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There’s a ridiculously good line-up of things to do this month, from exhibitions showing the work of Tacita Dean, Sarah Lucas, Paulo Bruscky and Julian Schnabel to mediations on modernist bread, poetry and the phenomenon of fabulousness. So get outside this May – it would be rude not to!



Tacita Dean: PORTRAIT, at National Portrait Gallery | Tacita Dean, Merce Cunningham, David Hockney & Ben Whishaw (Until 28 May)

It’s appropriate that the National Portrait Gallery’s first ever exhibition dedicated to the medium of film is a survey of work by the British artist Tacita Dean, known for her 16mm celluloid film work. Here, a number of Dean’s works featuring influential figures from the art and theatre worlds are on show, including Merce Cunningham in Merce Cunningham performs STILLNESS…(six performances, six films) (2008), David Hockney in Portraits (2016) and new film His Picture in Little (2017), featuring Stephen Dillane and Ben Whishaw, made specially for the gallery’s collection.


Paulo Bruscky: The Gallery Will Be Fumigated of Art, at Richard Saltoun | Paulo Bruscky (Until 26 May)

Artist, poet, founder of the mail-art movement and early-appreciator of the Xerox machine, Brazilian artist Paulo Bruscky is one-of-a-kind. His art is both ultra-political and peppered with humour and wordplay – a combination that’s just as much needed today as it was amidst Brazil’s military dictatorship in the 1970s (a backdrop which much of Bruscky’s work was created in opposition against.) This retrospective presents over 200 works from the 1960s to today, following a major exhibition of his work at The Pompidou Centre, Paris, last year.


Thigh House by Rosa Uddoh, at Sarabande: The Lee Alexander McQueen Foundation | Rosa Uddoh (10-13 May)

According to a Cuban tale, it was the role of black female slaves to create terracotta roof tiles – moulded from their thighs – to cover the homes of colonial houses across the island. Rising London-based artist Rosa Uddoh take this folk story as a starting point for ‘Thigh House’. Through workshops and drop-in sessions, she’s worked with women and non-binary people to reclaim that old story and create roof tiles from their bodies, to create a new roof at Sarabande.


Azzedine Alaïa: The Couturier, at The Design Museum | Azzedine Alaïa (10 May-7 October)

This much-anticipated exhibition of the work of Azzedine Alaïa, one of the greatest fashion designers of the 20th century, opens just six months after his death. Starting from his early days as a sculptor, right up to his last collection in 2017, this is a must-see retrospective of a bold, non-conformist and totally original creative.


Norman Hyams: Serious Pursuits, at Hannah Barry Gallery | Norman Hyams (16 May – 23 June)

Any regulars at the much-loved cafe and greengrocers Leila’s Shop on Calvert Avenue, Shoreditch will recognise the work of Norman Hyams, perhaps without even realising. His large-scale painting of a crowded table scene hangs on the wall above the real life crowded table scenes. Hyams’ expressive portraits of people, landscapes, kitchen tables and domestic scenes runs at Hannah Barry Gallery in Peckham this month.


Nudes, at Sadie Coles HQ | Sarah Lucas, Urs Fischer, Elizabeth Peyton, Richard Prince & More (Until 26 May)

Works by thirteen artists – including Sarah Lucas, Urs Fischer, Elizabeth Peyton, Richard Prince and Borna Sammak – show in this exhibition exploring the role of the nude body within art. What’s the difference between nakedness and nude? And is the nude body an enduring or archaic motif? Nudes seeks to unpick the answers.


Julian Schnabel: The re-use of 2017 by 2018. The re-use of Christmas, birthdays. The re-use of a joke. The re-use of air and water, at Pace Gallery | Julian Schnabel (18 May – 22 June)

When Julian Schnabel stumbled across a bunch of 18th century calendar prints in a second-hand shop in New York, they became the focus of a new series of paintings, shown in here in The re-use of 2017 by 2018. The re-use of Christmas, birthdays. The re-use of a joke. The re-use of air and water. Sweet, pastoral scenes are painted over in pinks and black lines, and as Schnabel explains: “It is about the power to take ordinary things, and by arranging them, to produce a transcendence of their ordinariness. The prints are reinterpreted just as all yesterdays and todays are.”


Film and Performance

RIVET XVI: Jasmine Gibson and Momtaza Mehri, at SOAS Students’ Union | Jasmine Gibson, Momtaza Mehri, Gizem Okulu & Kashif Sharma-Patel (1 May)

This is the first UK reading for Brooklyn-based poet and radical psychotherapist Jasmine Gibson, so it’s a special one. She’s joined by poet and meme archivist Momtaza Mehri, poet Gizem Okulu, whose debut book Too Sliced For Landing was released last year, as well as writer Kashif Sharma-Patel, who edits the zine Southern Discomfort.


Wu-Lu Curates: Black Midi / Shaun Sky / Omelet, at Birthdays | Wu-Lu, Black Midi, Shaun Sky & Black Omelet (10 May)

Described by Clash magazine as “one of London’s most potent musicians” producer and musician Wu-Lu curates this showcase of his favourite emerging musicians from south of the river. It’s not to be missed – least of all because it’s a chance to see black midi, who have “barely a soundcloud link to speak of” play live.


The White Review x Burley Fisher Poetry Salon, at Burley Fisher Books | Kayo Chingonyi, Belinda Zhawi and Kate Potts (4 May)

For the latest of White Review and Burley Fisher’s monthly poetry salons, Belinda Zhawi and Kate Potts will read their work. Zhawi is a Zimbabwean-born writer and educator who lives and works in London; her work mostly focuses on memories of living in rural and urban Zimbabwe. She was previously Associate Poet at the ICA, and has published her work in anthologies Liminal Animals and Casagrande: Rain of Poems. Potts’ second poetry collection Feral is out in September. Kayo Chingonyi hosts.



Francisco Migoya: Modernist Bread, at the British Library | Francisco Migoya , Polly Russell (4 May)

Maker of avant-garde breads and author of the expansive (and visually arresting) five-volume tome Modernist Bread: the Art and Science, Francisco Migoya presents a revolutionary new understanding of this humble staple, in conversation with food historian Polly Russell. It’s part of the British Library’s on-going season dedicated to food culture and history.


Quo Vadis & Friends: Olia Hercules, at Quo Vadis | Olia Hercules & Jeremy Lee (16 May)

Olia Hercules, the London-based Ukrainian chef and award-winning author of Kaukasis and Mamushka joins Quo Vadis chef-patron Jeremy Lee to cook a feast reflecting the food cultures of Georgia, Azerbaijan, Ukraine and Moldova. Expect kharcho, a traditional Georgian stew made with walnuts and, in this case, wild boar, as well as homemade lardo and plenty of Ukrainian vodka.


How To Work A Look, at The Photographers’ Gallery | madison moore, Leyneuf Tines & Daniel, Brathwaite-Shirley (10 May)

Artist, DJ, cultural theorist and writer madison moore looks at the connections between queerness, politics and personal style in this talk based on Fabulous, his upcoming book which spans nightclubs, vogue balls, fashion, art and pop culture to unpick the phenomenon of fabulousness as a form of resistance. moore is joined by artists Leyneuf Tines and Daniel Brathwaite-Shirley, discussing their own personal style journeys.


Words by Stevie Mackenzie-Smith | Feature image: Azzedine Alaïa (via Pinterest) 

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