With so much new art in London this year who can we trust to cut through the chaff and display the best that London’s art scene has to offer? The Whitechapel Gallery seems like a solid choice and to back that up they had over 1,800 applicants for this year’s exhibition, which they whittled down to a select 35.
The exhibition starts off engagingly with responses from heads of state to Martin John Callanan’s letters that simply state either that ‘I respect your authority’ or ‘When will it end?’. They’re humorous but are they art or just an escalated version of a prank phone call? One large scale work runs through the mottoes of police forces around the world, but what does this show us – that all countries’ police forces want to protect their citizens?
In the main space there are some higher quality works. Nicholas Cobb’s photographs of apocalyptic riots enacted with toy figures has a wicked sense of humour and Thomas Ball’s shots of environmental destruction are shocking. Greta Alvaro’s video of wild boar devouring a wedding cake would convey great tension but it’s limited to a small screen and was more powerfully presented at this year’s London Art Fair.
Moving upstairs the video art is largely uninspiring but the boarded up Wendy House is further proof that the real stand outs in this exhibition are those artists with a sense of humour.
Most group shows tend to have their fair share of good, bad and ugly art, but despite a few great works being on display, visitors to this exhibition have the right to expect better from such a prestigious gallery.
The London Open is on at the Whitechapel Gallery until 14 September. Admission is free.