thu 20/06/2024

Visual Arts Reviews

Jane Harris: Ellipse, Frac Nouvelle-Aquitaine MÉCA, Bordeaux review - ovals to the fore

Mark Sheerin

In a sixth-floor gallery, flooded with natural light, four paintings and a handful of works on paper compete with views across the River Garonne in Bordeaux. They also vie for attention amidst a history of abstract painting, in which it can feel that everything has been done. The English painter Jane Harris (pictured below right), who sadly passed away in 2022, did find an unexplored niche, however.

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Sargent and Fashion, Tate Britain review - portraiture as a performance

Sarah Kent

At the turn of the 20th century, London’s smart set queued up to get their portraits painted by American-born artist John Singer Sargent. Sitting for him was a performance, a way to show the world just how rich, glamorous, clever or important you were. And everything – from the pose to the hair, jewellery and clothing – was stage-managed to create the best impression.

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Zineb Sedira: Dreams Have No Titles, Whitechapel Gallery review - a disorientating mix of fact and fiction

Sarah Kent

The downstairs of the Whitechapel Gallery has been converted into a ballroom or, rather, a film set of a ballroom. From time to time, a couple glides briefly across the floor, dancing a perfunctory tango. And they are really hamming it up, not for the people watching them – of whom they are apparently oblivious – but for an imaginary camera.

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Yoko Ono: Music of the Mind, Tate Modern review - a fitting celebration of the early years

Sarah Kent

At last Yoko Ono is being acknowledged in Britain as a major avant garde artist in her own right. It has been a long wait; last year was her 90th birthday! The problem, of course, was her relationship with John Lennon and perceptions of her as the Japanese weirdo who broke up the Beatles and led Lennon astray – down a crooked path to oddball, hippy happenings.

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Unravel: The Power and Politics of Textiles in Art, Barbican review - the fabric of dissent

Florence Hallett

Judy Chicago created Birth Project in the 1980s, recognising with typical perspicacity that the favouring of “the paint strokes of the great male painters” over “the incredible array of needle techniques that women have used for centuries” has implications far beyond the precedence of one art form over another.

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When Forms Come Alive, Hayward Gallery review - how to reduce good art to family fun

Sarah Kent

Under the guidance of director Ralph Rugoff, the Hayward Gallery seems hell bent on reducing art to the level of fun for all the family. And as though to prove the point, cretinous captions strip the work of all meaning beyond the banal, while press pictures showcase kids gazing at large sculptures.

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Entangled Pasts 1768-now, Royal Academy review - an institution exploring its racist past

Sarah Kent

In Titian’s painting Diana and Actaeon,1559, a cluster of naked beauties bathes beside a stream. Scarcely visible in the right hand corner is a black woman helping the goddess hide her nudity from Acteon who has stumbled into her private glade. The servant’s clothing and dark skin contrast with the pearly pink flesh of the nymphs – so much so that she almost merges with the tree trunk behind her, as though she were just part of the scenery.

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Barbara Kruger, Serpentine Gallery review - clever, funny and chilling installations

Sarah Kent

American artist Barbara Kruger started out as a graphic designer working in advertising, and it shows. Her sharp design skills and acute visual intelligence now produce funny, clever and thought provoking installations in which words and pictures illuminate the way language is (mis)used to cajole, bully, manipulate and lie.

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Richard Dorment: Warhol After Warhol review - beyond criticism

Alice Brewer

2023 was a good year for Andy Warhol post-mortems: after Nicole Flattery’s Nothing Special, after Alexandra Auder’s Don’t Call Home, Richard Dorment’s Warhol After Warhol.

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Dineo Seshee Raisibe Bopape: (ka) pheko ye / the dream to come, Kiasma, Helsinki review - psychic archaeology

Hannah Hutching

Rosemary, heather and hops. These are just a few of the ingredients included in a special blend of herbal tea created by artist, Dineo Seshee Raisibe Bopape. Subtle yet deep in flavour, the amber coloured tea has a calming, if not soporific and dream-inducing effect.

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