Vyner Street in the east end of London is full of warehouse buildings, apparently mostly dating from redevelopment in the 1930’s and now occupied by a variety of uses including car repairs, wholesale flower merchants, artist and theatre studios, architects offices, furniture workshops and art galleries, with old pubs like the Victory somehow surviving at the centre of the street.
It’s not quite Chelsea in New York, and its fortunes seems to come and go. The Guardian newspaper reported in June 2012 that art galleries were leaving in their droves to move to Fitzrovia and other areas due to a combination of increasing rents and property prices after the 2012 Olympics (including Modern Art). Today, the area still seems to be trying to find its identity – perhaps with a new cultural focus while not losing its traditional culture as seems to be happening in Spitalfields as it becomes gentrified.
In 2007, the Wilkinson Gallery built a new building in Vyner Street, designed by architect Bobby Desai. A decade later, the founding partners parted company and the building was acquired by the Modern Art with the gallery’s previous building now having planning permission for artist’s studios and office space, hopefully part of a new focus on the art community.
The gallery, as a bold modern building, still stands in stark contrast to the older surrounding buildings, while inside are two flexible gallery spaces, currently with French artist Nicolas Deshayes on the ground floor showing ceramic forms that feel as if they are in the showroom of a high class bathroom company, but, look carefully, they combine positive and negative shapes, including the human forms that connect with the porcelain.
Upstairs, underneath a soaring northlight, German artist Charlotte Posenenske (1930-1985) with the Galerie Mehdi Chouakri from Berlin for Condo 2019 has filled the centre of the gallery with an installation which appears to be cardboard ventilation tubes, that can be altered, while on the walls here and in the staircase are other industrial sheet aluminium installations and surprisingly different acrylic drawings from the 1960′s.
Apparently, on the first Thursday of the month, the galleries hold an evening open-house event. Maybe students go along, but I’m not sure I’d want to be wandering around the area on a dark winter evening; it hasn’t yet come of age.