sun 18/08/2019

Visual Arts Reviews

Ron Arad: Restless, Barbican Gallery

Fisun Güner The Rover Chair: made its television debut on Top Gear

Like Philippe Starck, whose Alessi tripod lemon squeezer is a bit like an evil-looking Louise Bourgeois spider, Ron Arad emerged in the Eighties as something of a “rock‘n’roll” designer. It’s a label that’s stuck, as has its sexy variant “post-punk”.  The latter came about after his break-through Rover Chair (1981; main picture) found its first customer in Jean-Paul Gaultier.

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Ana Mendieta, Alison Jacques Gallery

Josh Spero Still from Untitled (Creek #2), San Felipe, Mexico 1974

Works of art are usually quite easily recognisable: they’re in a frame, or on a pedestal, or (if it’s a particularly expensive one) there’s a security guard nearby. You’ll probably be in an art gallery or a smart private house too. But what about when the art is in the land? And moreover, when that art is almost too subtle to be noticed?

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Paul Nash, The Elements, Dulwich Picture Gallery

howard Male

In the mid 1940s when the Queen Mother purchased Paul Nash’s Landscape of the Vernal Equinox (1943) Princess Margaret remembers saying, “Poor Mummy’s gone mad. Look what she’s brought back.” But though this painting is one of the undoubted masterpieces of 20th-century British art, it’s easy to see why the Princess responded as she did.

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Arshile Gorky: A Retrospective, Tate Modern

Fisun Güner

Arshile Gorky found it almost impossible to finish a painting. Something would always call him back. So he would go back and would add and retouch and tinker around over several years - sometimes over the course of a decade or two. “When something is finished,” he once said, “that means it’s dead, doesn’t it? I never finish a painting, I just stop working on it for a while. The thing to do is... never finish a painting.”

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Van Doesburg and the International Avant-Garde: Constructing a New World, Tate Modern

Fisun Güner

Modernist art movements are a lot like totalitarian regimes. They produce their declaratory manifestos, send forth their declamatory edicts, and, before you know it, a Year Zero mentality prevails: the past must be declared null and void.

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Michael Landy: Art Bin, South London Gallery

Fisun Güner Assistants despatch works into the Art Bin

Michael Landy, the artist who destroyed literally everything he owned in his 2001 Artangel project Break Down - birth certificate, Saab, treasured family photos, shirt off his back - finally followed that project up with another exercise in destruction, this time resulting in headlines too tempting, and way too satisfying, to resist: Modern Art is Rubbish.

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Chris Ofili, Tate Britain

sue Steward

Dazzling and surprising, this Tate Britain retrospective by the 1998 Turner Prizewinner Chris Ofili should erase memories of the media sniping about him making money from using the so-called "gimmick" of incorporating elephant turds in his paintings. It will also confirm his status as one of the greatest contemporary British artists.

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The Real Van Gogh: The Artist and His Letters, Royal Academy

Fisun Güner

This exhibition may claim to reveal the real Van Gogh through his letters, but what of the Sunflowers, the Self-Portrait With Bandaged Ear, oh, and Starry Night, with its roiling night sky and dark, mysterious cypress tree? What even of the dizzying Night Café, with its migraine-inducing electric lamps, its violent clash of reds and greens and the walls that threaten to collapse inwards, as if the painter had been hitting the absinthe all night?

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On the Move: Visualising Action, Estorick Collection

Fisun Güner Eadweard Muybridge: 'Annie G galloping', c. 1887

When we look at still images of moving figures what we see is not exclusively determined by what is in front of our eyes but what we already know about the world. If we stopped to think about this, it would seem obvious. We would know, for instance, that the putti who are so joyously leaping, dancing and bounding about in Donatello’s static frieze Cantoria would make little sense to us if we didn’t already know what such static postures implied: still images of moving figures can...

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Princes William and Harry Portrait, National Portrait Gallery

Fisun Güner

The latest official royal portrait, and the first painted portrait featuring the Princes William and Harry, hangs in a small room at the National Portrait Gallery among a selection of royal portraits of the Windsors. There’s the rather quirky one of the Queen Mother, painted in 1989 by Alison Watt, an artist who sought to capture her sitter “as ordinary as possible”. What our attention seems most drawn to is the china cup turned upside down on the arm of the Queen Mother’s armchair. Eh?

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