John Stezaker has been a quiet presence on the British art scene since the 1970s - he was included in the "New Art" exhibition at the Hayward in 1972, alongside Richard Long, Gilbert & George et al, as part of the generation of conceptually-oriented artists who embraced lens-based and other media. His precise, witty and disturbing images, spliced together from old film stills and postcards, are presented in a career retrospective at the Whitechapel Gallery until 18th March. Read Brian Dillon’s profile and Laura Cumming’s review; see a 2006 video interview with the artist on the Tate website.
Stezaker also features in Anti-Photography at the Focal Point Gallery in Southend. In 1976, Nancy Foote published "The Anti-Photographer"*, an article which examined the uses of photography in conceptual art. Foote noted that, Despite its dependence on photography... conceptual art exhibits little photographic self-consciousness, setting itself apart from so-called serious photography by a snapshot-like amateurism and nonchalance that would raise the hackles of any earnest professional. Foote made specific reference to the work of Eleanor Antin, Robert Smithson, Ed Ruscha, Richard Long and others.
Read interview with Rachel Cooke, and reviews by Adrian Searle and Laura Cumming.
Martin Creed: 'Mothers' is at Hauser & Wirth until March 11th. The prolific Creed, who won the Turner Prize in 2001 for Work no. 227: ‘The lights going on and off’ is showing more than 50 works in the show, including a monumental, rotating sculpture in white neon and steel: Work no.1092, MOTHERS, 2011.
Sheela Gowda: Therein and Besides at Iniva is the first UK solo show for the Indian artist. The Guardian described her installation in the Serpentine's 2008/9 survey of contemporary Indian art, Indian Highway, as the standout work. The Serpentine described her work as follows: Sheela Gowda’s process-based practice, which includes paintings, drawings, sculptures and installations, blurs the boundary between fine art and craft. Her materials are chosen for their symbolism. Substances such as cow dung, incense, threads, fibres and ceremonial dyes are used as subversive political statements, which straddle their everyday presence both in urban and rural India. This history of manufactured found objects, such as tar drums and plastic sheeting, recycled by India’s migrant workers, is further extended towards a nuanced reading.
Other shows worthy of note:
Robert Mapplethorpe, George Bradshaw, 1980
Robert Mapplethorpe: Night Work curated by Scissor Sister at Alison Jacques, until 19th March;
Georgi Petrusov, Portrait of Aleksandr Rodchenko, 1933
Many of the exhibitions listed in the January Roundup will run through February - see below, for details.