Stanley Spencer, Frank Gehry, and Alison Wilding RA
Our pick of this week's art events
By Sam Phillips
From Tate Liverpool's new Duveen commission to the World Press Photo Exhibition: everything worth seeing this week.
Alison Wilding RA
Duveen Galleries, Tate Britain, until 2 February 2014
The sculptures of Alison Wilding RA spread across Tate Britain’s Duveen Galleries in a display that will celebrate an artist known for her ceaseless experimentation in materials and techniques.
Often abstract and monumental in presence, Wilding’s works play with our preconceptions of how substances seem, producing non-figurative forms with unexpected textures, shapes and colours. Assembly (1991), for example, pairs two plinth-like polyhedrons (one in transparent PVC, another in steel–powder-coated black) and asks us to observe the differences. The show is one in a series on British sculptors this season, including the Royal Academy’s survey of the witty, wide-ranging work of Bill Woodrow RA, and Tate Britain’s overview of the influential practice of Richard Deacon RA from February.
Frank Gehry Hon RA
Gagosian Gallery, until 21 December 2013
Following the news this week that the American ‘starchitect’ Frank Gehry is to produce apartment buildings in the redeveloped Battersea Power Station (his first London building, if one discounts his rather wonderful pavilion for the Serpentine Gallery a few years back), the Gagosian Gallery in Mayfair presents a show in this city of his ‘fish lamps’ – sculptures in the shape of fishes that are lit from the inside. Their curvatures remind us of the Honorary Academician’s inventive architecture, and their overall forms are pleasingly figurative and fun–appealing, no doubt, to the aquatically inclined.
World Press Photo Exhibition
Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, until 26 November 2013 Although the Southbank Centre regularly stages performances free of charge for passers-by to enjoy, the main visual art events tend to be those in the Hayward Gallery that have an admission fee. For that reason, the annual World Press Photo Exhibition has a particular appeal for those watching what’s in their wallet – it’s gratis to browse the exhibition in the Royal Festival Hall, which features the best journalistic photography of the last year. Images include those by Italian photographer Alessio Romenzi, whose series ‘Syria Under Siege’ is a diverse, hard-hitting account of the conflict that has torn the country apart.
Somerset House, until 26 January 2014
Sandham Memorial Chapel in Burghclere, Hampshire, has for 80 years been a pilgrimage point for anyone interested in British art and, more specifically, British war art. For in the late 1920s, Stanley Spencer embarked on a remarkable cycle of paintings that captured his experiences of the First World War, all to be presented in the Chapel. While the Chapel undergoes restoration, the majority of Spencer’s large-scale canvases are temporarily being installed in Somerset House, on view to the public free of charge from this week. The British artist worked as a hospital orderly in Bristol as well as serving on the Salonika front, and it is his attention to details – especially those of everyday life and those of common human frailty – that makes these works as affecting today as the decade they were painted.
Art Turning Left
Tate Liverpool, until 2 January 2014
As the papers rage with comment columns about the redefinition of the left/right divide in British politics, it is timely that Tate Liverpool opens an exhibition about the influence of progressive political ideas on art. Although the lofty ideologies touched upon range from 18th-century revolutionary dogma, Marxist dialectics and more contemporary ‘big society’ communitarianism, the main focus of the show is the specific production and distribution techniques inspired by such ideals.
Sam Phillips is the Editor of RA Magazine