Sonja Teszler Around Condo London 2020

Installation view: Sedrick Chisom, Westward Shrinking Hours, Pilar Corrias, London, 8 January - 11 February 2020. Courtesy of the artist and Pilar Corrias, London. Photo: Damian Griffiths

Condo London

January 11 - February 8, 2020

By SONJA TESZLER, January 2020

Platforming itself as a” large-scale collaborative exhibition of international galleries” hosting each other in their spaces, Condo seeks to encourage more experimental exhibitions as an alternative model for costly art fairs such as Frieze or Art Basel. It’s like visiting your Cool Aunt instead of your Highbrow Aunt in that it might leave you feeling more stimulated, relaxed and comfortable, rather than exhausted, anxious and overwhelmed… but also with considerably less pocket money.

Though not as instantly lucrative as bigger fairs, Condo allows galleries and dealers to build exposure for themselves and their artists on a more long -term and sustainable basis. Taking place for the first time in London in 2016, it has since been organized in New York, Shanghai, Mexico City and Sao Paolo. London’s 2020 edition of the event opened on the 11th of January on view until February 8th. However, in this case it feels much more like the Highbrow Aunt trying to pretend she’s the Cool Aunt.

Before pointing any fingers, one must acknowledge that the market for small to mid-weight galleries has seen better days. It’s understandable why many of the participating galleries seemingly decided to go for safe choices both in terms of artists and their exhibition format. However, insofar as Condo’s whole purpose claims to be to allow for more innovative shows and practices instead of commercially focused art fair booths, there wasn’t an overwhelming emphasis on the collaborative element or on presenting particularly experimental work. This being said, a number of the exhibitions at smaller galleries, especially around East London, indeed spoke to “spirit” of Condo with a nuanced consideration for the work and the narrative. They also give the impression of more dialogue between themselves and their hosted galleries, reflected in the result’s value as indeed a “collaborative exhibition”.

The following list sees 5 galleries that I believe put effort into bringing their artists’ works together both conceptually and visually and didn’t shy away from experimentation. At the same time, it is difficult to define “experimental” these days – there is a trend towards more spectacle and experience-oriented exhibitions and installations within the commercial world, including fairs like Frieze, which could be described as “experimental” or “innovative” but are still mainly economically motivated. Thus, I don’t want to suggest that the lack of “experiment” means Condo didn’t present something spectacularly immersive, but perhaps in this case the idea doesn’t lie as much in the works, which one might like or doesn’t like, as much as it does on the opportunity on working collaboratively on a shared project and concept, not two or more separate ones. 

Installation view, mother’s tankstation London hosting Château Shatto. Dublin | London Courtesy of mother's tankstation

mother’s tankstation - Subtle and Symphonious

Showing Zeinab Saleh

Hosting Château Shatto, Los Angeles with Yuko Mohri

This graceful exhibition brings together Zeinab Saleh’s paintings and Yuko Mohri’s delicate constellations. Mohri’s Fluxus sculptures are an overall highlight within Condo with a poetic punchline in their every detail. They create a delightful dialogue to Saleh’s large-scale, dreamy paintings on patterned traditional dresses and shawls - Sadly (not pictured) with its neon candlelight brings out the subtle yellow brush strokes in the painting Blue (not pictured). The most intriguing aspect of this exhibition lies in its details. It encourages exactly what Condo claims to encourage as opposed to a large art fair: indulging in a closer look.

Installation view, Condo 2020, Emalin presenting works by Nicholas Cheveldave, hosting Cooper Cole with works by Bjorn Copeland and Georgia Dickie, London, UK, January 2020. Courtesy of Emalin gallery.

Emalin - Rogue and Repurposed

Showing Nicholas Cheveldave

Hosting Cooper Cole, Toronto with Georgia Dickie and Bjorn Copeland

Emalin’s exhibition comes together under the theme of repurposing objects and images. Cheveldave’s large mosaic-like pieces show various photographs of washing machines, stairs and insulation material, exploring different aspects of virtual “wormholes” . His works have the same uncannily seductive, almost voyeuristic appeal as certain strange corners of the internet. Their overloaded visual surface is nicely balanced by Copeland’s minimalist sculptural pieces, made from compressed found billboards in black and white. Dickie’s playful, site-specific display of various objects such as paper bags, tubes and plastic cups ties the recycled narrative together and acts as a clever intervention into the gallery space.

R.M Fischer, Navigator, 2019, galvanised steel, plexiglass, LED light, 205 x 202 x 85 cm. Installation View at Southard Reid, Condo 2020. Courtesy of Southard Reid.

Southard Reid - Strange and Salon-style

Showing R.M Fischer

Hosting Öktem Aykut Istanbul with Ahmet Civelek, Mert Öztekin

The exhibition at Southard Reid’s small Soho space was perhaps the most peculiar of all. Mert Öztekin’s small, sketchlike figurative drawings on paper and his video piece are shown in a somewhat overcrowded display with Ahmet Civelek’s sandpaper series, creating their own quirky world in one corner of the gallery. Meanwhile the other side presents an entirely different aesthetic, with R.M Fischer’s large, sleek, futuristic sculpture standing all by itself. There is a tongue-in-cheek charm to the exhibition’s condensed, asymmetrical arrangement, which has a quasi-antithetical effect to other polished gallery exhibition with neat paintings stretching across vast walls.

Installation View, Condo 2020, Union Pacific presenting works by Philip Seibel, Aks Misyuta and Tim Brawner, hosting Et AL with works by Brook Hsu and WSCHOD with works by Adam Shiu-Yang Shaw. Courtesy of Union Pacific.

Union Pacific - Poetic and Particular

Showing Philip Seibel, Aks Misyuta and Tim Brawner

Hosting Et AL San Francisco with Brook Hsu and WSCHOD, Warshaw with Adam Shiu-Yang Shaw

Union Pacific’s Condo exhibition stood out as much for its focus on unique craft and design as for its remarkably elegant curation. The upper gallery carries an almost celestial air, with Misyuta’s small portrait painting above two altar-like pieces glowing with a warm golden light, and Seibel’s mounted wooden objects with detailed medieval carvings. Brook Hsu’s large-scale carpet works are a memorable highlight, shown in the lower gallery together with Tim Brawner’s cheeky, playful ink drawing and Adam Shiu-Yang Shaw’s sink readymade.

Installation view: Sofia Mitsola, Darladiladada, Pilar Corrias, London, 8 January - 11 February 2020. Courtesy of the artist and Pilar Corrias, London. Photo: Damian Griffiths.

Pilar Corrias - Bold and Beautiful

Showing Sofia Mitsola

Hosting Matthew Brown Los Angeles with Sedrick Chisom

Though a more conventional choice for the curation and the medium itself, Pilar Corrias’s Condo exhibition deserves a mention for presenting a real feast to the painting-lover’s eye. Mitsola’s shamelessly comfortable, robust ladies sprawled out against rich blue and green backgrounds, and Chisom’s acidic, dream-like scenes populated by various beasts and humanoid mutants against a dystopian landscape are shown in two dazzling solo displays. It would have been curious to explore a joint narrative of the two artists, considering that Mitsola’s earlier works are also interested in hybrid creatures and a unique mythology. WM

Sonja Teszler

Sonja Teszler is a writer, curator and singer based between London, New York and Budapest. She is currently directing the non-profit space Wells Projects in South London, while working as an Associate Curator at Kunstraum, contributing to various Arts publications, being an editor of DailyLazy and working on independent curatorial projects internationally. She completed her Master’s at the Sotheby's Institute London with a research focus on the virtual Avatar. 

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