tue 20/08/2019

Visual Arts Reviews

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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Tacita Dean: Craneway Event, Frith Street Gallery

Sarah Kent 'Against the light, the dancers appear like marionettes framed within grids of glass and steel'

Silhouetted against the sparkling waters of San Francisco Bay, a pelican surveys the scene from a quayside bollard, then takes flight. The beautiful opening shot of Tacita Dean’s Craneway Event establishes a mood of elegiac tranquility. We are at Ford Point, on the east shore of the bay, in a magnificent building – a Ford factory that made military vehicles in World War Two, but closed down in 1955. Floor to ceiling windows afford breathtaking views across the water and allow...

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David Nash, Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Fisun Güner 'Black Ball' looks like an alien space-ship entirely at home in Yorkshire

Wood is a mysterious substance. We do not make it, it makes itself. It is useful to us, alive and dead. Without it, our history would not be the same. But it is so ever-present, so much a part of that history, that we rarely see the wood for the trees. David Nash has seen both the wood and the trees for years. To him, wood is life.

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Exposed: Voyeurism, Surveillance and the Camera, Tate Modern

sue Steward From Nan Goldin's series 'The Ballad of Sexual Dependency': definitions start dissolving because of her presence as voyeur and participant

In the week that Sarah Ferguson was caught on a secret camera receiving a stash of $40,000 from News of the World journalists, Tate Modern launched this ambitious and excitingly diverse photography exhibition. Had the meeting been earlier, the incriminating images would have been perfect for the show. Instead, the Royal Family is spied on in Alison Jackson’s unusually generous parody, The Queen Plays with her Corgis.

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Picasso Special - Picasso: Peace and Freedom, Tate Liverpool

Fisun Güner

Picasso the genius, the sensualist, the womaniser, the priapic beast. This much we think we know of the great Spanish artist. But how about Picasso the political activist? Picasso the supporter of women’s causes? Picasso the… feminist? Oh, yes, that Picasso. In a landmark Liverpool exhibition focusing on the years 1944 to his death in 1973, and bringing together 150 works from around the globe, Picasso becomes all of these things.

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Bridget Riley: From Life, National Portrait Gallery

Fisun Güner Bridget Riley: 'Boy with curly hair', early 1950s (red conté crayon on paper)

Forget about art “being about the idea” for a moment. Drawing from life is still considered by many to be the litmus test for proper artistic skill, or at least the foundation from which great art can arise. And so the enquiry, “But can he really draw?” is still one contemporary artists are confronted with by those not shy of asking what they consider an obvious question. And it...

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The Genius of Design: Designs for Living, BBC Two

Fisun Güner Are you sitting comfortably? A Bauhaus Marcel Breuer chair

Does form always have to follow function? Is ornamentation really such a heinous crime? Or is Modernism itself the enemy of the people? The second part of this excellent five-part series – fab archive footage, great interviews with designers young enough to no longer be beholden to the Modernist creed – focused on the founding of the Bauhaus and the Modernist aesthetic. And after juggling a lot of questions, it gently guided us towards more or less the same position as Tom Wolfe’s From...

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The Printed Image in China, British Museum

Fisun Güner

The British Museum’s current exhibition of 15th-century works on paper, Fra Angelico to Leonardo: Italian Renaissance Drawings, explores the increasing importance of the preparatory sketch in the development of western art. Central to that development was the availability of cheaply produced paper.

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LUX-ICO Artists Cinema Commissions

Josh Spero A still from 'Tomorrow Everything Will Be Alright' by Akram Zaatari

In my parents’ day, apparently, one just turned up at the cinema whenever one felt like it, even if that meant the first thing you heard on entering the auditorium was Bogart signalling the start of a beautiful friendship. That doesn’t wash these days – the auteur put paid to that – and given the short films commissioned by ICO/LUX to run before the feature, we can only approve.

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