Exhibitions Autumn 2014

This season promises a number of exciting exhibitions, new films and other events that it will be quite difficult to decide!  These are some of my favorites and I hope to see them with my friends… so please choose which one you’d prefer.

I am quite intrigued with three “blockbusters” dedicated to the last years of the great artists: the one of Matisse “second life” at Tate Modern was superb and it shows how much an artist can make of his/her final years, specially those who have the fortune of long lives.  The magnificent and always groundbreaking Turner’s last years are exhibited by EY at Tate Britain, with the suggestive title: “Painting set free”.  Those who have seen it testify of the modernity of his treatment of light in a very contemporary manner.  Ironically, his contemporaries thought he had gone “gaga”, in the same way that critics in France insulted Matisse’s originalisimos cut outs as childish attempts… which makes me think that it’s more about the seeds of what we know as “ageism” and the trend of glorifying only the new and young.  Indeed, it was only the critic John Ruskin the only one who saw the evolving genius of Turner, and defended him publicly.  And we have Rembrandt’s Last Years at National Gallery (London),  whose late life turned the wheel on his luck and fortune. After the death of his beloved Saskia, some of his children, Rembrandt became more isolated and got into huge debts. The problem was that his previously fashionable portraits of the notables: the merchants, guilders and his wives, emphasizing the Calvinist values of sobriety yet luxurious wealth, simply became unfashionable. The new generations were wanting something more ‘flashy’, less restrained… so what happened to a genius like him when the market has deserted his work?… well, this is precisely what will be shown at National Gallery!

And on the feminine contingency, galleries will be showing three of the most interesting contemporary female artists alive!  Currently, the work of psychodelic amazing Yayoi Kusama (September 16-December 19) is presented at Victoria Miro (a gallery in which I would love to exhibit one day!). I love the work of Yayoi Kusama, she has been working for almost 70 years and her work is always fresh, interesting, psychodelic, thought provoking. She has been affiliated with surrealism, pop art, minimalism, fashion, music etc. What will be this time?  Some while ago, Tate Modern presented a great retrospective and we went with my friend Sam Warren: it was mindblowing: the dots everywhere, the installations, but in general, the sensorial embodied sensation of being impacted by her art. Unforgettable!  In the same line of great female artists, the latest work of Tracy Emin will be presented at the new White Cube gallery in Bermonsdey (8 October-16 November). Always controversial, hated or loved, Emin is a referent for any female artist who are trying to express her individuality, and this exhibition promises to be an interesting reflection on her “success” and “celebrity” status. The title is: The Last Great Adventure Is You... and I think it resonates with many of the conversations I’ve had recently with my friends: our time for renewal, our (hopeless) longing for something outside: a new career, a new job, a new lover, a new pair of shoes… when all the time the great adventure is to be alive! As corny as it sounds, the present is a gift, and this is because it’s called “present”…   And to complete this selected group, early next year Tate Modern will present a retrospective of Dutch painter Marlene Dumas (February 4 – May 10, 2015). I am particularly interested in Dumas, because she works with a traditional media and language (portraits and ink on canvas) but her work is very intimate, yet explosive and controversial. As the Tate Modern website says:

The majority of her works may be categorised as ‘portraits‘, but they are not portraits in the traditional sense. Rather than representing an actual person, they represent an emotion or a state of mind. Themes central to Dumas’ work include race and sexuality, guilt and innocence, violence and tenderness.

Next to these exhibitions, the London Fashion Museum (also in Bermonsdey, which can be a day of Tracy and LFM) is presenting Knitwear: Chanel to Westwood (18 September, 19 January).  I’ve been introduced to the fantastic world of textiles by the magnificent Ann Rippin, and this museum never disappoints.  Indeed, Tate Modern & Whitechapel gallery will be addressing the materiality of textiles in the work of American sculptor Richard Tuttle.  Whitechapel Gallery (14 October – 14 December 2014) will present his work famous for stretching the materiality of the “canvas”, thus addressing issues on thread, fabric, fibre, etc.  Alongside this exhibition, Tate Modern will present a newly commissioned sculpture in the Turbine Hall from 14 October 2014 to 6 April 2015.

“Principally constructed of fabric, it will be the largest work ever created by the artist, measuring over twelve metres in height. It will bring together a group of specially-made fabrics, each of which combines natural and man-made fibers to create different textures in bright colours. These will be suspended from the ceiling as a sculptural form, contrasting with the solid industrial architecture of the Turbine Hall, to create a huge volume of joyous color and fluidity.”

For those working with textiles and textures, there will be a number of courses, conversations and seminars that I’m sure will continue the thread of developing links between textiles, textures and texts. Which reminds me of the presentation “Patchwork, quilting and keeping it all going” by academic quilters Ann Rippin and Harriett Shortt as part of the Festival of Ideas in Bristol, on creativity, making and the femenine academic on the 5th of November/2014 (Free!!). http://www.bristol.ac.uk/fssl/festival/programme/2014/event5-1.html

Also, the Victoria and Albert Museum in this AW 2014/2015 is exhibiting the work of beloved English painter Constable, (20 September, 5 January/2015) and also, it is presenting a thought provoking exhibition about the Disobedient Object (16 July-15 February 2015).  This is also accompanied by sleek beautiful fashion photography of renowned artist Horst, and in general the permanent collection is superb. Indeed, I just spotted a free exhibition of revolutionary posters.  Definitively more than one visit.

And finally, the Turner Prize, with its unmade beds, the scruffy rubble, the potterers / transvestites, the creative destructions, etc. always great to see as spectacle and arty entertainment.

As for my part, apart of my Open Studio (today!) I I will be doing a couple of more exhibitions : 10-11 of October in Cambridgeshire and 17 of October as the guest artist at Harlington Art Fair (Bedfordshire)… and with that, I think I will go to creative hibernation till next spring!

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