sun 21/04/2019

Visual Arts Reviews

Alice Neel: Painted Truths, Whitechapel Gallery

Fisun Güner

What a troubled life Alice Neel led.

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Close Examination: Fakes, Mistakes and Discoveries, National Gallery

Judith Flanders 'Dead Soldier' by an unknown 17th century artist was once thought to be a Velázquez

When is a fake a forgery? When is it a mistake? And when is it simply not what it appears? The National Gallery’s second summer exhibition to focus on its own collection here examines the questions of attribution, using the latest scientific resources to back up – or contradict – tradition, connoisseurship and curatorial decisions, good and bad. The gallery is putting its own mistakes on show, and over the 170-plus years of its existence, there have been more than a few.

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BP Portrait Award 2010, National Portrait Gallery

Fisun Güner 'Lila Pearl' by Thea Penna: 'a disarming and entirely empathetic portrait'

Last month, the National Portrait Gallery unveiled a huge, new portrait of Anna Wintour. Painted by Alex Katz, the celebrated New York Pop portraitist, American Vogue’s scary editor-in-chief is shown with famous helmet bob intact, but minus her trademark dark glasses. The picture depicts Wintour, whose icy blue stare could run a chill through you (she's known as Nuclear Wintour), against a sunny yellow backdrop –  which looks like an attempt to raise the temperature of that...

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Sally Mann: The Family and the Land, Photographers' Gallery

Sarah Kent 'At Warm Springs' from Mann's controversial series Immediate Family

Last week I watched a tiny tot being photographed by her father, on a beach in southern Turkey. There was no girlish giggling or splashing about in the sea; rather than a show of carefree happiness, she delivered a studied pose. She assumed an expression of supreme indifference and, with hand on hip and weight on one leg, twisted her body into a seductive coil. The four-year-old was imitating a supermodel! I didn’t see the pictures, of course, but I would still classify this kind of premature...

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Wolfgang Tillmans, Serpentine Gallery

Judith Flanders

It takes a lot of work to make a show look as unconsidered and chaotic as this one: thought and care and time and attention all have to be paid before something so random can be achieved. But as so often with Tillmans, the nagging questions persist: is randomness, are the offhand and the casual, valid as ends in themselves? Because Tillman’s über-hip affectless cool has become very tiresome indeed. Even worse, it’s becoming predictable and dull.

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Imagine: Art is Child's Play, BBC One

Fisun Güner

It took Picasso four years to learn to paint like Raphael, but it took him a lifetime to paint like a child, or so he said. For Brancusi it wasn‘t a case of relearning childhood, but of being careful not to lose it in the first place. “When we are no longer children we are already dead,” he said.

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Francis Alÿs: A Story of Deception, Tate Modern

Judith Flanders

In 1994, Francis Alÿs joined the regular hiring-line in the central square in Mexico City. Standing next to plumbers and carpenters with their hand-lettered signs touting their skills, his sign read "Turista", as he offered his ability to be an outsider looking in.

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Joseph Cornell & Karen Kilimnik, Sprüth Magers London

Fisun Güner

The gallery has been turned into a little girl’s dressing-up closet. The walls are painted midnight blue and dusted with glitter. Ballet shoes, made for small feet, and a discarded tutu are to be found in a decorous pile on the floor. There are shiny trinkets and princessy things and pictures of ballerinas in bright, pastel shades.

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Ernesto Neto / The New Décor, The Hayward Gallery

Fisun Güner Take a dip in Ernesto Neto's pool on the terrace of the Hayward Gallery

The Hayward has been closed for the past six months for "housekeeping": those boring cleaning and repair jobs we all do. It's entirely suitable, therefore, that the two exhibitions that reopen the gallery showcase ideas of how we live both physically and emotionally. Ernesto Neto has become one of Brazil’s most successful exports, a powerhouse of an artist whose minimalist biomorphic shapes, created from stretchy, opaque nylon in sharply acid colours, alternately mould, mask, shade...

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The Surreal House, Barbican Art Gallery

Judith Flanders

Surrealism, it occurred to me while looking round this fine exhibition, is like pornography: it is hard to define, but everyone knows it when they see it.

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