It’s a Magda Archer Christmas | Karsten Schubert

Merry Christmas one and all! Unless you want a festive spin around London’s commercial galleries - in which case you’ll find they’ve all shut due to the COVID wave that’s engulfed the city recently. Some people didn’t get the message though, and like me speculatively walked the streets of Mayfair yesterday, armed with a negative LFT test, getting repeatedly confronted by locked doors.

So, this last single-show post of the year - next week as usual it’s a roundup of my five top shows of the year - is about something I saw a couple of weeks back. But it’s still pretty festive, considering It’s a Magda Archer Christmas features both a lovely decorated pine tree in the main room and an opened box of Quality Street at the front desk. Given I was wearing my mask, I didn’t partake.

It’s a Magda Archer Christmas - installation view

Magda Archer has worked as a commercial illustrator, and her bright acrylic paints and cartoon captions are naturally sellable. It isn’t a surprise that there’s merch on sale at the front desk too, though a couple of arty-but-rich gallery goers having a loud conversation about school fees kept me away from taking too close a look. Call it social distancing.

There’s something of a Rose Wylie junior in the deliberate kiddy zaniness - like Wylie, I was surprised when I found out how old Archer, born in 1964, is. And there’s something of David Shrigley, featured here last week, in Archer’s combination of crowd-pleasing fun and gimlet-eyed capitalism.

It’s a Magda Archer Christmas - installation view

Or maybe there was something off about the atmosphere, which made me grumpy and grudging about Archer’s fun and appealing paintings.

“I keep thinking about buying a kiln,” a well-dressed fellow viewer brayed, as I beat a retreat down the dark staircase in Soho that leads to this atmospheric gallery. With talk in the air of an incoming circuit-breaker lockdown, I hope I’ll be back before too long. It won’t be in time for Christmas, so let’s make it a new year’s resolution.

It’s a Magda Archer Christmas is at Karsten Schubert (London). 02 - 22 December 2021