Your Guide to the Best Shows at London Gallery-Share Condo

From tapestries of ‘Tootsie Rolls’ to excerpts from a burnt-out dystopia: here’s what’s on in the UK capital

BY Chris Fite-Wassilak in Critic's Guides | 10 JAN 19

This coming weekend marks the opening of the fourth iteration of Condo, an annual gallery-sharing initiative that brings together galleries from around the world – predominantly from across the USA and Germany, as well as others from Egypt, South Africa, Chile and China. Started here in London in 2016 by Vanessa Carlos, owner of Carlos/Ishikawa, it’s a month-long ‘collaborative exhibition’, which has since spawned Condos in New York, Mexico City, Shanghai, and smaller versions last year in Athens and Sao Paulo. Other gallery cooperation models had existed before, like Amsterdam gallerist Jeanine Hofland’s one-day mini fair, A Petite Fair, or the ‘Villa’ project initiated by Raster Gallery in Warsaw in 2006. However, Condo has proved a timely spark at a time of smaller- and mid-size gallery closures and blue-chip consolidation, inspiring other similar style projects such as Okey Dokey in Dusseldorf and Cologne, Friend of a Friend in Warsaw, and Gallery Share Los Angeles. As the idea expands, Condo London has accordingly grown each year, with this year’s edition featuring 52 galleries over 18 spaces across London. There’s a lot of ground to cover, so here’s a quick guide to some of the highlights:

Igshaan Adams, Plate 10.5, 2018, nylon rope, cotton twine, polyester and plastic, wooden and glass beads,-3 x 2.7 m. Courtesy: Blank Projects, Cape Town

Greengrassi/Corvi Mora hosting Blank Projects
12 January – 9 February

The exigencies of the light-of-foot nature of Condo often mean that many of the works on display are often wall-based or two-dimensional. Blank Projects have turned this into an asset, with a concise selection from three artists where the formal links of looping lines in drawing, painting and weaving combine to suggest something darker seething below the surface. Donna Kukama’s loveandsuicide (2018) is a small canvas with a set of overlapping, illegible words hurriedly scrawled across it, the urgency of the gesture deflating some of the childish humour in Jared Ginsburg’s Plaster Print (orgy) (2018), a round fragment of plaster with a quick pencil outline sketch of a half-dozen people in a tangle of limbs and genitalia. Igshaan Adams’s Plate 10.5 (2018) is a large frayed, faded tapestry, twine and coloured rope making a mirrored abstract pattern derived from a Rorschach inkblot test. The wing-shaped central section is more threadbare, revealing that the whole thing rests on sections of cane upholstery weaving, pointing towards a domestic backdrop to the psychological unfurling happening between the works.

Elaine Cameron Weir, His Master’s Voice (such a medal, when given in ceremony is placed high around the neck, A Dog’s Collar). Attempts to keep up conversation with it rather like holding up the head of a corpse (detail), 2018, stainless steel, parachute hardware, aluminum, pewter, leather, oyster shell, 1.2 x 0.4 x 0.4 m. Courtesy: JTT, New York

Sadie Coles HQ hosting JTT
12 January – 9 February

They look at first glance like sick trophies: splayed animal skins, each bound to a steel grid hanging in the air from thick metal wires. The quick realisation that the pale matter being displayed in Canadian artist Elaine Cameron-Weir’s untitled series of sculptures from 2018 is only cloth doesn’t really offset the unease of the works. A worn-out cream colour, the stitching and folds in the material appear like a misplaced bit of drapery, or a section from an ornate skirt; the occasional bit of printed text gives the hint that these are made from old parachute silk. What they’ve become, though, feels akin to the gruesome practice of displaying executed bodies: a ritual dissection, presented as a warning.

Kang Seung Lee, Goh Choo San, 2018, graphite on paper. Courtesy: Mother’s Tankstation Limited, London

Mother’s Tankstation Limited hosting Commonwealth and Council
12 January – 9 February

Kang Seung Lee’s drawings are filled with ghosts. His detailed graphite drawings are photorealistic scenes from riots and conflict zones, where the bodies have been mostly, but not entirely, erased. What remains is a persistent smudge, a gaseous haze where a living body used to be. The body haunting the works presented at Condo is that of Chinese choreographer Goh Choo San, an innovator of ballet who was the director of the Washington Ballet, and who died of an AIDS-related illness in 1987. Commonwealth and Council will be presenting Lee’s work and a video installation by Patrick Staff, alongside Mother’s Tankstation artists Yuri Pattison and Sebastian Lloyd Rees. The latter’s new solar-powered work Hoarding (Plumtree Ct, 26th January 12.08 GMT - 2018) (2018), comprises a scuffed-up bit of wood panelling, cut and reorganised to become a Josef Albers-like composition of squares within squares, a construction-site modernism.

Erin Riley, Stepbrother, 2017, wool and cotton tapestry, 1.2 x 1.2 m. Courtesy: P.P.O.W., New York

The Sunday Painter hosting P.P.O.W.
12 January – 9 February

Tapestry and weavings have become more prominent in recent years, as part of a return to a sense of physical investment and craft that seemed threatened by digital domains. Erin Riley’s use of the medium is like diaristic photography, close-up snapshots from a suburban life monumentalised as half-metre tapestries: the discarded used condoms of Humble Magnum (2018); the blood-stained panty liner in a pair of pants lying at someone’s feet in Crimson Landslide 6 (2018); a rubber monster toy sitting next to a ‘Tootsie Roll’ coin bank in Stepbrother (2017). Riley draws on the history of tapestry as a narrative medium to depict an intimate, feminine story, told with nude selfies and still-lives of contraceptive pills.

Megan Plunkett, Bury Me in a Pet Sematary, 2018, photograph. Courtesy: Emalin, London

Emalin hosting Emanuel Layr
12 January – 9 February

You could call Gaylen Gerber’s work insistently half there. The American artist has for decades been creating simple grey canvases, and then inviting other artists to work with them as they see fit, as an act of framing and collaboration, of sorts. They remain undated, until the fellow artist completes their part of the deal. This has evolved, over the years, to Gerber’s parallel ‘Support’ series (undated), in which objects – from beer cans to 18th century Japanese tea bowls – are covered in the same matt grey, an act of erasure and semantic levelling, that at the same time seems to be awaiting the next remake. At Emalin, he presents a small glimpse of his disappearing act, with Support (undated), a gilt frame mirror painted a uniform grey. It’s a visual vacuum, that will be partially filled by photographs by Emalin’s Megan Plunkett. Her series, ‘Young Woman and Dog’ (2018), features images found on Craigslist of relaxed-looking dogs sat next to pots and – in one instance – a horse.

Adriano Amaral, Untitled, 2018, aluminium structure, football boots, silicone, grasshoppers, aluminium powder, goose feet, reflective glass beads, 71 x 26 x 18 cm. Courtesy: Galeria Jaqueline Martins, São Paulo

Rodeo hosting Galeria Jaqueline Martins
12 January – 23 February

Portuguese-based Brazilian Adriano Amaral’s installations feel like excerpts from a burnt-out dystopia – so a fitting art for our time. Bronze-cast bees’ nests drip with translucent silicone, while roots intertwine with tubing and wire to stretch towards blackened, warped display screens. The old radiators of Untitled (2018) have been elongated with an ectoplasm-like rubber, bits of twigs and fish fossils peeking out, stretching up like a fountain and completed with pieces of aluminium spurting from the top. Nature and technology have finally melded in his world, creating a new, enveloping environment that feels none too cosy for us humans.

Sandra Mujinga, Disruptive Patterns, 2018, film still. Courtesy: the artist, Croy Nielsen and The Approach, London 

‘Shapeshifters’ at The Approach
12 January – 10 February

The body is set to be atomised and remoulded through painting, video and sculpture in a group show at East London gallery The Approach. The brightly bizarre portraits of Sascha Braunig give a new, photorealistic surrealism filtered through the aesthetic of neon shop signs and endless television commercials. A similarly plasticised head dances in and out of view in Sandra Mujinga’s video Disrupted Patterns (2018), while a work from her ‘Shawl’ series (2017) hangs nearby: wearables made of fake leather and latex suggest another body shape – something with long, tentacle-like limbs. The highlights, however are the sculptures of Polish artist Maria Pinińska-Bereś (1931-1999), that evidence the precision and humour of her oeuvre. Sabbath (1987) is a hanging broom that might be used for cleaning, and has the cartoonish look of one used by a witch. But this is more of a weapon and a means of escape: having skewered a cushion and a cleaning cloth, this broom points firmly towards the moon.

Main image: Sascha Braunig, Untitled (frames), 2018, acrylic and acryla-gouache on paper, 31 x 41 cm. Courtesy: the artist, Foxy Production and The Approach, London; photograph: Charles Benton

Chris Fite-Wassilak is a writer and critic who lives in London, UK.