sat 20/04/2019

Visual Arts Reviews

Sellars and Viola's Tristan und Isolde, Royal Festival Hall

Igor Toronyi-Lalic

People always overlook how much of a hippie Richard Wagner was intellectually. His philosophical stance differs little from that of Neil from The Young Ones. It's a side of Wagner you can't get away from in Tristan und Isolde, with its endless railing against temporal realities and its search for universal oneness - yeah man, oneness.

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Diaghilev and the Golden Age of the Ballets Russes, 1909-1929, V&A

Judith Flanders

Museum shows don’t often evoke a sense of smell, but without even trying, this Ballets Russes exhibition has visitors’ nostrils flared. The show is – intentionally – a feast for the eye, and even for the ear, with ballet scores (sometimes rudely overlapping) playing in every room. But smell?

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The Body in Women’s Art Now: Flux, Rollo Contemporary Art

Sarah Kent 'Squiggles of paint energising the canvas seem to embody her sexual excitement': Cecily Brown's 'New Louboutin Pumps'

Flux, the second in a trio of exhibitions devoted to images of women by women, immediately grabs your attention with an in-your-face animation by Swedish artist Natalie Djurberg. Clay figures enact grotesque stories that have a nasty, fairytale edge. A naked mother plays with her five children until, one after another, the youngsters climb into her vagina and disappear.

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Jimi Hendrix, Snap Gallery/Handel House Museum

sue Steward

A soundtrack of "Purple Haze", "Hey Joe" and other eternal Jimi Hendrix hits, is currently drifting out of the Snap Gallery along the swanky Piccadilly Arcade in Mayfair. A boutique exhibition space, Snap sits incongruously amongst purveyors of "fine" jewellery and gentlemans’ tailoring and its front windows are transforming the chi-chi mall with Gered Mankowitz’s photographs of the Sixties guitar genius, Hendrix.

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Rachel Whiteread: Drawings, Tate Britain & Gagosian Gallery

Judith Flanders

Rachel Whiteread is best known for her exploration of space, of presence and absence, of how we look at what is present – and absent – in the textures of our lives. House, her life-sized cast of a house in a derelict street in East London, first brought her to fame, and more recently Untitled (Plinth), her mockingly affectionate take on the empty plinth in Trafalgar Square, a resin-cast replica of the plinth itself, literally shaped a new viewpoint of that absence in the...

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Edward Weston, Chris Beetles Gallery

sue Steward Edward Weston's 'Golden Circle Mine, Death Valley', 1938

Edward Weston was once obsessed with photographing "toilets" (his word) and did it repeatedly in pursuit of the perfect image. "That gloss enamelled receptacle of extraordinary beauty" is how he described the scuzzy lav at the Gold Circle Mine in Death Valley, and seemingly near-orgasmic with excitement, said it was "an absolute, aesthetic response to form". That statement wasn’t about toilets alone, of course; this legend of American photography was, understandably, a perfectionist in...

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Eadweard Muybridge, Tate Britain

sue Steward

Multiple images of silhouetted horses cantering against blank backgrounds in grids of movement are what most people associate with Eadward Muybridge. Made in the late 1880s, they have contributed to his lasting reputation as a pioneer of photography and the moving image. So it is astonishing to discover through Tate Britain’s magnificent exhibition of his life’s work, that horses were only part of a story packed with surprises.

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Darren Almond: The Principle of Moments, White Cube Mason's Yard

Sarah Kent Norilsk: 'The most northerly city in the world and an Arctic wasteland where snow storms rage 130 days of the year'

Darren Almond’s ongoing fascination with far-flung places where extreme weather conditions prevail provides the inspiration for his current show at White Cube. The Principle of Moments consists of over 10,000 tiny photographs cataloguing the ever-changing weather of the Faroe Islands and a three-screen installation of videos titled Anthropocene: The Prelude, filmed near the Siberian town of Norilsk, the most northerly city in the world.

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Raphael: Cartoons and Tapestries for the Sistine Chapel, Victoria & Albert Museum

Fisun Güner

To mark Pope Benedict’s controversial visit to Britain next week, the V&A have mounted an exhibition devoted to four of the 10 tapestries Raphael designed for the Sistine Chapel – the first time they’ve ever been seen in this country. Depicting the Acts of St Peter and St Paul, these bright, vivid works were made to hang on the lower walls of the Vatican’s principal chapel, below the older Michelangelo’s ceiling fresco

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Gregor Schneider: Fotografie und Skulptur, Sadie Coles HQ

Fisun Güner Gregor Schneider has an obsession with fetid interiors

Few artists can creep you out like Gregor Schneider. His work is scary and it’s absurd. But even as you giggle nervously when confronted with its less than subtle deployment of shock-horror tactics, a more profound disquiet creeps up on you. Schneider knows how to tap into our visceral fears.

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