Summer Exhibitions | 2019
Updated: May 10, 2020
As summer approaches and the thought of productively planning your extra free time starts to dwell, there is a whole lot of art to get immersed in, inspired by and ultimately will serve as a good excuse to find yourself in air conditioned cooling rooms, so have a browse of my top highlights and have fun exploring some for yourself.
ANISH KAPOOR AT PITZHANGER GALLERY
Pitzhanger Manor & Gallery, W5 - March 16 until August 18 2019.
Seeing, exploring and being dissolved by Kapoor’s sculptures is only one part of the exhibition as he ingeniously manages to transcend both art, the history of the building and it’s former owner, Sir John Soane. The newly refurbished Pitzhanger Manor boasts the ingenious interiors designed by Soane to manipulate the space. Mirrors are placed above bookshelves to appear to extend infinitely, convex mirrors are placed in corners of rooms causing the space below to seem enlarged and whilst a tour of an eccentric, and quirky Georgian architect’s country house might not be what you visited for, the confusion creates pleasure, and the history creates a grounding back-story for Kapoor’s world of polished metal. Partly made for the show and partly a continuation of the mirror-surface work Kapoor has been creating for years, in each of the 10 sculptures you have no option but to explore the building or ceiling in pursuit of solving the optical illusions. As the viewer you are forced to inhabit and complete the sculpture, you are absorbed and spat back out of the space created within the globes, discs and cubes in front of you. Kapoor’s ‘Glisten Eclipse’ (2018) – two discs straddling a corner of the gallery – completely diffuses the very room you are in and your whole existence that it once would reflect back to you, as you change position for it to merely show another coloured disc. It creates a sanctuary for you to stop, literally reflect, and be mindful within contemporary and intriguing art.
LEE KRASNER: Living Colour
Barbican, EC2Y - 30 May until 1 September 2019.
The Barbican’s retrospect allows us to follow a talented creative’s evolving journey to finding authentic expression through education, discrimination and tragedy.
Pursuing an education in art from the age of 14, Krasner would later be a student of Hans Hofmann, whose very physical interaction with art and teaching would continue to inform Krasner throughout her career. Abstractly exploring life drawing and cubism with splintering charcoal swerves of friction and smudging gave Krasner a strong introduction into the New York art scene, gaining the admiration of many, including Piet Mondrian. Moving into her marital home Krasner’s studio space reduced to a spare room which was only seasonally warm enough to utilise, in which the scale of her work was also limited. Here, her work on small, dense canvases comprised intense and precise marks de-tuned from a language of triangles and shapes that would sometimes explode into strokes of fractured colour creating her ‘Little Paintings’. Two major events would then ignite a rapid evolution in Krasner’s creativity. The beginning was her first solo exhibition in 1951 (The Betty Parsons Gallery, New York), in which none of her works sold. Loosened with despondence and anger Krasner tore up all the drawings from the show, and as foreshadowed in her training under Hofmann, reassembled the shreds into bold collages with an aggressive disorder of tightly jostling and clashing forms. At the age of 47, in 1956, Krasner was widowed. For Krasner painting and life were not separate, they were one, and in an ever-continuing ambition for authentic expression, she turned to painting through this trauma, now in the unpreceded scale the extra space of her husband’s studio could allow for. With insomnia and a dislike to working under artificial light, Krasner produced a series of works in a pared back white and umber colour palette. These vast paintings were of pain and heartbreak, of flurries and drags forming bodily gestures that bulk out of the confines of the canvas, or are we just observing it too closely? With this new direction being the reason, a potential exhibition was cancelled, Krasner continued to paint the enormous rolling forms and slowly the umber gave way to a blazing alizarin crimson and vivid and exuberant colours swept the canvas. As with age, the pace of her work finally began to plateau, but colour continued to sustain the now quieter energy. Returning again, finally, to her collaging methods in the most refined and resolved way yet, the exhibition and her career returns to something lost and re-found a sense of closure and completeness.
Did I mention her husband was Jackson Pollock? Did it need to be mentioned? No. Krasner once said “I painted before Pollock, during Pollock and after Pollock” and the Barbican beautifully and brilliantly showcases Krasner for the true and independent artist she is. It is inescapable that Pollock overshadowed Krasner in life but no longer needs to in death as well. The times were against female artists and Krasner spent her life fighting for the right to be herself. She couldn’t be Lena Kranser, but had to be androgynous Lee. She couldn’t have a fluid and evolving style of expression as it faltered her career prospects when most of her contemporaries had a ‘signature image’. But her love for life and art drove her commitment and dedication forward.
What you see in the exhibition is a formidable and resilient woman, who took the prejudices against her as a source of freedom to continue creating most genuinely and therefore most personally in a language that will transcend decades and continue to speak to everyone on the same deep level.
CHRISTIAN DIOR: Designer of Dreams
V&A, SW7 - 2 February until 1 September 2019.
Other top picks not to miss:
SARAH SHAKEEL: The Great Supper
NOW Gallery, SE10 - 15 May until 23 June 2019.
Whose Afraid of Drawing? Works on Paper
Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art, N1 - 17 April until 23 June 2019.
SARAH MORRIS: Machines do not make us into Machines
White Cube Bermondsey, SE1 - 17 April until 30 June 2019.
JON SCHUELER: Skyscapes
Waterhouse & Dodd, W1S - 18 June until 12 July 2019.
RA: Summer Exhibition 2019
Royal Academy of Arts, W1J - 10 June until 12 August 2019
Business Design Centre, N1 - Week 1: 26 until 29 June 2019 | Week 2: 3 until 6 July 2019.
Tate Britain, SW1P - 31 May until 26 August 2019.
Cutting Edge: Modernist British Printmaking
Dulwich Picture Gallery, SE21- 19 June until 8 September 2019.
CHIHULY: Reflections on Nature
Kew Gardens, TW9 - 13 April until 27 October 2019.
Mary Quant V&A, SW7 - 6 April 2019 until 16 February 2020.
Poppy's Yummy Pick | London 2019
All this art is bound to make you hungry, so with every art gallery also has to come a refreshment stop. My number one (and there was a lot of eating for competition) recommendation for Summer 2019 has to be the Apple Crumble Frozen Custard from Secret Nicky's food stall found in Vinegar Yard, Bermondsey, SE1.