sat 07/12/2019

Visual Arts Reviews

Bloomberg New Contemporaries, ICA

Sarah Kent Johann Arens ('Untitled', above) 'steals the show with a video installation'

As I wandered round this year’s New Contemporaries at the ICA, a few yards away in Trafalgar Square, thousands of students braved the cold for the third time to protest against the Government’s proposed spending cuts on education. How many art students joined the rally is impossible to tell, since most London art schools have been swallowed up by universities and lost their individual identities in the process. Whereas the high-profile sit-ins of 1968 were orchestrated by students...

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Peter Lanyon, Tate St Ives

Mark Hudson

A retrospective at Tate St Ives can be a poisoned chalice for the major artist. It postpones his or her prospect of a showing at Tate Britain by a couple of decades, and can appear to consign them to the comfort zone of "Cornish Art": the heritage Modernism of Barbara and Ben, Terry Frost, Patrick Heron et al, stuff we love (well, most of us) because it reminds us of being on holiday, but may feel, in our heart of hearts, to be more than a touch minor. On the positive side, Peter Lanyon...

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Carlos Zuniga, Edel Assanti Gallery

sue Steward 'Falkland Islands, Portrait 5' by Carlos Zuniga: Evoking memories of war

The thin line between Art and Craft gets slimmer as artists like Carlos Zuniga ignore the borders and delve into hands-on production processes. This Chilean photographer, architect and graphic designer works compulsively on large, imposing portraits and landscapes using intensely obsessive techniques.

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Philippe Parreno, Serpentine Gallery

Fisun Güner 'Invisibleboy', a 'docu-fantasy' about an illegal child immigrant conjuring up monsters in New York

Lovers of the beautiful game may already be familiar with the name Philippe Parreno, or at least with his best-known work. In 2006 he collaborated with artist Douglas Gordon (24-hour Psycho) on Zidane: A 21st-Century Portrait, a film that trained 17 cameras on the footballing genius for...

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Bridget Riley: Paintings and Related Work, National Gallery

Judith Flanders 'Red with Red 1' (2007) by Bridget Riley

Well, we all make mistakes. Or, in my case, we (I mean “I”) sometimes just fail to look. This new, small but perfectly formed exhibition of Bridget Riley’s work in the National Gallery’s Sunley Rooms follows the pattern that the gallery has developed over the years, with a single artist entering into a conversation with the great art of the past. Riley’s conversation is gripping, and one of the things it says (to me) is, “Shame on you for not looking.”

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Imagine: Ai Weiwei - Without Fear or Favour, BBC One

Josh Spero

If you found yourself thinking that you were watching Mission: Impossible rather than Imagine, you could have been forgiven. Alan Yentob had clearly been banned from meeting Ai Weiwei in China, and so one of their interviews was conducted over a webcam, with Yentob sitting in the dark, like some spymaster of the arts.

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High Society, Wellcome Collection

Fisun Güner Just say no? 'Morphinomane' by Eugene Grasset, 1897

It’s amazing what you might have found in your average bathroom cabinet 100 years ago. For those niggling aches and pains, what could be more effective than a bottle of Bayer’s Heroin Hydrochloride? Or how about a soothing spoonful of Sydenham’s Laudanum? If you’re simply in need of a quick pick-me-up, a sip or three of Hall’s Coca Wine – the “Elixir of Life” (basically liquid cocaine) - might put a jolly spring in your step. Oh, and don’t forget those cocaine eyedrops after a particularly...

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Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2010, National Portrait Gallery

sue Steward

The National Portrait Gallery was early in picking up on the momentum gathering around photography in 2003, and committed itself then to an annual prize for portraiture. Today it’s one of the most anticipated competition exhibitions in the UK, and always exciting, fascinating and memorable. For many of the 60 exhibited photographers, it is often life-changing. This year’s submission exceeded 6,000 entries, all physical prints as the gallery still fends off digital domination. Part of the fun...

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British Art Show 7, Nottingham Galleries

sue Steward 'NUD CYCLADIC 10' by Sarah Lucas: 'Typical Lucas representations of the human body, its sexual habits, functions - and ridiculousness'

Nottingham always had an eye for beauty. When I was growing up near there, the boast was that its women were the most beautiful in England. Today, it could and should be boasting about Caruso St John’s magnificent concrete landmark adorned with green and gold, the Nottingham Contemporary Gallery and the seventh British Art Show. The...

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Ego: The Strange and Wonderful World of Self-Portraits, BBC Four

Fisun Güner Laura Cumming presents 'an intelligent, probing and charming visual essay on a unique genre'

Albrecht Dürer painted himself as Jesus (pictured below). Luckily, he was blessed with the looks, the hair and the initials – echoing the geometry of his golden locks the A straddles the D in his inscribed paintings. And when this German messiah of painting died, his beguiling 1500 self-portrait – one of the most hypnotic ever painted in the history of Western art – was carried through the streets of Nuremburg, his birthplace: celebrated during his life, upon his death Dürer...

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