wed 26/06/2019

Visual Arts Reviews

Tove Jansson (1914-2001), Dulwich Picture Gallery review – more than Moominvalley

Rebecca Sykes

Born into an artistic Swedish-speaking household in Helsinki, Tove Jansson’s first, and most enduring, ambition was to be a painter. Although best known as the illustrator behind the creatures of Moominvalley, those plump white hippopotamus-like folk with an existential longing for adventure, Jansson came to regard her widely successful creations as a distraction from what she considered to be her “real work”.

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Soutine's Portraits, Courtauld Gallery review - a superb, unsettling show

Alison Cole

This is the latest in a line of beautifully curated, closely focused exhibitions that the Courtauld Gallery does so well. Its subject is the great Russian-French painter Chaim Soutine (1893-1943) who, remarkably, has not had a UK exhibition devoted to his work for 35 years.

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David Bomberg, Pallant House Gallery, Chichester review - a reputation restored

Katherine Waters

During his time at the Slade David Bomberg — the subject of a major new retrospective at Pallant House Gallery — was described as a "disturbing influence". The fifth son of Polish-Jewish parents who fled the pogroms, he grew up at the turn of the 20th century in the East End of London where neighbours lived on top of one another and space was scarce.

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Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, Tate Modern review – funny, moving and revelatory

Sarah Kent

The Kabakovs' exhibition made me thank my lucky stars I was not born in the Soviet Union. A recurring theme of their work is the desire to escape – from the hunger and poverty caused by incompetence and poor planning, and the doublethink required to survive under a regime that became ever more repressive the greater and more obvious its failings.

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Opera: Passion, Power and Politics, V&A review - seven cities, seven masterpieces

David Nice

There's something here for everyone, as a "roll up!" slogan for one of the greatest shows in town might put it.

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Young Reviewer of the Year Award Winner: Katherine Waters on Marc Quinn

Katherine Waters

The best way to see Marc Quinn’s exhibition at Sir John Soane's Museum is to begin at the end, in a room explaining the process of casting the sculptures’ moulds from the entwined bodies of him and his partner, dancer Jenny Bastet.

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Jasper Johns, Royal Academy review - a master of 50 shades

Marina Vaizey

The Royal Academy has a winning line in spectacular exhibitions that have become essentials in London, theatrically and dramatically revelatory presentations in themselves. Here is another winner, the American star Jasper Johns, a collaboration with the world’s newest gallery of contemporary art, the Broad in Los Angeles.

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Basquiat: Boom for Real, Barbican review - the myth explored

Sarah Kent

Beautiful, shy, charming and talented, Jean-Michel Basquiat was a shining star who streaked across the New York skyline for a few brief years in the early 1980s before a heroin overdose claimed his life at the age of only 27. 

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Drawn in Colour: Degas from the Burrell Collection review - guilty pleasures at the National Gallery

Florence Hallett

If only a modest fuss is being made about the rare and prestigious loan currently residing in Trafalgar Square, it could be that the National Gallery is keen to forget the role of its former director, Dr Nicholas Penny, in a row about art transportation that centred on the very collection to which these objects belong.

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Rachel Whiteread, Tate Britain review – exceptional beauty

Sarah Kent

The gallery walls of Tate Britain have been taken down so turning a warren of interlinking rooms into a large, uncluttered space in which Rachel Whiteread’s sculptures are arranged as a single installation. What a challenge! And curators Ann Gallagher and Linsey Young are to be congratulated for pulling off this difficult feat so seamlessly. 

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