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10 art exhibitions to see in April

Published 1 April 2019

From the prints of Edvard Munch at the British Museum to Ruskin and Turner at York Art Gallery, here are 10 exhibitions not to miss this April.

  • Chantal Joffe

    Victoria Miro and Victoria Miro Mayfair, London, 11 April – 18 May 2019
    In January 2018, Chantal Joffe RA set herself the challenge of working on a self-portrait every day that year. Now, a selection of these portraits has arrived at Victoria Miro’s London sites for the first time, alongside some of her earlier portraits of friends and family. Joffe is fascinated by what the body reveals about our selves, and by placing herself at the centre of this investigation, she gives it a confessional quality: through these studies we are shown the artist clothed, naked, full length or in headshots, in different places and at different times (for instance New York in summer, or London in winter). Added to Joffe’s pared-back style which emphasises form and colour over precision and detail, this is an exhibition about the relationships fundamental to human experience: those we have with the people around us, and those we have with our own bodies.

  • Chantal Joffe RA, Esme on her Birthday (detail)

    Chantal Joffe RA , Esme on her Birthday (detail) , 2017 .

    Oil on board. 50.8 x 40.6cm. © Chantal Joffe. Courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro, London/Venice.

  • Hito Steyerl: Actual Reality OS / Power Plants

    Serpentine Gallery, London, 11 April - 6 May 2019
    German artist and writer Hito Steyerl has begun with a single premise to inform her new show at the Serpentine: “power is the necessary condition for any digital technology”, and to this end she has turned her eye on the gallery itself. Working in close collaboration with half a dozen local research partners, Steyerl has compiled huge amounts of data on the area around the Serpentine, often referred to as one of the most unequal in Europe. An augmented reality app (titled Actual Reality OS) has been released to coincide with her exhibition inside the gallery, visualising this data in the real world and offering us what she calls a “social vision” of the surroundings; one that deals with the often invisible issues of social housing, low-wage work and the precarity of city life. Guided walking tours using the app are scheduled to take place throughout the spring, with conversations to be had with the researchers behind the data.

  • Hito Steyerl, Factory of the Sun (still)

    Hito Steyerl , Factory of the Sun (still) , 2015 .

    Video. Image CC 4.0 Hito Steyerl, courtesy of the Artist and Andrew Kreps Gallery, New York.

  • Edvard Munch: love and angst

    British Museum, London, 11 April – 21 July 2019
    The Scream is perhaps one of the most iconic images in modern art – but what of the man behind it? For this exhibition the British Museum has given itself the dual task of bringing some of Edvard Munch’s best-known works back on UK soil for the first time in decades, while revealing something of the life of the artist himself. Rejecting his strict Lutheran upbringing, Munch opted instead for the life of a bohemian, leaving his hometown of Kristiania (modern day Oslo) to travel across Europe and mix with radical thinkers and artists. During this time, he became embroiled in many tumultuous relationships, and it was these that provided the intense feelings of jealousy, anxiety and love that became the thematic mainstays of his creative output. Among the 83 prints on show are Vampire II, considered to be one of the most technically accomplished prints for its use of layered colour, and a black and white lithograph of The Scream (below), the incarnation of the work that was Munch’s most widely distributed and that arguably secured his name as one of the first truly ‘modern’ artists. Alongside the prints, the exhibition boasts a display of original matrices (the metal plates used to transfer images from ink to paper) as well as postcards and notes Munch wrote during his travels between Kristiania, Paris and Berlin – revealing the techniques, inspiration and historical backdrop in which he undertook his groundbreaking work.

  • Edvard Munch, The Scream (detail)

    Edvard Munch , The Scream (detail) , 1895 .

    Lithograph on paper. Private Collection, Norway. Photo: Thomas Widerberg.

  • Joe Tilson: New Paintings

    Marlborough Fine Arts, London, 10 April – 18 May 2019
    For over 60 years Joe Tilson RA has nurtured a deep love of Venice; with a special commission in recognition of his affinity for the city due for the Biennale in May, it’s good to know the feeling is mutual. Closer to home, Marlborough Fine Arts is hosting the second in the artist’s series of exhibitions on Venice, featuring 18 new acrylic works on canvas. Throughout, the works employ the bright, vivid colours that characterise Tilson’s output, combining pattern with expressive paint strokes to create a form of ‘architectural memory’ of the city’s tiled-stone pavements, churches and facades. Go and see this show for the sort of careful, considered examination that only comes with an intimate knowledge of place.

  • Joe Tilson RA, The Stones of Venice San Cristoforo (detail)

    Joe Tilson RA , The Stones of Venice San Cristoforo (detail) , 2017 .

    Acrylic on canvas. 183 x 122cm. Courtesy Marlborough Fine Art.

  • Who’s Afraid of Drawing? Works on Paper from the Ramo Collection

    Estorick Collection, London, 17 April – 23 June
    Drawing has often been regarded as just a preliminary process, as a way of ‘sketching out’ ideas for sculpture or paint. This month, the Estorick Collection is doing its part to prove drawing should be a respected medium all of its own, with an exhibition of select pieces from Milan’s Ramo Collection, the largest private collection of modern Italian works on paper. Showcasing 60 of the 600 works in the collection, the show is also a snapshot of the diverse and constantly shifting zeitgeists in Italian art between 1900 and 1981. Between the surrealist piazzas of Giorgio de Chirico, the abstract elegance of Bruno Munari and the explosive colourscapes of Tancredi, there’s much to admire in this show which promises to be as diverse and eclectic as the medium itself.

  • Fabio Mauri, Schermo fine

    Fabio Mauri , Schermo fine , c. 1960 .

    © Collezione Ramo, Milan. Courtesy Estorick Collection.

    Tempera, graphite pencil, decal with trichloroethylene, Indian ink, charcoal, oil pastel, synthetic oil enamel and black felt pen on soft cardboard. 68.8 x 104.8cm.

  • Mandy El-Sayegh: Cite Your Sources

    Chisenhale Gallery, London, 12 April – 9 June
    British artist Mandy El-Sayegh is fascinated by the ways in which we interpret information, and to what extent its presentation shapes our opinion of it. For her first institutional solo exhibition opening at the Chisenhale this month, she has covered the white gallery walls with a different kind of ‘neutrality’: the newspaper, namely The Financial Times. These walls provide a fitting backdrop to works from El-Sayegh’s ongoing Net-grid series (below); silkscreened and painted canvases made through the gradual layering of newspapers, photographs, maps, drawings and writing, and topped by hand-painted grids. While the grids may give the canvases a semblance of order, they also obscure and cover up the fragments of images that lie beneath. By imposing structure on her canvases, El-Sayegh has made them harder, rather than easier, to crack. Through these multiple acts of cutting up, pasting, and otherwise obscuring the material she uses, El-Sayegh makes the act of decoding and interpreting information explicit, questioning the appearance of neutrality and coherence these sources project.

  • Mandy El-Sayegh, Net-grid 8

    Mandy El-Sayegh , Net-grid 8 , 2018 .

    Oil and mixed media on linen. 225 x 235cm. Courtesy Chisenhale Gallery.

  • Denzil Forrester: A Survey

    Stephen Friedman Gallery, London, 25 April – 25 May 2019
    Grenada-born British artist Denzil Forrester has been documenting the vibrant reggae and dub scene of East London since the 1980s. The rhythm, feel and energy of the music embodies Forrester’s work in a very literal way: bringing a sketchbook with him to the clubs, he draws only for as long as a single track may last, typically for four minutes, which he then translates into his larger canvas works, like Velvet Rush (below). A selection of these kaleidoscopic dance scenes will be on display at Stephen Friedman this April, kicking off what promises to be a prolific twelve months for Forrester. In September 2019 a new mural by the artist will be unveiled at Brixton tube station, while in January 2020 he is set for a large solo exhibition at Nottingham Contemporary.

  • Denzil Forrester, Velvet Rush

    Denzil Forrester , Velvet Rush , 2018 .

    Oil on canvas. 204.4 x 273.4cm. © Denzil Forrester. Courtesy the artist and Stephen Friedman Gallery, London.

  • Oscar Murillo: Violent Amnesia

    Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge, 9 April – 23 June 2019
    Oscar Murillo is an artist of ‘displacement’, having been born in Colombia and brought up in London from the age of 10. In his first solo show in the UK for five years, Murillo conveys the experience of his own globalised displacement through painting, installation, sound pieces and live performance scattered across Kettle’s Yard. An important aspect of Murillo’s work is the use of multiple forms and mediums, often within the same piece, such as in the exhibition’s eponymous violent amnesia (below). Here, pieces of canvas and linen have been physically stitched together, creating a literal patchwork display of abstract and figurative images, each a narrative microcosm vying for our attention. Like Mandy El-Sayegh (above), Murillo brings the tensions between disparate parts to the fore, and in the process reveals something sinister about the globalised world we live in today.

  • Oscar Murillo, violent amnesia (detail)

    Oscar Murillo , violent amnesia (detail) , 2014-2018 .

    Courtesy the artist. Photograph: Matthew Hollow.

    Graphite, oil, oil stick, grommets and stainless steel on canvas and linen. 300 x 164 x 15cm.

  • Paul Simon Richards: Quasi-Monte Carlo

    Spike Island, Bristol, 6 April – 16 June 2019
    ‘Quasi-Monte Carlo’ was the name given by 19th-century French statisticians to a sophisticated algorithm, named after its original purpose of beating the house of the famous Monte Carlo Casino. Today, the same algorithm is used in artificial intelligence and photorealistic image rendering – artist Paul Simon Richards’ medium of choice in the latest instalment of his surreal video series, now on display at Spike Island. Staying true to its name, this work takes us on a ‘dream holiday’ to Monaco’s largest city, though not quite as it exists in reality. Blending live-action footage of the actual Monte Carlo (starring Richards’ long-time collaborator Jacky Bahbout) with CGI renderings, it provides a vision of the casino as seen through the processed ‘gaze’ of a computer. And the uncanny differences between the two might be harder to spot than you think.

  • Paul Simon Richards, Quasi-Monte Carlo (still)

    Paul Simon Richards , Quasi-Monte Carlo (still) , 2019 .

    Video. Film still Courtesy Paul Simon Richards and Arcade.

  • Ruskin, Turner & the Storm Cloud: Watercolours and Drawings

    York Art Gallery, York, 29 March – 23 June 2019
    This year marks John Ruskin’s 200th birthday, and to celebrate the York Art Gallery is putting on an exhibition that highlights the pivotal relationship he shared with the artist JMW Turner RA. Ruskin defended Turner in the face of his critics, as an artist who was “true to nature”, and both men were keenly aware of the profound impact the environment had on our wellbeing. Exemplifying this philosophy is Ruskin’s own watercolour The View from My Window, Mornex, 1862 (below) in which a small cottage is dwarfed by the rugged landscape it sits within, making human activity appear, quite literally, as only one small part of a much bigger picture. Alongside a dozen of Turner’s paintings are 39 further watercolours in this vein by Ruskin, showing him as not only a keen proponent of art but also an accomplished artist in his own right. Also featured are select works by John Constable, John Inchbold, Hubert Herkomer and a special commission by contemporary artist Emma Stibbons RA, who in 2018 retraced Ruskin’s steps around Chamonix to inform a series of photographs and paintings – in doing so, proving Ruskin’s influence on how we see the world endures to this day.

  • John Ruskin, View from my Window at Mornex

    John Ruskin , View from my Window at Mornex , 1862 .

    Watercolour. © Lakeland Arts Trust. Courtesy York Art Gallery.

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