Trevor Yeung
Soft Ground

★★☆☆☆

On until 17 December 2023

The gallery is dark, except for the faint glow of those nauseating ‘bisexual lights’ with purple and blue LEDs designed to prevent people over forty from straying into nightclubs. Water trickles against a patch of soil and the air smells like Dow Chemical’s idea of the forest. A massive tree trunk is the centrepiece and, save for some patches of amorphous mess, that’s about it.

Only on reading the gallery handout did I understand that this environment was Yeung’s study of the gay cruising area in the woods on Hampstead Heath. The trunk is the infamous ‘fuck tree’, the water is piss, and the splats of paint stand in for cum. 

I may be over the club’s admission age but I find art’s predilection for ‘celebrating’ minority sexual behaviours reductive not because they’re distasteful but because they inevitably reinforce the mechanisms of governance that practices like cruising try to evade. It’s stressful enough to fuck in the forest for fear of passers-by or the police; imagine having to also look out for curators.


notes and notices are short and curt exhibition reviews. Read more:

Armando D. Cosmos, Nothing New Under the Sun at Phillida Reid ★★★☆☆

Armando D. Cosmos

Nothing New Under the Sun

★★★☆☆

Cosmos wants to redefine STEM as the alliance of science, theosophy, engineering, and myth.

Ed Webb-Ingall, A Bedroom for Everyone at PEER ★☆☆☆☆

Ed Webb-Ingall

A Bedroom for Everyone

★☆☆☆☆

How can art improve the lives of communities? Wrong answers only.

Ron Nagle, Conniption at Modern Art ★★★★★

Ron Nagle

Conniption

★★★★★

Less is more, as the saying goes. Nagle’s porcelain and resin maquettes are the bare minimum.

Soufiane Ababri, Their mouths at Barbican ★★☆☆☆

Soufiane Ababri

Their mouths were full of bumblebees

★★☆☆☆

Ababri’s paintings for the Grindr generation are more cartoonish than they are from life.

Justin Caguiat, Dreampop at Modern Art ★★★★☆

Justin Caguiat

Dreampop

★★★★☆

This is the sort of exhibition that makes a critic question the quality of their judgment.

Michael Simpson at Modern Art ★★★★☆

Michael Simpson

★★★★☆

In this meditation of surface disguised as a study of objects, neither is a truer likeness of the events.

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