Issue 56 December / January of Aesthetica is in shops now! In this edition we consider the importance of reflecting upon the things you have done, as well as those you didn’t do and will go on to do in the future. We start with Hello, my name is Paul Smith, which is on now at the Design Museum, London, and looks at the art, fashion and creative ingenuity of one of Britain’s leading designers. We also examine The Desire for Freedom. Art in Europe since 1945 at MOCAK in Krakow, Poland. At MoMA in New York, European art is also being showcased: Isa Genzken’s installations and sculptures are the subject of a massive retrospective, which surveys the layers of her work.
The calendar flips over to the final month of the year this weekend, meaning there’s not long left to catch the best art exhibitions around the world before the festive season entirely takes over. The start of December brings with it, alongside jugfuls of mulled wine and piles of mince pies, a whole feast of exciting new shows, from James-Joyce inspired presentations to gigantic marble islands. So, to get your December off to the very best of starts, here’s our top selections for this Saturday and Sunday…
Osborne Samuel presents With A Conscious Eye: An Exhibition of Three Photographers from 4 to 21 December. The exhibition showcases three of the UK’s leading contemporary photographers, each of whom use their medium to provide unique and powerful insights into the lives and traditions of various communities and individuals around the world.
Mark Bradford’s second show to date with White Cube, London, Through Darkest America by Truck and Tank is on until January 2014 and is soaked in a richly violent dialogue examining the monotonous blood vessels that unite all the vital organs of America – the highways. The title comes from the former American president Dwight D Eisenhower as he relates his experience as a member of the Transcontinental Motor Convoy of 1919. This, along with observations he made in Germany during the Second World War, led to the adoption of a nationwide highway system in the US in the 1950s. In turn however, the highways ripped and desolated communities, irreparably scarring the vast varieties of America’s landscapes.
For the second time, the Michael Hoppen Gallery opens Splinter, a one-day art fair on 30 November. As before, the event will offer a wide range of 19th, 20th and 21st century photography from well known practitioners including Joe Szabo, Araki (polaroids), Karl Blossfeldt, Colin Jones and Shoji Ueda to anonymous work.
The animalistic and savage creatures of MBE award-winning sculptor, Nicola Hicks (b.1960), find their home at Flowers Gallery, New York, until 18 January. Full of a quiet expression, these towering straw and plaster figures set out to explore the nature of character, using the animal as a proxy for understanding human emotions.
The Uneventful Day brings together the unique and interconnected work of three young artists: Jim Woodall, Alexander Page and Luke Burton. Featuring installation, photography, videos and drawings, the show examines humanities’ relationship with landscape and architecture. Running 28 November to 21 December at Carroll / Fletcher, London, the three individuals unite to create a distinct presentation that celebrates both their solo projects and their combined ideas.
Interview with Jonathan Sutton on the male art collective, Phantoms in the Front Yard’s new exhibition: Shed.
Phantoms in the Front Yard, an all-male painting collective that exalts the romantic vision of old-world figurative realism in art, has just unveiled a pop-up exhibition at the HSBC headquarters in downtown Vancouver. In this showcase of what might be possible in the interpretation of Shed, we see glimpses of a tenderness that we wouldn’t expect from men, especially while exploring one of the most stereotyped symbols of masculinity, the ersatz tool shed. Among a tight edit of engaging pieces, we are treated to pencil and watercolour renderings of a wandering man among allegorically portrayed sheds intertwined with animals reminiscent of Grimm’s Fairytales. An installation of an actual shed, wallpapered in antique rose-covered paper and filled with paintings of the making of this shed, seems to spiritualise the everyday manual labourers as if they were today’s Goyas.
Poet Philip Davenport curates the world premiere of The Dark Would, running from 7 December to 24 January as part of the Summerhall Winter Visual Arts Programme. Concerned with excavating notions of mortality to dig out old, dead categories of art, such as Concrete Poetry, Conceptual Art and Vispo, this exhibition seeks to re-position artists alongside poets and “outsiders” and free up space for a new wave of practitioners.
Interview with Paul Green, Director of the Halcyon Gallery, on Bob Dylan’s new sculpture exhibition, Mood Swings.
Bob Dylan, known more so for his poetry, music and writing, began introducing his artwork to the world with an exhibition of his Drawn Blank Series in 2007 at the Kunstsammlungen in Chemnitz, Germany. The exhibition included over 200 watercolours and gouache paintings made from original drawings. Within the last six years he has exhibited his drawings and paintings time and time again in some of the world’s most renowned museums and galleries such as the National Gallery of Denmark, the Gagosian Gallery in New York, Milan’s Palazzo Reale and last summer at the National Portrait Gallery in London. Now, Dylan exhibits his most recent sculptures at the Halcyon Gallery in London. The seven gates, glass-top tables and wall hangings made out of iron and vintage objects collected by Dylan resonates the death of industrial America. With this immaculate exhibition it is as if Dylan is returning back to his childhood town of Hibbing, Minnesota; the motto of which is “We’re Ore and More”. Since Dylan has decided not to give any interviews in relation to Mood Swings in order to let the work speak for itself, we had a interview with Paul Green, the Director of the Halcyon Gallery.
Los Angeles artist Alex Prager has spent the last 10 years constructing imagined scenes for her photographic work. Full of colour, tension and narrative, Prager’s images continue to play with the figure of the woman and she draws inspiration from classic Hollywood films, fashion advertising and icons of documentary photography. For the first time her work appears in a solo museum show in the USA in Face in the Crowd at the Corcoran Gallery of Art until 9 March.
Florian Pumhösl’s (b.1971) minimalist triptychs first debuted in London last year and are available to explore once more at Lisson Gallery until 11 January. Made up of a series of three plaster panels progressing in size, these works create an abstract visual language sequence, stamped with an implement called a cliché: an onomatopoeic French word that describes the “cliché” sound a metal press makes each time it strikes the printing process.