wed 08/04/2020

Visual arts

10 Questions for Irina Nalis

Normally we'd put a descriptor - "cellist", "film maker", "techno producer" for example - in the title of this interview, but for Irina Nalis there isn't space. Like, "10 Questions for psychologist, ministerial adviser, festival founder,...

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Léon Spilliaert, Royal Academy review - a maudlin exploration of solitude

What a spooky exhibition! Léon Spilliaert suffered from crippling insomnia and often spent the nocturnal hours in the conservatory of his parents’ house in Ostend drawing his haggard features (pictured below right: Self-portrait, 1907). His shock of...

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Among the Trees, Hayward Gallery review - a mixture of euphoria and dismay

Paradise, according to German artist Thomas Struth, is to be found in the tropical rain forests of Yunnan Province, China. His gorgeous photograph Paradise 11 is the first thing I saw on entering the Hayward Gallery and, immediately it had a...

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Nicolaes Maes: Dutch Master of the Golden Age, National Gallery review – beautifully observed vignettes

A young woman sits sewing (pictured below right: Young Woman Sewing,1655). She is totally immersed in her task, and our attention is similarly focused on her and every detail of her environment. The cool light pouring though the window illuminates...

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Bill Brandt/Henry Moore, The Hepworth Wakefield review - a matter of perception

Bill Brandt’s photographs and Henry Moore’s studies of people sheltering underground during the Blitz (September 1940 to May 1941) offer glimpses of a world that is, thankfully, lost to us. A year and a half after the end of the bombing...

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David Hockney: Drawing from Life, National Portrait Gallery review - an anatomy of love

For David Hockney, drawing is born out of familiarity: his portraits both express and fulfil the urge to know someone deeply and well. In his 60-year career, he has returned again and again to those closest to him, drawing them often enough that...

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Masculinities: Liberation through Photography, Barbican review – a must-see exhibition

The exhibition starts on the Barbican’s lift doors, which are emblazoned with photographs from the show. They include one of my all-time favourites: Herb Ritts’s Fred with Tyres 1984 (pictured below right), a fashion shoot of a young body builder...

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Steve McQueen, Tate Modern review – films that stick in the mind

The screen is filled with the head and shoulders of a man lying on his back; he could be dead in the morgue or lying on the analyst’s couch. He doesn’t move (it’s a still), but we hear his voice recounting the terrible story of the day he...

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Radical Figures: Painting in the New Millennium, Whitechapel review - ten distinctive voices

“From today, painting is dead.” These melodramatic words were uttered by French painter, Paul Delaroche on seeing a photograph for the first time. That was in 1840 and, since then, painting has been declared dead many times over, yet it refuses to...

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Darren Waterston: Filthy Lucre, V&A review - a timely look at the value of art

It looks as if vandals have ransacked Whistler's Peacock Room. The famous interior was commissioned in the 1870s by shipping magnate, Frederick Richard Leyland to show off his collection of fine porcelain. The specially designed shelves have...

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Imran Perretta, Chisenhale Gallery review - a deeply affecting film

“I forgive you,” he said. “I forgive you… for the bombs.” Spoken by a young Muslim in measured tones that can’t hide his fear, these chilling words recall a random encounter with a stranger. Written and directed by Imran Perretta and based on...

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Picasso and Paper, Royal Academy review - the most versatile of materials

Even more than most, Picasso exhibitions need a focus: he was so prolific and diverse that the alternative is neither practical nor comprehensible. As topics go, Picasso’s works on paper, it turns out, is not nearly focused enough, and the Royal...

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