Springtime in London: the sun has finally decided to show its face, so we’ve been wandering through Mayfair, poking around Peckham, and scoping out the East End, checking in with the gallery scene. Here are 10 solo and two-person exhibitions that have us talking, featuring photography, painting, video, immersive installations, feature films, and assemblages, from young, emerging artists, to established greats.
Arcadia Missa, 18 February – 29 April 2017
A timely counterpoint to the Dana Schutz controversy, Los Angeles-based Aria Dean and Melbourne-based Hamishi Farah’s exhibition-as-dialogue confronts “the problems, possibilities, and violences of portraiture,” revealing multiple tensions and issues surrounding the representation of blackness. As such, these portraits appear abstracted, diverted, and coded, looking for “that sweet spot between refusal of the figurative image and an artistic program of representation,” as Dean says.
Sadie Coles HQ, Kingly Street, 1 March – 13 April 2017
Sadie Coles presents German artist John Bock’s latest feature film, Hell’s Bells, an exploration and exploitation of the tropes of the Western film as “a gory, high-camp, gothic extravaganza,” as critic Louisa Buck put it. Props and set pieces from the film form an immersive installation, cast in a ruddy-golden glow. The 90-minute film is being screened at 10am, 11:30am, 1pm, 2:30pm and 4pm through the run of the exhibition.
Hauser & Wirth, 1 March – 29 April 2017
This survey of the career of late Austrian painter Maria Lassnig was first shown at Hauser & Wirth’s Los Angeles gallery, organized by recently departed partner Paul Schimmel and Peter Pakesch, the Chairman of the Maria Lassnig Foundation. The artist’s curious style unfolds from abstraction to figuration, and from landscape to her signature “body awareness” self-portraiture. Lassnig painted what she felt through the abstract sensations of her body. She couldn’t feel her hair, however, as evidenced by her many scalp-less portraits.
Maureen Paley, 11 March – 23 April 2017
This joint exhibition explores the formal affinities and shared interests between Norwegian-born, New York-based Gardar Eide Einarsson and Los Angeles-based Oscar Tuazon. Both artists met in the Whitney Program in 2001 and have remained friends and collaborators ever since. Their practices involve the re-appropriation and re-contextualization of images, information, and materials into abstract forms and new narratives. According to Einarsson, their works involve a “levelling of images” and materials, “hot-wiring them and cobbling them together to create new meaning.” Or, as Tuazon characterizes it, their works “cut reality apart and reassemble it.”
Tyburn Gallery, 17 March – 6 May 2017
The new sculptures and wall hangings by Zimbabwean artist Moffat Takadiwa are intricate masterpieces of detritus and found materials, like bottle tops and keyboard keys. The standout piece of the show is the impressive Judging by Language (2017), a massive arched wall hanging, resembling an oculus, with cascades of computer keys stretching to the floor—representing the dismantling of the colonial oppression of language.
White Cube, Mason’s Yard, 17 March – 13 May 2017
American artist Fred Tomaselli began The Times series in 2005, and it’s on these embellished front pages of the New York Times that his hallucinatory, mesmerizing drawings are at their best. Subtly political, often humorous, viewing the series is like having an acid flashback of yesterday’s news. As Tomaselli has stated, “I think that maybe the Times collages are quietly political, in that I can riff on anything I want, while the horrors of the world become the background buzz. Maybe I’m saying that the world may be going to hell, but I still keep painting.” White Cube presents Tomaselli’s works on paper, including works from The Times series, as well as photograms and collages.
David Zwirner, 17 March – 20 May 2017
American artist Christopher Williams’ latest exhibition continues his dissection of the commercial photographic image as a means to critique capitalist culture. Along with several stock images pointing to the conditions of their own production, he presents a series of photographic lenses in cutaway views, revealing their mechanics. The extremely close-up view he takes of the conventions and production of photographic images is summed up by the artist thus: “Imagine holding your finger over a text on your iPhone so that the cursor becomes a magnifier enlarging the area under your finger. This is a good image for the way that I move through types of production.”
Beetles+Huxley, 22 March - 22 April 2017
These digitally manipulated images of temporary constructions using everyday materials by young South African sculptor and photographer Nico Krijno reward deep and sustained looking. The playfully deconstructed still-life images experiment with and destabilize the limits of photographic “truthfulness,” reflecting the fluidity of the photographic image in the digital age. Colorful, confusing, and complex, curator and critic Efrem Zelony-Mindell aptly calls them “wonderful freaks.”
Flowers, Cork Street, 29 March – 29 April 2017
Dutch artist Scarlett Hooft Graafland travels to remote parts of the world seeking out landscapes that provide the surreal backdrops to her sculptural interventions. The exhibition at Flowers Gallery presents a decade of Hooft Graafland’s seductive images, produced in such far-flung locales as the island of Vanuatu, the Canadian arctic, the salt flats of Bolivia, and the Arabian Desert.
Lisson Gallery, Bell Street, 31 March – 6 May 2017
Swedish-born, Berlin-based duo Nathalie Djurberg and Hans Berg are back with three raucous, risqué and ribald videos—featuring Djurberg’s stop-motion claymation and Berg’s musical compositions—brimming with erotic energy, sexual discovery, and full-on carnal pleasure enacted by cartoonish fairy-tale characters and porn puppets. The exhibition also includes an installation of 60 silicone figurines in a rollicking arrangement on the gallery floor.