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Experiments in Space Exploration: Secret Satellites, Belfast Exposed.

Review by Angela Darby

For the exhibition Secret Satellites curated by Karen Downey, the Belfast Exposed gallery has been divided into three distinct sections. The light filled foyer, a semi darkened space and a blacked out projection area. Across these three areas artworks by four artists reflect on the theme of space satellites. By definition, a satellite is any object that orbits another. Typically, the phrase space satellite is used to describe man-made satellites, artificial entities that orbit the earth. There are around 2,500 satellites in orbit around the Earth. They have been placed there at great expense to carry out a range of observational and communication activities. Some peer into the dark recesses of the universe as tools of astronomical research, some enable lightening speed contact between opposite sides of the globe whilst others may have both sinister and benign purposes. The GPS app on your phone owes its capability to the same set of satellites that deliver a cruise missile to its deadly destination.

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Arab Spring: Hesam Rahmaniam, Paradise Row, London.

Review by Jessica Jones-Berney

It is with acerbic wit that Iranian-born artist Hesam Rahmanian deplores the rapidly unravelling fabric of his native land, consumed by a maelstrom of political uprisings spreading throughout the Middle East. His painterly narratives offer an irreverent insight into his own turbulent relationship with Iran, a place the artist envisions as a “precarious mixture of culture and religion.”

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Contemporary sculpture in Croatia + Hungarian reflections, Hungarian National Gallery

Review by Adam Harangozó

For the opening event of the Croatian Culture Months, the Hungarian National Gallery has arranged a rich exhibition from the works of contemporary Croatian sculptors with reflections by Hungarian artists. Curated by Jasminka Poklečki Stošić and including 51 items from 17 artists, the selection is characterised by infinite richness and diversity – walking through the exhibition is like walking between the borders of concepts like substance, stability and surface.

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Cross-generational Dialogues: Margaret Harrison & The Girls, PayneShurvell, London

Review by Laura Barone,, a candidate for the MA in Art History at Richmond the American International University in London.

It’s only April, but what a year for feminist art in London: from Cindy Sherman at Sprueth Magers to Louise Bourgeois and Tracy Emin at Hauser and Wirth, to Nancy Spero currently at The Serpentine, it has certainly been a strong few months. I am a Fantasy at PayneShurvell featuring Margaret Harrison and the performance artist duo The Girls (Zoe Sinclair and Andrea Blood) energetically continues this trend. Curator Beverley Knowles has deftly combined several of Harrison’s ironic gender-bending series of media icons with The Girls and their creepily and wonderfully Sherman-esque ‘static’ performances.

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The Outsider: Still Lives, Robert Lenkiewicz, Royal West of England Academy, Bristol

Review by Regina Papachlimitzou

Speaking in relation to the second major controversy he triggered in a course of a creatively chaotic life (namely, his deal with one of his closest friends that the latter’s body would be embalmed after his death and kept at the artist’s studio), Lenkiewicz observed that, in his opinion, what people are struck with when witnessing death is the ‘total absence of the person running parallel to the total presence of the body’. Lenkiewicz’s preoccupation with absence, ageing, and dying, and his lifelong attempt to grapple with these concepts inform the majority of the works exhibited at the Royal West of England Academy.

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Everyday Scenarios & Complex Iconography: Paul Graham, Whitechapel Gallery, London.

Review by Emily Sack, a candidate for the MA in Art History at Richmond the American International University in London.

A visit to Whitechapel Gallery to view Paul Graham 1981-2006 is a transatlantic adventure beginning in England and Northern Ireland then moving to the United States after a brief sojourn in Tokyo. Graham presents his audience with a startlingly honest insight into the reality of daily existence. The exhibition moves in a roughly chronological order, but the viewer first finds himself or herself confronted by a relatively recent series of everyday people watching television. These figures are completely absorbed in the activity without acknowledging the photographer’s presence. These photographs highlight how television has become an integral part of modern life and the reality of its impact upon the human condition.

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Contemporary Russian Discourse: Practice For Everyday Life, Calvert 22, London.

Review by Sarah Richter, a candidate for the MA in Art History at Richmond the American International University in London.

Calvert 22 is a not for profit foundation that focuses its attention on exposing visitors to contemporary art from Russia and Eastern Europe. Promoting an understanding and exposure, the gallery hopes to generate excitement and interest in this rapidly developing art scene. These artists offer a fresh perspective, having studied on a global level and incorporating the canon of Western art as well as an examination of their own cultural identity and heritage, their work speaks to every viewer in a personal way.

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Joan Miró at Tate Modern: The Ladder of Escape

Review by Ruby Beelsey

The latest in a string of blockbuster shows at Tate Modern, Joan Miró needs no introduction. As one of the defining protagonists of the surrealist movement Miró also fused Fauvism, Cubism, magic realism and abstraction with his own surroundings and wild subconscious over his illustrious 60 year career. Profoundly defined by his Catalan identity, and living through the tumultuous events of the Spanish Civil War and Franco’s dictatorship, not to mention an “internal exile” from occupied Paris during the Second World War, it is a testament to his art that Miró’s works have long been viewed as essentially internationalist. During his extended trips to New York he was impressed by the freedom and gestural liberation of the Abstract Expressionists and, while his mid-century works undoubtedly referenced this school, they always shy away from such a place-specific identification. Even the surrealism that defines him in many a soundbite is peppered with myriad elements from elsewhere in art history to the extent that his work, while undergoing a vast evolution over the years, is essentially unique, based on a life-long pictorial language of stars and line, which can be used to represent any and every figure in his boundless imagination.

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The Post-Photographic Era: Alastair Cook, Analogue Decay, Howden Park Centre

Review by Colin Herd

The names of difficult-to-get-hold-of and in some cases discontinued-altogether photographic film have something of the poetry of a catalogue of obscure plant-names or endangered species: Kodachrome 64, Kodacolor VR-G 200, V-G-40, Ektachrome 320 T, E100 VS, Fujifilm Sensia 100, 400, Ilford XP2, FP4, FP5. And that is precisely what they are becoming in a way, relics of an outdated technology, outstripped and surpassed in the public imagination by the instant gratification, the ease, of digital. But just as the advent of photography in the 19th century didn’t kill off painting, merely refocusing it on the specific qualities of its medium that it could do better than any other (in the first instance expressive abstraction) and producing some of the most exciting movements in painting history, it could be that the digital era or the ‘post-photographic era’ as it’s sometimes termed, will counter-intuitively come to be seen as a halcyon time for analogue photography, as its artists go through the same up-against-the-ropes period of re-adjustment that painting had to and is still going through, mining analogue’s unique processes and redefining its aims.

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The Future of Arts Engagement: A Sense of Perspective: Tate Liverpool

Review by Kenn Taylor

A Sense of Perspective deals with the in between and the undefined, in a groundbreaking exhibition developed and curated by young people in Liverpool, Helsinki, Paris and London. Curated by members of Young Tate, the organisation’s engagement programme for 16 – 25 year olds, the exhibition is part of a wider partnership, Youth Art Interchange Phase II, with major European galleries (Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma and Centre Pompidou).

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Perspectives On A Charged Political Present: Huang Yong Ping and Wael Shawky, Nottingham Contemporary

Interview by Bethany Rex

Nottingham Contemporary is one of the largest and most ambitious contemporary art spaces in the UK. Designed by Caruso St John architects, the exterior of the building takes its inspiration from the surrounding 19th century buildings of Nottingham, and in particular, from the impressive façades of the Lace Market. This spring, Nottingham Contemporary presents two major exhibitions, by Huang Yong Ping and Wael Shawky. Both give perspectives on a charged political present – from Chinese and Egyptian viewpoints. We interviewed Jim Waters, Head of Exhibitions at the Centre.

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Concepts of Memory and Time: Gary Simmons, Simon Lee Gallery, London

Review by Sarah Richter a candidate for the MA in Art History at Richmond the American International University in London.

Haven’t we all wondered if antiques, places and objects from the past contain stories, memories of what has occurred and been seen. American artist Gary Simmons examines these same issues, confronting them in a most unconventional way. His second solo show, Shine, currently on exhibit at the Simon Lee Gallery draws its inspiration from Stanley Kubrick’s unforgettable 1980 horror film The Shining. The over sized images take their cue from memorable motifs and moments from the film, such as tricycle in Big Wheel Spiral and the infamous quote, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” in The Diamond and Full Page. In addition to drawing inspiration from this American film classic, Simmons takes inspiration from the structure of the Bryce Hospital in Alabama. This hospital served as an institution for African Americans who were considered insane and unfit for a place in contemporary society in the early 20th century. These large-scale works dominate the walls and gallery space of Simon Lee creating an inescapable impact.

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V&A: Exhibition Road Competition

Review by Nathan Breeze

If you’re a regular visitor to the V&A you would have noticed a gradual and ambitious series of renovations and expansions over the last few years. It is all part of the museum’s FuturePlan; bringing the V&A into the 21st century and restoring modern design and innovation to its heart. For each of these transformations the V&A has launched a series of open competitions; inviting proposals from architectural firms from all over the world. A recent example was the competition to design the V&A’s new outpost on Dundee’s waterfront, won at the end of last year by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma.

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It’s Gonna Work Out Fine: Lisa Slominski, Tenderpixel, London

Review by Laura E. Barone, a candidate for the MA in Art History at Richmond the American International University in London.

The space at Tenderpixel has been filled by artist/curator Lisa Slominski with emotion – more specifically, with emoticons. Slominski’s solo show, It’s gonna work out fine gives a promise of sincerity and depth to otherwise trite symbols from the instant messaging and texting sphere of what passes as contemporary forms of communication. Pookie is the largest piece, running from the top of the wall and continuing onto the floor, and is the focal point of the show. Made of 100 laser cut Perspex symbols, the installation draws from the keyboard for its forms, creating patterns made up of semi-colons, parenthesis, zeros, and bullet points. When there is no more space on the wall, the pattern continues onto the floor until it is complete, as if it has encountered an angled page break.

The Interaction between Classical Music, Theatre and Film: Michel van der Aa, Barbican, London

Review by Nathan Breeze

Touring six major European culture halls, Liebestod was a cross-genre performance by the Amsterdam Sinfonietta exploring the interaction between Classical Music, Theatre and Film. The evening was opened by Wagner’s celebrated Tristan und Isolde Prelude, a piece of music composed about the secret yet impossible desire that Tristan has for the wife of his uncle. Continuing with the theme of unobtainable love, Lyric Suite by Alban Berg proved to be heavily influenced by his clandestine obsession with the married Hanna Fuchs-Robettin after letters were found along with an annotated score of the piece in 1977.

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A Multitude of Soap Bubbles which Explode from Time to Time: Pino Pascali, Camden Arts Centre, London

Review by Paul Hardman

This exhibition, the first dedicated to Pino Pascali in the UK, focuses on works from 1967 and 1968, the last few completed by Pascali in the final two years before his tragic early death in a motorcycle accident at the age of 32. It is his first solo show in the UK, a fact which is surprising given his international significance as a key member of the Arte Povera movement, the radical trend in Italian art where everyday materials were used in resonant combinations and in which events in art and life appeared to converge.

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Examining and Unravelling: Yellow Wallpaper, Bo.Lee, Bath

Review by Regina Papachlimitzou

Yellow Wallpaper, inspired by Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s story of the same name, examines and unravels themes of spatial confinement, escape and the dissolution of identity that can occur in the struggle between the two.

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Deconstructing Photography: Rashid Rana, Lisson Gallery, London

Review by Emily Sack, a candidate for the MA in Art History at Richmond the American International University in London.

Lisson Gallery’s newest exhibition highlights some of the recent works by Pakistani artist Rashid Rana. Rana works in photography but deconstructs typical photographic renderings and instead challenges the viewer to reconsider the world in which they live.

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The Filthy Reality of Everyday Life: Dirt @ Wellcome Collection, London

Review by Carla MacKinnon

Wellcome Collection, a free visitor destination for the incurably curious has established an excellent name for itself as one of London’s most unusual and absorbing cultural centres. Their high quality curation is both diverse and controlled, pulling artworks, artefacts and information from all corners of the world to tell one story. In this exhibition, running until the end of August, that story is dirt. Considering how ubiquitous dirt is, it is perhaps surprising how rarely it is examined in any but the most dismissive terms. This exhibition seeks to explore it deeper and examine mankind’s relationship to it – materially, historically, culturally and psychologically.

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Digital Tenderness: Clare Price, Charlie Dutton Gallery, London

Interview by Bethany Rex

Clare Price’s new work represents a departure from the strictures of her previous work. Whilst adhering to the familiar formalist rules of earlier paintings, starting with the hand rendered pixellated lines that form a grid for the work there is a new energy and freedom that is seen both in the leaving behind of her traditonal landscape format and also the breaking down of the relationship with the original drawing. We caught up with one of the directors, Charlie Dutton to find out what it takes to open your own gallery.

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Wonders of the Universe: Beyond Ourselves @ The Royal Society, London

Interview by Bethany Rex

Featuring works by Agata Agatowska, Geraldine Cox, Chris Dunseath, Sam Knowles, David Rickard and Chooc Ly Tan, Beyond Ourselves opens tomorrow at the Royal Society, London. The exhibition brings together six innovative contemporary artists who have all placed the potential of enquiry and thought at the core of their work. We caught up with the curator, Ingrid Hinton, to find out more.

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The Cult of Beauty: The Aesthetic Movement 1860-1900 @ V&A, London

Review by Laura E. Barone, a candidate for the MA in Art History at Richmond the American International University in London.

The Victoria and Albert’s major spring exhibition, The Cult of Beauty: The Aesthetic Movement 1860-1900 is decadent, comprehensive, and seamlessly integrated into the setting and approach of the V&A. A deliberate reaction against the codes and visual gloom of the Victorian era, the Aesthetic movement approached art and beauty as valid ideals in their own right, and aimed to express this ethos through an entire lifestyle.

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Contemporary Scottish Culture: AHM Symposium

Review by Alistair Quietsch

With the recent announcement of the Arts Council England (ACE) cuts and funding decisions, the disbandment of the UK Film Council into three regional hubs in Birmingham, Manchester and Bristol, the location of artistic practice has become part of the debate. Following in this debate, The National Gallery, Edinburgh hosted AHM’s second symposium to discuss the current role of culture in Scotland. The day saw a collection of 200 industry professionals and students gather under the theme of the artist away from home.

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Aesthetica April/May – Issue 40 out today

I am so pleased to bring you issue 40 of Aesthetica Magazine. It’s an unbelievable feeling, especially when I look all the way back to issue one. Creating this magazine has been one of the most exhilarating things that I’ve ever done in my life.

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Outpost – Critical Spaces @ Trafó House of Contemporary Arts, Budapest

Review by Adam Harangozó

Stepping into the exhibition, it’s immediately evident why it is called Critical Spaces. It is in a small room, and all the exhibited items are visible from the entrance. In its resemblance to a warehouse, there is a feeling of almost post-apocalyptic desolation. But in Outpost it’s not the actual spaces that are important, rather the extended or shortened, and fictional ones, created by the exhibited items. Slovakian and Hungarian artists interpret the critical spaces of their region.

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Resemblances, Sympathies, and Other Acts – Jeremy Millar @ CCA, Glasgow

Review by Alistair Quietsch

Seeped in conceptual layering and research, Jeremy Millar’s current show at the CCA is at times, a seemingly disparate show of literary nods with a thorough post-modernist upbringing in the use of meta-narratives and referencing. However, it’s visually intriguing, as Millar seems unconstrained to a particular medium and seems happy to use various modes of expression, from wooden sculpture to video. Upon entering the larger gallery space immediately on the left is an unforgettable piece that resonates throughout the show even after viewing: the complete lifelike cast of the artist lying water logged and pale-white-dead on the floor. The piece is titled Self Portrait as a Drowned Man (The Willows) (2011) and was commissioned by the CCA itself and lies there, with suspicious gouges in its skin, begging for attention.