After four months of long lockdown, London’s commercial galleries reopened this week. The city’s bathed in spring sunshine, the streets are (comparatively) bustling, and it’s time to blow the dust and cobwebs off this website and get going again!
I guess you could call it a staged reopening: not being able to face a busy tube and Mayfair, I chose my first show back to be at a gallery within cycling distance of my flat. The prevailing style of the work on show - india ink sketches on paper from French artist Alban Laurent - is well described by The Old Bank Vault’s own press release as “doodle”.
The works are based on the seven deadly sins, and were all made in response to lockdown. Which draws unfortunate comparisons to Gillian Wearing’s masterful show late last year at Maureen Paley, which shared the same source of inspiration.
What a different world it was, when I stood in that gallery in my wet cycling clothes on the afternoon before the last-but-one lockdown. The nights were drawing in, with no vaccines approved and cases spiking sharply. Wearing’s fine self-portraits, with their shared expressions of watchful despair, were almost uncomfortably resonant.
Laurent’s sure hand, and regular black patterns, drifted by me. Drawn in a different time. I didn’t catch his mood.
My eyes might have glazed over when trying to look harder at these doodles, but maybe that’s less to do with the quality of what was on show, and more to do with my excitement and impatience for a sunnier future.
On to the next week, and more great exhibitions!
Psychomachia is at The Old Bank Vault (London). 13 Apr - 16 May 2021