Three art shows to see this spring

Published 13 April 2022

Three unmissable exhibitions are happening in Birmingham, Gateshead and Wakefield. Don’t say we didn’t tell you…

    • 1. Carlo Crivelli at Ikon, Birmingham

      The 15th-century painter Carlo Crivelli, best known for his Late Gothic devotional works, might seem like a rogue choice for a retrospective at Birmingham’s Ikon gallery, whose last show featured 29-year-old gestural painter Betsy Bradley. But don’t be fooled, says outgoing Ikon director Jonathan Watkins, because Crivelli is “at once ‘traditional’ in a northern Italian style but [points] towards a postmodern art-historical future unlike any other pre-modern artist.”

      With his radical use of hyper-single-point perspective and trompe l’oeil, both of which suggest and undermine painting as a “window onto reality”, Crivelli speaks to fresh interest in the possibilities of portraiture and illusionism today.

      The exhibition is the winner of the inaugural Ampersand Foundation Award, enabling a UK institution to produce their dream exhibition, and the funds have allowed Ikon to borrow four rare works from the National Gallery.

      Carlo Crivelli : Shadows on the Sky is open at Ikon Gallery, Birmingham until May 29

      Carlo Crivelli, Saint Mary Magdalene

      Carlo Crivelli, Saint Mary Magdalene, c.1491–94.

    • 2. Shelia Hicks at the Hepworth, Wakefield

      At 87, Sheila Hicks still works every day in a studio in Paris’s Cour de Rohan, a tucked-away courtyard of pink stone and potted plants that once was home to the painter Balthus and philosopher Georges Bataille.

      An upcoming retrospective at Hepworth Wakefield surveys her polychromatic career working with textiles, from experimental weavings to large-scale sculptural pieces and site-specific installations. While a student at Yale in the late 1950s, Hicks was taken under the wing of passionate colourists Anni and Josef Albers, and throughout her life the Nebraska-born artist has restlessly innovated.

      Among over 70 works, including new commissions, don’t miss the intimate Minimes – small weavings created on the hand loom she has used for over half a century – that call to be caressed.

      Sheila Hicks: Off Grid is at the Hepworth Wakefield until 25 September.

      Sheila Hicks, Chromatic Lands

      Sheila Hicks, Chromatic Lands, 2016-17.

    • 3. Mounira Al Solh at the Baltic, Gateshead

      Where is home if all semblance of what once was home no longer exists? How do we keep records of lived experience during times of extreme fracture, war and dispossession?

      These are questions asked by the often harrowing, often humorous paintings, works on paper, embroideries and films of the Lebanese-Dutch artist Mounira Al Solh. These “time documents”, as she calls them, draw on her encounters with those, especially women, who have been affected by conflict across the Middle East. Her meditative, compelling work was a revelation at “documenta 14” in 2017, at the height of the “refugee crisis”, and is now the focus at Gateshead’s Baltic.

      Inspired by a Qajar-era Iranian ceremonial canopy, a large-scale embroidered tent – developed collaboratively with groups of women in Lebanon, the Netherlands and Gateshead – provides a space for storytelling and performance at the centre of the show.

      Mounira Al Solh: A day is as long as a year is open at the Balitc, Gateshead until October 2

      Mounira Al Solh, Mina El Shourouk ila Al Fahmah

      Mounira Al Solh, Mina El Shourouk ila Al Fahmah, 2019.

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