on thek in london and horn in london too [a bit more]

When did you last stand before a work of Paul Thek’s? It’s a difficult thing to do in London, unless you’re a smart collector who already owns the work, that is! I’m not sure that collectors, smart or otherwise, find their way to the Fruit Store, but if so then welcome; you come at a good moment!

The small and perfectly formed exhibition of Peter Hujar’s photographs of Thek at work, in his studio and of his studio which has opened at Maureen Paley’s  is a gorgeous entry to the season. Along with the photos is a surprise; a series of small etchings, stamped as above with that irresistible imprimatur.

The photographs were found during preparation for a show that the Whitney gave this radically under-appreciated artist last winter; PT: Diver, a Retrospective. Diver travelled, but not to London. The photographs are loving and include images of the most famous piece of Thek’s; The Tomb/Death of a Hippie [1967], destroyed while languishing in storage during his notorious obscurity. This series adds a further entombing layer to the piece and ought to help fill a gap in the Tate’s patchy contemporary collection which appears to own nothing of Thek…

I was so surprised to see some actual works of Thek’s in London, albeit a series of fine prints, that I pursued the logic to discover just how shockingly affordable the work still is compared, let’s say, to the now-standard fare offered by the Serpentine/ Whitechapel/ Hayward and Tate itself… So, catch up on a bit of Thek this month and if you are a smart Collector, well, catch up on Thek forever with the change in your pocket, but please London, let’s find the appetite and occasion to recognise Thek’s work and influence…

So to Roni Horn at Hauser & Wirth. Collection or ownership came to my mind standing in front of some new drawings of hers on show here. I didn’t pursue the logic in this case because I am pretty sure that though Horn has an ambiguous status in London [I would say], acquisition of one of these priceless drawings would require very very large pockets and more than the change in every case…

It’s not the point; my plea is for permanent installation of a drawing somewhere, anywhere in London! I’ve written this before and realise that these drawings of Horns, here exemplified by If2, represent in their peculiar frenzy and great calm my own interiors. I’m not going to lower this to art critical appreciation, it’s far more than that. I am utterly/ agitatedly mesmerised by these drawings, the workings left on them in smudges, pins holes, revisions, insertions which perfectly represent the arc of a day to me. Calm, storms and reconfiguration in something new which resembles calm. And then again. Again.

If1 an If2 are similar to the drawings she has shown before. The drawing snapped here, If4, is a departure and appears so fundamentally different as to test the magnetism of these works beyond their poles. But in fact, for all its simplicity and greater accessibility [that is, it’s more overtly a work of visual art, whereas the others began at least it seems to me almost as very private exercises, shared] it ‘performs’ the same affects with degrees of the same potency. It is a radical departure within these works [though relates more closely to other works Horn has done with photographic sources] and might undermine them or itself but does not.

Elsewhere in this finely judged show which really makes H&W’s awkward [to my taste] new spaces on Saville Row work, is a new series, You are the Weather, Part 2, which returns to that first series of images using the same model 15 years later. There are 100 images here, beautifully filling a large room with small refinements on the earlier series which combine powerfully here. Eery already, it’s doubly eery to encounter the same altered woman staring at you now…

Then, in the northern gallery there is an installation of 10 glass pieces, Well and Truly, which has been shown before but not in London. The gallery has exposed the north ‘wall’ to sky-light but this work is not something to experience on opening night. Suffice to say, it’s alluring enough to draw me back one quiet morning to appreciate the limpid pools of light properly. The show is on through to the 22 of October and I for one will be making the meditative pilgrimage to the drawings as often as I can in that time…

And so friendly [and smart] collector, when you buy If2 and install it permanently in your purpose-built chamber, think of me. In fact do more than think of me, cast me a key and let it find its way to my trustworthy and deserving hands…

List of works at H&W with images here.

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