With a line-up like this, anyone living in or travelling to London this summer is set. The capital’s exhibition season is in full-swing and the curators have blessed us with a world-class programme of engaging art by artists with a story to tell. Let KAZoART guide you towards the summer’s absolute must-see exhibits!
1. Lee Krasner at the Barbican
30 May – 1 September, 2019
Everything about Lee Krasner’s career was eclipsed by her husband. Even upon this major retrospective, she is still known to some as the wife of Jackson Pollock. Krasner was a highly-skilled artist who was critical of her own work at a time when women were not welcome into the tightly-knit circle of Abstract Expressionists. Making the adrodgynous shift from Lena to Lee, her oeuvre is not fluid, rather divided into distinct stages.
Angered by the fact that none of her works were purchased at her first exhibition, she tore them up and pasted them on different canvasses. Following Pollock’s death she began painting in his studio at night, sporadically and wildy. She later rediscovered drawings from her younger years and made collages, likely inspired by Matisse. With over 100 works from her 50-year career it is rare to behold such obvious phases of artistic growth and regrowth.
2. Frank Bowling at the Tate Britain
31 May – 26 August, 2019
The Tate Britain has given Bowling his first major retrospective. Born in 1934 in British Guiana, Bowling was a pupil at the Royal College of Art alongside David Hockney. After viewing his work, one would swear he studied with Rothko or trained with Pollock for he was a true Abstract Expressionist at a time when it was no longer the artistic norm.
Using intense, bold colour to express anguish, Bowling rips off the plaster and exposes open wounds that still linger from the slavery era. Confronting a society that never fully acknowledged its sins, his cheery drips and splatters suggest healing but upon closer examination, his texture and colours indicate suffering and the festering pain of a culture repressed. As The Guardian’s Jonathan Jones put it, this exhibition is “a sea you can swim in with pure pleasure, until you see the shadow in the water.”
3. Francis Bacon at the Gagosian
6 June – 3 August, 2019
In this exhibition entitled “Couplings”, the Gagosian shines a light on Francis Bacon’s two-figure paintings. This 20th century artist with a penchant for distortion, produced almost as many works as he destroyed. Known to depict his former lovers, this curated selection focuses on the intimate intertwining of two persons becoming one.
Making their first public appearance since 1971 are the works Two Figures and Two Figures in the Grass. Given what we know about Bacon’s violent and conflict-filled homosexual affairs, these renderings show a somewhat softer side of his opus all the while bearing his anamorphic artistic fingerprint.
4. Cindy Sherman at the National Portrait Gallery
27 June – 15 September, 2019
Featuring over 180 of her works, some of which have never been seen by the public, the National Portait Gallery welcomes Cindy Sherman for her first UK retrospective. A majority of the exhibition will feature works from her series “Untitled Film Stills 1977-80”. In this series, Sherman has fashioned herself in the style of Antonioni and Hitchcock and created publicity shots for fictive films.
Turning our attention towards the relationship between facade and identity, Sherman’s manipulation of her appearance serves as a critique of society’s superficial ideals. In the age of social media, curator Paul Moorhouse deems her commentary to be more pertinent now than ever.
5. Félix Vallotton at the Royal Academy of Art
30 June – 29 September, 2019
Swiss-born artist, Félix Vallotton made his home in Paris at the age of 16 and remained an integral yet singular part of the art world. First associated with the artistic group, Les Nabis, his early works take on their painterly technique. Inspired by the realism found in the works of Holbein and Ingres, he later abandonned the Nabis style to develop his own.
Known for his enchanting landscapes, satirical prints, highly-detailed portraits and still lifes, perhaps his most accomplished work can be found in his interior scenes. Creating “narrative suspense”, Vallotton would alter one minor detail that in return, changes the entire tone of the work. The foreboding that we’re in the wrong place at the wrong time heightens the tension. His influence can be seen in the works of Edward Hopper and Andrew Wyeth. Entitled “A Painter of Disquiet”, this retrospective is sure to leave you stirred and curious.
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