This weekend numerous galleries across the world present some outstanding contemporary exhibitions. Audiences can explore an extraordinary series of shows at the Edinburgh Art Festival, where emerging and established Scottish artists are celebrated together. The rhythmic poetry of photographer Machiel Botman is on display at Fotomuseum Den Haag, tracing his early images to his most recent. In our 5 To See This Weekend we also take a look at art at the Gagosian Gallery, Camilla Grimaldi and the Victoria and Albert Museum.
In Family Secrets: Acts of Memory and Imagination, Annette Kuhn commented that a photograph should not be considered a ‘mirror of the real’ but ‘material for interpretation, evidence in that sense: to be solved, like a riddle; read and decoded, like clues left behind at the scene of a crime. Evidence of this sort, though, can conceal, even as it purports to reveal, what it is evidence of. A photograph can certainly throw you off the scent’. While Kuhn’s comments may be applied to any genre of photography, they are particularly relevant to family photography in which, when face to face with a camera, the conventional response is to smile, an act which often masks a much wider range of emotions.
Jeff Wall pioneered large-scale photography, transcending the classical into the contemporary. His critically acclaimed work, produced in the form of colour transparencies displayed in lightboxes since the 1980s, was inspired by the backlit advertisements found at bus stops in Europe. The Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam highlights his oeuvre since 1996, featuring over 40 works in his second exhibition with the museum, entitled Jeff Wall: Tableaux, Pictures, Photographs, 1996–2013. At first, the scale and presentation of the photographs of commonplace scenes are impressive, but it is their enigmatic element that make them magnetic. The artist captures pop culture in a classical sense. His tableaux, with the potential to transform into 19th and 20th century master paintings, illuminate the allusions to art historical and philosophical notions of representation.
Appropriately enough, with the UK recently basking in a rare summer heatwave, the Photographers’ Gallery’s latest Print Sales selling exhibition evokes the British seaside holiday – complete with ice creams. Didn’t We Have A Lovely Time, featuring the work of five leading British photographers, celebrates the landscape, traditions and rituals of the seaside.
Austrian artist Franz West (1947 – 2012) was a pioneer in viewer participation. He achieved worldwide fame with his furniture and sculpture for exterior and interior spaces, and his Passstucke (Adaptives). The Hepworth Wakefield currently hosts a loosely chronological course of his work, distinct for an impression of charisma born of modesty. The impression of modesty comes from light-hearted good humour in the general invitation to visitors to participate and seek dialogue with the work. The charisma that crowns this exhibition emanates from the scale of the works, and the knowledge that their conceit was grounded in involved philosophical consideration.
This is the last chance to see Sean Kelly’s latest group exhibition presents ancient objects alongside contemporary paintings and offers a visual dialogue between old forms and those being investigated today by young painters working with abstraction.
As Exciting As We Can Make It: Ikon in the 1980s, currently on display at Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, is a departure from the solo and two-person exhibitions that have become synonymous with Ikon’s programme. Instead, this latest exhibition presents a culminating survey of the decade of decadence and excess. The exhibition features 29 artists that exhibited at Ikon, then located at John Bright Street, including Dennis Oppenheim, Charles Garrad, Cornelia Parker, Susan Hiller, Sean Scully, Richard Wilson and many more during the 1980s. Their works span across the two floor gallery and the tower room project space illuminating cutting edge philosophies and advancements in technologies that now look incredibly dated almost to the point of redundancy or have transitioned to become artefacts. However, as one intriguingly admires and creates rapports with these “artefacts” an astute sense of nostalgia envelops the celebration of the artists, their works and the legacies they leave behind.
The Zabludowicz Collection – which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year – is presenting four solo exhibitions of sculpture, taking place simultaneously at its North London home in a former Methodist chapel. They combine new site-specific works with pieces selected from the 3,000 works spanning 40 years of modern art which are held by the Collection. Each of the artists contributing engages in a distinctive way with the question of how to make sculpture today, while at the same time a number of threads can be seen which link their approaches. A central concern is an evocation of the human body and its fragile, messy nature, as well as the passing of time.
Aesthetica celebrates the work of writers through its Creative Writing Award, championing outstanding short fiction that demonstrates creative content and quality of form. Now in its eighth year, the Award supports writers who are longlisted for the Award and publishes their selected works in the Creative Writing Annual. We look in depth at short fiction writer Gemma Hawdon and present an extract from her selected story.
Becca Pelly-Fry is Director of Griffin Gallery and Global Artist Outreach Programme Manager for ColArt. Based in London, Griffin Gallery supports emerging artists through its diverse programme of exhibitions and its annual art prize, Griffin Art Prize. Above the gallery space are two fully equipped artists’ studios available for short and long term residencies, and adjoining the studios is the Innovation and Development Laboratory where new artists’ materials are developed for Winsor & Newton, Liquitex, Conté á Paris and more. Pelly-Fry speaks to Aesthetica about her interest in new artists and the hurdles they have to overcome to succeed.
This summer The Hepworth Wakefield presents the first reinvention of Allan Kaprow’s Yard to be realised in the UK. First installed outside the Martha Jackson Gallery back in 1961, Kaprow’s seminal “Environment”, or “Happening” will be hosted by The Calder, The Hepworth’s latest contemporary art space. Set across 600 square metres on the ground floor of a former 19th century textiles mill in the gallery garden, the project will comprise of thousands of tyres, which visitors are encouraged to play with, rearrange and rediscover.
The House of Illustration is not new. It launched in 2002 as a UK illustrators’ collective, spearheaded by Emma Chichester and indeed Quentin Blake himself, and has since attracted the attention of illustrators Peter Blake, Lauren Child, Sara Fanelli, David Gentleman and Jan Pienkowski, as well as Philip Pullman, Will Alsop and Peter Capaldi, to name a few. They’ve done travelling tours, education programmes and book illustration competitions. What’s new, however, is that 12 years down the line, they have found themselves a permanent home – and a sweet home it is too.