First snow has fallen in some parts of the UK and the arrival of the winter freeze has sent the crowds scurrying in from the cold. This weekend is therefore a great time to make the most of the slightly quieter streets and go on an adventure exploring the very best art and culture on offer whilst others hibernate away at home. Whether it’s a hot blast of colour or a quiet space of reflection you need to blow the winter cobwebs away, here are our tips for how you might like to pass this chilly Saturday and Sunday.
1. David Batchelor: Flatlands, Spike Island, Bristol
When not creating the shockingly bright illuminated lightboxes and industrial dollies that made his name, David Batchelor (b.1955) indulges his first love of drawing and painting: an interest in the two-dimensional that is now showcased for the first time at Spike Island. Always covered in electric colours, capturing the lurid glare of the nocturnal metropolis through spraypaint, industrial tape and highlighter pens, Batchelor’s drawings and paintings form a varied and eye-popping collection. Presenting works created over the last two decades, including the most recent October series and preparatory drawings for sculpture, alongside the kaleidoscopic installation, Disco Mecanique, prepare for an assault of colour and hit of the exuberant.
2. The Show is Over, Gagosian Gallery, London
The fatal end of painting forms the beginning point of this latest abstract exhibition at the Gagosian, London, interrogating the nihilism and negation in modern art that emerged from the post-war period and lingers into the present day. From Christopher Wood’s statement billboards, splashed with a teasing irony, to Steven Parrino’s urban Punk canvases, sprayed with anarchism, The Show is Over works through different ways of effacing the picture plane. Canvas voids, black holes and gaping vaccuums suck in visitors as the imagined and real limits of painting become glaringly obvious.
3. Thomas Schütte, Fondation Beyeler, Switzerland
Women of steel and glass heads join forces with delicate watercolours and expressive photographs in this selection of Thomas Schütte’s (b.1954) oeuvre. Showcasing both well-known pieces and rarely-seen works alike, the human body pops up in diverse, abstract and bizarre positions throughout the exhibition in a way that brings to the fore the modern image of man as pictured by artists such as Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Alberto Giacometti and Francis Bacon. Get ready for a space where gold classical figurines and giant curvaceous hares suddenly meet in surprising and strangely significant ways.
4. Dennis Oppenheim: Thought Collision Factories, Henry Moore Institute, Leeds
Dennis Oppenheim’s (1938-2011) new exhibition is set to go with a bang as Thought Collision Factories explores his use of fireworks, flares and machines as sculptural materials. Performance, installation, film and architecture crash into one another as sculptures are ignited in front of the Henry Moore Institute, their sparks spelling out the titles “Narrow Mind”, “Mindless Less Mind” and “Mind Twist” and gallery pieces emit a continuous stream of explosions. Throughout the gallery machines whir and shudder, churning out the likes of rockets and candyfloss in a questioning of the mechanical’s perfections and processes, positing the possibility of the machine as a “metaphor for thinking”, never flawless and capable of breaking down at any moment.
5. Abu Dhabi Art Fair, UAE
Bringing together a selection of art galleries from across the world, the Abu Dhabi Art Fair celebrates quality modern and contemporary art from design to sculpture, installation to Bidaya (meaning “beginning” or “emergent” in Arabic) works. Back for a fifth year running at the Manarat Al Saadiyat exhibition centre and UAE Pavilion in the Saadiyat Cultural District, this year’s fair is really aiming to pull out all the stops, incorporating everything from Emirati poems on buses to dance in a man-made boat, art on the beach to juggling performances. Created in conjunction with 43 international galleries, showcasing the work of over 400 artists, this a mammoth art fair is certain to reveal the fascinating and unexpected.
Words: Katharine Wootton
1. Dennis Oppenheim, Narrow Mind, 1974, Fireworks sign, location undisclosed © Dennis Oppenheim, photo courtesy collection A. Oppenheim.