10 art exhibitions to see in March

Published 1 March 2019

Planning a fresh start for Spring? Check out this month’s pick of exhibitions across the UK – the idea of firsts is a recurring theme.

  • John Bellany and Alan Davie: Cradle of Magic

    Newport Street Gallery, London, 27 February – 1 September 2019
    Newport Street Gallery brings together two of Scotland’s best-known postwar artists: the painters John Bellany and Alan Davie RA. Born 20 years apart, they make an unusual pairing: on one hand is Davie, a key early figure of abstract art in Britain, who drew on nature and Celtic mythology in his attempts to paint the subconscious. On the other is Bellany, who while a keen admirer of Davie as a student, is better known for his figurative works that take Calvinist fervour as their main point of departure – finding in the fishermen and women of his hometown of Port Seton something both “sacred and profane”. Davie was interested in Buddhism and in visualising parts of the human experience that are intensely felt but never seen; Bellany was obsessed with reproducing the Old Masters and planting references to the iconography ingrained within the Western canon. But despite their differences this show proves Davie and Bellany still share plenty in common, least of all in their vivid use of colour and how their upbringings provided a constant source of inspiration.

  • 'John Bellany and Alan Davie: Cradle of Magic', installation view

    'John Bellany and Alan Davie: Cradle of Magic', installation view

    Newport Street Gallery, London, 2019

  • Eric Parry: Drawing

    Sir John Soane’s Museum, London, 20 February – 27 May 2019
    Eric Parry RA describes himself aptly as an “architect who draws”, but his drawing is not limited to the built environment. His show of sketchbooks and drawings from the past few decades is scattered throughout the enigmatic interior of the Soane, encouraging us to explore the building and objects as much as Parry’s own work. The exhibition culminates with a series of larger pictures of his most recognised buildings, such as a fine pencil drawing of the façade of 30 Finsbury Square. Abstracted from context but drawn from a point of view that might have been across the street, the building becomes a highly graphic study of lines, light and shadow. Beyond showing the work of an excellent draftsman, the exhibition gives a small glimpse into Parry’s life beyond his architectural practice, including the places he has visited and the people he has met. See if you can spot Tracey Emin RA at a Royal Academy assembly meeting!

  • Eric Parry RA, 30 Finsbury Square

    Eric Parry RA , 30 Finsbury Square , c. 2003 .

    © Eric Parry. Courtesy Sir John Soane's Museum.

  • How Chicago! Imagists 1960s & 70s

    Goldsmiths Centre for Contemporary Art, London, 15 March – 26 May
    It’s been 40 years since the Chicago Imagists had a major exhibition in the UK. More a vast constellation of art students, teachers and smaller artistic groupings – working across performance, painting, sculpture and photography – than a formal movement in itself, Chicago Imagism can trace its roots to a pivotal group exhibition in 1966 at Chicago’s Hyde Park Art Center, titled Hairy Who. What followed were more group shows similarly united by an affinity for wordplay, pop culture, comic books, folklore and humour that established Imagism as a major artistic trend indelibly linked to Chicago and the US. At the CCA, 14 of the best-known Imagists have been brought together, including some of the original Hairy Who artists such as Jim Falconer, Art Green, Gladys Nilsson, Jim Nutt, Suellen Rocca and Karl Wirsum. Irreverent, ironic and never dull, this show promises to cast a light on an important but frequently overlooked movement in American art.

  • Jim Falconer, Back cover for Hairy Who (cat-a-log) (detail)

    Jim Falconer , Back cover for Hairy Who (cat-a-log) (detail) , c. 1968–69 .

    © Jim Falconer. Courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery, New York.

  • Haegue Yang: Tracing Movement

    South London Gallery, London, March – 26 May
    Haegue Yang is a South Korean artist fascinated by movement and dance. In the South London Gallery’s main space she brings two kinetic sculptures from her Dress Vehicle series: aluminium frames on wheels adorned with hundreds of brass bells are periodically moved around the space by performers, sending out a low but unavoidable rattle that bounces across the gallery walls. Each sculpture features an empty central compartment that allows a performer to stand inside and “wear” the work. With the bells announcing the performer’s arrival no matter where they go in the space, these so-called dresses question to what extent we can run away from our identities. Alongside the sculptures Yang also brings large-scale collage works to the gallery walls, part of her ongoing series that abstracts familiar household objects to create imagery that is both familiar and strange.

    While in Peckham, head to Hannah Barry Gallery to catch the last days of Henry Hudson’s show “nothing sticks to nothing”, a solo presentation of his psychedelic plasticine snowscapes, made even trippier by the pink-hued faux-marble floor designed by the artist.

  • Haegue Yang, Tightrope Walking and Its Wordless Shadow

    Haegue Yang , Tightrope Walking and Its Wordless Shadow , 2018 .

    Courtesy of Fondazione Furla and La Triennale di Milano Italy / Photo Masiar Pasquali.

  • Henry Moore: The Helmet Heads

    The Wallace Collection, London, 6 March – 23 June
    Henry Moore had a life-long fascination with armour, from the medieval effigies he saw in the churches of Yorkshire to the helmets of servicemen in the First World War. As an art student in London, he was drawn to the Wallace Collection precisely for its expansive armoury, and he spent many hours there, sketching outlines for what would eventually become some of his most iconic sculptures, the Helmet Heads. For this new show Moore is once again brought face to face with his earliest influences: his Helmet Head sculptures are presented alongside a wide selection of helmets from the Wallace Collection Armoury.

  • Portrait of Henry Moore with Helmet Head No. 2 (LH281) (detail)

    Portrait of Henry Moore with Helmet Head No. 2 (LH281) (detail)

    Reproduced by permission of the Henry Moore Foundation / Photo John Hedgecoe, 1967

  • Dorothea Tanning

    Tate Modern, London, 27 February – 9 June
    Take a trip through the dark, dingy hotel lobbies of our innermost thoughts at the Tate Modern this month, courtesy of American artist Dorothea Tanning, whose work brings together the stuff of unsettling dreams: spindly figures within haunted interiors full of doors and stairs to nowhere. This is her first major exhibition in 25 years, and Tanning – painter, sculpture, writer and all-around surrealist extraordinaire – has plenty to show from her seven decades-long career. Starting out as a painter in New York, where she met future husband and fellow Surrealist Max Ernst, she moved to Paris in the 1950s and began making sculptures with fabric. From painting and three-dimensional sculpture to complete interior installations, this exhibition shows the breadth of her material powers – long before David Lynch or Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining – to evoke eery and disturbing dreamscapes.

  • Dorothea Tanning, Hôtel du Pavot, Chambre 202

    Dorothea Tanning , Hôtel du Pavot, Chambre 202 , 1970-1973 .

    Fabric, wool, synthetic fur, cardboard, and Ping-Pong balls. © DACS, 2019. Courtesy of Centre Pompidou, Paris. Musée national d'art modern / Centre de création industrielle / Photo Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Philippe Migeat.

  • Diane Arbus: In the Beginning

    Hayward Gallery, London, 13 February – 6 May
    Diane Arbus received her first camera on her honeymoon and after building a portfolio as a fashion photographer, gave up the glamorous bylines to devote herself to roaming the streets of New York, capturing life as it was in the 1960s. This exhibition, comprising 100 of Arbus’s photographs, maps the evolution of her short life as one of America’s most radical photographers. The show presents her early 35mm film works as well as the square-format portraits of the city’s eccentrics that would establish her as a twentieth-century household name. Also displayed are some vintage prints made by Arbus herself, as well as a selection of her most iconic pictures, including Jack Dracula at a bar, New London, Conn. 1961 (below).

  • Diane Arbus, Jack Dracula at a bar, New London, Conn. (detail)

    Diane Arbus , Jack Dracula at a bar, New London, Conn. (detail) , 1961 .

    Copyright © The Estate of Diane Arbus, LLC. All Rights Reserved. Courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

  • BALTIC Artists’ Awards 2019

    BALTIC Centre, Gateshead, 15 February – 16 June
    The BALTIC Artists’ Award is a biennial award, judged by artists, that aims to give those at a crucial point in their careers the opportunity to show their work to new and bigger audiences. Now in its second run, the three winners this year are truly international in scope and cover a vast array of media, from video art to photography. There is Aaron Hughes, an American Iraq War veteran who collaborates with other artists to explore “collective humanity”, blending poetry, printmaking and musical performance; Kang Jungsuck, who takes his interest in the gaming industry as the starting point for building environments, both physically and on screen, that attempt to blur the line between the real and digital; and finally Ingrid Pollard, who through a new series of prints, photographs and installations, questions the caricatures of race that run salient through British culture. Alongside Michael Rakowitz the judges of the prize included Lubaina Himid, the RA’s newly elected Academician, and Haegue Yang, whose work is shown this month at the South London Gallery (mentioned above).

  • BALTIC Artists' Awards 2019, installation view

    BALTIC Artists' Awards 2019, installation view

    Courtesy the BALTIC

  • George Shaw: A Corner of a Foreign Field

    Holburne Museum, Bath, 8 February – 6 May
    George Shaw has built up a reputation as a painter of Britain’s forgotten places, like the Tile Hill estate in Coventry where he grew up. Opting for the bright, vibrant colours of enamel paint over traditional acrylics or oils, Shaw’s empty suburban scenes manage to appear simultaneously bleak and vibrant, such as in Ash Wednesday: 8:30 am, 2004–5 (below), and featured in this major retrospective. After a successful show at the Yale Center for British Art in the US, 20 paintings and some 50 drawings (including some never before seen in the UK) are now collected at the Holburne Museum in Bath. Together they provide a snapshot of the artist’s career from 1996 to the present.

    Early this month (8 March) Shaw will be conversation at the museum with director Ken Loach to talk about the links between their works.

  • George Shaw, Ash Wednesday: 8:30 am, 2004-5

    George Shaw , Ash Wednesday: 8:30 am, 2004-5 , 2004-5 .

    © George Shaw. Courtesy Anthony Wilkinson Gallery, London / Photo: Peter White.

  • From Outside: Tess Jaray

    The Barber Institute of Fine Arts, Birmingham, 27 February – 12 May
    Tess Jaray RA draws from architecture and the built environment to inform her abstract prints and paintings. For her neat show of five paintings at the Barber Institute, she turns her eye to the museum’s Art Deco facade. The result is a series of works, mixing pattern, colour and geometry, to feel like it belongs to many different eras at once, from the heyday of Art Deco architecture to the abstract art of the 1960s, but with an outcome that feels altogether “now”.

  • Tess Jaray RA, Revue (detail)

    Tess Jaray RA , Revue (detail) , 2018 .

    © the artist, 2019. Courtesy of Karsten Schubert, London.