Beyond its considerable aesthetic and cultural value, “Mickalene Thomas: Femmes Noires” signified an important moment for the Art Gallery of Ontario. Responding, if belatedly, to demands to decolonize and feminize the art institution, the AGO gave up its entire fifth floor to a queer Black woman artist. Keep Reading
An anti-Brexit van festooned with puppets of Tory MPs drove past as I waited to cross the road in Hyde Park where Grace Wales Bonner’s exhibition was installed at the Serpentine Galleries. Tooting its horn, its tune was despondent, while the self-imposed crisis of the British government carried on in Westminster. Inside the Sackler Gallery, we are able to forget about Brexit. Instead, an assemblage of sounds, artworks, performances and texts looks back to Black Intellectualism, including an invocation from poet and novelist Ben Okri: “Bring your wisdom, your fire, your hope. Bring a new courage and a new fight.” Keep Reading
The convulsive haunting that the subject of the body has induced in contemporary art, from Bruce Nauman (aesthetics of the manipulable body) and Carolee Scheemann (reclamation of the female body) to the present, has been replete. To bare the body is to foreground it as image, and in a world of pure appearances, it is a palimpsest of surfaces the immersive depths of which rest on top of further surfaces and do not lie fallow underneath.
This exhibition, “Body,” is timely in asking us to consider once again the age-old and vexing question: what exactly is a body? Does it still resonate as one pole of a long-disenfranchised dualism? Is it simply the skin jacket for consciousness? Is it performative, in flux, abased, dismembered, abject, transcendent? The curator here invites us to inspect the body and its spaces in a manner undreamt of by 16th-century anatomist Andreas Vesalius. Keep Reading
War is the theme of Stephen Andrews’s recent McMichael exhibition, “Aftermath,” curated by Sarah Milroy. Adjacent is the blockbuster exhibition, “David Milne: Modern Painting,” which Milroy also curated, including Milne’s lesser-known work as a war artist. Next to the Milne exhibition is “The Sleeping Green,” Dianne Bos’s series of photographs taken at former battle sites along the Western Front. Collectively, the three exhibitions mark the Armistice centenary, and Milroy has further linked Andrews’s exhibition with Milne’s for common ground in their respective portrayals of war. Keep Reading
The first comprehensive exhibition of Paul Klee’s work in Canada in over 40 years, the Berggruen Collection exhibition at the National Gallery of Canada comprises 75 paintings created over the span of his all-too-brief career. The amplitude of works, chosen to reflect this span, broadly reveals the playful variation achieved from a personal lexicon of reductive form, shape, sign and cipher but, above all, reduced scale. Examples of his ceaseless experimentation with paint and surface move from ink drawings and watercolours to oil paintings and monotypes. Few artists in the modern era have had the ability to reveal such an expansive inner world in such an intimate manner. Keep Reading
Hervé Guibert’s photographs are portraits of friends and lovers, many of whom appear in his books: Thierry Jouno—i.e., T—director of IVT (International Visual Theatre) and CSCS (Centre Socio-culturel des Sourds), who likely informed Guibert’s novel Des aveugles (1985); Vincent Marmousez, the boy-love muse of Fou de Vincent (1988); the Belgian writer Eugène Savitzkaya, with whom Guibert had a decade-long exchange, collected as Lettres à Eugène: Correspondance 1977–1987, 2013. A few are unnamed, as in Le Poète, who lazily smiles up at him. Keep Reading
The Winnipeg photographer David McMillan was first drawn to Chernobyl as a subject eight years after the disaster. He had read a 1994 cover story in Harper’s by Alan Weisman entitled “Journey Through a Doomed Land: Exploring Chernobyl’s Deadly Ruins.” Weisman was accompanying a team of American and local scientists attempting to a create a tool kit for survival in a toxic landscape. Keep Reading
A recent survey of work by American artist Carolee Schneemann depicts both the pleasures and costs of an early decision to foreground the body, always politicized, over five decades of production and as many genres. Perhaps best known for key performances such as Meat Joy, 1964, an orgasmic celebration of materiality in which she and others roll about in paint, fish and chicken parts, newspapers and more, Schneemann also made paintings, installations, film and video, and photographs, and it’s this largesse of production that the survey brings neatly into focus. Keep Reading
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