Whitechapel Gallery, 2 October – 15 December 2013
One of the exhibitions I’ve been eagerly awaiting this autumn is the Sarah Lucas survey show at London’s Whitechapel Gallery,
which opens on Wednesday.
Sarah Lucas, 'Au Naturel', 1994. Mattress, water bucket, melons, oranges and cucumber. 84 x 168 x 145cm. Copyright the artist, courtesy Sadie Coles HQ, London.
A central figure in the celebrated group of Young British Artists who emerged in the 1990s, Lucas may not have become a household name like some of her friends and associates (such as Tracey Emin RA and Damien Hirst) but her work – most recently sculpture – has been produced with notable quality control across her career. The show gives an overview, from her early photographic self-portraits that challenged gender roles to her bawdy arrangements of suggestive found objects and figures constructed from stuffed nylon tights.
Victoria Miro, 1 October – 1 November 2013
For those who still have the kaleidoscopic colours of Yayoi Kusama’s patterned sculptures, paintings and installations in their mind following her Tate retrospective a few years back, the Japanese artist’s show at Victoria Miro
– launching the gallery’s new Mayfair space – might appear rather pared back.
Yayoi Kusama, Installation, White Infinity Nets, Victoria Miro Gallery, London, 1 October – 9 November 2013.
Her characteristic ‘Infinity’ paintings of repeated dots or strokes are not in bright colour but instead in white on a white background. But once close-up, the pieces work a particularly peculiar optical magic, suggesting amorphous shapes and movement.
Last chance: Timothy Taylor Gallery, until 5 October 2013
The first London solo show by Swiss artist Liliane Tomasko finishes on Friday, and I suggest anyone interested in contemporary painting should try to take a look before the doors close at Timothy Taylor Gallery.
Installation view of Liliane Tomasko, 'Vestige', Timothy Taylor Gallery, 6 September - 5 October 2013.
Tomasko uses Polaroid photographs of domestic objects as her source material, but the oil-on-linen representations of these images are blurred and ambiguous, with confluences of coloured shapes just amounting to vestiges of the originals. The result is something that merges in and out of both figuration and abstraction, while keeping a beautiful sense of intimacy reminiscent of the French master Edouard Vuillard.
Martin Parr and Tony Ray-Jones
Science Museum, until 16 March 2014
A photography highlight this week is at a surprising venue: the Science Museum. ‘Only in England: Photographs by Tony Ray-Jones and Martin Parr’
compares the work of two English artists whose images capture the particular complexities and eccentricities of their country’s culture.
Tony Ray-Jones, 'Beachy Head Tripper Boat', 1967. © National Media Museum.
A pioneer of candid street photography, Ray-Jones wrote in the 1960s: ‘For me there is something very special and rather humorous about the English way of life and I wish to record it from my particular point of view before it becomes more Americanised.’ He did just that before his early death in 1972, while influencing a large number of younger photographers – one of the most eminent among them being Parr – to follow in his footsteps.
The Ditchling Museum reopens
The South Downs village of Ditchling became a haven for early- and mid-20th century artists including Eric Gill, Edward Johnston and Ethel Mairet, all of whom were dedicated to applied art as well as fine art, from textiles to typography.
The Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft. Photot: Brotherton/Lock. © Ditchling Museum Art + Craft, Adam Richards Architects, Brotherton/Lock.
The Ditchling Museum of Art and Craft
has now reopened, following a multi-million pound revamp, and is now a worthy venue to showcase the achievements of the area’s talented artists and craftspeople.
Barbican, The Curve, until 5 January 2014
And I'm also looking forward to visiting the new installation at the Barbican's Curve space this weekend, produced by the Turkish artist Ayşe Erkmen.
Ayşe Erkmen: 'Intervals', The Curve, Barbican Centre, London. 24 September 2013 – 05 January 2014. Installation shot by Jane Hobson, 2013. Courtesy of Barbican Art Gallery.
In contrast to the multimedia magic of recent installations at the space such as 'Rain Room' (in which visitors experienced indoor rain without getting wet), Erkmen's work returns to a more traditional form of artistry: scene painting. Theatric backdrops are suspended in the space, showing interiors, floral paintings and even the kind of stage curtain seen in theatres.
Sam Phillips is a London-based arts journalist and Editor of RA Magazine