06 Jun, 2009

The best art shows to see this week

Posted by: admin In: Guardian

Skeletal sculptures in Manchester, Liverpool erupts with colour, and in London you can buy art with the power of your mind

In the past, Dallas Seitz has put his Canadian grandmother’s creepy doll collection on show as an artwork, alongside his grandfather’s coyote hunting guns and knives. The Social Lives of Objects at Manchester’s Castlefield Gallery brings Seitz together with Hilary Jack and Lisa Penny, who share his fascination with surreal collections and museological displays. Hybridised humans and animals populate this exhibition, including a sculpture of a stag who appears to be a tramp on a park bench, and a disturbing skeletal construction of a small dead mermaid made from animal bones.

Over at Tate Liverpool, Colour Chart – Reinventing Colour 1950 to Today is a show-stopping exhibition that zings, fizzes and dazzles, charting the colour revolution in art of the late 20th century. In the 60s and 70s, when conceptualism ruled, colour seemed associated with passion, expression, spirituality and tortured genius – ideas that artists found outdated. But commercial colour charts from DIY stores and paint shops offered artists an experimental way forward. Dan Flavin’s famous industrial fluorescent tube lights, on show here, only came in 10 colours: a limitation that inspired glorious invention. Damien Hirst’s spots and Gerhard Richter’s colour chart paintings appear alongside modern colour masters such as Jim Lambie and David Batchelor, while the exhibition’s colour focus throws new light on works by Richard Serra, Ed Ruscha and Dan Graham.

In Edinburgh, Inverleith House‘s pretty Georgian interiors allow artist Cerith Wyn Evans to indulge his interest in rococo style. An enormous Venetian chandelier, complete with glass baubles, flashes messages in morse code – a favourite device of the artist. The message, a 1987 scientific text by Siegfried Marx entitled Astrophotography: Stages of Photographic Development, describes the way in which fragments of dust in scientific star photography have been mistaken for stars, and have led to the mis-mapping of entire galaxies.

In London, the Calvert 22 gallery has recently opened in the East End, exhibiting Russian and eastern-European art. Its first show, a group exhibition entitled Past Future Perfect, addresses the period between the repression of Russian artists under Soviet rule, and the recent explosion in contemporary Russian art. Alexander Brodsky has created a tiny paper room in a cage that appears to be burning like a furnace, while Pavel Pepperstein‘s watercolour cartoons look like something from a dreamy children’s book.

If you do find yourself in the East End, head across to Vyner Street and Sung Hwan Kim’s intriguing exhibition at Wilkinson Gallery, which will see you groping around in the dark to piece together a fragmented narrative from videos, songs and sculptures. Green bunting and decoration reappear in the space continuously, as do, intriguingly, dogs. On one screen there is delightfully grainy black-and-white footage of a dog running by the sea, while other screens focus in on details of historical paintings that feature the animals. In the project space next door is an exhibition called Artworks that Ideas Can Buy. Visitors are invited to respond to works by artists such as Jeremy Deller and Joan Jonas by writing an idea and sealing it in an envelope. If the artists like your idea, they’ll give you the artwork.

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