For the Silly Season I've set myself the challenge of visiting a different art exhibition on every day of the month and blogging about it.

Friday 21 August

Exhibition:  Andreas Schmitten, Gereon Lepper, Mathias Lamfer
Place:  Blain Southern Gallery, London

On a hot day in Central London it’s marvelous to find an art work that literally cool, or to be more precise cooling. However, more on Gereon Lepper’s Der Apparat fast unbewegt in a minute. This show of just 9 sculptures has been assembled by the veteran British sculptor Tony Cragg, from work by alumni of the Dusseldorf Academy of Art, where Cragg is a Professor.

Lanfer_view.jpg  Two works by Mathias Lanfer

Mathias Lanfer contributes three works in which an amorphous and opaque white Perspex shapes balloon out of chunks of raw steel. The works belong to the fairly familiar genre of the absurd object made by a rational industrial processes. They’re OK but not as cool as Lepper’s work.

Schmitten.jpg  Basic Distinct  by Andreas Schmitten

Andreas Schmitten also works in deliberately contrasting sculptural material, this time hard white-goods-grade plastic with rolled coloured fabrics in a brass frame. Like many contemporary artists Schmitten likes to use fluorescent tubes to light his work.  I prefer these to the Lanfer stuff, but they still seem to be fairly tame bathroom art .

Lepper_gallows.jpg Horror vacui by Gereon Lepper

Lepper has only two objects in the show, but what objects! One is Horror vacui, a compression chamber or a small underwater exploration unit, bright yellow in colour and hanging from a large steel bracket. A little neon light illuminates the interior.

Lepper_cage.jpg  Der Apparat fast unbewegt  by Gereon Lepper

The biggest and most dramatic object in the gallery is Lepper’s absurd wheeled vehicle in a great cage. It’s powered by two mighty electric fans, like turbo-props, which when switched on make much noise and create a lovely cold breeze all around. But because the two fans face each other in close proximity they cancel each other out and the vehicle goes nowhere. It is an exploitation of machinery to create a kind of violent stasis. In  operation, and even when still, this comes near to being beautiful.

But there are grimmer connotations to both Lepper’s pieces. The vehicle sits in a steel cage such as might be used to hold a prisoner, and the bracket from which the pressure chamber hangs isn’t called (as it might be) a gantry, or a suspension beam. Lepper chooses to call it a gallows.

Posted on August 21st, 2015


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