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This week's best art

All the best current art exhibitions and shows to hunt down in London
Alex Hartley, 'A Gentle Collapsing II', courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro.
Alex Hartley, 'A Gentle Collapsing II', courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro.
By Time Out London Art
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Fancy checking out some art in London but don't know where to start? Have a flick through our selection of the best shows on at the moment and take your pick. Or, if you'd prefer photography to portraiture, check out our list of the top ten photography exhibitions on right now. 

William Eggleston 'Untitled' (c. 1977) © Eggleston Artistic Trust. Image courtesy of Eggleston Artistic Trust and David Zwirner
Art

William Eggleston: 2¼

icon-location-pin David Zwirner, Mayfair
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The title refers to inches: two and a quarter inches (stop sniggering at the back). Medium-format cameras use 2.25-inch square negatives. You can blow them up real big, and the quality is amazing. US photography legend William Eggleston isn’t usually associated with this format, but these pictures, taken in 1977 are as glowingly, troubling beautiful as any of his work, doused in a light that’s sweet and sickly as barbecue glaze. 

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Installation view of Chloe Wise: Not That We Don’t at Almine Rech London, April 10 - May 18, 2019 / Courtesy the Artist and Almine Rech. Photo: Melissa Castro-Duarte
Art, Contemporary art

Chloe Wise: Not That We Don't

icon-location-pin Almine Rech Gallery (Grosvenor Hill), London
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Chloe Wise paints beautiful images of absolute dickheads. The young Canadian artist’s lush, detailed images are filled with aloof, snooty, art school layabouts. The real dregs of creative society; blue rinse beauties and hip young things in vintage sportswear with wanky haircuts and tiny moustaches. It’s like being at the worst party in Camberwell ever. But they are really good paintings. Wise has an incredible skill, and a wonderful compositional eye. All these soft young faces are surrounded by bodies; lost, isolated in seas of humans. All around them are reaching, caressing hands. Each figure is somehow totally alone despite the humanity and affection they’re engulfed in. Most of the images feature some incongruous element: a box of Kleenex, hand sanitiser, antibacterial soap. What’s Wise saying? That these people are locked in a world that wants to sanitise, cleanse and purify them? If so, it’s hard to feel any sympathy. And for some reason, there are benches dotted throughout the space with built-in Kleenex dispensers. What are you meant to do, cry or…? It’s a bit of an unnecessary affectation. But on the other hand, Wise really does manage to capture a modern sense of disaffection and ennui, a contemporary boredom and loneliness, in a world where that shouldn’t even be possible. I’m torn, really. Wise is a very good painter who paints slightly annoying things. Every time you start getting a feel for the works, something pops up to push you away. Just like any cool

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Rembrandt van Rijn 'Self-Portrait with Two Circles' © 1665. English Heritage, The Iveagh Bequest (Kenwood, London). Photo © Historic England Photo Library
Art

Visions of the Self: Rembrandt and Now

icon-location-pin Gagosian Gallery, Mayfair
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You know a gallery is clutching at straws when they bring Freud into the mix. ‘How are we going to explain why we’ve put all these paintings in a room?’ ‘Errr, can we just say it’s because of Freud? No one’s actually read anything by him, they’ll never know we’re just trying to flog a load of self-portraits.’ That’s what’s happened here. 

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Derek Jarman 'Untitled (Ship in Bottle)' (1989). Image courtesy of Amanda Wilkinson Gallery, London and Keith Collins Will Trust
Art

Derek Jarman: Shadow Is the Queen of Colour

icon-location-pin Amanda Wilkinson, Soho
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As hypoallergenic environments go, there are few places more meticulously grime-free than the average art gallery and the items inside it. Not so with this small collection of Derek Jarman artworks. Go nose-to-nose with the sculptural canvases and you’ll start to notice a thin, perfect layer of… dust. 

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Sean Scully Arles Abend Deep, 2017, Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris (SS3202) © Sean Scully. Photo: courtesy the artist
Art

Sea Star: Sean Scully

icon-location-pin National Gallery, Trafalgar Square
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You’ve got two options with Sean Scully’s abstract paintings. You can either try to read a bunch of hefty conceptual meaning into their lines and colours, or you can take them for what they are: big bloody stripy paintings. 

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Installation view, Gerwald Rockenschaub, Romantic / Eclectic (Remodelled Carousel Edit), Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac London, 02 April - 11 May 2019 Courtesy Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, London · Paris · Salzburg © Gerwald Rockenschaub. Photo: Ben Westoby
Art

Gerwald Rockenschaub

icon-location-pin Thaddaeus Ropac, Mayfair
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With laser-cut precision, Gerwald Rockenschaub dances between abstraction and decoration. What I mean is that his glistening acrylic constructions are as much works of art as they are decorative objects: halfway between paintings and a Bakelite telephone. 

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Arin Dwihartanto Sunaryo 'Ajanabh' (2019). © the artist. Image courtesy of the artist and Simon Lee Gallery
Art

Arin Dwihartanto Sunaryo: Argo

icon-location-pin Simon Lee, Mayfair
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In the opening scene of ‘Superman’ (1978), Krypton’s sun explodes, destroying the planet. The cave of crystals that the Superfamily calls home shatters, the planet is blown to smithereens. It’s not far off what’s happening in Arin Dwihartanto Sunaryo’s big abstract works here. 

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Edvard Munch 'On the Waves of Love'. Image courtesy of Munchmuseet
Art

Edvard Munch: Love and Angst

icon-location-pin British Museum, Bloomsbury
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Loneliness, anxiety, jealousy, fear and torment: Norwegian artist Edvard Munch (1863-1944) probably wasn’t much fun at parties, but he sure had a knack for art. This exhibition doesn’t make for easy viewing: it’s heavy, dour stuff that’ll hang over you like a dark cloud. 

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Joan Snyder 'Proserpina' (2013) Image courtesy of the artist and BlainSouthern. Photo: Fionn Reilly
Art

Joan Snyder: Rosebuds & Rivers

icon-location-pin Blainsouthern, Mayfair
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Joan Snyder’s heavily textured, wall-based artworks, exhibited at Blain Southern in the artist’s first ever solo UK show, are dripping with ‘feminine’ juices: thick clots of fuchsia, rows of roses, a random velvet bra strap and, yes, glitter. Lots of glitter. 

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Bedwyr Williams: day and night images from Y Tyrrau Mawr (The Big Towers), 2016
Art

Bedwyr Williams: Hypercaust / Y Tyrrau Mawr

icon-location-pin Southard Reid, Soho
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Glistening skyscrapers loom over a serene Welsh lake while a monotone voice tells surreal tales about how this gleaming metropolis got plonked in the Valleys. Architects, builders, engineers: for some reason, they all conspired to build this city, right here. 

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Christian Marclay 'Look' (2016-2019) © the artist. Image courtesy of White Cube
Art

Christian Marclay

icon-location-pin White Cube Mason's Yard, St James'
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Christian Marclay’s most famous artwork, ‘The Clock’, makes viewers contemplate the passage of time. The artist’s latest exhibition, featuring two new video works, performs a similar function.  But instead of getting you to tune into the hourglass in the sky, these pieces make you look again at looking. 

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Joaquín Sorolla 'The Pink Robe (La bata rosa)' (1916) © Museo Sorolla, Madrid
Art

Sorolla: Spanish Master of Light

icon-location-pin National Gallery, Trafalgar Square
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Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida has slipped through the cracks. Art history can be a cruel bastard, and it’s hard to figure out where he fits in all of it: behind the Spanish painter are the waves of innovation of the French Impressionists, ahead of him is the birth of modernism, and hanging over it all are the imposing shadows of the Spanish greats, Velázquez and Goya. Bad timing, really. 

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Dave Heath 'Washington Square, New York' (1960) © Dave Heath / Collection Torosian. Image courtesy of Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York and Stephen Bulger Gallery, Toronto
Art

Dave Heath: Dialogues with Solitude

icon-location-pin Photographers' Gallery, Soho
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Chances are you haven’t heard of Dave Heath. The American photographer, who quietly documented post-WWII US society, has flown under the radar. This is his first major UK show, and despite only being two rooms, ‘Dialogues with Solitudes’ packs a big emotional punch. Striving to capture people’s ‘inner landscapes’, Heath’s black-and-white portraits focus on quiet moments of solitary contemplation. As a soldier in Korea, he beautifully documented his fellow soldiers lost in thought, looking exhausted and haunted. Once he went back, moving to New York, he continued to seek out lost souls in private moments of self-reflection, longing, pain and ennui. Heath photographed strangers off in their own worlds, disconnected from those around them, isolated by their internal monologues. Like so many other great street photographers, Heath manages to capture people seemingly unnoticed. The subjects appear like ghostly characters in a film, made more intriguing by the lack of any back-story. With Heath’s photos, you’re left to make up your own. It’s only when you see the way they were paired and curated for the layout of his 1965 book ‘A Dialogue with Solitude’ that you can start to glimpse the meaning he attached to them. Although these snatched moments look like simple candid shots, Heath was a skilful printer and photo manipulator, subtly directing the narrative through canny crops, cuts and highlights. Heath definitely erred towards the darker side of the human condition: from mela

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Henry Moore 'Helmet Head No.1 1950 bronze (LH 279 cast 5)'. Photograph ©Tate, London 2018 Artwork reproduced by permission of The Henry Moore Foundation
Art

Henry Moore: The Helmet Heads

icon-location-pin Wallace Collection, Marylebone
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Down in the bowels of The Wallace Collection lies an armoury, filled to the brim with countless items of historical brutality. Dullards like me and you might walk through and just see weapons and armour. Very pretty weapons and armour, sure, but still, little more than tools of war. But the great Henry Moore saw something else in the helmets displayed in those dusty glass cabinets. 

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© Anthea Hamilton. Image courtesy of the artist and Thomas Dane Gallery.
Art

Anthea Hamilton: The Prude

icon-location-pin Thomas Dane, St James'
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In the 1985 film adaptation of EM Forster’s ‘A Room with a View’, Daniel Day-Lewis plays Cecil Vyse, a supercilious slimeball Helena Bonham Carter’s Lucy Honeychurch is engaged to before she sees sense and elopes with sexy socialist George Emerson. Anthea Hamilton’s new exhibition, ‘The Prude’, takes the buttoned-up Edwardian dweeb Day-Lewis got so right as its inspiration. 

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Magdalene Ball, Cambridge, England, 2015. Picture credit: © Martin Parr / Magnum Photos / Rocket Gallery;
Art

Only Human: Martin Parr

icon-location-pin National Portrait Gallery, Leicester Square
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As Britain’s Self-Loathing Olympics head towards their Closing Ceremony, the country’s favourite documenter of our endlessly conflicted national identity lands at the NPG. This is not a coincidence. Since the referendum result in 2016, photographer Martin Parr has been pointing his lens at various aspects of the nation to investigate, in his word, ‘Brexitness’. 

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David Salle 'Equivalence' (2018) © David Salle / VAGA at ARS, New York and DACS London, 2019. Image courtesy of the artist and Skarstedt, New York.
Art

David Salle: Musicality and Humour

icon-location-pin Skarstedt, London
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On the one hand, David Salle’s new paintings look like he’s taken some 1940s cartoon imagery and splodged it willy-nilly on some canvases. But on the other hand, there’s something else going on in these paintings. 

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Louis-Léopold Boilly 'A Carnival on the Boulevard du Crime' (1832) © The Ramsbury Manor Foundation Photo © courtesy the Trustees
Art

Boilly: Scenes of Parisian Life

icon-location-pin National Gallery, Trafalgar Square
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Louis-Léopold Boilly was a businessman. He saw that there was a bob or two to be made in creating bawdy, naughty paintings for the turn of the nineteenth century bourgeoisie, and he went in hard. The result here in this small free display is a funny, kinky, silly vision of posh Parisian life, like ‘Made in Chelsea’ for revolutionary France. 

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Agnolo Bronzino, 'St. Sebastian' (c.1533) © Museo Nacional Thyssen- Bornemisza, Madrid
Art

The Renaissance Nude

icon-location-pin Royal Academy of Arts, Mayfair
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Before smartphones, sending a nude was seriously hard work. There were no quick pics in the bathroom mirror in renaissance Europe; instead, they had to rely on good old-fashioned pen and ink. This neat little show – dedicated largely to drawings, engravings and woodcuts from the time – explores the different ways that the nude was used back in the middle of the last millennium. 

Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth. © Phyllida Barlow Photo: © Royal Academy of Arts, London. Photography: David Parry
Art

Phyllida Barlow: Cul-de-Sac

icon-location-pin Royal Academy of Arts, Mayfair
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Visiting the Royal Academy can make a person feel small. That naked Grecian sculpture? It’s massive. Those ceilings? They’re towering. The staircase? Gargantuan! And you, tiny insignificant creature, are worthy only of cowering in the corridors of this prodigious Palace of Art. You’re small and it’s big. But the bigness of the RA just got even bigger, thanks to Phyllida Barlow’s new exhibition ‘cul-de-sac’. 

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Nicholas Hilliard 'Man Among Flames'. Image courtesy of National Portrait Gallery
Art

Elizabethan Treasures: Miniatures by Hilliard and Oliver

icon-location-pin National Portrait Gallery, Leicester Square
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Big isn’t always better. Not here, anyway, because this is a show full of tiny, tiny, tiny paintings, and they are gorgeous; achingly small and stunningly intricate portraits of Elizabethan royals, courtiers and poshos by the masters of the form, Isaac Oliver and Nicholas Hilliard. 

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© Franz West Privatstiftung
Art

Franz West

icon-location-pin Tate Modern, South Bank
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Franz West took all the stuffy, conservative formality of the art world and told everyone where to shove it. The austere reverence of the gallery, the contemplative deification of the artist: West just couldn’t be arsed with it. Instead, the anarchic Austrian artist (1947-2012) created a body of work that’s playful and ludicrous, that feels like one drink too many in a Viennese bar, the art equivalent of a hangover you somehow don’t regret. 

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Diane Arbus 'Jack Dracula at a bar, New London, Conn. 1961'. Promised Gift of Doon Arbus and Amy Arbus, 2007 Courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York/ Copyright © The Estate of Diane Arbus, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Art

Diane Arbus: In the Beginning

icon-location-pin Hayward Gallery, South Bank
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Diane Arbus was the original people-watcher. Some lads larking around by the coast, a glamorous receptionist at her desk, two women shooting evils at the universe: nothing escaped her notice. The Hayward Gallery’s exhibition of photographs from the first seven years of her career (1956-1962) is sleekly arranged with each small print attached to one side of a tall white rectangle. 

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© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
Art

Russia: Royalty & The Romanovs

icon-location-pin The Queen's Gallery, St James's Park
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There’s an episode in Matthew Weiner’s series, ‘The Romanoffs’, where descendants of Russia’s last royal family get together on a cruise ship and re-enact the glory days of grand balls and staged entertainment. Those with Romanov DNA lap it up, while two married-in relations find the entire event slightly perplexing. Russia, Royalty and the Romanovs, a new exhibition at The Queen’s Gallery, has the potential to inspire a similar division of response. 

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© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
Art

Shadows of War: Roger Fenton's Photographs of the Crimea 1855

icon-location-pin The Queen's Gallery, St James's Park
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In 1855, Roger Fenton arrived in the Crimea on a commission from publisher Thomas Agnew & Sons to photograph scenes and figures from the ongoing Crimean War. After he returned to London, the images were exhibited at four venues in the capital and… that was it. There hasn’t been a London show of Fenton’s creations since 1856. 

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Copyright Jenny Holzer and Tate
Art, Contemporary art

Artist Rooms: Jenny Holzer

icon-location-pin Tate Modern, South Bank
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American artist Jenny Holzer’s work is decades’ worth of statements, aphorisms, quotes and poetry. She takes words and sentences and plasters them over the streets, prints them on cups and condoms, engraves them into marble, and sends them stuttering at lightspeed along LED columns. 

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Reuben Mednikoff, No Title (3 January 11am – 4 January 6pm), 1938. Oil on panel. Collection of James Birch.
Art

A Tale of Mother’s Bones: Grace Pailthorpe, Reuben Mednikoff and the Birth of Psychorealism

icon-location-pin Camden Arts Centre, Frognal
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Grace Pailthorpe and Reuben Mednikoff wanted to do more than just prove their parents wrong,they wanted to use their work to explore childhood trauma and how it manifests throughout life. Pailthorpe was a surgeon and Mednikoff was an artist, together they embarked on a career of drawing, painting and mutual psychoanalysis. 

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Nutcracker in shape of Fagin © Jewish Museum London
Museums

Jews, Money, Myth

icon-location-pin Jewish Museum, Camden Town
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Countless accusations have been lobbed at Jews over the millennia. Stereotypes prevail, and the Jewish Museum is trying to tackle the big one: money. The show starts with the Oxford English Dictionary’s definition of ‘jew’ as a verb. It makes for unpleasant reading. And the show doesn’t get much nicer. 

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Installation view of 'Haegue Yang: Tightrope Walking and Its Wordless Shadow', La Triennale di Milano, Italy, 2018 Photo: Masiar Pasquali. Image courtesy of Fondazione Furla and La Triennale di Milano
Art

Haegue Yang: Tracing Movement

icon-location-pin South London Gallery, Camberwell
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In April 2018, the media flocked to a historic meeting between the leaders of North and South Korea. Part-way through, the two men requested privacy. As they went to chat, the remaining journalists kept their recording equipment whirring. This is what it picked up: birdsong. This alternative version of political tweeting is now chirruping out of speakers at the South London Gallery as part of Haegue Yang’s ‘Tracing Movement’. 

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Gladys Nilsson, A Cold Mouth, 1968 © the artist. Courtesy the artist and Garth Greenan Gallery, New York
Art

How Chicago! Imagists 1960s & 70s

icon-location-pin Goldsmiths CCA, New Cross
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While the world was patting New York, LA and London on the back for inventing pop art and conceptualism back in the late ’60s, a group of artists in Chicago were too busy having the time of their lives to care. 

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Dorothea Tanning 'Eine Kleine Nachtmusik' (1943) © DACS, 2018
Art

Dorothea Tanning

icon-location-pin Tate Modern, South Bank
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Everyday life can be a nightmare, and Dorothea Tanning (1910-2012) created art that was like a dream diary of domestic horror. Her images ripple with gothic, fantastical paranoia, tearing at the fabric of living: the dinner table, the chores, the sex, the food, the very tedium of existence. This major show makes a strong case for her being one of the greats of surrealism, overshadowed throughout history by the macho men of the genre. 

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Harald Sohlberg 'Sun Gleam' (1894) Gard forsikring, Arendal
Art

Harald Sohlberg: Painting Norway

icon-location-pin Dulwich Picture Gallery, Dulwich Village
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Pop quiz: who’s the national painter of Norway? The guy who painted ‘The Scream’, right? Wrong, the actual owner of that title is Harald Sohlberg. But if that’s art historical news to you, don’t feel ashamed. This retrospective at Dulwich Picture Gallery is the first major show of the artist’s paintings and drawings ever in the UK. 

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The Anatomy of Melancholy by Robert Burton (Published 1621). Image courtesy of Bethlem Museum.jpg
Art

The Anatomy of Melancholy

icon-location-pin Bethlem Gallery and Museum of the Mind, West Wickham
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Robert Burton’s ‘The Anatomy of Melancholy’ was first published in 1621. The extensive handbook to misery was an unlikely seventeenth-century bestseller and has continued to provide inspiration to gloriously gloomy souls ever since, including Nick Cave, the crown prince of melancholia. This small exhibition at the Museum of the Mind is made up of paintings relating to Burton’s six categories. 

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© Pierre Bonnard, 'Coffee' (1915), Tate.
Art

Pierre Bonnard: The Colour of Memory

icon-location-pin Tate Modern, South Bank
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Some paintings seem to shimmer with light, but Pierre Bonnard’s breath-taking images of landscapes, domestic scenes, crowds and bathing women absolutely shake with it. And not just light. They hum with sexuality, vibrate with tension, pulsate with melancholy and almost strobe with colour, colour, colour. 

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Soroya Marchelle, Royal Vauxhall Tavern (2018). Photo by Léa L'attentive. Image courtesy of Léa L'attentive
Art

Queer Spaces: London, 1980s – Today

icon-location-pin Whitechapel Gallery, Whitechapel
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Like half-forgotten crushes, some lost spaces might be sweeter to remember than they ever were at the time. Whitechapel Gallery’s glance into the spaces where London’s queer communities flirted and campaigned serves up heavy doses of nostalgia. 

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Copyright joan cornella, courtesy Public Gallery
Art

Joan Cornellá: I'm Good Thanks

icon-location-pin PUBLIC Gallery, Shacklewell
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In a world of mindful affirmations and positive reinforcement, Spanish artist Joan Cornellá is the negative kick in the shins we deserve, and probably need. This little show finds him flexing his art muscles, rather than the cartoon strips he’s known for, with a series of drawings, paintings and a ridiculous sculpture. 

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Copyright Ed Fornieles, courtesy Carlos Ishikawa
Art, Contemporary art

Ed Fornieles: Cel

icon-location-pin Carlos/Ishikawa, Stepney
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Sex sells, but a lack of sex can kill. There are currently four mass murders attributed to ‘incels’, or ‘involuntary celibates’, an online subculture of virulently angry men whose inability to find girlfriends fills their lives with hateful resentment of women. It’s shocking, terrifying, depressing. And it’s the inspiration for English artist Ed Fornieles’ latest work. 

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Borders Inclusivity_Farshid Moussavi and Zineb Sedira
Art, Contemporary art

Is This Tomorrow?

icon-location-pin Whitechapel Gallery, Whitechapel
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Back in the 1950s, the Whitechapel put on a collaborative artists-and-architects exhibition called ‘This Is Tomorrow’. It introduced the world to the very first inklings of pop art and brought names like Eduardo Paolozzi, Richard Hamilton and Alison and Peter Smithson smack dab into the public eye. It was seriously groundbreaking, and genuinely seminal. So much so that the Whitechapel has now decided to see, almost 70 years later, if it can repeat the trick.

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Hito Steyerl Installation view. Design by Ayham Ghraowi, Developed by Ivaylo Getov Courtesy of the Artist, Andrew Kreps Gallery (New York) and Esther Schipper Gallery (Berlin) Photograph: © 2019 readsreads.info
Art

Hito Steyerl: Power Plants

icon-location-pin Serpentine Gallery, Knightsbridge
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Art can be a weapon. And what at first seems like some unintelligibly complicated and dense neutron bomb in this exhibition by German artist Hito Steyerl eventually reveals itself to be as powerfully direct and brutally effective as a club to the head. 

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Emma Kunz 'Work No. 013' © Emma Kunz Zentrum
Art

Emma Kunz: Visionary Drawings

icon-location-pin Serpentine Gallery, Knightsbridge
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Emma Kunz was a visionary of the old-fashioned kind. Not a ‘visionary’ in the way we now bandy around the term to mean an artist who’s particularly good at being an artist, but a visionary whose brain filtered, systematised and comprehended the world in a fundamentally different way to those around her. 

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© RMN
Art

Van Gogh and Britain

icon-location-pin Tate Britain, Westminster
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This show is great if you want to see a bunch of artists rip off Vincent Van Gogh. If you’re hoping to be immersed in Vince’s swirling night visions or undulating sunflowers and landscapes, you’ll get a bit of it, but only a nibble. The main gist of the show is to look at the British artists that influenced young Vinnie, and the British artists who in turn took inspiration from him. 

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Photo: Tate (Matt Greenwood)
Art

Mike Nelson: The Asset Strippers

icon-location-pin Tate Britain, Westminster
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Tate Britain is filled with the corpses of British industry, the long dead, rotting remains of this country itself. Strewn across the massive central Duveen Galleries are chunks of enormous abandoned machinery: presses, clamps, welders, cutters. Some have been left untouched, others have been piled on top of each other. 

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© Don McCullin
Art

Don McCullin

icon-location-pin Tate Britain, Westminster
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Heads up: this is a difficult show. Over his career, Don McCullin has photographed things most people don’t want to think about, never mind see. Bloody, foul, repellent conflicts in The Congo, Cyprus, Cambodia, Nigeria, Northern Ireland, Vietnam and Beirut. Many of his images are iconic: his ‘Shell-shocked US Marine, Battle of Hué’ (1968) is a defining image of twentieth-century warfare, not just of Vietnam.

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