thu 22/02/2024

Visual Arts Reviews

Carey Young: Appearance, Modern Art Oxford review - in the eyes of the law

Mark Sheerin

A visitor to the city wishes to gain access to the law, but a gatekeeper blocks his entrance. The man petitions this imposing figure, who is only one of a series of legal bouncers. He is told there is gate after gate. He sits, he waits, he lies down, and eventually he expires. But not before making a close study of this implacable representative of the law. He even notes the fleas in the gatekeeper’s collar.

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Matter as Actor, Lisson Gallery review - living in a material world

Hannah Hutching

It is fitting that I watch Otobong Nkanga’s performance on a stranger’s smartphone screen. Solid Maneuvers, 2015, is about the extraction of precious resources from the Namibian landscape. It is about the long-term devastation humans wreak on the natural world and the equally devastating consequences nature revisits on us.

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Moon Is the Oldest TV review - a fitting tribute to a visionary modern artist

Helen Hawkins

Who created the term “electronic superhighway”? First described a system of linked communication that would become the internet? Envisioned a multichannel TV system where viewers chose for themselves what to tune into? Watch Amanda Kim’s excellent documentary Moon Is the Oldest TV and you find that the correct answer to all those questions is Nam June Paik.

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Sarah Sze: Metronome, Artangel at Peckham Rye station review - an installation of visual complexity and physical simplicity

Sarah Kent

One of the great things about Artangel is the interesting sites which they seek out for the artworks they commission. The latest find is the disused waiting room at Peckham Rye station, a once gracious space with a vaulted ceiling, arched windows and two fireplaces, now ripped out. The space was later converted into a billiard hall, the sign for which is still visible on the staircase wall, but when that closed down in 1962, the room was left to rot.

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Isaac Julien: What Freedom is to Me, Tate Britain review - a journey from making documentaries to making art

Sarah Kent

Isaac Julien was a student at St Martin’s School of Art when the Brixton riots broke out. Black youths took to the streets, frustrated by high rates of unemployment, police harassment, far-right intimidation and media hostility, and all hell was let loose.

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Hilma af Klint & Piet Mondrian: Forms of Life, Tate Modern review - the hidden depths of abstract art revealed

Sarah Kent

In this juxtaposition of Piet Mondrian, a world famous modernist, and Hilma af Klint, a little known Swedish painter, guess who knocks your socks off ! This fascinating show is a delight and a revelation, because it declares the spiritualist underpinnings of modernism which many, until now, have sought to hide.

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Grenfell by Steve McQueen, Serpentine Gallery review - a stirring memorial for the tower block inferno

mark Kidel

The fire which engulfed Grenfell Tower in London’s North Kensington on 14 June, 2017, with a death toll of 72, is still under investigation. The dead were largely recent immigrants to the UK. The tragedy, it’s clear now, was caused by an unholy mixture of neglect, racism, greed and corruption. There’s been much shameful denial and buck-passing, and the issues around the building’s shockingly inadequate cladding haven’t led to much action elsewhere.

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Earth Spells: Witches of the Anthropocene, RAMM, Exeter review - this local exhibition deserves a national audience

Mark Sheerin

In the centre of a Venn diagram linking climate change to the mystic landscape of Dartmoor and the West Country, sits this tightly conceived show about "green" witchcraft in contemporary art. Witches were once very common in this part of the world; the last witch to be executed in Britain was from Exeter.

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Ai Weiwei: Making Sense, Design Museum review - a deep sense of loss permeates this show

Sarah Kent

Chinese artist, Ai Weiwei has created an extremely beautiful installation at the Design Museum in which the disparate elements play their part in creating a powerful overall message. On one level the exhibition is about design, but it also invites you to consider far more serious issues than are normally addressed in this temple to consumerism.

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Berthe Morisot: Shaping Impressionism, Dulwich Picture Gallery review - lightning speed brushwork by an Impressionist maestro

Sarah Kent

When Berthe Morisot organised the first Impressionist exhibition in 1874, along with Monet, Degas, Renoir and co, she’d already exhibited at the Paris Salon for a decade – since she was 23. That’s not bad for someone refused entry to art school because she was a woman!

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