, you feel even more claustrophobic when looking at the work - perhaps a reference to the stress being felt by so many people at the moment during this financial crisis - there is nowhere to go and no one to help you out of the mess we are in.

This was similar to the state of the nation in 1977 - some things don't change but it was when Punk was at its peak so good things may yet come of today's crisis.

I also saw Roni Horn's magnificent solid glass pieces at the Hauser & Wirth gallery in Saville Row - apparently she is partly based in Iceland and you can feel that influence in the piece of work.

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