Christian Marclay? White Cube? Yeah - heard it was AMAZING...
It's been the ruin of many of a poor boy and god knows I'm one, so tonight when the free champagne comes round, poured by an exceptionally agreeable waiter, it is with some relief that I, yes I, am off the drink tonight (alright, steady yourself, there). Unfortunately, though, Lena Nix, my sometime private view bitch, isn't off the drink at all. No siree, she's very much on the drink tonight. So, when it comes to saying goodbye - to our delightful host Nathalie Hambro, for it is at her party in the luxury surroundings of the Soho Hotel for the launch of her book, My London, that we have been served so well with the free bubbles, and yes, canapes, and been chatted to by a simply delightful girl who does PR for the hotel chain - it is not going well: Lena has found a newly filled glass and a new friend and I'm saying, come on, or we're not going to get there, and I don't want to miss the Marclay at White Cube because I just know that it's going to be good and so with an increasing sense of urgency I attempt to move Lena towards the exit as her glass and the agreeably nice waiter seem to be forming a very close relationship.
'We really have to go,' I say, 'we need to get to the Cube.'
We finally leave.
Oh no, hang on, wait a minute...Lena needs the toilet.
What is she doing in there?
I look at my watch. We've blown it. We ain't going to make it. I know this, you know this, Lena knows this, but I decide that extreme denial is a great little strategy for a while tonight. I look myself firmly in the eye and tell that hopeful little face looking back to me that it may just be possible for the bus we jump on to take flight and hum like a helicopter, and drop us down in Hoxton Square. Flup, flup, flup go the propellers...and suddenly the old number 55 is landing! I run towards the Cube doors. Thump, thump, thump! There's still movement in the gallery! I'm pushing people over as I run through the beer swilling mass - Boof! Buff! Blat! and get to those bouncers that hang around the door at the gallery and they...
Well, they aren't letting me in, are they?
I can't believe it. The Marclay is over. Finished. Why didn't we leave the party earlier? I'm gutted.
'Let's get to Seventeen,' I say to Lena. 'They'll still be open.'
We nick round the corner onto Kingsland Road and to Seventeen and the Shay Kun show. We go the bar and get beer except that of course I'm not drinking tonight so ask for water. There's water sure, but no glasses. Dave 'let me sort this out' Hoyland gives me a white mug. 'It's mine,' he says, 'it's ok.'
I think I probably strike quite a cool figure, standing there while eveyone else around me drinks from beer bottles and I sip from my nice white mug...
Anyway, we like Shay Kun's work. It's odd but interesting. I know a few details: he paints scenes typical of the Hudson River School of the 19th Century - pastoral, idealised, chocolate box stuff - and adds peculiar incongruous details like killer whales, tightropes on fire, telegraph poles, smashed up cars...
No idea why he does this - or why he chooses the things he does. The juxtaposition of these two forms (the background meticulously painted in oil, the strange details in acrylics) makes me think it's all messed up, all wrong. He's pushing things up against each other when they clearly don't fit. The background is based on a style of painting that was out of date even when it was originally being painted. So how does this fit in today? And the who the hell thinks about killer whales these days? They're like something from my childhood. Whatever. Nothing, I think, is clear about these paintings. But perhaps the mistake I'm making is to see the images as in contradiction to each other and maybe they're not. I'm particular I'm struck by the fact that Shay paints that detailed oil background himself. That takes a bit of doing, no? And then when he plonks a big killer whale in the middle of it does he feel that this is in any way a contradiction? I wonder. If he thought that this stuff didn't fit he couldn't do it, could he? I don't know. The title of the show is 'Perversion is the love we feel when others feel love.' I think he is talking about difficulties of perception and understanding. I also don't think there are any easy readings of this work. I do think he is pretty interesting.
Anyway, back to Dave for a minute. Feels like I haven't seen him for years. And, look, there's Beth and Ed Greenacre. What happened to them? I haven't seen them for years either. Where has everything gone? I was always hanging out at Rokeby at one point. What happened?
I think back. I've been tied up in other galleries, other little groups, other openings, other adventures and discoveries. Just trying to find out what's going on, in London, with art and artists and galleries and curators and gallerists.
Just before I head off, I get a quick chat with Dave. About this blog he says: 'In fifty years time there'll be this record. Look, this is what we were all doing.'
Dave understands, I think.
This is what we were doing.
This was what it was like.
Killer whale pics