Sculptor Sarah Staton on exhibitions in London [Published 2017/10/06]

“There are two exhibitions currently up in London that I think make a great pairing.”


“Saelia Aparicio: Peaks and Troughs”
through Nov. 12
Turf Projects

“From the Vapor of Gasoline”
through Oct. 21
White Cube, Mason’s Yard

There are two exhibitions currently up in London that I think make a great pairing. The first show is “Peaks and Troughs,” a solo exhibition of drawings and sculptures by Saelia Aparicio, a young and talented Spanish artist living and working in London. The second is “From the Vapor of Gasoline,” a grouping of significant works made in the waning years of the twentieth century by a dozen New York artists, including Cady Noland, Robert Gober, Larry Clark, David Hammons, and Christopher Wool.

Christopher Wool, Head, 1992, enamel on aluminum, 107 3/4 x 72 inches. Courtesy Astrup Fearnley Collection, Oslo, Norway.

The title of Aparicio’s show refers to the highs and lows of London’s housing market. The artist has taken as her starting point London’s crumbling, vermin-infested Carpenters housing estate; her blown-glass protozoa perched on architectonic metal structures suggest that late capitalism functions like a parasite in society’s body, debilitating it from within.  “From the Vapor of Gasoline” likewise touches on collapse, struggle, and marginality, with artworks that address the darker realities underlying the American Dream. Of particular note are Clark’s tender 1970s photographic portraits of teenage drug addicts and hustlers, and Noland’s assemblage incorporating the American flag and an aluminum walker. Noland has not exhibited in London since her 1991 solo show at the ICA; it’s great to see her work again here in London and within such well-thought-out exhibition.

Installation view of “Saelia Aparicio: Peaks and Troughs,” Turf Projects, London, September 29–November 12, 2017. Courtesy of the artist and Turf Projects. Photo: Tim Bowditch.

The two shows approach similar subject matter from different sides of the Atlantic and, in fact, from different sides of the millennial marker. I am also interested in the diametrically opposed contexts in which they are being presented. “Vapor of Gasoline” is on view at White Cube’s Mason’s Yard location, which is in Mayfair—a hub of old money and astonishingly expensive real estate. “Peaks and Troughs” is installed at Turf Projects, a not-for-profit located the commuter belt neighborhood of Croydon. If you are in London, these two exhibitions are definitely must-see shows, especially when considered together.

Sarah Staton is a sculptor. She is Senior Tutor, Sculpture, at the Royal College of Art.