sat 30/05/2020

Visual Arts Reviews

Helen Schjerfbeck, Royal Academy review - watchful absences and disappearing people

Katherine Waters

Light creeps under the church door. Entering as a slice of burning white, it softens and blues into the stone interior, seeming to make the walls glow from the inside. Beneath the lintel, a milder slot of sun pours upwards. To the right, a plain column, only half in the composition, supports an arch which merges with the back wall, disappearing against its horizontal plane. The chapel is empty but its stillness feels peopled. Here, absence is watchful.

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Beuys' Acorns, Bloomberg Arcade London review – not much to look at, but important all the same

Sarah Kent

The City of London is an ecological disaster. Around Bank, Mansion House and Cannon Street there’s scarcely a green leaf to be seen. Glass, steel, concrete and tarmac create an environment that excludes plant life, birds and insects and is detrimental to human health.

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Yorkshire Sculpture International review - Hepworth and Moore loom large

Florence Hallett

Sculpture is as much a part of Yorkshire as cricket and a decent cup of tea, with the “sculpture triangle”, comprising four prestigious museums and galleries, feeling almost as well-established as the county’s famed rhubarb triangle.

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Olafur Eliasson: In Real Life, Tate Modern review – beautiful ideas badly installed

Sarah Kent

At their best, Olafur Eliasson’s installations change the way you see, think and feel. Who would have guessed, for instance, that Londoners would take off their togs to bask in the glow of an artificial sun at Tate Modern. That was in 2003, when The weather project transformed the Turbine Hall into an indoor park suffused with yellow light.

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Takis, Tate Modern review - science and art collide

Florence Hallett

Half organic, half high-tech, a bank of magnet-flowers sways not in response to a breeze, but to a magnetic field. Their uncannily naturalistic movements are coupled with a form that is blatantly functional: an unseen, elemental force masquerades as nature at its most benignly pastoral (Pictured below right: Magnetic Fields, l969).

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Les Rencontres d’Arles 2019 review - strength in tradition

Bill Knight

With 50 curated exhibitions spread across the town, there is much to see at Arles. In an effort to whittle it down I asked the man in the press office what was hot. "The weather," he replied deadpan.

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BP Portrait Award 2019, National Portrait Gallery review - a story for everyone

Marina Vaizey

Once a year, the National Portrait Gallery gives us a slice of immediate social history presented in an array of contemporary painted portraits of the young, the old, and the inbetween.

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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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