03 Jul, 2010
This week’s new exhibitions
Posted by: admin In: Guardian
Dinu Li, Derby
Yesterday Is History, Tomorrow Is Mystery is a series of photographs in which scenes are flooded with a blood-red light. The Chinese, UK-based artist Dinu Li deals in dislocated perspectives, worlds in which personal reverie and political indoctrination collide. Kitsch elements of children’s jigsaws and faded postcards are set against intimations of personal oral histories and the declamatory graphics of political propaganda. Images come in media ranging through performance-based video, snapshot photography and cartoon animation. The cultural confidence of China’s expansionist present is necessarily shadowed by the underlying unease of its turbulent political past.
QUAD, Sat to 5 Sep
Alice Neel, London
Alice Neel’s considered one of the 20th century’s great portraitists, yet success came late for the single mum who pioneered her unfashionable figurative painting for decades unnoticed, while the boys’ club of abstract expressionism and then minimalism and pop art held sway. As this first survey of her work in a UK public gallery makes clear, whether painting her family or neighbours in Spanish Harlem, pregnant women or the New York art world, for Neel, portraiture was an act of revelation. Her famed painting of Andy Warhol as a pallid martyr, half-naked with bullet scars, is one of 60 works here, tracing how Neel became adept at mining her subject’s inner life, laying it bare with unsettling acuity.
Whitechapel Gallery, E1, Thu to 17 Sep
Russell Mills And Ian Walton, Ambleside
It’s 62 years since exiled German artist Kurt Schwitters died in Ambleside, yet the influence of his radical cut-and-paste works pervades all aspects of contemporary visual culture. Here Russell Mills and Ian Walton pay joint homage to the great dadaist with an exhibition titled Forward To Far, Telescoping Time From Schwitters To Now. Mills and Walton update Schwitters’s use of collage and assemblage to a world in which we’re all bombarded by an overdose of multimedia, so much of it seemingly alluding to the terminal mess we are collectively making of the environment. Yet for all Mills and Walton’s air of dreadful concern, the overall effect of their installations is of a fragmentary charm. Deeply romantic art that is ultimately celebratory.
The Armitt Collection, to 30 Oct
Paul Sietsema, London
Paul Sietsema makes sculptures, drawings and films, but his chief material seems to be uncertainty. A previous ruse included a paint-blotted cutting of a newspaper review of his work that turned out to be his own meticulous ink drawing. Sietsema’s painstakingly realised art-about-art may be chock-full of theory, but it can be as physically compelling as it is brainy. In his latest film, what could be aged footage of primitivist paintings turn out to be the scarred work surfaces of his studio, while a seemingly candid lecture on his work is partly culled from the thoughts of Jean Dubuffet. Interpretations slide around; time becomes an illusion; art changes shape as it’s passed from the artist to its audience.
Cubitt Gallery, N1, Sat to 8 Aug
Urban Origami, London
Future megalopolises are built from junk as city limits evaporate and people disappear in this show of work by six artists rethinking what the urban landscape can be. Former air steward Gaia Persico imagines a global city in her drawings where horizons snake across the page, binding landmarks from San Fran’s Union Square to Darling Harbour in Sydney. A film by Elisa Sighicelli conjures urban spectacle, as a Shanghai skyscraper sends out a rainbow kaleidoscope of lights, while in one of her photographic lightboxes familiar scaffolding becomes a fantastic structure. Matthew Houlding recycles household flotsam into maquettes of jazzy modernist apartment blocks, while Jools Johnson turns yesterday’s tech, like upturned old computer screws, into tomorrow’s skyscrapers.
PM Gallery and House, W5, to 29 Aug
Spencer Tunick, Salford
Spencer Tunick is the artist who has notoriously photographed large groups of astoundingly unselfconscious naked souls at sites ranging from an Amsterdam car park through to the forecourt of the Sydney Opera House. It is interesting to see him now posing his participants in compositions that refer to the work of another artist and at sites that are far from obviously noteworthy. While LS Lowry’s exploited masses of weary mill workers could not be more culturally at odds with Tunick’s liberated naturists, Lowry’s swarming compositions here provide a potent framework for cloudy day gatherings in such local landscapes as Peel Park and the Concorde hangar of Manchester Airport.
The Lowry, to 26 Sep
Andrew Cross, Birmingham
A series of colour photographs shows an apparently common English field as it passes from dawn to dusk. It turns out that the subject of the images, collectively titled Hats Off To Roy Harper, is the site of the 1970s’ renowned Knebworth rock festivals. An accompanying twin-screen projection features an elaborate drum solo specially performed for Cross’s camera by Carl Palmer (yes, he of Emerson, Lake & Palmer prog supergroup fame). As Palmer builds his solo from single snare, through brushes, cymbals and felt beaters into a full drum onslaught, Cross’s close-up focus and minimalist editing defiantly and almost provocatively rescues a musical genre from cultural obsolescence.
Ikon Eastside, to 25 Jul
Surreal Friends, Chichester
The reappraisal of women surrealists gathers more steam with this show focusing on the lives and work of three friends: the British artist Leonora Carrington, the Hungarian Kati Horna and Spaniard Remedios Varo. Variously escaping personal and political traumas in war-torn Europe where Varo and Carrington had worked in the shadow of their surrealist lovers, these women pioneered their own vision in Mexico City. In one of Varo’s best-known paintings, an owl-woman conducts an alchemical art experiment bringing painted birds to light by moonlight, a sister to Carrington’s menagerie of mythic creatures. As a photographer, Horna was as attuned to real-world hardships as she was to a surrealist sensibility. Here her extraordinary images of women refugees from the Spanish civil war complement symbolic photomontages where female eyes peer out from barred windows.
Pallant House Gallery, to 12 Sep
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