See what they did with the title? House. Work. It’s a bit like ‘housework’, except it’s in two parts, which is very clever, because it makes the subject of houses way more deep and ambiguous. Which is nice, but needless, since on very straightforward terms this is a highly enjoyable show about a very straightforward subject: houses. (As well as gardens, backyards, streets and squares. Oh, and pools, as seen in Peter Doig’s desolate ‘Untitled (Kricket)’ and Jules de Balincourt’s glitzy ‘Valley Pool Party.’)
Half the fun is seeing unlikely artists and locations rub shoulders, like Alice Neel and her ‘Belmar, New Jersey’ painting and LS Lowry and his Salford streets. It’s an interesting comparison: both artists lived through the same period, both went through formal education, and both developed idiosyncratic, faux-naive styles of painting (which doesn’t mean Neel’s piece is particularly good: there’s a reason she’s best known for her portraits). Other pairings are more incongruous, like Karen Kilimnik’s cutesy-but-knowingly-so French château and Celia Paul’s tender depiction of her first house. Detached versus personal; house versus home.