‘The Library of Babel/In and out of place’, projectspace176, The Zabludowicz Collection

 One tenth of a huge private collection focusing on contemporary and emerging art is being exhibited in the 176 project space, an old Methodist church in Chalk Farm. It is the first time even this much of the collection has been on show, over two hundred works out of two thousand collected by Anita Zabludowicz, a founding supporter of The Zoo Art Fair. If you haven’t got to it yet it is a must see, so get down there sharpish.

The quirky, decorative interior, and powerful stone pillar entrance lends a theatrical glamour, a perfect setting for the ‘salon style hang’ chosen by the curator Anna-Catharina Gebbers . A refreshing departure from the concrete white cube which, you could say, is becoming a bit of a ‘Noughties’ phenomenon.

There are some classic pieces and many works by impressive artists that have not yet become the superstars they hopefully will. Plus the odd name dropper – e.g. that photograph of Tracy Emin arranging money to go where, perhaps, it shouldn’t. The great mixture in content, style and curatorial freedom encourages the viewer to find their own random connections and associations between works. The shear scale of pieces allows you to trace trends in the UK and international art scene over last decade. Death, transience and religion seemed  to reoccur in many of the pieces, the depiction of the human skull for instance has become a popular icon, from paintings such as Skull by Tomery Dodge in the back hall, Nathan Mabry’s weird bronze skulls with animal masks, and a white motorbike helmet cut into a skull shape by Mike Nelson, to mention just a few of its uses in thei exhibition. (Perhaps with the late Alexander McQueen’s iconic scarf and old Damien Hirst with his diamond skull – it is have become a growing symbol of the last decade.)

One of the most impressive rooms is the double height space behind the main hall; showing a suspension of DIY tools from ceiling to floor, Five Tools in a Straight Line, Grayham Hudson, and a totally retro 80’s neon/black and white patterned structure, Dollar City, (which would not look of place in the Three Men and a Little Baby’s penthouse even though it was made in 2008) by Gosha Ostretsov. And the more earthy work by Nicole Wermers, Untitled Bench – incorporating purple slate, golden quartzite and mixed glacier with sand and acrylic.

Look out for Colin Chilag and David Quan’s immense pencil drawn comic strip (interspersed with pockets of detailed miniature paintings) debating the existence of God through hypothetical Where’s Wally conundrums.

On until the 9th of May. Free. Visitor’s tours on Sunday at 3pm, with talks by the artist’s – see website for dates.

http://www.projectspace176.com/

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