thu 05/12/2019

Visual Arts Reviews

Miroslav Balka, Tate Modern & Modern Art Oxford

Fisun Güner

Walk into the gaping mouth of the metal container featured in Miroslaw Balka’s installation at Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall and you are plunged into a disorientating darkness. Unnerved, you shuffle forward, passing and perhaps finding comfort in the ghostly presence of other limbs, other bodies which are also shuffling uncertainly, all awareness of...

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Identity, The Wellcome Collection

Fisun Güner

Perhaps we think we’ve got the whole thing more or less sewn up in the nurture versus nature debate. DNA profiling, gene studies, twin studies, inherited traits - this is the stuff we read about almost daily and it is all meant to tell us who we are. At any rate we seem to live in a culture obsessed with genealogy, which is perhaps as much to do with living as atomised units as it to do with the latest research about genes, or what used to be called heredity.

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The Art of Russia, BBC Four

Josh Spero

If Andrew Graham-Dixon's arts career ever goes belly-up, there is surely a microphone with his name on it at Radio 4, so warm and confident and trustworthy is his voice. Judging, however, by his new three-part programme on BBC Four, The Art of Russia, there is no chance of this happening soon.

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Medieval and Renaissance Galleries, V&A

Fisun Güner Detail of the 's-Hertogenbosch choir screen from the V&A's new Medieval and Renaissance Galleries

From the façades of whole buildings to rosary beads intricately carved in ivory to depict the minuscule forms of ghouls and corpses, the Victoria & Albert Museum’s Medieval and Renaissance Galleries tell the extraordinary story of 1,300 years of European art, design and architecture.

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Pictures Reframed: Leif Ove Andsnes & Robin Rhode, QEH

ismene Brown

We watch and listen simultaneously so much today that it hardly seems blasphemous for a superlative pianist to decide to conceive an evening of piano music plus video installation. Leif Ove Andsnes has doubts about the transmittability of classical music to a general audience today - he calls the status quo into question, and he may be right.

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Candy Gothic: Tim Burton, MoMA, New York

Graham Fuller

Though he has yet to make a perfect film, the director Tim Burton’s choice of Gothic and fantasy subjects and his deadpan, post-expressionist approach to them rightfully designate him an auteur of considerable genius. His 14 movies to date have earned him a cohesive retrospective at New York’s Museum of Modern Art.

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Mutate Britain: One Foot in the Grove

joe Muggs The site by night

A 15ft aardvark constructed from raw timber with a light-up robotic face and gigantic hands is climbing up one of the support pillars of the Westway, next to the body of a full-sized helicopter the front of which has been shaped into a grinning skull. Life-size rearing horse torsos made of white marble-like resin, with real horse skulls instead of heads, are mounted on the wheels of Victorian perambulators, while a man rides a clanking, hissing, fire-spitting motorised beast with stamping...

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Kienholz: The Hoerengracht, National Gallery

Mark Hudson

The National Gallery is on a roll. Having enjoyed the surprise hit of the autumn with The Sacred Made Real, an exhibition of 17th-century Spanish religious art, the gallery now makes its first foray into installation art with by far the grungiest work ever to cross its portals: The Hoerengracht, a walk-through portrayal of Amsterdam’s red light district by the American sculptors Ed and Nancy Kienholz.

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David Hockney, Nottingham Contemporary

Fisun Güner

Nottingham Contemporary is Britain’s newest art gallery. Built deep into a sandstone cliff in the city’s oldest site, its sturdy, squat exterior is clad in scalloped gold and pale green panels. Resembling your granny’s old net curtains, the green pre-cast concrete is moulded with a pattern of 19th-century lace, paying homage to the city’s Victorian traditional industry.

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What Is Beauty?, BBC Two

Josh Spero

As questions go, "What is beauty?" is quite possibly only second to "What do women want?" in the frequency of its asking and in the difficulty of its answer. As the first programme in BBC Two and BBC Four’s Modern Beauty season, What Is Beauty? features Matthew Collings skirting around the edges of an answer and in doing so inadvertently...

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