diamond geezer

 Thursday, February 07, 2019

This week I've been to eighteen free art exhibitions. Here, very briefly, is what I thought.

South London Gallery (Peckham Road)
★★☆ Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2018 (until 24 Feb): Diverse work by recent graduates, at its best when it's not slappy canvases, but too often assuming we have 15 minutes spare to stick headphones on. Loved the new Old Fire Station building.

White Cube (Bermondsey)
★★☆ Tracey Emin: A Fortnight of Tears (until 7 Apr): A major exhibition of unflattering selfies, gloopy bronzes and angry daubed genitalia, visceral in its depiction of raw grief.

Tate Modern
★★★ Magic Realism (until 14 Jul): Before Goebbels banned 'degenerate' modern art, the Weimar Republic was a hotbed of surreal, saucy and sacrilegious paintings, gathered here in a serious and significant showcase.

Newport Street Gallery
★☆☆ Martin Eder: Parasites (until 17 Feb): "There are some sexually explicit paintings," said the girl on the desk, which proved to be an understatement. Not even the fluffy cat and dog pictures were immune from brazen female nudity.

Tate Britain
★☆☆ Jesse Darling: The Ballad of Saint Jerome (until 24 Feb): Reimagining an ancient legend using broken crutches, finger splints, ball gags, bandages, pet watering bottles, packing foam... you get the picture.

Saatchi Gallery
★☆☆ Black Mirror: Art as Social Satire (until 22 Feb): A rack of labelled shoes and a monolithic video tape earned my favour, but (as usual) more miss than hit.

Serpentine Gallery
☆☆☆ Pierre Huyghe: UUmwelt (until 10 Feb): Five morphing screens in a gallery deliberately plagued with live flies. I considered asking the attendants how the insects were sourced, but didn't dare open my mouth.
★★☆ Grace Wales Bonner: A Time for New Dreams (until 16 Feb): Meanwhile at the Sackler, black fashion, black art and black design intriguingly coincide.

Hauser & Wirth (London)
★★☆ Martin Creed: Toast (until 9 Feb): I was only going to give this ★☆☆, for the dancing sock, but at noon the full-wall video switched off and two staff wheeled in a canvas which they hung in its place, and that is genius.

White Cube (Masons Yard)
☆☆☆ Miroslaw Balka: Random Access Memory (until 9 Mar): "There's literally nothing here", said a departing visitor. In fact there are two enormous radiators, loaded with sanctimonious metaphor, but they were 99% correct.

Photographers Gallery (free before noon)
★★★ All I Know Is What’s On The Internet (until 24 Feb): Fascinating exposé of hidden online systems, including captchas, outsourced moderation and fake likes.
★★★ Roman Vishniac Rediscovered (until 24 Feb): Timely retrospective documenting Jewish life in Nazi-controlled Germany and rebuilt communities overseas, resonant with modern subtext.

Two Temple Place
★★★ John Ruskin: The Power of Seeing (until 22 Apr): To celebrate the outspoken polymath's bicentenary (which is tomorrow), the usual fabulous exhibition we've come to expect from 2TP, heavily reliant on exhibits borrowed from Museums Sheffield. Packed with detail (and grey-haired visitors).

Barbican
★☆☆ Daria Martin: Tonight the World (until 7 Apr): In the Curve, an intimate remembrance of family life in Brno. The video game walkthrough was inspired, but the main film didn't fully reward the time spent viewing.
★★★ Jane Northcote: Towers of the City and Finsbury (until 27 Feb): In the Library foyer, a small but utterly delightful exhibition of tower block watercolours and etchings, including field notebooks, composition notes and postcards for sale. If you like urban sketching you'll love Jane's work.

Whitechapel Gallery
★★☆ Staging Jackson Pollock (until 24 Mar): Mini-retrospective of the gallery's 1958 exhibition, including one of the original canvases.
★☆☆ Sophia Al-Maria: BCE (until 28 Apr): Two creation myth videos - one past, one future - uninvitingly screened.
★★☆ Ulla von Brandenburg: Sweet Feast (until 31 Mar): The free newspaper about the 1973 scandal when children devoured the Gallery's EU-focused confectionery exhibition is more fun than Ulla's 2018 recreation.


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