wed 26/06/2019

Visual Arts Reviews

James Hamilton: Gainsborough - A Portrait review - an artistic life told with verve and enthusiasm

Marina Vaizey

James Hamilton’s wholly absorbing biography is very different from the usual kind of art historical study that often surrounds such a major figure as Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788).

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Matisse in the Studio, Royal Academy review - a fascinating compilation

Marina Vaizey

A 19th-century silver and wood pot in which to make chocolate, pertly graceful; 17th-century blue and white Delftware; a Chinese calligraphy panel; a 19th-century carved wooden god from the Ivory Coast; a bronze and gold earth goddess from South-East Asia. These are but a tiny sampling from the multitude of objects with which Matisse surrounded himself in his studio(s).

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Trajal Harrell: Hoochie Koochie, Barbican review - flamboyant and mesmerising

Sarah Kent

Two performers rush down the stairs and sweep through the audience, their designer outfits splaying out as they speed elegantly around the gallery and disappear as quickly as they came. Thus begins a series of performances that are an intriguing mix of flamboyant narcissism and minimalist restraint. 

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Rose Finn-Kelcey: Life, Belief and Beyond, Modern Art Oxford review - revelation and delight

Sarah Kent

Rose Finn-Kelcey was one of the most interesting and original artists of her generation. Yet when she died in 2014 at the age of 69, she could have disappeared from view if she not spent the last few years of her life assembling a monograph about her work.

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The Encounter, National Portrait Gallery review - dazzlingly evocative drawings

Florence Hallett

As a line flows or falters, registering each slight change in pressure, pause, or occasional reworking, it seems to offer a glimpse into the mind of the artist at work. The line is the instrument of the artist’s eye, the often unpolished, provisional nature of a drawing offering a spark and freshness that tends to gradually lessen as a composition is rethought and worked up in paint.

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theartsdesk in Antwerp: Richard Deacon says nothing

Mark Sheerin

Something like a parked zeppelin sits on three mirrored legs on a museum lawn in Belgium. It’s a cigar-shaped steel fabrication that, were it to float free of its three legs, could also pass for a UFO. But given the context - a sculpture park outside Antwerp - we can rest easy. Never Mind is a work of art by Richard Deacon.

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theartsdesk at Les Rencontres d'Arles: breadth and depth at the veteran photo festival

Bill Knight

Now in its 48th year the veteran photography festival is in better shape than ever. You can walk through the French sunshine to more than 20 exhibitions, hear a talk, meet the snappers and shop on the fringe.

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The Exhibition Road Quarter review, V&A - an intelligent and much needed expansion

Marina Vaizey

Oh those Victorians!  Hail Prince Albert whose far-sighted ambition led to Albertopolis, embracing museums, galleries, universities and the Royal Albert Hall.

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Sargent, Dulwich Picture Gallery review - wonders in watercolour

Marina Vaizey

This sparkling display of some four score watercolours from the first decade of the last century throw an unfamiliar light on the artistry of John Singer Sargent (1856-1925), the last great swagger portrait painter in the western tradition.

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Portraying a Nation, Tate Liverpool review – an inspired juxtaposition

Sarah Kent

Portraying a Nation juxtaposes photographs by August Sander with paintings by Otto Dix. It's an inspired idea as both artists wanted to hold up a mirror to German society during a time of extreme change.

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