Art review: Quicksand John Armleder, The Dairy Art Centre, London
Thursday 25 April 2013
This week a new art centre opens in north London in the premises of a former dairy in Bloomsbury. Two collectors of contemporary art, Frank Cohen, a home-improvements' millionaire from Manchester, and Nicolai Frahm, a Dane based in London, have brought it into being. Free to enter and not-for-profit, it will operate as a kind of kunsthalle for shows of emerging and established artists.
It will not be a home for art exclusively – dance and music will play their part. The first show consists of work by John Armleder, a multi-media artist from Switzerland whose practice ranges across sculpture, painting, installation and film.
Armleder is more than a mere exhibitor here. He has also helped to make this space what it is. He has given it a free-ranging, informal, anti-institutional atmosphere. The makeover still smacks of raw industry, from the painted grey concrete floors to the neon strip lighting.
Unlike so many other public gallery spaces, it doesn't have pedagogical designs upon us. Armleder has had a hand in the making of the milk bar and the cafe, and in the design of the furniture. In shape, the building resembles a long slice of cheese with wedgy ends, all cut up into spaces for showing art. Spaces peel off unpredictably. The main gallery is long and tapering, hung with paintings and glitzy mirror balls. A room once used as the dairy's giant fridge leads off it. There Armleder has created an installation which consists of a medley of small-screen projections, an in-and-out surf of noise (Hawaian guitars vie with the low thrum of a bass), plexiglass screens on the drunken tilt, fake flowers mixed up with genuine dying lilies, and all overlooked by a stuffed fox in a scarf.
Armleder emerged out of the fluxus movement of the 1960s. The work throughout is wild, funky, eclectic, fluid. He seems to drift through his influences, making of them what he will, playing games with his forebears, poking fun. His wall designs look like popularisations of Op Art. His drip paintings emerge out of Abstract Expressionism, but they look more casual, more approachable, more sleek, glitzy and commercially glossy than the Abstract Expressionists ever strove to be. A heap of neon strip lights put us mind of the minimalists' use of industrial materials - but they would never have heaped them up like this as if wildly copulating.
Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air
Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression
tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 I've been called an abusive and dangerous parent, when all I did was listen to my transgender child
- 2 Why this father didn’t hide his daughter’s heroin overdose in her obituary
- 3 Company breaks open Apple Watch to discover what it says is 'planned obsolescence'
- 4 Teaching profession headed for crisis as numbers continue to drop and working lives become 'unbearable'
- 5 The most powerful passports in the world
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins
Al Pacino admits he was nearly fired from The Godfather and it's still his most 'difficult role'
Warner Music owner Len Blavatnik tops Sunday Times Rich List
London Marathon: Best running songs from Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar to 'Uptown Funk'
Oldest footage of London landmarks released
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
General Election 2015: Britain would become a 'communist dictatorship' under Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon, claims wife of Michael Gove