Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Not For Milk: Dairy Art Centre

Photo: Hillary Ganton 

The Dairy Art Centre, a new not-for-profit art center in London's Bloomsbury district, opened to the pubic on April 25. Frank Cohen, the British businessman and art collector along with the Danish art advisor and collector Nicolai Frahm transformed a 12,500 square foot former milk depot into a showcase for art, music and dance. Cohen and Frahm want to create a space for a variety of events where people, not necessarily involved with the arts, will mix. Plans include a bar, lounge, music and bookstore and outdoor cinema. The art will focus on artists the founders consider influential but ignored. Works for exhibitions may come from their own or other private collections, galleries, museums or made specifically for the site. It is a strategy in flux. 

The inaugural show, Quicksand John M Armleder, is devoted to the Swiss multimedia conceptional and installation artist John Armleder. The artist has filled the Dairy’s irregular, casual gallery spaces and outdoor sculpture yard with works from the founders’ collections as well as new paintings and installations designed for the art centre. Armleder curated the exhibition.  The result is an engaging mixture of wall paintings, mixed media pieces, “Furniture Sculpture,” “Pour” and “Puddle” paintings, neon combines, sculptures and canvas paintings.

John Armleder, Convallaria Majalis, 2003, 
mixed media on canvas, 9.8 x 18.7 ft. (300 × 570 cm)
Photo: Dairy Art Centre Website 

Armleder’s art is one of accumulation and appropriation. He remakes progenitors’ works in a radical way. Abstract expressionism turns into “Pour” and “Puddle” paintings.  Minimalism’s purity and fascination with industrial material become a riot of form. Decorum turns into rowdiness.  He does takes on Op and Pop art as well as Duchamp’s ready-mades. Viewers recognize influences. Dan Flavin, Jackson Pollack, Andy Warhol, Damien Hirst are a few of his forebears.  The old is turned into the new.  The past is rediscovered.

Outdoor Yard, Dairy Art Centre, London 
Photo: Hillary Ganton 

One complex visual and sound installation takes over “The Fridge,” a room that was once the former  dairy’s refrigerated space. Industrial wall shelves are platforms for the artificial and the real. Natural flowers mix with fake. Stuffed toy animals are placed next to taxidermic ones. Videos and sound tracts distract and attract. Piles of art books invite perusal but are closed and cannot be read. There is an exuberance in the accumulations of things - a celebration of life. Yet, the flowers wilt and the animals are dead. Among life’s cheerfulness lurks death. All is thought provoking. 

If this first show is an example of what is to come, the Dairy is ensured success.  Bravos to Frank Cohen and Nicolai Frahm.*

*For an interview with Frank Cohen by BloombergBusiniess reporter Frarah Nayeri, April 16, 2013, go to "Art Collector Cohen Opens Gallery in Milk Depot."  Source:  BloombergBusiness

John M Armleder
Spring/Summer 2013 

7a Wakefield Street, London
Tuesday - Friday 10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. 
Saturday and Sunday 11:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

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