Highlights from Whitechapel Gallery: The London Open 2018 (until 26th August 2018)
Boyd has been in quite a few exhibitions recently, including Pippy Houldsworth's recent show 'Hypnagogia', which I wrote about in June and a small solo presentation at Blain Southern. Her paintings are already highly distinctive and have a real dream-like quality and need more than one moment of reflection to fully digest what we're seeing. The artist's work is the first chronologically in the first space, and with all the large-scale installation and sculpture work, it does risk getting lost, yet her paintings offer something largely different to the rest of the show. My favourite, 'The Optimist' seems to show a mother blow-drying her daughter's hair in a car, with a real focus on the misplaced wing mirror showing a view of a building from the ground. Women's juggling responsibilities and the different facets of motherhood are delicately explored
American artist Rachael Champion's installation 'Blackwall Reach' is perhaps an obvious choice for my selection as, again, I have written about her work before; her show at Hales Gallery in 2015 with Agnes Denes and Rachel Pimm was a highlight of the year's calendar. The installation sits in the middle of the Whitechapel Gallery's space and takes up a lot of space at that; the piece consists of three elements, 'Deck Window', 'Exterior Balcony' and 'Sound Barrier', all sculptural pieces of digital prints on wallpaper over timber frames. In this iteration in an East London location, ideas of architectural ruins and reconstruction (I avoid the term 'gentrification' wherever possible) are particularly salient; real rubble alongside printed timber frames present a scenario merging destruction and degradation against artificial structures is a thinly-veiled but effective reference to 'art-washing' and the short self-life of residential architecture.
While Boyd and Champion's work are both located in the ground floor space, upstairs lies increasingly more politically charged work, such as a whole room filled with the activist work of Andrea Luka Zimmerman, highlighting the potential as art as activism and vice versa. A tranquil respite is the work of London-based artist Gary Colclough, whose intricate piece 'Once Taken' merges painting and sculpture, with small snapshot paintings of fruitful rural scenes.