thu 26/11/2020

Visual Arts Reviews

Michael Clark: Cosmic Dancer, Barbican Art Gallery review - mould-breaker, ground-shaker

Jenny Gilbert

It must be tough being Michael Clark, subject of one the largest retrospectives ever dedicated to a choreographer still living. Post-punk’s poster boy is that curious thing, a creative figurehead who defined a very particular anti-establishment strand in Britain’s recent history but who is virtually unknown to today’s under-40s. Michael who?

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Sin, National Gallery review - great subject, modest show

Sarah Kent

Sin, what a wonderful theme for a show – so wonderful, in fact, that it merits a major exhibition. The National Gallery’s modest gathering of 14 pictures, mainly from the collection, can’t possibly do it justice; yet it’s worth a visit if only to remind oneself of the disastrous concept of original sin that weaves guilt into our very DNA by arguing that we are conceived in sin.

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Bruce Nauman, Tate Modern review - the human condition writ large in neon

Sarah Kent

"The true artist helps the world by revealing mystic truths” reads the neon sign (pictured below right) welcoming you to Bruce Nauman’s Tate Modern retrospective. The message is tongue-in-cheek, of course. How on earth could an artist cope with such a ludicrously unrealistic expectation? 

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Artemisia, National Gallery review - worth the wait

Florence Hallett

It takes nerve to throw a shadow across the face of your heroine, still more to banish to the margins the severed head that might so easily dominate the painting’s centre ground. Instead, in imagining the aftermath of Judith’s beheading of Holofernes, Artemisia Gentileschi wrings out the excruciating tension of a moment, and concentrates it in a candle flame.

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Hold Still, National Portrait Gallery review - snapshots from lockdown

Marina Vaizey

A digital exhibition for digital times – and just right: as a reproductive medium, photographs can work brilliantly when reproduced again.

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My Rembrandt review - hard cash and hubris

Florence Hallett

In the gloomy splendour of Drumlanrig Castle in Dumfriesshire, the 10th Duke of Buccleuch gazes up at Rembrandt’s Old Woman Reading, 1655. The painting has belonged to the Scott family for more than 250 years, and like generations before him, the duke has known it all his life.

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George IV: Art & Spectacle, The Queen's Gallery review - all is aglitter

Marina Vaizey

Prince of Wales, Prince Regent, and finally King: George IV, (1762-1830) was an unpopular and greedy ruler, but his compulsive collecting and passion for redecorating have made a huge contribution to the arts of the nation, and form a significant part of the Royal Collection.

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Khadija Saye: In This Space We Breathe, 236 Westbourne Grove review - a celebrated series finds new resonance

Florence Hallett

Khadija Saye was 24 when she died in the Grenfell Tower fire of 2017, the same year that her series of photographic self-portraits showed in the Diaspora Pavilion at the Venice Biennale: she was the youngest artist in a roster of well-established figures such as Joy Gregory and Isaac Julien.

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The Golden Age of Modern Spanish Art, Colnaghi review - the sun shines in the City of Light

Florence Hallett

When Picasso left Barcelona for Paris in 1900, he took what by then was a well-trodden path for artists eager to be at the very centre of the art world.

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Visual Arts Lockdown Special 4: half-way houses

Katherine Waters

With the first round of galleries opening their doors in June and a new round getting ready to open in July, we’ve a half-way home of a roundup this week. This month’s re-openings include the National Gallery, the Royal Academy, the Barbican, the Whitechapel, the Ditchling Museum of Art and Craft, the Mosaic Rooms, the Estorick Collection, the Garden Museum and the Tates – Modern, Britain, Liverpool and St Ives.

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