29 November 2015 | 10 °C

An Island Of Art At Dairy Art Centre

An Island Of Art At Dairy Art Centre

Frank Cohen has been nicknamed 'the Saatchi of the North' for his vast and impressive art collection. So when he opened a gallery in London in a former dairy in Bloomsbury, it was met with much fanfare and expectation. The opening event was a rather mediocre solo show of John Armleder's work but this latest exhibition is a group show and showcases the diversity of Cohen's collection.

This show containing works of over 40 artists is loosely based around Aldous Huxley's novel 'Island' — a utopian counterpart to the more renowned 'Brave New World'. While the exhibition does stick to this theme to a degree, it serves more as an opportunity to show off a set of vibrant and diverse works.

Political works are present including Ai Weiwei's map of China made from Qing dynasty wood, a knock at China's rapid industrialisation and a perceived dismissal of its heritage. While Cyprien Gillard overlays landscapes with the symbol of the Cleveland Indians baseball team — currently at the centre of a row as to whether the sign is racist or not. It's both a reference to the commercialism of America and the displacement of its native peoples.

The theme of man-made intervention with nature is also strong here with Sylvie Fleury's mushrooms covered with a petrol-like sheen and Douglas White's dystopian tree made from burst tyres. The humour of Laure Prouvost lightens the tone with a comical sign that simply reads 'Ideally here would be an image of you'.

This is an impressive exhibition of works and marks this gallery out as a major rival for Saatchi's collection of contemporary art. If this show is a representative sample of the Dairy Art Centre's collection, we look forward to equally impressive future shows.

Island in on at The Dairy Art Centre, 7a Wakefield St, WC1N 1PG until 8 December. Admission is free.

Tabish Khan

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