sat 30/05/2020

Visual Arts Reviews

Journey Through the Afterlife: Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead, British Museum

Fisun Güner The sweet hereafter: Mummy of Katebet c 1300-1275 BC

Those ancient Egyptians, they loved life! So much so that they even conceived of an afterlife that differed hardly at all from the one on Earth, only better: they didn’t get sick and they carried on just as before, to eternity – which might sound like a bore to some, but given that the average life expectancy for an ancient Egyptian - even a very rich one - was 35, a certain reluctance to leave the earthly realm was understandable.

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Leon Kossoff, New Works, Annely Juda Fine Art

Judith Flanders Kossoff: 'Christ Church, Spitalfields', 1999-2000

It is one of the enduring mysteries of Leon Kossoff’s art. How does someone who uses such thick, impastoed paint and such muddy, earth-toned colours make his work so light, so delicate, so filled with grace? The more you look, the more mysterious is becomes.

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Cézanne's Card Players, Courtauld Gallery

Fisun Güner

Give me a small side order of Cézannes over a great feast of Gauguins any day.

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Pioneering Painters: The Glasgow Boys 1880-1900, Royal Academy

Mark Hudson James Guthrie, 'A Hind's Daughter', 1883

If you'd been a painter at the time of Impressionism, what would you have done? Rushed to Paris to become a disciple of Manet or Monet? Taken the Symbolist route with Odilon Redon or headed to Brittany to whoop it up with Gauguin and co? No, the chances are you'd probably have got it wrong and, like the so-called Glasgow Boys, hitched your talents to a now virtually forgotten figure like Jules Bastien-Lepage. Jules who? Exactly.

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Thomas Lawrence: Regency Power and Brilliance, National Portrait Gallery

Sarah Kent

Thomas Lawrence was a child prodigy; from the age of 11 he supported his family by making pastel drawings of the fashionable elite who spent the season in Bath. The next step for an aspiring young artist was to learn how to paint in oils and Lawrence taught himself by doing self-portraits. He learned fast. The first painting in this exhibition of sumptuous portraits shows a diffident 19-year-old sitting sideways and glancing nervously towards us, as though fearful that his efforts will be...

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Carlos

Adam Sweeting

The full-length version of Olivier Assayas's saga of Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, alias Venezuelan super-terrorist Carlos, was originally a three-part series for French TV and runs to five-and-a-half hours. Even the "short" cinema cut runs to two-and-a-half hours. Yet the director still felt it necessary to preface his opus with the warning that since many of Carlos's activities remained "grey areas" shrouded in mystery and ambiguity, it would be best to regard the film as fiction.

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The Genius of British Art, Howard Jacobson, Channel 4

Fisun Güner

Howard Jacobson, fresh from his Booker Prize triumph, was on an admirable mission last night: to rescue the good name of the Victorians. He wanted us to stop caricaturing our 19th-century forebears as prudish, self-righteous, pompous and hypocritical - you know, the sort of people who were so repressed that they went about covering piano legs in case thoughts should turn to the sensual curve of a lady’s well-turned ankle, but who were also notorious for sexual peccadillos involving underage...

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Venice: Canaletto and His Rivals, National Gallery

Mark Hudson

People love Canaletto, and the title of this exhibition - which puts the setting of the paintings above the artist who did them - gives a good idea why. Venice as a place and an idea is perennially popular, and Canaletto gives us the big views – the Doge’s Palace, the Grand Canal, the Rialto – in painstakingly literal detail.

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Film: Over Your Cities Grass Will Grow

Igor Toronyi-Lalic Anselm Kiefer's sculpture 'Over Your Cities Grass Will Grow': 'We see him swing huge giant concrete huts around by crane, flinging them on top of one another like they were toys'

Action-movie season ain't over quite yet, folks. Sure. OK. Over Your Cities Grass Will Grow isn't exactly your conventional salute to Armageddon. No guns, no baddies, no hot babes, no long-haired hunks. The pace is slow. The dialogue's pretty non-existent - and mostly European. The setting is pastoral. The soundtrack is...

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Shadow Catchers: Camera-less Photography, Victoria & Albert Museum

Fisun Güner Adam Fuss, with 'Invocation', above, is among the five photographers who have returned to the pioneering age of camera-less photography

Camera-less photography isn’t, as some might think, a 20th-century invention, discovered by experimental Modernists such as Moholy-Nagy and Man Ray. Thomas Wedgwood, before the invention of the camera and at the very beginning of the 19th century, made paintings on glass and placed these in contact with pieces of paper and leather which had been rendered light sensitive with chemical treatments. Where the painted areas blocked the light, the image left its trace. Unfortunately, since...

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