sun 16/06/2019

Visual Arts Reviews

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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Rude Britannia: British Comic Art, Tate Britain

Fisun Güner

Satire, like roast beef, is what Brits are famous for and this exhibition takes us right back to its earliest days in graphic print. In the 1600s, Dutch allegorical prints were adapted by British printmakers to comment on contemporary issues and one of the first examples in this exhibition is a print that illustrates the purportedly cruel and barbarous treatment meted out by the Dutch to the English at the outset of the Anglo-Dutch war - so it’s hardly rib-tickling stuff.

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Antony Gormley: Test Sites, White Cube

Judith Flanders

Many people use that weaselly phrase about Antony Gormley, saying he “divides the critics”. For the most part this is not true: for the most part the critics loathe Gormley’s work. They suggest he is either a bad figurative sculptor masquerading as a conceptual artist, or a bad conceptual artist masquerading as a figurative sculptor. This is really just a whinge that he doesn’t fit in a box, but so what?

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Newspeak: British Art Now, Saatchi Gallery

Fisun Güner 'Dad with Tits': Ged Quinn's oedipal twist on the famous portrait of George Washington

These days, it seems that approaching any new Saatchi exhibition, especially one that promises to be even bigger than all the previous ones held at the multi-galleried, three-storey Chelsea venue, makes the heart fairly sink. How much bigger, you want to ask, and why use size as a measure of anything?  Surely there isn’t enough headspace to accommodate all those loud, clamorous, “look-at-me” artworks favoured by Saatchi all in one go? And this is just Part One. Part Two will be...

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