It takes balls to call your show ‘history of painting’, but Kerry James Marshall has some serious cojones. It’s not what it first appears, though. This isn’t really an entire history of paintings, from the caves to the galleries. That would be stupid. Instead, this is a micro-narrative about the place of black bodies and black artists in art history.
You can’t escape the news. It’s on your phone, your TV; it’s 24 hours, it’s non-stop. It’s even in your bloody abstract art. The works here in Ethiopian-American artist Julie Mehretu’s new show, all totally abstract, are inspired by news events: the Californian wildfires, attempted Catalonian independence, white supremacy rallies. The result is a series of vicious, angry, emotive paintings that express a huge amount of pain without having to say much at all.
'Gush' by Hannah Perry is, quite rightly, an outpouring. Of grief, of love, of disbelief and uncertainty. It’s a torrent of emotion given semi-solid shape, a lump of wibbly-wobbly heart-felt jelly on a plate. Staged in a few artfully distressed rooms (paint peeling just-so) at Somerset House, the exhibition is made up of four artworks: a multi-channel video piece, a painting and a screen print on aluminium, and a large sculptural installation.
Usually when you say an art show is ‘challenging’, you mean it’s got a stuff in it you don’t want to look at. And, yeah, ‘Mantegna and Bellini’ contains scenes of torture, execution, religious fanaticism, totalitarian regimes, disturbing hybrid animals and child nudity. That’s the Bible for you. But this survey of the work and relationship of two giants of the Italian Renaissance is challenging in another way.
Deep in the bowels of an abandoned brutalist office block on the Strand, a pair of Arab men are dancing in a bank vault, a nude silver-skinned woman is prancing around some sculptures, some bloke is stroking a fish as it slowly dies and a glittery android is singing on a stage. Nah, it’s not London’s newest and most terrifyingly awful sex club, it’s a show of video art curated by New York’s New Museum.
It’s staggering that after all these years the Turner Prize can still induce such apoplectic, tumescent, viscous rage in the general public and red-top media. It’s a contemporary art prize you absolute weenies, why is it shocking to you that it’s not just a room full of copies of ‘The Hay Wain’?
Oceania is vast. Hundreds of islands spread out across thousands of square miles of ocean, each filled with countless cultures that lap and overlap. Trying to sum up the whole artistic production of a single culture, let alone multiple, is a stupid, insurmountable task. But here we are, doing just that at the Royal Academy.
If you believe in the ability of dogs to guard a premises, then Marian Goodman Gallery is currently the best-protected arts venue in London. Or at least it would be if the endless alsatians assuming positions throughout both floors of the space weren’t made from porcelain.
Short of Banksy reinterpreting ‘Guernica’ accompanied by bottomless prosecco, it’s hard to think of a more solid banker of a show than this. The Courtauld Gallery is being refurbed for two years, but the decorators have hardly had time to stick the radio on, than its greatest impressionist hits are back on display, with support from iconic works from the National Gallery.
What you see is what you get with Renzo Piano. Literally. His buildings are all about guts-on-the-outside, glass-for-days clarity. And the Italian architect is a behemoth of his art form. From the eviscerated shock and awe of the Centre Pompidou to the shimmering, looming blade of The Shard, Piano’s buildings have a habit of defining a city.
Life is hard, work is exhausting and love is confusing. It’s the same for all of us. If you’re looking for art as some sort of escape from the ceaseless neurotic mundanities of your terrible life, Martine Syms’s new show isn’t it. But if you’re ok with an artist perfectly and neatly reflecting all of that business, then boy are you in for a treat.
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.
HIs every crotch grab sent jolts of ecstasy across the globe, his every spasmodic hip thrust left the world reeling. That’s an inhuman level of power for one human to have. It ended up being too much for Michael Jackson, and maybe too much for the rest of us too, which may explain how the National Portrait Gallery can put together a whole show of art inspired by MJ and without it being mega-cheesy or ultra-dull.
‘The Oscar Wilde Temple’ by McDermott & McGough is one of those artworks that’s difficult to ‘review’. Not because it isn’t beautiful, wonderfully detailed, clever in its use of art history or politically poignant. It is all of those things. But because this entirely immersive installation isn’t really intended to just be art.
Despite its name, modernism sure had some old school failings. When Anni Albers got through her first year at experimental German art school the Bauhaus in 1923, she was kept away from disciplines like painting and sculpture and was shoved roughly towards something more suitable for a woman: weaving. But Albers took her shitty stick and ran with it.
Flayed skin and dislocated shoulders are two recurring themes of Jusepe de Ribera’s art. The first, normally inflicted on Christian saints as part of their martyrdoms, and the second, the result of a foul seventeenth-century torture device known as the ‘strappado’.
If I had a penny for every time I heard about the importance of light in art I’d have a shitload of pennies. From Caravaggio’s dramatic chiaroscuro to Turner’s swirling dusky seascapes and Monet’s shimmering waterlilies, light has been a necessary obsession in art for centuries. This show of art that teases and toys with light and space is an eye-bending journey into the brightest recesses of minimalism.
CGP’s Marcia Farquhar exhibition isn’t difficult to love, but it is difficult to define. Staged across the gallery’s two Southwark Park spaces, it’s basically a retrospective of a career spent creating indefinable pieces of performance art, installations and sculptures, lots of which wouldn't normally be in a gallery space.
Argentinian artist Mika Rottenberg knows all about stuff, capitalism, consumerism and all that business. Her show here at the brand new Goldsmiths Centre for Contemporary Art is rammed full of videos and installations that needle, twist and poke at economics, consumerism and commodities.
At this point, no one really needs another Yayoi Kusama review. Her art is so distinctive, so clearly defined, so ubiquitous and so over-written about that no one really has anything to add that’s going to change your mind. She’s the world’s biggest art superstar. If you like her pumpkins and mirrors shtick, you’re going to like this show. If you don’t, you won’t. Easy.
The Whitechapel Gallery is being turned into a luxury hotel. Sorry about that. Its galleries will be turned into suites for the moneyed hipster elite to huff designer drugs in, and its pool will become an opulent spa. You probably didn’t know the Whitechapel had a pool, but it does.
There’s crap everywhere in this show. There’s a bin full of plastic tubing and a cricket bat, a stepladder, metal shelves covered with popcorn, teacups and trainers, watermelons on the floor, big bottles of fizzy drink, a paddling pool. Just a bunch of junk hastily and messily laid out. Feeling dismissive is a legit reaction – until it dawns on you what this all means.
Like an expert butcher, Swiss artist Heidi Bucher (who died in 1993) was a master of flaying skin. But it wasn’t animals that she peeled with intricate precision, it was whole lives.
The Serpentine Gallery stinks. There’s something in the air, some intensely chemical stench, half way between bleach and rotting meat. Flies buzz around or lie dead on the ground, the paint on the walls has been sanded back, the floor is caked in dust. Dotted throughout the space, screens spin through ceaselessly strobing and mutating images that your eyes just can’t grasp.