This year must be one of celebration for Christoper Le Brun, President of the Royal Academy which celebrated its 250th anniversary with the much-acclaimed project which connects and integrates the two buildings in Piccadilly and Burlington Gardens and where one of his paintings in on show in the exhibition ‘The Great Spectacle’, a quick canter through 250 years of art at the Royal Academy.
Several of his large oil paintings from the last two years are on show in ‘New Painting’ at the Lisson Gallery at 67 Lisson Street, in the modern extension overlooking Bell Street, the flowing colours of the paint glowing from the walls in an interesting contrast to the untidy street scenes outside as the occasional passer-by stops and looks in through the ground floor window.
Entirely different is style, further along the Bell Street, at No 27, Spanish artist Angela de la Cruz has filled the gallery space with ‘Bare’ where three different series of works – ‘Bare’, ‘Crate’ and ‘Shutter’ – are connected by colour between the free-standing works and those on the wall. Angela de la Cruz, describes the links between them: “I have been thinking about this concept of ‘Bare’ for some time – considering what is open to view, what is exposed, what the future holds…. I feel like we are walking into an unknown. The works in this show are all united through their bareness: be it perceptible openness or exposure – they all appear precarious, vulnerable and unprotected.” (Angela de la Cruz).
The vulnerability is evident – what protects shutters designed to protect the property inside for when they themselves come under attack and are destroyed, similarly what protects metal boxes designed to protect the goods inside when they are abused and someone tries to squeeze them into spaces they are too large for, and what does a canvas mean when it has been cut open and now shows its construction and empty space behind. Things are not as they should be. The protectors have become the victims. One might ask the same question of leaders one of whose roles is to protect those they lead, when those very same people turn on them. Who is more vulnerable – the leader or the people?
Between the two galleries at the corner of Lisson Street and Bell Street there was, until a few year ago, a pub – the Brazen Head. Sadly, it has suffered the fate of many pubs and was closed down, but now with an adjacent site, enclosed by the Lisson Gallery, it has been redeveloped. In doing so, the old red telephone box outside, which could so easily have disappeared, has been restored and given an new artistic lease of life, with coloured glazing. It is nothing to do with the Lisson Gallery, but good to see that it is here and perhaps it might herald more artistic activity in the area. Sadly the street art mural, which is shown in the London Red Phones website (was it Banksy?) has disappeared.