Top 6 March
Choi Yan-Chi (b.1949, China, Hong Kong)
Women in Art: Hong Kong (8 Mar – 31 Jul 2019) @New Hall, Edward Murray College, Cambridge
24 books, chosen by 12 women in Cambridge and 12 in Hong Kong, are submerged in a glass tank full of vegetable oil. At some particular period, air is pumped into the tank. Since 1989, Choi Yan Chi has been making works around the theme of drowning, representing the suppression of knowledge. The peculiarity lies within the paradox of the artwork: immortalisation (preservation of books submerging them in oil) and forgetfulness (the books cannot be read). Choi shows that to preserve the past to the point of inaccessibility is failed attempt to engage with history.
Oil on canvas, 1953-54
Dorothea Tanning (1910 – 2012, U.S.)
Dorothea Tanning (27 Feb – 9 Jun 2019) @Tate Modern, London
A massive ghostly figure of a father, an awkwardly staring wife, a dwarf maid and a playful dog are imaged at their places around the dinner table, covered with the fresh white tablecloth, still possessing the folds. Tanning described this painting as ‘a comment on the hierarchy within the Sacrosanct family’. To me, it looks like the artist captured a moment where a viewer is a disturbing and judgemental invader of the very private territory of the family.
Juan Muñoz (1953 – 2001, Spain)
Permanent collection @MACBA, Barcelona
Three smaller than life-size human figures with oriental features, no feet, uniformly dark-grey, stand in a semicircle, while a fourth figure is on its own some distance away. The figures have reflections on the floor and are illuminated so that you can see their sharp shadows. Behind the figures, the wall gives the illusion of drapery, and I had to come very close to see that it was indeed very flat wall. Although the figures appear to be interacting, they seem to be looking within themselves, and kind of invite a spectator to join their circle. But the overall theatrical effect of illusions gives an odd feeling of being unwelcomed, unsettled, tense. A failure of communication like in real life.
Ivana Basic (b. 1986, Serbia)
Primary Directives (21 Feb – 30 Mar 2019) @Marlborough, London
A giant, quasi-humanoid, alienated creature stands out as a grotesque illustration of pain, suffering and great stress. The emaciated figure is equipped with the apparatus of its own sustenance and demise, with its respiration, nourishment and elimination a closed system of self-violence. Completely isolated yet vulnerable body left me with feeling that I was bearing witness to the slow declension of an era.
Multimedia installation, 2019 (video)
Clara Hastrup (b. 1990, Denmark)
Premiums: Interim Projects 2019 (14 Feb – 13 Mar 2019) @Royal Academy of Arts, London
Echinocactus Grusonii, popularly known as the golden barrel cactus, is positioned onto a rotating stage. Eight microphones are placed around the cactus so close that its spikes hit microphones to create a polyphony in real time and it is played though gallery speakers. Using this carefully arranged setup, the cactus is given its voice, it produces sound. However, it is unnatural, unwilling and forced by machinery.
Butterfly from the installation ‘The Prude’, 2019
Anthea Hamilton (b. 1978, England)
The Prude (8 Mar – 18 May 2019) @Thomas Dane Gallery, London
A giant butterfly with tactile surface conceived through digital production of rectangular design is placed on a wall, that is gradually changing from white to green and blue colour. The contour of the planar butterfly is made of different colourful fabrics, either pink, yellow faux-fur or flowery patterns. With no intention to look for cultural references (Hamilton shows interest in E.M Forster's A Room with a View (1908), Ed Ruscha’s gradients) or nods to previous works (The Squash at the Tate Britain, 2018; performances at the Kettle’s Yard, 2018; The New Life at Secession, 2018), I couldn’t keep my eyes away of the butterfly. The installation is neatly planned to raise the temptation to stare and to touch.