In this month’s selection of 10 unmissable exhibitions to see around the UK, there is an accidental focus on the radical and the unconventional. From the Impressionists’ use of scientific colour theory to a democratic exhibition that challenges elitism, through to Paul Nash’s landscapes that created a new way to paint England, these exhibitions could inspire a new way to look and think about art.
1) 75 Works on Paper
BEERS London is running its second annual Work on Paper exhibition, the works ranges from figurative, abstract and text-based, through collage and preliminary sketches, to sculptural and conceptual art. They asked a combination of emerging and mid-career artists to contribute between one and four A4 works on paper. The result of these 50 artists contributions, who are all working internationally, is an exhibition which celebrates each artist’s insight and unique work in a concentrated form.
Fascinatingly the works included were either created specifically for the exhibition, or are off casts from each artist’s own archive. The results have ended up encompassing a wide range of media, technical experience and conceptual approaches. It is an exhibition that reminds one of the diversity of work artists produce, as well as the subtle connections that emerge from artists who are working in the same time period.
The above image is by Kathryn Maple, who is interested in the possibilities mark making and image making provide. She combines densely detailed areas with sparse space forming work that mimics tapestries without using any thread, instead she relies on paint and line. She graduated from Prince’s Drawing School Postgraduate Programme in 2013 and won the Sunday Times Watercolour Competition in 2014.
William Bradley, Jonathan Chapline, Jonni Cheatwood, Pat Cleveland, Miles Debas, Kim Dorland,
James Drinkwater, Jonathan Edelhuber, Nick Flatt (w. Paul Punk), Robert Fry, Lenz Geerk, Ina Gerken,
Robert Hardgrave, Clinton Hayden, Aly Helyer, Damien Hoar de Galvan, Gregory Hodge, Anna Ilsley,
Thomas Iser, Joshua Jefferson, Daniel Jensen, Erik Jones, Jordy Kerwick, Sandro Kopp, William Lachanc,
Adam Lee, Dane Lovett, Leif Low Beer, Jessie Makinson, Kathryn Maple, Peter Matthews, Matt Maust,
Laith McGregor, Holly Mills, Igor Moritz, Benjamin Murphy, Mark Mullin, Dominic Musa, Dominic Myatt,
Daniel Noonan, Erik Olson, Danielle Orchard, Naudline Pierre, Mateusz Piestrak, Henrik Placht,
Michael Reeder, Barry Reigate, Zach Reini, Nathan Ritterpusch, Giuliano Sale, Andrew Salgado,
Mason Saltarrelli, David Shillinglaw, Antonia Showering, Matthew David Smith, Pablo Tomek,
Thom Trojanowski, Hobson Camille Walala, Taylor A White.
Showing at BEERS London Gallery between 17th November until 23rd December 2017.
This comprehensive retrospective is a chance to see a large amount of Modigliani’s work and understand the inspirational and pivotal effect his work has had on the art world since the 20th century. His style is instantly recognisable and has become a beloved symbol of emotionally engaged pictorial work.
One of the main focuses of the show is Modigliani’s nudes. 12 of these are on display together in this exhibition, making it the largest collection of his nudes ever to be collectively exhibited in the UK. In the 1910 as the art world was losing interest in the nude, Modigliani revived and enriched the subject. He found a way to present the body as a person, who was living, breathing and feeling— deep in sleep, thought or desire —without falling into the trap of appearing to be a distant voyeur or becoming a humiliating exhibitor of objectified flesh. The sensual nature of these nudes, in fact led to Modigliani’s only ever solo show being censored by the police for indecency.
This exhibition, as well as showing his nudes, is also an opportunity to discover his intriguing and unusual sculptures, an often forgotten area of his practice. For familiarity, alongside these radical and exciting elements are shown portraits he made of his lovers, friends and patrons, including well-know portraits of Pablo Picasso, Constantin Brancusi and Jeanne Hébuterne.
Additionally, the Tate has developed a VR experience of Modigliani’s The Ochre Atelier: his last studio in the centre of Paris in the early 20th century. This is a chance to enter into the mindset of Modigliani and fully consider his short and intense life.
Showing at Tate Modern until 2nd April 2018.
3) Winter Show: Martin Tinney Gallery
The Martin Tinney Gallery, which was established in 1992, specialises in the work of Welsh and Wales-based artists and sells to both individuals and large public galleries. Their Winter Show is one of the most popular of the year and is made up mainly of drawings and paintings by Wale’s leading artists, both past and present. The works very in subject matter and style from the figurative to the abstract. It has the exciting element that once a work is sold it is immediately removed and replaced by an alternative piece, meaning that any two days at the exhibition might never be the same.
Exhibiting artists include:
Keith Andrew, Kim Atkinson, Glyn Baines, Helen Baines, Karina Rosanne Barrett, Richard Barrett, Keith Bowen, Charles Burton, Rosemary Burton, Neil Canning, Brenda Chamberlain, George Chapman, Dick Chappell, Martin Collins, Daniel Crawshaw, James Dickson Innes, John Elwyn, Sarah Evans, Oliver Gaiger, Susan Gathercole, Tom Gerrard, Meirion Ginsberg, Mary Griffiths, Iwan Gwyn Parry, Josef Herman, Clive Hicks-Jenkins, Harry Holland, Sue Howells, Darren Hughes, Sally James Thomas, Augustus John, Gwen John, David Jones, Huw Jones, Jack Jones, John Knapp-Fisher, Karel Lek, Ann Lewis, Eurfryn Lewis, Mary Lloyd Jones, John Macfarlane, Ishbel McWhirter, Eleri Mills, Kate Milsom, Peter Moore, Sally Moore, Edward Morland Lewis, Sir Cedric Morris, Sigrid Muller, Philip Nicol, Gareth Parry, John Petts, John Piper, Robert Pitwell, Peter Prendergast, Gwilym Prichard, Shani Rhys James, Ceri Richards, Wilf Roberts, William Selwyn, Kevin Sinnott, Sarah Thwaites, Meri Wells, William Wilkins, Catrin Williams, Claudia Williams, Evelyn Williams, Sir Kyffin Williams, Vivienne Williams, Louise Young, Stephen Young, Ernest Zobole.
Showing at Martin Tinney Gallery, Cardiff, between 30th November 2017 – 6 January 2018.
4) Seurat to Riley: The Art of Perception
‘Seurat to Riley: The Art of Perception’ is composed of paintings, ceramics and prints, made over the last 150 years, by artists who have investigated how the human eye sees and perceives.
It includes work from the Impressionists onwards and explores scientific colour theories, the effect of movement, Op art and Kinetic art to compose an exhibition that really demonstrates how fallible the human eye is alongside how artists exploit this trait for an effect and response.
It unusually uses art and science to place Impressionism, Pointillism, Vorticism and Contemporary pop art in to a dialogue about what it means to see and we in fact we do see.
Showing at The Holburne Museum, Bath until 21st January 2018.
5) ‘Who Decides’: Making Connections with Contemporary Art
This exhibition both in subject matter and in organisation challenges the concept and mechanisms of how museum’s work. It asks the question ‘why if museums are for everyone is it only a select group of people who choose what is collected and displayed?’
Because of this ‘Who Decides?’ was curated by service users from The Wallich, a charity which supports those who have experienced homelessness, out of a large selection of paintings, sculptures, films, prints and drawings acquired in the last 10 years by the National Museum of Cardiff and the Derek Williams Trust.
The final exhibition contains an installation of over 70 ceramic works from Anita Besson’s private collection, and 2 dimensional work by Anthony Caro, Olga Chernysheva, Richard Deacon, Laura Ford, Richard Long, Paula Rego, Clare Woods and Bedwyr Williams, amongst others.
It takes its revolutionary aim further and allows you to vote for a work to be ‘released’ from storage and put on public display. This hopes to open up the idea that museums could be democratic, and trial what happens if you democratically curate an exhibition.
The work above is by Clare Woods who works in both London and Wales, she is known for her large scale paintings, that are often almost optical illusions in their abstraction, and for having produced produced several high end commissions, including one for London Olympic Delivery Authority.
Showing at the National Museum Cardiff between 28th October 2017 to 2nd September 2018.
6) Drawing In at Tregony Gallery
Drawing In as a name speaks of the clever and subtle humour of the exhibition as a whole. It refers both to the drawing in of light as we approach the shortest day of the year and to the fact this is the first exhibition to be held at The Tregony Gallery dedicated solely to drawing as a practice.
It promotes drawing as a completed process rather than just as a preliminary step for a later work, demonstrating that drawing as an art form has a wide breadth of techniques, styles and interest. It also provides new insights into gallery artists showing the depth of their work and processes.
It introduces 3 newly represented artists, Nicky Knowles, Steven Hubbard and Claire Ireland; displays the diffuse textural palettes of Meg Buick, Nicole Price, Mark Hanson, Sarah Spackman, Dana Finch, Ella Carty and Sara Lee Roberts alongside the pure lines of Kay Vinson, Gothic Evans, Daniel Preece, Judi Green, Nicole Price and Mark Dunford.
It also includes a range of sculptures by Peter Graham, David Burrows and Lilia Umana Clarke and original ceramics by Bridget Macklin, Pip Hartle and Leonie Stanton.
‘Drawing In’ is showing at The Tregony Gallery between 14th November 2017 and 6th January 2018.
7) The EY Exhibition: Impressionists in London
This exhibition focuses on the move by French artists in the 1870s to the safely of England. These émigrés fled from insurrection in Paris and the Franco-Prussian war. It includes work by Monet, Tissot, Pissarro, Dalou, Sisley, Derain and Legros.
Technically this exhibition focuses on these artists’ experience of London, the friendships they formed there and their involvement with the British art scene. The claim being they not only developed the British scene itself but it dramatically changed their own work.
However, the exhibition ends up containing an intriguing tension between the French artists who returned after a short time to their homeland and those who welcomed and were welcomed in return by the Victorian art scene. Partly this draws a thematic line between conservative work, which played to the British sensibility, and budding Impressionism, which was beginning to strongly push boundaries on the continent.
The exhibition does demonstrate the breath of fresh air that the Impressionists gave to smoky Victorian Britain with stunning work by Pissarro, who maintains a gentle balance between abstraction and observation, and the largest selection of Monet’s Houses of Parliament paintings to have been shown in Europe for the last 40 years.
Showing at Tate Britain until 7th May 2018.
8) Two Decades: British Printmaking in the 1960s and 1970s
This exhibition presents prints made over two decades in Britain and includes work by Barbara Hepworth, Allen Jones, R.B. Kitaj, Henry Moore, Victor Pasmore, John Piper, Graham Sutherland and Joe Tilson.
It focuses on the revival of printmaking in Britain in the 1950s and how over the following 3 decades artists sort to expand their practice by using the developments that were being made in etching, lithography and screenprint to extend and nuance their practices.
In the 1960s, this boom alongside the annual print exhibition Graven Image at the Whitechapel Gallery allowed the wider public to view and purchase more work by contemporary artists than ever before, pushing it to become a socially open movement.
The experimentation and innovation that printmaking provided these artists became a pivotal and freeing part of their practices and allowed for a greater variety of work to be produced. This exhibition forcefully demonstrates the advantages and importance that printmaking can have for an artist.
Showing at Marlborough London Gallery, from 29th November 2017 until 6th January 2018
9) Paul Nash and the Uncanny Landscape
John Stezaker’s curation of Paul Nash’s stunning and radical inter-war landscapes focuses on their transformative character which changed British landscape painting forever.
Within the works themselves you can see and feel the disruption that the First World War had on romanticism and pastoral themes, the landscape becomes bleached out, disturbed, infinite as if nothing can be contained anymore. Stezaker has sought in this exhibition to portray Nash and his fellows sense of dislocation and unease with the everyday—each work seems to be an uncanny relative of the works that were produced a decade before. The exhibition forms a narrative of where Nash’s unreal landscapes have taken painters from the 20th century up to today, because of this it features Stezaker’s own landscapes which response to the strange sense of estrangement and the uncanny in Nash’s work.
It also includes a private collection of Nash’s drawings, paintings, photographs and ephemera that have barely ever been shown in public and which offer a direct insight into the life of Paul Nash and his brother John.
Showing at York Art Gallery from 20th October 2017 until 15th April 2018.
10) Everyone is a Moon – Amy-Jane Blackhall
Amy-Jane Blackhall’s exhibition ‘Everyone Is A Moon’ is an immersive sculptural installation made up of completely new prints and sculpture.
Blackhall processes her interest in interconnectedness by exploring it through the physical and spiritual act of making. This becomes particularly obvious when she works with print as its repetitive nature emphasises these actions and the concept. Her work echoes and reflects the interest and fascination that archetypal symbols maintain for people in spite of different cultures, geographical locations, time frames and languages. Many of the symbols she chooses to work with come from scared spaces and she is inspired by Orient art and Eastern Ideologies, yet their appeal speaks to a much larger audience.
‘A large lunar abacus takes centre stage. A familiar childhood object used for counting now holds hand blown glass moons positioned to mark the lunar phases of 2017. Casting it’s own shadow and reflection in the moon mirror it exists beyond it’s framework; as the audience orbit the space they can’t help but interact and engage.
Accompanied by a series of prints made from solar plates there is an emphasis on the comfort in the cadence and repetition of ongoing cycles that both anchor and elude us.’
You can find out more about Amy-Jane Blackhall by visiting her website.
Showing at Huddersfield Art Gallery until 13th January 2018.
The image at the top is: The Little Peasant c.1918 (detail), Amedeo Modigliani 1884-1920, Presented by Miss Jenny Blaker in memory of Hugh Blaker 1941.