Our pick of this week’s art events: 13 - 20 June
By Sam Phillips
Published 13 June 2014
From figurative sculpture at the Hayward Gallery to jazz-influenced canvases by painter Sean Scully RA.
Jenny Saville: Oxyrhynchus
Gagosian Gallery Britannia Street, London until 26 July 2014 Painter Jenny Saville RA wrote in the winter issue of RA Magazine about her love of Willem de Kooning, and – as well Old Masters such as Rubens and Titian – the American Abstract Expressionist looms large in her latest nudes and portraits, on view at London’s Gagosian, in what is being billed, surprisingly, as her first ever London solo show. In Oxyrnchus (2012-14), a muted representation of reclining figures merges freely with gestural phantoms in charcoal and pastel, this exceptional fluidity perhaps demonstrating a new development in Saville’s style.
John Bellany RA
Beaux Arts, London until 12 July 2014 Beaux Arts, now located in Mayfair’s Maddox Street instead of Cork Street, has been presenting the lyrical paintings of John Bellany RA since the 1980s. Marking the passing of the celebrated Scottish artist in the last year, a new exhibition of his work at the gallery includes outstanding examples from across his career, from melancholy, metaphorical visions of real and imagined humans and animals to still lifes where colour become expressive rather than symbolic.
The Human Factor
Hayward Gallery, London from 17 June – 7 September 2014 The idea that contemporary artists are not interested the human figure is cut to shreds in the Hayward’s new group exhibition. Highlights include American artist Jeff Koons Hon RA, whose figures for his 1980s ‘Banality’ series were drawn from cheap tchotchkes; Frank Benson, whose Human Statue (Jessie) (2011) reproduces, using high-end digital technology, a stunning simulacrum of dancer and musician Jessie Gold; and newly elected Academician Rebecca Warren, known for her plaster figures filtered through other artists from Giacometti to cartoonist Robert Crumb.
firstsite, Colchester from 14 June – 21 September 2014 There has been a resurgence of interest in the multidisciplinary British artist Bruce McLean of late, and an overdue career survey is now being staged at firstsite in Colchester. From early performance pieces to more recent paintings (and his series of collaborations with Royal Academician architect Will Alsop), McLean has been an art-world agent-provocateur, poking fun both at our social conventions and, in particular, the earnest mores of other artists. In his series ‘Pose Work for Plinths’ (1971), for example, McLean’s body mocked the venerable sculptor Henry Moore by draping itself in reclining forms on white plinths.
Timothy Taylor Gallery, London until 12 July 2014 Jazz and blues have always exerted an influence on the abstract paintings of Sean Scully RA, but he has perhaps never acknowledged its influence as clearly as his new remarkable quintych at Timothy Taylor – A Kind of Red (2013), comprised of five large-scale oil-on aluminium panels, in response to Miles Davis’s modal classic A Kind of Blue. Scully here leaves areas around his characteristic quadrilaterals free of paint, the contrast between the exposed metal and the rich oil helping to elicit a powerful emotional response from the viewer.
Out Of Our Heads
[Shoreditch Town Hall, London] until 29 June And a quick recommendation to anyone passing through Shoreditch in London over the next fortnight: visit the Town Hall. In its atmospheric, run-down basement, curators James Putnam and Vassiliki Tzanakou have brought together contemporary works on the theme of mental illness, disturbance and hallucination, including Soul Snatcher Possession (2012), a highly affecting sculptural scene of threatening and threatened figures by Tim Shaw RA.