The Lisson Gallery is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a large off-site group exhibition at The Vinyl Factory in London at 180 The Strand. Titled “Everything at Once,” the multifloor show features 45 new and existing works by 24 of the gallery’s roster of artists, including Ai Weiwei, Marina Abramović, Anish Kapoor, Lee Ufan and Richard Long.
Cocurated by Greg Hilty and Ossian Ward of the gallery’s London team, the show name (inspired by a 1966 John Cage quote: “Nowadays everything happens at once and our souls are conveniently electronic (omniattentive),”) reflects an attitude of staying rooted in the present, linking its past exhibitions to its current projects.
“It’s not really a 50th anniversary show, it’s a look at the present and a little bit of the past and some of the future, but it’s not a retrospective as much,” says Alex Logsdail, the gallery’s international director and son of gallery founder and director Nicholas Logsdail.
“I think it’s very hard for people to take a beat and really look at things in a totality, looking at how things link, how things coexist, what the relationship to each other [is],” he continues. “That’s complicated. That’s part of what the show tries to do, is to show what links all the artists, what brings them all together.”
In addition to the show, the gallery is publishing a large thousand-plus page tome, “Artist | Work | Lisson” cataloguing every artist who’s had a solo show with the gallery. The book, published this month, includes essays and anecdotes by both Logsdail men.
Since Nicholas Logsdail opened the gallery on Bell Street in 1967, it has expanded to include another gallery in London, and two galleries in New York City, opened in recent years.
“I don’t know that we’re necessarily aiming to be this sort of expansionist gallery and having a space in every city in the world,” says Logsdail. “I find that dilutes what you’re trying to do often. It inevitability loses some element of personal touch because you can’t possibly be in the same place at the same time.”
The younger Logsdail, currently in his early Thirties, is in charge of running the two spaces in New York City; his father runs the London spaces. While each has their personal preferences, the ethos running throughout all four galleries is the same, although difficult to explain — they know when they come across the Lisson je ne sais quoi.
“We do very different things and have very different attitudes toward things, but there’s a shared sensibility,” Logsdail explains of his working relationship with his father. “There’s this duality — it strangely is important and significant that we live in different cities, different countries. It gives each of us an opportunity to really do something.”
“Sometimes I’ll be very surprised by someone he’s interested in, and vice versa. And others times I’ll be like, ‘Of course.’ That’s part of the fun of it,” he continues. “One of the things that we definitely have in common is the importance of the artist to the gallery. Without the artist the gallery isn’t a gallery, it’s just a show.”
Logsdail deflects from calling out specific artists in the 50th anniversary show — as well as name any young artists he’s watching outside of the gallery, or genres of art.
“I don’t think there are really schools anymore,” he adds. “You used to be able to say this person’s really interested in minimalism, and this person is really interested abstract expression, this persons really interested in video art. I don’t know what moment we’re in now… we’re in a very confusing time.”
While he seems less interested in mulling over the past or too far future, he’s animated while discussing the gallery’s current and upcoming exhibitions, including the recently opened shows in New York, Leon Polk Smith at the 24th Street gallery, and Stanley Whitney’s drawings in the 10th Avenue gallery space.
Appropriately enough, he’s more interested in the present. Forget about thinking 50 years down the line.
“50 years?” he says, incredulous. “I don’t think I can predict 50 years in the future.”
“Everything at Once” will run through Dec. 10.