Nina Murdoch - Collecting Colour | Marlborough Fine Arts

Nina Murdoch paints with egg tempera on gesso. Her works main show abstracted scenes of buildings and pathways. Some of the paintings in this show, with their endless layerings and scrapings, take years to produce.

To me, they had the irresistably evocative atmosphere of a rainy London evening - evocative maybe because that was exactly the atmosphere outside of the gallery, when I wandered in ten minutes before closing. Path, pictured below, which took three years, drew me in, with its lights banding as if they were seen from a slow-moving car.

Installation view

She’s said to work in “abstract Baroque”, whatever that means. Maybe it refers to the depth of craft necessary to create these pools of shining orangey-yellow light that puncture the murk, just like an old, pre-LCD streetlight. Maybe it’s their appeal to the infinite and the unknown. Or maybe it’s their slightly stately grandeur.

Looking closely, I tried to discern architectural details in the paintings, and the mini-replicas in pastels at the back of the gallery. In the end, I gave up and enjoyed them from a distance, as I was supposed to.

Other highlights

I also saw Adam Pendleton: Our Ideas at PACE London, where I was pretty baffled by the artist’s idea of “Black Dada”. I was actively annoyed by Mario Schifano: Compagni, compagni, 1968 at The Mayor Gallery, with spray paint on perspex prints depicting hammer-and-sickle wielding protesters (each going for at least £180k). There’s more 60s Italy at Pietro Consagra: Frontal Sculptures 1947-67 from Robilant & Voena, the welded aluminium disks hanging from the ceiling totally evocative of that decade. I could imagine one on David Hemmings’ wall in Blow-Up.

I caught the last day of the Zeng Fanzhi show at Hauser & Wirth - and was glad I did, considering the artist’s amazing mastery of colour and form. (Best work was his reproductions of Victor Hugo’s deathmask, against absolutely raw canvas.) Klimt/Schiele at the Royal Academy was a logistical challenge more than anything else as it was so packed, but it was a seriously high-wattage collection of drawings from the pair of Austrian bad boys. Maybe a bit too bad in places, such as the livid red labia of one of Schiele’s clearly underage subjects.

Michael Landy is showing compacted cubes of previous artworks at Thomas Dane Gallery, while I was introduced by Léon Wuidar’s uber-precise, Brutalist architecture-inspired paintings at White Cube.

Nina Murdoch: Collecting Colour is at Marlborough Fine Arts (London). 31 October 2018 - 24 November 2018