It was a suitably autumnal day as I walked from South Kensington, along Exhibition Road, and into Kensington Gardens. Brown autumn leaves crunched under foot, the overcast skies filled me with a warm melancholia, and all around me folks were sporting their hats and scarves. French artist Marc Camille Chaimowicz had subtitled his Serpentine Gallery show An Autumn Lexicon and would the works be as seasonably apt as the title?
Well, spoiler alert, no. They wouldn't. It's not that there was anything wrong with them per se. They just weren't particularly inspiring. Chaimowicz claims to bring together painting, sculpture, and photography with prototypes of everyday decor and home furnishings to explore the space between public and private, design and art.
So far so much press release bullshit. More interesting was the claim that the show was curated in direct response to its host. The building that was opened in 1930 as a park cafe and, 40 years later, became the Serpentine Gallery.
Probably the highlight was having Bowie's Hunky Dory on repeat as I wandered, slightly aimlessly, around the galleries. Pavilion (2013-2015), above, is wallpaper and, as such, I have virtually nothing to say about it. Index (2016), below, looks quite nice but there was little I'd not be able to get from a traipse round a home furnishing shop.
The centrepiece was Enough Tiranny (1972-2016). Yes, it was really spelt that way. This is the room where the Bowie CD was situated and it also featured an assorted jumble of tvs, goldfish, glitterballs, toy cars, Chanel bags, baubles, ashtrays, and tinsel. I'm not sure how it fitted in with the rest of the exhibition but it was interesting to have a nose around. Though not as interesting as a trip to Greenwich market.
You really don't need to spend long looking at Model for a Window from 2015. It does exactly what it says on the tin. If you enjoy minimalist art and wood there's plenty to be getting on with. I do like both those things but would have to say I've seen this done better elsewhere and long ago.
2016's North was nice. I felt like I wanted to run my hands along it but that would probably have been frowned at. It did add to the suspicion I was visiting House of Fraser instead of an art gallery though. Something the last three rooms, as you'll see below, did little to discourage.
All pleasant enough. All nicely laid out but as I headed up to Lancaster Gate, passing the Long Water and the Italian Gardens, the coots, swans, geese, parakeets, and ducks all seemed to confirm that this had been a day when art had not been able to hold a candle to nature.