AND NOW, THE GALLERY...



“Paintings are machines for seeing with.”
- Patrick Heron

All the visual art reviews on this blog, in one handy go-to list! Under a title catchphrase purloined from here. (Some split into two parts.)

I would say I have, in general, triple interests in art. First I’m keen on Modernism, particularly the era of ‘High Modernism’ running roughly from 1905 to around the end of the Second World War. (Of course, as I say in just about every review I write, Modernism saw itself as multi-disciplinary and it’s only retrofitting that tries to reduce it to a visual arts medium. But that’s the way it’s packaged so that’s the way we tend to come across it.) (A general polemic on Modernism lies here.)

I’m also keen on (for want of a better term) ‘popular arts’ and/or art designed for reproduction; the world of comics, animation, prints, posters, illustration, graphic design and street art. (Do they all belong together? I like to think they do!)

Finally, I’m a fan of folk art, na├»ve art and outsider art. 

In practice  these three get jumbled up together, so I haven’t tried to separate them at all in the list below.


I openly confess to being no sort of expert about any of this. I hopefully imagine this means I come to an exhibition ‘clean’, with open eyes and not too much baggage. I’ve always held that the best way to find out about a band was to see them live; it’ll all be there before you, in once concentrated dose. Similarly, the best way to get the measure of an artist is to submerge yourself in an exhibition.


ANCIENT + ETHNIC ART



The history, art and culture of the pilgrimage to Mecca that every Muslim must make once in their lives.

ON TOPPLING TOWERS 

A polemic disguised as a review of the ‘Babylon: Myth and Reality’ exhibition at the British Museum

SEDUCED: ART AND SEX FROM ANTIQUITY TO NOW 

...with a focus on erotic art from the East.

TERRACOTTA BOYS ON TOUR (‘THE FIRST EMPEROR: CHINA’S TERRACOTTA ARMY’) 

(British Museum, London)
Not really a proper review of this show, more a reaction to something silly written in the Guardian about it.

ABSTRACT + SEMI-ABSTRACT ART


(Royal Academy, London)
A two-part look at American Abstract Expressionism, taking in Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock, Clyfford Still, David Smith, Mark Tobey and more!

(Tate Modern, London)
Can Kandinsky's turn to incorporate abstraction really be reduced to something so linear as a path? (Part of a brief series on abstraction and semi-abstraction in the arts.)

BRITISH MODERNISM


(Pallant House Gallery, Chichester)
The hows and whys of how a generation of cutting-edge Modernists one day turned around to embrace those cold marbles of Classicism.

'PAUL NASH'
(Tate Britain, London)
Surrealism's coming home with a look at the English artist famous for his surreal views of English landscapes and First World War battlefields.

'DAVID BOMBERG: A SENSE OF PLACE'
(Towner Gallery, Eastbourne)
The brush behind the Modernist classic 'The Mud Bath' later became a landscape painter. With results too often overlooked...

'OUT THERE: OUR POST-WAR PUBLIC ART'
(Somerset House, London)
The public art movement that filled post-war Britain with new architecture and sculpture shows how foreign a country the past can be...

'SICKERT IN DIEPPE: THE ART OF MODERN LIFE'
(Pallant House Gallery, Chichester)
How did his stay on French shores influence the English artist Walter Sickert? And how well did he succeed in making Impressionism his own, and conveying the fin de siecle feeling of a society at unease with itself?

'LOWRY AND THE PAINTING OF MODERN LIFE'
(Tate Britain, London)
The popular painter of Northern industrial scenes finally becomes Tate-worthy with a fitting retrospective. Just don't mention that risible 'Matchstick Men, Cats and Dogs' record… oh, wait I did.

(Pallant House Gallery, Chichester)
How the British response to the Spanish struggle against fascism marked both a political and an artistic frontier.

EDWARD BURRA (1)
(Pallant House Gallery, Chichester)
The “English Surrealist”, featuring sailors getting down with prostitutes, sailors fighting with sailors, sailors getting down with sailors, sailors fighting with prostitutes... and more!!!

RADICAL BLOOMSBURY: THE ART OF DUNCAN GRANT AND VANESSA BELL 1905-1925 
(Brighton Museum)
A very British take on post-impressionism

DO YOU SCREAM IN COLOUR? - FRANCIS BACON 
(Tate Britain, London)
The dark British painter famous for depicting screaming Popes and saying “well of course we are meat”

COMICS, CARTOONS, ILLUSTRATION + PRINTS


ROWLANDSON, GILLRAY AND THE GOLDEN AGE OF BRITISH CARICATURE: THE ARRIVAL OF CARTOONING
ROWLANDSON, GILLRAY AND THE GOLDEN AGE OF BRITISH CARICATURE: THE NAPOLEONIC WARS IN THE PRINTS
(British Museum and Queens Gallery, London)
A two-part, two-exhibition look at the birth of British political cartooning as we know it, taking in the Regency crisis, the changing ways the French Revolution and Napoleon were depicted ... and taking a prat-fall part-way through.

(British Library, London)
The changing face and reputation of comics upon this sceptered isle.

(University of Brighton Gallery)
Just what it says on the lid from Eric Gill’s brother

RONALD SEARLE, GRAPHIC MASTER 
(Cartoon Museum, London)
The celebrated cartoonist chiefly known for ’St. Trinians’.

RUDE BRITANNIA: BRITISH COMIC ART (1)
RUDE BRITANNIA: BRITISH COMIC ART (2) 
(Tate Britain, London)
Exploring the comic, the satirical, the bawdy and the absurd in British art… so no, not a short exhibition!

REVOLUTION ON PAPER: MEXICAN PRINTS 1910-1960 
(British Museum, London)
Popular images from the Mexican revolution and beyond

PRESS AND RELEASE AND THE ARISTS SPEAK 
(Phoenix Gallery, Brighton)
A celebration of artists’ books and independent publishing

CONTEMPORARY ART


(Tate Modern, London)
Themes of exile pervade in this solo show of the Palestinian expat artist, whose work stretches from performance pieces to installations and back again.

'ANSELM KIEFER'
(Royal Academy, London)
The acclaimed German artist, given to gargantuan canvases with trans-historic, cosmological and yet often controversial subjects. All was too much (in a good way) as old works and new overpowered your attention!

SHOOT THE WRX: ARTIST + FILM-MAKER JEFF KEEN
(Brighton Library and Museum)
A career-spanning retrospective gives us a chance to reassess the irrepressibly multidisciplined Brighton artist and his mythic universe


A comparison between the two artists' attitude to, and borrowings from, popular culture

CONTEMPORARY ART - IS IT ALL JUST A GREAT BIG STEAMING PILE OF CRAP?
A detour round Tate Britain, taking in Jess Flood-Paddock and Jake Chapman, the better to ask the questions which everybody else does

LIS RHODES' LIGHT MUSIC
(The Thanks, Tate Modern, London)
Lis Rhodes' instillation piece, where electronic music generator doubles as light show, works like a discotheque for Modernists.

THE FORTY PARK MOTET/ MESOPOTAMIAN DRAMATURGIES/ EVOLUTION OF FEARLESSNESS (THREE BRIGHTON FESTIVAL EXHIBITIONS) 
(various venues, July 2011)
Installations by Janet Cardiff, Kutling Ataman and Lynette Wallworth

BRIAN ENO: RESTORING THE BALANCE 
A report on Eno’s festival appearances which includes his installations ‘Seventy Seven Million Paintings’ and ‘Speaker Flower Sound Installation’


PANIC ATTACK: ART IN THE PUNK YEARS 
(Barbican, London)
Punk inspired and spirited art from Britain and America, 1974 to 1984. This review originally appeared in ‘Last Hours’.

DADA + SURREALISM


'WIFREDO LAM'
(Tate Modern, London)
The important Modernist artist, often referred to as "the Cuban Surrealist", shouldn't be stuffed in a box marked 'ethnic'.

'JOSEPH CORNELL WANDERLUST'
(Royal Academy, London)
A rare retrospective for this friend of the Surrealist, who devised strange and fantastical shadow boxes composed of found objects plundered from New York thrift stores.

DUCHAMP, MAN RAY, PICABIA 
(Tate Modern, May 2008)
Three of Dadaism’s most infamous and provocative characters in one place at one time. Expect befuddlement

FANTASTICAL ART


(Royal Academy, London)
The fantastical Belgian artist who indulged his obsession for Carnival - including masks, skulls, crowds and Jesus. (Yes, Jesus, but not as we know him.)

(Dulwich Picture Gallery, London)
In the compelling impossibility of Escher, expect perspective distortions, multiple levels of reality and morphing and tessellating forms. No cash refunds should you get giddy.

FOLK + OUTSIDER ART


(Tate Britain, London)
Strange be the goings on as the villagers take over the great country house in the first major gallery exhibition of Folk art.

(Pallant House Gallery, Chichester)
Companion pieces to 'Dubuffet:Transitions' - 'Outside In', a group show of contemporary outsider art, and 'Pat Douthwaite: The Uncompromising Image.' 
(Pallant House Gallery, Chichester)
The pioneer of Art Brut (aka Outsider Art) and arch-enemy of Classicism receives a rare retrospective, mostly focusing on his Sixties work.

FUTURISM + VORTICISM

(Tate Britain, London)
The sometime/ sometime not Vorticist, who rejected the art establishment for an idiosyncratic take on Modernist style and British proletarian culture

Britain’s combative answer to Italian Futurism

SHOWS OF FUTURE PAST 
(Aug. 2009)
A comparison between two Tate Modern exhibitions: the Italian-set ‘Futurism’, and the Russian-based ‘Rodchenko and Popova: Defining Constructivism.’

IMPRESSIONISM, POST-IMPRESSIONISM + FAUVISM


GAUGUIN: MAKER OF MYTH 
(Tate Modern, London)
The pioneering post-impressionist has adventures away from home


MODERNISM IN GENERAL


'GEORGE BELLOWS: MODERN AMERICAN LIFE'
(Royal Academy, London)
The arresting New York scenes of the American "Ashcan' realist. (Part of a short series on Modernism and the City.)


Two classic Mexican artists who mixed modernist with folk styles

NEO-DADA, FLUXUS, CONCEPTUAL + AUTO-DESTRUCTIVE ART


(Tate Modern, London)
“The work is volatile and inchoate. It seems to simply shrug off analysis... Art is often about trying to bring order to the world, through the manipulation of symbols. Rauschenberg reminds us we can’t even bring order to art.”

(Tate Britain, London)
The anti-art movement that arose to pull the rug from under Modernism just when it finally seemed to triumph.

(Hayward Gallery, London)
The best exhibition you'll never see, stuffed with invisible or otherwise unseeable works.

Conceptual, performance and installation art hitting the streets of Downtown Manhattan.

GUSTAV METZGER: DECADES 1959–2009 
(Serpentine Gallery, London)
Is the work of this renowned auto-destructive artist a glass half-smashed or half-standing?

PHOTOGRAPHY


'THE RADICAL EYE'
(Tate Modern, London)
Modernist photography from the Sir Elton John collection. How the inter-war generation of Modernists became such happy snappers.

'CONSTRUCTING WORLDS: PHOTOGRAPHY AND ARCHITECTURE IN THE MODERN AGE'
(Barbican Gallery, London)
The symbiotic relationship between photography and the city, from the gleaming Modernism of Thirties New York to the excessive banality of neoliberalism in present day China, Afghanistan and the train ride home. (No, really! The train ride home…)

EXPOSED: VOYEURISM, SURVEILLANCE + THE CAMERA 
(Tate Modern, London)
Photographic exhibition exploring notions of voyeurism

RUSSIAN MODERNISM


'MALEVICH: REVOLUTIONARY OF RUSSIAN ART'
(Tate Modern, London)
Was Malevich's expunging of the representational in his art a revolutionary turn or a step into a formalist blind alley? (Part of a brief series on abstraction and semi-abstraction in the arts.)

BUILDING THE REVOLUTION: SOVIET ART + ARCHITECTURE 1915-35 (1)
BUILDING THE REVOLUTION: SOVIET ART + ARCHITECTURE 1915-35 (2)
(Royal Academy, London)
How post-revolutionary Soviet art ventured into the third dimension, and tried to make use of itself in transforming the world.

SHOWS OF FUTURE PAST 
(Aug. 2009)
A comparison between two Tate Modern exhibitions: the Italian-set ‘Futurism’, and the Russian-based ‘Rodchenko and Popova: Defining Constructivism.’
FROM RUSSIA: FRENCH AND RUSSIAN MASTER PAINTINGS FROM MOSCOW AND ST. PETERSBERG  1870-1925 

(Royal Academy, London)
Just what it says on the lid!

ROMANTICISM


(Tate Britain, London)
It's official! Turner's later years really were the most golden, as the time he most successfully found the sublime in the world. And he still packs something of a wallop, even today.

(Tate Britain, London)
Were these Romantic Brit painters kitsch in technicolour or steam-punk pioneers of Modernism? The short answer is "yes".

SCULPTURE


(Tate Modern, London)
The Tate's retrospective on the pioneering American artist and deviser of the mobile, who made sculpture float and dance...

(Tate Britain, London)
An overdue career-spanning retrospective on who was almost certainly Britain's finest post-war sculptor, with her evocative marine forms.

MODERN BRITISH SCULPTURE (1)
MODERN BRITISH SCULPTURE (2) 
(Royal Academy, London)
Wide-ranging works spanning the years of British sculptural history

HENRY MOORE 
(Tate Modern, London)
Is Britain’s best-known sculptor now safe from harm?

…plus check our my Flickr page for photos of graffiti and street art