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20 Dec, 2009

Christmas and new year exhibitions previews

Posted by: admin In: Guardian

Paul McCarthy: The Painter, Edinburgh

A rare and welcome showing of Paul McCarthy’s scatological, satirical yet empathetic video portrait of a self-torturing abstract expressionist painter (Willem de Kooning appears to be the target). Dolled up with bulbous balloon nose and rubber sausage fingers, McCarthy flails about with his penile dauber, thrusting away merrily at the canvas and muttering away to himself in hilarious high-pitched monologues before indulging in character-forming self-abuse. Hysterical stuff that’s also disturbingly recognisable to any artist who has struggled with the loneliness of the studio.

Dean Gallery, to 14 Feb

Robert Clark

Jimmy De Sana, London

Jimmy De Sana’s nudes can be sexy, shocking or silly – often all at once. As this selection of the late artist’s colour photography of the 1980s proves, though, his surreal combinations of people, animals and objects always seem honest about our vulnerability. A man’s bare bum is presented to a snarling dog’s teeth for who knows what purpose, and a woman does strange things with a giant lizard crawling from her groin. The models are the artist’s friends and, as S&M-tinged as they often are, they’re having fun, playing up to the camera. Sometimes his pictures are semi-abstract; distorting marshmallows and popcorn in artfully heightened hues. Despite having influenced artists like Ryan McGinley, De Sana’s playful kinkiness remains gloriously his own.

Wilkinson Gallery, E2, to 17 Jan

Skye Sherwin

Eric Gill, Chichester

Eric Gill had sex, God and art on the brain. The eccentric sculptor witnessed Victorian Britain creak into the modern age. Yet he was an outsider to the era, founding his own arts and craft community and religious order, developing a gothic medieval carving style for both Christian imagery and radical erotic material. He even merged the two, as a memorable image of Jesus illustrating The Song Of Songs demonstrates well in this exhibition focusing on his engravings and etchings. Gill was once admired for his passionate fusion of life and art and his anti-establishment status. Lately, however, his reception has been muddied by revelations concerning a private life of incest and child abuse. As the title of the current RA show also featuring his work suggests, he was a “Wild Thing”, and not in a good way.

Pallant House Gallery, to 28 Feb

Skye Sherwin

Lynda Benglis, Dublin

The American artist Lynda Benglis is a libertarian feminist, creating over the last 50 years one of the most powerfully and provocatively sensuous bodies of sculpture of the period. Her Fallen Paintings of the late-60s, such as Blatt (1969), set the scene with almost obscene compositions of rubber latex. Yet Benglis skilfully combines deliberate “bad taste” with the most elegant sensitivity. This, her first and ludicrously long-overdue, solo exhibition in Europe should help to put her on the international map where she belongs.

Irish Museum Of Modern Art, to 24 Jan

Robert Clark

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