Gavin Turk - White Van Man | Paul Stolper

I saw this exhibition, subtitled ‘A Brexit portfolio and other Transit Disasters’ at a time when the thoroughly depressing Brexit negotiations were reaching something of a climax.

The central motif of the various silkscreen prints is a burnt out Ford Transit. Any British observer would recognise the cultural signifier of a white van - home to “White Van Man”, a highly Brexity demographic.

Installation view

The prints themselves owe an obvious debt to Warhol’s gloomy 60s prints of car crashes. Though their surface is sprinkled with diamond dusk, a signature of Turk’s.

I always really loved the Warhol prints, along with his spectacularly sinister silkscreens of electric chairs. Turk’s tribute is deliberately more hum-drum and low-stakes; a few of the prints show impassive onlookers walking past the burnt-out vehicle without even looking at it.

Transit vans like these, the (excellent) show notes point out, are driven by men who deliver goods “in a post high street Britain where global logistics have become intertwined with his paranoid fear of being taken advantage of by bureaucrats and by migrating foreigners”.

The eerie pre-crash atmosphere of the present day in London lifts and animates this show.

Other highlights

This week I also checked out A New Spirit Then, A New Spirit Now at Almine Rech, a tribute to the RA’s classic A New Spirit in Painting show, featuring a welcome work from my beloved AR Penck. I’m still baffled by Georg Baselitz’s crude, inverted portraits, and A Focus on the 80s, his show at Thaddeus Ropac didn’t help.

Joan Jonas’s fey and daffy In the Trees II video installation is on at Amanda Wilkinson, and I enjoyed her delicate bird paintings. I was totally baffled by Maggie Lee: Music Videos at Arcadia Missa, though to be honest I always love walking up that grotty timewarp Soho staircase to the gallery.

The Lord Duveen tribute show at Lévy Gorvy was a balls-out blockbuster even by that flashy place’s standards, pairing mid 20th century furniture with A-list artworks - a Klein sponge here, a Calder mobile there.

Elsewhere, I saw Sean Scully’s calming oil on aluminium horizontal band paintings - such a luxurious sheen! - at Blain Southern, and Tatiana Trouvé’s Navigation Map installation at Kamel Mennour.

Gavin Turk: White Van Man - A Brexit portfolio and other Transit Disasters is at Paul Stolper (London). 20 September - 20 October 2018