sat 21/09/2019

Visual Arts Reviews

Never Look Away review - the healing potential of art

mark Kidel

Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, who made his reputation as a leading German film-maker with The Lives of Others (2006), told the New Yorker that his latest film sprang out of a desire to explore the relationship between making art and healing.

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Félix Vallotton: Painter of Disquiet, Royal Academy review – strange and intriguing

Sarah Kent

Félix Vallotton is best known for his satirical woodcuts, printed in the radical newspapers and journals of turn-of-the-century Paris. He earned a steady income, for instance, as chief illustrator for La Revue blanche, which carried articles and reviews by leading lights such as Marcel Proust, Alfred Jarry and Erik Satie. You can see the influence of Japanese prints in the flattened spaces, simplified shapes and unusual viewpoints that give a comic slant to scenes of Parisian life.

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Cutting Edge: Modernist British Printmaking, Dulwich Picture Gallery review - a cut above

Katherine Waters

Under a turbulent sky racked with jagged clouds suggesting bolts of lightning, pale figures hurl themselves into a spitting expanse of water. Swathed in white towels, other figures mingle with the pink bodies, seeming to process along the pier as if towards a baptism. Swimmers’ vigorous arms overtop their submerged heads; on land, no individual face is distinguished. As if exuberance could tip at any time into anarchy, a sense of threat pervades the depiction of communal leisure.

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Francis Bacon: Couplings, Gagosian Gallery review - sex and power in double figures

Florence Hallett

Forthright and often disturbing, Francis Bacon’s “male couplings” are also ambiguous, and it is this disjunction that gives them their power.

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Kiss My Genders, Hayward Gallery review – a shambles

Sarah Kent

Kiss My Genders may not claim to be a survey, yet it seems perverse to mount an exhibition of work by LGBTQ artists who address issues of gender identity without including some of the best known names.

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Edouard Vuillard: The Poetry of the Everyday, Holburne Museum, Bath review - dizzying pattern and colour

Marina Vaizey

A beguiling collection of small paintings by Édouard Vuillard (1868-1940) forms an exhibition from his early career. It is a vanished world of domesticity in a Parisian flat, where Vuillard lived with his mother, a seamstress, for almost all his life. In his fifties, he told a friend that his mother was his muse.

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Frank Bowling, Tate Britain review - a marvel

Katherine Waters

In a photograph taken in 1962, Frank Bowling leans against a fireplace in his studio. His right hand rests on the mantlepiece which bears books, fixative and spirit bottles, his left rests out of sight on the small of his back. His attire is somewhat formal but decidedly casual — trousers loose enough to bend in, a striped jumper with the sleeves rolled up, workman-like, and a shirt which looks like it has several top buttons undone.

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Natalia Goncharova, Tate Modern review - a prodigious talent

Sarah Kent

The times they are a-changin’. On show at the Barbican is a retrospective of Lee Krasner’s stunning paintings and, for the first time ever, Tate Modern is hosting two major shows of women artists. At last, the achievements of great women are being acknowledged and celebrated.

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Lee Krasner: Living Colour, Barbican review - jaw-droppingly good

Sarah Kent

If you know of any chauvinists who dare to maintain that women can’t paint, take them to this astounding retrospective. Lee Krasner faced patronising dismissal at practically every turn in her career yet she persisted and went on to produce some of the most magnificent paintings of the late 20th century.

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Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawing, The Queen's Gallery review - peerless drawings, rarely seen

Florence Hallett

It is a commonplace to describe Leonardo as an enigma whose genius, and perhaps even something of his character, is revealed through his works. But as his works survive only in incomplete and fragmented form, it is drawing, the practice common to all his various endeavours, that brings coherence and perhaps even a comprehensive view of a lifetime’s labours.

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