Agnes Denes at firstsite, Colchester and The Psychotropic House at Guest Projects, London

17 January 2014 By

Friday Dispatch this week is Agnes Denes at firstsite, Colchester and The Psychotropic House at Guest Projects, London.

In the week that two great shows by women artists of different generations make waves in London – Hannah Hoch at the Whitechapel and Silke Otto-Knappe at Camden – the first show I am going to recommend to you this week is another amazing woman artist, Agnes Denes, who is showing at firstsite in Colchester. Denes was born in Budapest in 1931, and moved to New York in 1954 where she has been based ever since. This is the first major survey of her work in Europe since the late 70s, and includes work from the 60s to the present day. The exhibition focuses on Denes’ work in drawing and printmaking, but also includes photographic documentation of the important sculptural interventions she made in the urban and rural landscapes – including her extraordinary Wheatfield – A Confrontation (1982) in which she cultivated a field of wheat in Manhattan.

To tempt you off the beaten track and on to the train at Liverpool Street for the 50 minute ride to Colchester, I would add that the gallery itself is situated in rather lovely gardens and is of considerable architectural interest itself; it was only completed in 2011 and was designed by the Uruguayan architect Rafael Vinoly following a major international competition.

The second show I want to recommend this week is of work by artists of a much younger generation. The Psychotropic House is the latest exhibition to take place as part of Yinka Shonibare’s Guest Projects programme at 1 Andrews Road in Hackney.

It is curated by Cross Arts Projects (XAP) who describe themselves as an ‘emerging art collective’, and is based on JG Ballard’s short story, The Thousand Dreams of Stellavista. In practice it is an immersive, interactive experience where the very fabric of the building responds to your touch, where walls drift and sound showers and birdsong permeate the building. Artists included in the show are Anya Charikov-Mickleburgh, Laura Dekker, Sue Douglass, Teague Flannery, Jody Gilby, Alison Griffin, Ute Kirkwood, Ana Oak Malofy-Medwed, Angela Mellen, Liz Sergeantand Dina Varpahovsky. See for details.

For a day full of East End promise, after you’ve seen the show I recommend you wander up to Broadway Market and mull over the experience at the lovely Market Cafe, where the coffee is excellent and the food superb. There’s usually a great champagne cocktail on the menu too for those of you not observing Dry January.

Bon Weekend!

Caroline Douglas

Agnes Denes: Work 1967-2013, firstsite, Colchester, Essex CO1 1JH. Open Tuesday-Sunday, 10.00 – 17.00, until Sunday 9 March.

The Psychotropic House, Guest Projects, 1 Andrews Road, London E8 4QL. Open Wednesday & Thursday 12.00 – 18.00, Friday 12.00 – 20.00, Saturday & Sunday 11.00 – 18.00, until 30 January.