This April there are a number of outstanding art exhibitions on display across the world, and we take a look at the best shows open this weekend. Munich’s Haus der Kunst focuses on the wide-ranging works of Ellen Gallagher, while the city gates open in Glasgow for the start of the sixth international festival. Catch the first weekend of the Saatchi Gallery’s re-joining of Africa and Latin America in Pangaea, or follow the themes of social unrest with Welcome to Iraq at South London Gallery, and across the Atlantic there’s SFMOMA’s Public Intimacy, a revelation of the politics entwined in the everyday of South Africa.
1. Ellen Gallagher: AxME, Haus der Kunst, Munich
This survey show takes an overview Gallagher’s often unsettling works over the last three decades. Filled with imagery from myth, nature, art and social history, the viewer is invited to explore the narratives of individual pieces as well as her extensive career. From the minimalist paintings that captured the New York art world in the early 1990s, to the 396 portraits collected in a monumental grid a decade later, and the artist’s most recent film work, the exhibition cuts, layers and obscures to make a world quite extraordinary.
2. Pangaea: New Art from Africa and Latin America, Saatchi Gallery, London
Drawing on the prehistoric land mass that was once both Latin America and Africa, this broad overview attempts to reunite the continents and demonstrate links between the two. The work of 16 artists culminates in parallels of colonial rule, urban migration and political unrest that reach further than the geographical ties that once were. As recognition for artists from both continents increases in a less Eurocentric art world, the exhibition nods to this important shift while creating a rich visual experience.
3. Glasgow International Festival, in various venues across the city
The opening weekend of Glasgow’s world-renowned biennial festival of contemporary art looks set to animate the city with exhibitions, events, talks, performances and projects continuing until 21 April. Attracting and supporting local and international artists, the festival fills Glasgow’s museums and galleries as well as its non-traditional spaces, including a public bath house, an underground car park, a shopping centre and a former coffee factory. With 150 artists from 24 countries contributing to 50 exhibitions and 90 events, the sixth edition of the festival cements Glasgow’s position as a creative hub for contemporary visual art.
4. Public Intimacy: Art and Other Ordinary Acts in South Africa, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (currently in Yerba Buena Centre for the Arts), San Francisco
While SFMOMA closes its building for expansion, the art displays spill out over the city. Perhaps for the first time on the West Coast, the museum is displaying its collection of South African photography alongside works in a broad range of media, including video, painting, sculpture, performance, and publications from 25 extremely current artists and collectives. The show coincides with the 20th anniversary of democracy in South Africa, aptly revealing the complexities of the quotidian amongst the vast political changes still present in the country.
5. Welcome to Iraq, South London Gallery, London
Curated by Jonathan Watkins, director of Birmingham’s Ikon Gallery, Welcome to Iraq brings together works by 11 contemporary artists with strong ties to the country. Through a variety of media that includes contemporary political cartoons, sculpture and film, there is a glimpse in to the everyday life that continues under the nation’s extraordinary historical circumstances. Both atmospheric and pedagogic, the exhibition emulates a salon environment where visitors can sit and drink tea or learn more about Iraqi culture, with books and comics presented in collaboration with the Iraq National Library and Archive.
1. Ellen Gallagher, Pomp-Bang, 2003 (detail), Collection Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. Joseph and Jory Shapiro Fund by exchange and restricted gift of Sara Szold © Ellen Gallagher.