Michael Rakowitz – Whitechapal Gallery Survey Show 2019

Unlike so much contemporary art, offering moralising social commentary from a safe distance, Rakowitz leverages his artistic practice to probe uncomfortable questions and incite change. . . ‘I make work at the intersection of problem solving and trouble making,’ he says lightly. These inflated, amorphous miniature homes served not only to shield their incumbents from the elements – but to draw attention from passers-by, and on occasion, the cops. In this complex process of simultaneously solving and problematising, Rakowitz isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty.

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Conflicted art: how to approach works by morally bad artists

Great art is often made by morally problematic artists: Caravaggio was famous for his mesmerising use of chiaroscuro, but he was a murderer; Virginia Woolf was a pioneer in modern narrative devices, but she was anti-Semitic; Picasso paved the way for cubism, but he was a misogynist; and Eric Gill may have produced sensual and ‘erotic’ sculptures of the young female form, but he was a paedophile. There is a familiar squeamishness with which viewers engage and approach such works of art: knowing an artist’s biography and general moral character can affect how we interpret and value their works. While it’s true that our reactions to such artworks are frequently sensitive to biographical detail, should they be?

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Daisy Dixon
Johan Deckmann: Art as Pop-Psychotherapy

Johan Deckmann’s artworks are really riffs: witticisms on contemporary culture and psychology in the form of faux self-help manuals. On their covers are sarky titles such as, ‘How to spend your life with the wrong persons because you are afraid to be alone’. They’re funny, but also provoke some pretty uncomfortable self-analysis. These titles appear on the covers of the books, but just the covers. He’s glued the pages teasingly shut. I suspect there’s another wry comment going on here: that we’ve become pretty facile, obsessed by the surface without any real depth…   

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What Does Realistic Look Like?

In this essay, Anthony Waichulis, a celebrated Trompe L’Oeil painter and co-founder of Ani Art Academies, answers a question often put to him by his students, ‘How do you get your paintings to look so realistic?’ He answers with a question of his own: ‘What does realistic look like?’

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REVIEW: Jordy Kerwick's Diary of an Introvert at Delphian Gallery

Kerwick’s still lifes are the perfect foil to the quixotic ideals of the artist. He only started painting in 2015, but has risen in truly meteoric fashion and has now exhibited internationally. His paintings seem to prevaricate on the ‘artist’ as a figment of our imaginations. He isn’t scared of utilising old tropes, but makes for some fine self-exposition amid his own painterly equivocation. For by engaging in these tropes, the artist reflexively reveals himself.

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ReviewsD.S. Graham
Blue Dot Project: Bringing Art and Activism together for the Planet at House of Vans

Scientists reckon that 12 million tonnes of plastic are dumped into the world’s oceans every year. We can’t escape the fact that we’re responsible: we’re just too used to ‘single use’ plastics in the ‘waste culture’ of our consumerist lives. We simply don’t think about our lifestyle’s effects on marine life and the ocean. Eliza Hamer and Millie Edwards, who founded the Blue Dot Generation, want to bring the arts to the fight against marine pollution. They say that ‘artists can communicate crucial issues’ and ‘translate the urgency for change’ in ways that others can’t. Join them for an evening with activists, experts, artists and entrepreneurs for ‘Arts for Education’ at the House of Vans, London (26-30 Sep., 2018).

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Barney Trimble
Paul Cristina: In Consideration of Mortality

Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein (1818) portrays an idealistic Dr. Frankenstein who unearths human remains to triumph over death. Paul Cristina’s collaged paintings of corpses make a distinct parallel to this fiction, pieced together and reanimated by the spirit of art while devoid of that spark of life that some would call a soul. Cristina explores the realm of the underworld like a modern Dante, giving insight into the abject reality of human existence—the finite nature of our corporeal vessels. Exhumed and resurrected, Cristina’s figures take on an eerie half-life that haunts the viewer long after they are exposed.

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Editor's PicksKim Power
REVIEW: RA Summer Exhibition

Art Aesthetics goes for an impromptu game of ‘The Price Is Right’ at the RA Summer Exhibition, 2018. Pavan Chaggar suggests £12,000 on approaching Ben Johnson’s Dome of the Rock, Façade (2017). I’d already flicked through the ‘List of Works’ and found the price tag. ‘Good guess, but you’re a zero off... Actually, £12,000 wouldn’t even get you close to the ‘deposit payable today’ of £36,000.’

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ReviewsEllen Charlesworth
Clarity in the Midst of Colour: the Paintings of J. Louis

Women as subjects for admiration, representation and decoration, assume a prominent position in the art of J. Louis. Specific models seem to typify Louis’ style, lending inspiration to the artist. Their slight figures are elongated and sometimes placed horizontally within a tall, narrow format, which aesthetically enriches the composition and catches the beholder off guard. His women are often found reclining in languor, with flushed cheeks and gazes that are alternatively piercing and hazed by ecstasy.

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REVIEW: All Too Human at the Tate Britain

Disjointed, but with some show stoppers. You can’t miss seeing Bacon and Freud supported by Kossof, Spencer, Saville, Paul (and one lonesome Giacometti) at the Tate Britain. Curator Elena Crippa has got some marvellous paintings, but arranged rather oddly—might that be the point?

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ReviewsD.S. Graham
REVIEW: Petra Cortright: Pale Coil Cold Angel at Nahmad Projects

We have fallen out of love with the internet. These days, journalistic allusions to the online world tend, more often than not, to be couched in terms of a vast and dangerous wasteland, where shadowy syndicates traffic private information and tub-thumping populists recruit at large. As David Patrikarakos wrote in the Times Literary Supplement this week, ‘The dream of a connected, transnational world – the information utopia – has given way to a more muddled web of mendacity, conflict and the anger of the mob.’[1]

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William Edwards
Ali Nedaei's Silent Myths

Ali Nedaei, whose works have already graced galleries in Tokyo, Paris, and Venice, is preparing for his first solo-exhibition in the UK at CAMA Gallery, London. He’s already appeared in the gallery’s inaugural exhibition which showcased some twenty-one Iranian artists, Sensation (5 Apr. – 25 Jun., 2018). Replete with poetic allusions but masterfully executed, Nedaei’s works are surprisingly accessible—even for those who are unfamiliar with Iranian culture.

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Ellen Charlesworth
Interesting Artworks: The Visitation by Ali Cavanaugh

The works of Ali Cavanaugh, an American painter internationally renowned for her depictions of the human form, are characterised by an innovative technique referred to by the artist as ‘modern fresco’.  Cavanaugh layers watercolours over a surface of wet kaolin clay, a process which allows her to create a powerful sense of depth by juxtaposing luminous whites with darker regions of black and grey. But much of Cavanaugh’s work is less about technique than it is about the philosophy of portraiture. 

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Stefani Georgieva
Rembrandt & Cinema in the Paintings of Vincent Kamp

You’re always caught by the undercurrent of the ‘story’ in these paintings. You’re aware that you’re just the spectator, but one who’s caught the narrative’s protagonists at an important moment. In Next Time, You Pick up a Card (2017) the foreground is dominated by two mysterious men sitting around a pub table. They’re well dressed, but sporting tattoos above their collars and below the hems of their cuffs. Between them, a deck of undealt cards is neatly stacked. We’ve caught them in a dangerous lull between hands. 

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Andorela Marra
REVIEW: Picasso 1932 - Love, Fame, Tragedy at the Tate Modern

The Tate Modern’s PR team write that the ‘myths around Picasso will be stripped away to reveal the man and the artist in his full complexity and richness. You will see him as never before.’ And yet, you don’t see so much of Picasso ‘stripped away’ than his young lover, Marie-Thérèse Walter, who was only 17 when she met Picasso, then aged 46. For Aistè Ga, my gallery partner for the day, this turned Picasso into less of a genius and more of a flailing, finite man

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ReviewsD.S. Graham
REVIEW: John Copeland's Your Heaven Looks Just Like My Hell

The Times' Waldemar Januszczak notes that Hirst is playing the kingmaker. Copeland, then, is one of the first to be coronated. His works featured alongside the likes of Tracey Emin, Jeff Koons, and Richard Hamilton in Selected works from the Muderme collection in Hirst’s Newport Street Gallery. He has returned to the venue for his first solo UK exhibition, Your Heaven Looks Just Like My Hell which explores the ‘act of looking’ through obstruction, tricks of perspective, and hidden imagery. It is a natural starting point for an artist who views realistic painting as ‘too straight’. 

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ReviewsBarney Trimble
Matthew Small: Material Humanism through Benjamin

Matthew Small isn’t so much a flâneur as a magpie: ‘that oven door, that shelving unit, that piece of trash to someone…’ He crafts persons’ portraits from these ‘found’ scrap-pieces. Often, they’re overlaid with riotous layers of colourful paint. How to respond? ‘We’re always more than the sum of our parts,’ might say the humanists. ‘For there is always something special about the person, who, qua person/individual, transcends their environment and therefore the junk on which their portrait is painted.’ Alternatively, the strict determinists might say that ‘we’re but products of the (urban) environment,’ and the junk-canvas conveys something of late-twentieth century life in the modern metropolis…

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D.S. Graham
Gregory Mason: Paradoxes in the Paint

Opening Thursday, 5th April and running through 28th April in London, Greg Mason’s solo show of luscious oil paintings at Cass Art Islington, “After Shock”, explores the paradox of aftermath and rebuilding embedded within the paradox of his technical approach. The work in this exhibition focuses on the small town of Farindola in central Italy, which experienced a severe earthquake which, in turn, triggered an avalanche that killed twenty-nine people. In 2017, Mason resided and worked in a home damaged by the tragedy as part of an artist residency in Farindola, providing a cherished insight into the town, its inhabitants, and their altered lives.

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Stella Kapezanou through Adorno: Real People in the Palms of their Holiday.

We’re entitled to twenty-eight days of it a year. More, once we’re retired. Who doesn’t want to ‘recharge the batteries’ or get some ‘rest and relaxation’ before the long slog of work (the other two-hundred-and-sixty-one working days of the year) begin again? Kapezanou, who won the Clyde and Co., Emerging Star Award in 2017, paints people worshipping the deities of Sun, Sand, and Sea. For they’re the new ‘holy’ trinity of the ‘holiday’

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