I've been mulling what I want to say about my visit to the Govett-Brewster's 40th anniversary shows for over a week now.
Luckily, David Cross has said some of it for me, in his review of John Reynolds' Nomadology: Loitering with Intent. Reynolds clearly has an important relationship with the Govett, but this show simply felt too big, too repetitive, too much like other work I've seen elsewhere.
The 40th anniversary show contained two other large-scale works from the collection. Pae White's Songbirds is lovely, but also oft-used: it feels like safe, easy curatorial choice. And Don Driver's Elephants for Sale is an odd fish; the installation (which hasn't been exhibited since its first showing in 1986) is a bit trippy and bubbly for my liking - I want my Driver either rigorous and elegant, or grunty and threatening.
On reflection, the word I come up with is 'toothless'. I don't mean it unkindly, really - I guess, with all the history the gallery has to choose from and play with, I feel somewhat let down. The Govett- physically and spiritually located on the edge - seems to have gone down the middle of the road for its big birthday show.