Blackness, then Ron, Tom and Rem
It's still hot. I'm swallowing the thick air like I'm eating giant marshmallows. I walk like I'm underwater. I'm sweating like I'm a watering can.
But no matter. I have a job to do. There are people to see and galleries to visit. First up tonight is White Cube and an interesting show called Dark Matter, a group show of 'black' works. Such a tightly parametered show as this obviously invites all sorts of criticisms (I can't help but think as I write this that of the 14 works on display here 13 are by, I'm pretty sure, white males and the other by a solitary white female. A notable lacuna is Gillian Carnegie's recent black trees work, surely...). Whatever, there are still some lovely works here and it's all big names: there's a great Ellsworth Kelly and a black neon by Cerith Wynn Evans. There's a black door painting by Gary Hume which I've never seen before, apparently done this year. I'm sure I remember somewhere reading that Hume once said that painting the doors was the best thing he felt he'd done. And outside a few almightly brilliant figurative pieces he's pulled off over the years, I'm inclined to agree. All the door paintings I've ever seen of his are superb. Filled, inexplicably and bizarrely, with real feeling - the same way Jim Lambie gets folded up, brightly coloured doors to sing with wonder and sadness in ways I can't begin to comprehend. And as I'm on the way out I have to acknowledge that bronze cast of a binbag that Gavin Turk did. It annoys the hellout of me on one level (Damn! I wish I'd done that!!) and yet, on another, makes me think what a great piece it really is (Double damn!! Why didn't I just do it?!!).
So that's White Cube. Really nice show. I probably spent all of 45 seconds on it. But, actually, could have happily spent four hours, maybe more. It's that kind of show.
So, that's Blackness done, now for Ron. Studio 1.1 on Redchurch Street has got big Ron Meerbeek's solo show. And talk about a contrast.
Blimey! What is going on? Ron's filled the galleries with about 24 separate little shows. There's all sorts of all sorts in all sorts of places. As you come through the door there's a drawing taped to the floor. There are plastic figures from The Simpsons lined up on a shelf looking into a mirror; there are big, colour filled paintings, there are blocks of paintings on small canvases, there are toys in glass bell jars (hello, Nigel Grimmer...), drawings lit by ultra violet light, a collection of plastic hands and heads, heck, there's even a toilet on wheels. Man, Ron, you've brought everything in here! Though, apparently not. What we have here tonight is, Ron assures me, the result of some heavy and strict reduction. What the hell did it look like before?? There's a lot of it, but everything is immaculately hung. I take a tour. It makes me smile a lot. What the heck, I think. You've got a solo show, bung everything out there. Get it all out and let people see what you've been up to. I think there's more in his one show than I have actually produced in my entire career. It's some achievement. It's some full-on colour too. I feel like I need sunglasses. Look at Ron up there, at the top of this entry. He ain't afraid of colour. He ain't afraid of nuthin'.
Ok, so now I'm in in Clerkenwell saying nice things to Tom McCarthy at the launch of his book Tintin and the Secret of Literature. Tom hounded me a bit about his first novel, Remainder, which I was very slow on the uptake with but it turned out to be a bestseller in the ICA Bookshop. Then abruptly it went out of print. Anyhow, finally, it's back again with a new publisher. It garnered some great reviews the first time around and now it's coming out again with his new book. Looks good for Tom. He's happy. It's a good launch. Jonathan Allen comes up and says hello to him. I also see Ashley Biles there, the rep for the Tintin book, I see him around a bit. 'How come I never make your website thing?' he complains. Every time I've taken a photo of him before he always looks like a fish gasping for water. It's like he does it on purpose. I take a photo of him. He looks like a fish gasping for water. I show him the photo. 'Oh, ok,' he says, 'I see what you mean.' Anyway, just for him, click on pics, below...
Then I'm standing in the big bubble that is Rem Koolhaas's pavilion at the Serpentine. So let's just say that I have really travelled across London tonight. And it shows. By the time I get to The Serpentine I look like the runner up in a wet T-shirt competition. Only not as nice as that could potentially look. Let's just say, I'm feeling really rather hot. Anyway, more about the big bubble. In all the press leading up to this tonight we've been treated to lots of digital impressions of how the thing wil look and, I must say, given to believe that it will be a huge helium filled balloon, delicately bumping up and down above the Serpentine, pray to the slightest changes in temperature and the environment. In the flesh, or whatever the material is, so to speak, it's like a big balloon-shed building, securely tied down by lots of heavy duty ropes, immovable, and skirted below by some fluted plastic to provide a secure, large room underneath. It is definitely amazing, and you can see it from way off as you approach the Serpentine, but it wasn't quite the ethereal floating palace I thought it was going to be.
No matter, because I have secured for myself a piece of pure gold and I hold it in my hand and watch it glisten. Oh yes, I have in my hand a piece of paper printed with the words: 'Complimentary Drinks 4.30 - 9.00pm. Please present at the bar.' And yes siree, I do indeed present it at the bar....
I see some people, have a few drinks and chat. Then the bar is closing and it's time to go. Rem's Cool House (as the papers are, inevitably, already calling it) looks great. And actually, I like the ropes that hold it down, because I wouldn't want it to go anywhere else too soon.