Frank Uwe Laysiepen | ULAY

It is with great sadness that I share this. I first met ULAY in Glasgow Tramway back in the 1980’s. Today the ULAY Foundation announced:
“It is with our immense sadness that we write to inform you of the passing of one of the greatest artists of our time, the pioneer of polaroid photography, the father of performance art, the most radical, the one and only, ULAY, who has left for another journey, today, peacefully in his sleep (November 30, 1943–March 2, 2020).

Ulay and Marina Abramović. Photograph: TCD/Prod.DB/Alamyulay2

compulsive and compulsory viewing

A Matter of Life and Death (and Art): A version of art history in (a) film


Image: Ulay/Abramovic Rest Energy. Copyright the artists.

As we find ourselves advancing into the New Year and all of the promise/threat that this holds, I decided to take a slightly unorthodox approach to slicing-up art history through the lens of film. In fact it was the Michael Powell (no relation) and Emeric Pressburger film of (almost) the same name, that inspired me to want to gain some kind of insight into how art has wrestled with trying to express, Janus-like, the passing of time and its corollary concern with mortality. Of course any media-savvy type will tell you never to use the word ‘death’ in a movie or Internet article as it is an audience turn-off. Here we go then, death by misadventure…

Op ’til You Drop: Notes on Bridget Riley

When the name Bridget Riley (b.1931) arises in conversation, various epithets spring to mind; the (he)art of the swinging sixties, the doyen of Op, the arch orchestrator of opera Moiré, I could go on. For those who think that the works are decorative, then of course they are absolutely correct, but of course we shouldn’t make the mistake of thinking that their primary function is to decorate, which it clearly is not. Read on…


Bridget Riley Arrest 3 (1965) Copyright the artist/Karsten Schubert Gallery, London

Tess Jaray: A Life in Pictures

There is a certain irony attached to this brief text; why would a reviewer narrate the fleeting art fair stand display of an artist of such great longevity and of a lifetime filled with 6 decades of professional achievement? Well I propose the point that Tess Jaray is simply one of the few painters who continues to make indelible marks in both painterly and art historical terms, and what follows, is my attempt to qualify this assertion. Read on…


Monograph show of early paintings © Tess Jaray, 2019. All rights reserved. Courtesy Karsten Schubert

A Question of Aesthetics in the works of John Carter

The Royal Academician John Carter is one of those guys who seems to have been around forever, widely respected but really best known to the English painting/sculpture cognoscenti, rather than a figure of international populist appeal. Find out why timeliness in art can render works sublime – even if only momentarily. Read on…


John-Carter: Identical-Shapes-Green, 2018. Screen print 30 x 40 cm. Courtesy of the Artist-and Redfern Gallery, London.

Push / Pull: Group exhibition at Skarstedt, London

Tucked away in a chi-chi SW1 backstreet sits the architectural exquisiteness of Skarstedt London, the gallery has been around for a couple of decades. During that time, the galleries in London and NYC have shown some great and influential stuff by big and smaller named artists. Its current inventory includes Holzer, Haring, Sherman, Schütte, Polke, oh and Picasso. Big business then. READ ON

Photo credit: Installation view, courtesy Skarstedt, London

‘Up-Close and Industrial’: Anthony Caro at Annely Juda Fine Art, London

The title of this show, Seven Decades, is something of a giveaway I guess, indicating an artistic career of both extraordinary duration and prodigious output. In the 60’s and 70’s Caro was probably one of the chief exports of the UK art market. Caro gained initial recognition from an exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery in London in 1963. The works he presented here diverged from the conventions of classical casts and reductionist carving, showing painted, abstract steel sculptures, displayed without plinths – at the time a near-heretical act. Presented directly onto the floor surface not only shared the audience/reality plane, but arguably changed the conceptual power relationship between viewer and artwork irrevocably. READ ON 


Photo credit: Overview: Seven Decades, the author, Courtesy of Annely Juda/Barford Sculptures 2019

Body Privilege: Berlin Gallery Weekend highlights: Galerie Martin Mertens

Dodging the crowds within the hectic scramble between Berlin’s confined East Side gallery spaces during the annual gallery weekend is no mean feat; lots of street-art, cool spaces jammed with bodies, kids and buggies, all hopping from one show to the next. How cool is Berlin? Well actually Berlin is pretty cool in all sorts of ways, but I have to say that a lot of the delicious gallery spaces are showing stuff that would look more at home in a thrift store art display. Hard to believe that this is the land of Beuys, Darboven, Feldman, Kiefer, Bernd and Hilla Becher and the rest. So, it was that on entering my 30th space, that tired feet and a proportionate measure of irritation accompanied my entry to Galerie Martin Mertens. And guess what, this was not only less than repellent, it was actually very good. READ

Photo credit: Roberto Bosisio, RBOMM19_003, detail, courtesy Galerie Martin Mertens and the artist.