Something Curated highlights the unmissable arts and culture happenings taking place across London this February, from Jordan Wolfson’s second exhibition with Sadie Coles HQ, to a four-day festival featuring over 40 recently commissioned works by emerging London-based artists working in digital media, via the UK premier of Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch’s Bluebeard at Sadler’s Wells.
Radical Figures. Painting in the New Millennium, at Whitechapel Gallery || Michael Armitage, Daniel Richter, Ryan Mosley, Nicole Eisenman & More (6 Feb – 10 May 2020)
Since painting was pronounced dead in the 1980s, a new generation of artists has been revitalising the expressive potential of figuration. Charging their vibrant canvases with a social and political undertow, they echo the words of Philip Guston: ‘I got sick and tired of all that Purity. I wanted to tell stories’. Among those on display, the paintings of Daniel Richter draw from current events – the migrant crisis or Taliban mythology – as do Michael Armitage’s narratives of politics and violence in East Africa, equivocally conveyed in the lush, exoticised style of Gauguin.
ARTISTS FRIENDS RACISTS, at Sadie Coles HQ || Jordan Wolfson (Until 29 Feb 2020)
In his second exhibition with Sadie Coles HQ, Jordan Wolfson presents a new installation consisting of multiple HYPERVSN 3D holographic displays. Arranged in a grid, these devices project a range of imagery developed by the artist to create a multipart digital mirage, alternately synchronised and syncopated. The exhibition also features a series of wall-mounted brass panels overlaid by snapshot photographs from Wolfson’s childhood. A concurrent installation of the works will be on view at David Zwirner, Paris, opening 6 February.
Trip To Eclipse, at Matt’s Gallery || Patrick Goddard (Until 23 Feb 2020)
Patrick Goddard’s work centres around an audio piece which sees the artist narrating a tale of a man and his talking dog, Whoopsie, as they take a walk in a newly built imitation abandoned warehouse. As they walk and talk they encounter broken glass curated across the floor, an Arts Council funded climbing frame and a rave organised by the local MP. Trip To Eclipse takes its title from a 1990s clothing label more popular in school playgrounds than in the actual rave culture that it so desperately gestured towards.
British Baroque: Power And Illusion, at Tate Britain || Tabitha Barber, David Taylor & Tim Batchelor (4 Feb – 19 Apr 2020)
This is the first time that Tate has staged a show devoted to the later 17th century and the first to explore baroque art in Britain. It will be a chance to encounter a rich, sophisticated but overlooked era of art history. The exhibition will include the work of the leading painters of the day – including Peter Lely, Godfrey Kneller and James Thornhill. It celebrates grand-scale portraiture, the wonder and artifice of trompe l’oeil, the emotional persuasion of religious spaces and the awe-inspiring impact of baroque mural painting.
Wattle & Daub, at Marlborough || Lars Fisk (4 Feb – 14 Mar 2020)
Marlborough hosts the first UK solo exhibition by New York-based sculptor Lars Fisk. Presenting 8 new works, Fisk continues his exploration of the sphere as a formal device for reframing everyday objects. This startling transformation draws attention to his subjects’ design, construction, craftsmanship, as well as teasing out their symbolic meaning—especially as it relates to niche subcultures, vernacular craft obsessions and the unnoticed omnipresence of infrastructure.
Mushrooms: The Art, Design and Future of Fungi, at Somerset House || Francesca Gavin (Until 26 Apr 2020)
Through the work of over 40 artists, designers and musicians, Mushrooms celebrates the rich legacy and incredible potential of the remarkable organism, the ideas it inspires in the poetic, spiritual and psychedelic, and the powerful promise it offers to combat the human devastation of the planet. Mushrooms brings together work from leading international artists and designers, renowned for their use of the mushroom motif, spanning large-scale sculpture, hand-cut collage, painting, drawing, photography, film and performance.
Film & Performance
Bluebeard. While Listening to a Tape Recording of Béla Bartók’s Duke Bluebeard’s Castle, at Sadler’s Wells || Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch (12–15 Feb 2020)
Never before performed in the UK, Pina Bausch’s early masterpiece is now being revived by her company after an absence from their repertoire of over 25 years. On a stage covered with the crunch of autumnal leaves, a man compulsively plays and replays a tape recording of Béla Bartók’s short opera about Bluebeard and his relentlessly inquisitive wife, Judith. In a new restaging led by Helena Pikon and Barbara Kaufmann, the original cast member Jan Minarik and Beatrice Libonati, the dancers return to this clashing world of men and women, taboos and transgressions.
La dolce vita, 1960, at Close-Up Cinema || Federico Fellini (14 Feb 2020)
A helicopter flies over Rome dangling a gigantic statue of Christ. “Oh, look,” remarks a woman sunbathing below, “there’s Jesus. Where’s he going?” Fellini creates a rich, intricate tapestry of “Rome, the Babylon of my dreams” in La dolce vita. Juxtaposition and composition are finely tuned to exude an air of randomness. The episodic narrative follows a jaded journalist, Marcello (Mastroianni), on an odyssey in search of himself amid the decadent, dehumanised beauties of Rome’s glitterati.
Current Transmissions, at ICA || Rowan Bhatti, Joseph Bond, Aladin Borioli, Henry Bradley, Sarah Brown, Irene Carter, Emily Charlton, Kitty Clark, Bryn Davies & More (20 – 23 Feb 2020)
The ICA presents Current Transmissions, a four-day showcase and events programme featuring over 40 recently commissioned works by emerging London-based artists working in audio, moving image, and interactive media. An accompanying programme of talks and workshops further facilitate networking opportunities for participating artists and their peers, while performances and screenings open the exhibition up to broader discussion. Among the works on display is Deadly Structures, a first-person open world ‘soundgame’ by sound artists David Denyer and Sami El-Enany constructed from field recordings made in abandoned industrial landscapes in Leipzig.
Reintroducing Our Pioneering Women, at Royal Society of Sculptors || Phyllida Shaw (4 Feb 2020)
The Royal Society of Sculptors is hosting their next ‘Reintroducing our Pioneering Women’ event this February. Author and historian Phyllida Shaw will speak about the life and career of Alice Meredith Williams ARBS (1877-1934). The Pioneering Women project aims to shine a light on the lives, careers and legacies of some of the Society’s early female members. Meredith Williams’s works include a war memorial for Queenstown, South Africa; the Spirit of the Crusaders, and a sculptural group for the Paisley War Memorial, designed by Sir Robert Lorimer.
Feature image: Carsten Höller, Kleiner Pilzkoffer, 2001 (via Christie’s)