sat 23/01/2021

Visual Arts Features

theartsdesk in Tbilisi: The Dilemma over Georgian Architecture

Peter Nasmyth Old Tbilisi: Gudiashvili Square, the balcony of 'Lermontov's House'

In Tbilisi, Georgia, artists and art historians are calling for the Government to stop destroying their classic Old Town with its winding streets and wooden balconies. New organisations have been formed, exhibitions held to publicise this creeping eradication of history. Now another grand, once-protected building, the former Institute of Marxism and Leninism, has appeared in the cross-hairs.

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theartsdesk in Kuala Lumpur: Culture as a Weapon

Terry Friel

As hot, sweaty tourists dangle their feet in pools for Thai Nibble Fish to eat the dead skin from their feet at Kuala Lumpur’s quirky Art Deco Central Market, a small theatre upstairs is packed for a play about racial divisions and the myth of social unity here.

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theartsdesk in Folkestone: Art Echoes by the Seaside

Sarah Kent

The locals are understandably proud of Folkestone; Everywhere Means Something to Someone is an idiosyncratic guidebook offering an insider’s view of the town that bears witness to the depth of people’s attachment to it. Put together for the Folkestone Triennial by the artists’ collective Strange Cargo, this compendium of facts, memories and musings makes for compulsive reading.

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theartsdesk in Hong Kong: Between the Devil and the Deep Weiwei

Josh Spero Ai Weiwei dropping a Han Dynasty urn (1995)

When people talk incessantly of freedom of speech, it means they are proud to have it or desperate to have it or desperate to defend it, or a mixture of all three. In Hong Kong, where I went at the end of May for the fourth edition of ART HK, people in the art world are constantly mentioning how free their speech is or else using a symbol to prove it - Ai Weiwei, the artist now imprisoned by China for "economic crimes" (ie subversive art). By speaking of Ai and displaying his work, one...

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theartsdesk in Paris: Inside Anish Kapoor's Leviathan

mark Kidel

All aboard! 4000 visitors a day are queuing up for a voyage in the belly of a whale. Anish Kapoor’s Leviathan, a commission for the Monumenta series at the Paris Grand Palais, is a runaway success, one of those Zeitgeist-attuned mega-installations that double up as fairground attraction and religious experience.

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In the Beginning Was the Word: The King James Bible 400th

theartsdesk

The King James Bible, that great monument in the biography of the English language, is 400 years old this year. To use its own wording, it is as old as the hills, as old as Methuselah. Contemporaneous with Shakespeare, it has given us as many of the richly colourful phrases by which we still live: a nest of vipers, a thorn in the flesh, a fly in the ointment, a lamb to the slaughter, the skin of your teeth, in the twinkling of an eye. And so on and on.

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theartsdesk in New York: Spruce Flats by Gehry

Markie Robson-Scott Affordable housing by Gehry: 'The best skyscrapers wear skins that express that fact with the strength and subtlety of great art'

“Do you realise we’re talking about a rental apartment building? It’s unheard of,” says a friend. We’re standing on a street corner discussing the new Frank Gehry building in lower Manhattan. Most new apartment buildings here are concrete and glass, flat and dull, every apartment the same white box, not worth a conversation (I’ve lived in two). Gehry’s building is different. New-York-by-Gehry, as it’s grandiosely monikered, is at 8 Spruce Street near the Brooklyn Bridge, bordering the...

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Why Artists Are Doing It In The Road: Special Report

facebike The Goldhawk Road crew at work late last night preparing the Goldhawk Road for road art

They are hardly the ideal conditions in which to create. Danger is a constant menace, and it comes in multiple guises. Industrial injury is the main threat, as is the risk of arrest. Other hazards include deafness, breathing polluted air and the looming shadow of public discontent. The tools and materials used in this form of installation - power drill, tarmac and steamroller - are expensive. And the work cannot be sold. But despite these powerful deterrents, there are clandestine...

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theartsdesk in Dublin: St Patrick's Day Festival 2011

alexandra Coghlan 'Brilliant', an optimistic parable on Irish national spirit: Dublin's St Patick's Day Parade 2011

“What’s the story?” It’s a question you’ll hear again and again in the streets and pubs of Dublin. You can tell a lot about a nation from their greeting; the traditional salutation of northern China, born of decades of famine and physical hardship, translates to “Have you eaten?”, and a psychologist could extrapolate much from our English fondness for impersonal, weather-related pleasantries. So it’s surely no coincidence then that Ireland, and Dublin in particular, should favour this...

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theartsdesk in Moscow: Isaac Levitan at the Tretyakov Gallery

Tom Birchenough

The Tretyakov Gallery is currently housing a landmark exhibition to mark the 150th anniversary of Isaac Levitan. His glorious “mood landscapes” catch the understated beauty of provincial Russia, with an often gloomy philosophical perspective behind them, as he considers man’s insignificant place in time and history. But the show reveals lesser-known sides to his work too, and reminds us again that his close friendship with Chekhov was a remarkable artistic-literary alliance.

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