10 art exhibitions to see in April

Published 1 April 2017

From powerful and symbolic 20th-century war paintings to the first ever exhibition dedicated to queer British art, here’s the best art to see this month as chosen by the RA Magazine team.

  • Chris Ofili: Weaving Magic

    The National Gallery, London, 26 April – 28 August 2017

    Following in the footsteps of artists like Goya and Miro, the Turner Prize-winning British artist Chris Ofili engages for the first time with the medium of tapestry. In the words of Ofili himself: “The Caged Bird’s Song is a marriage of watercolour and weaving. I set out to challenge the weaving process, by doing something free-flowing in making a watercolour, encouraging the liquid pigment to form the image, a contrast to the weaving process.”

    The Clothworkers’ Company has commissioned Ofili’s tapestry and he has worked with the world-renowned Dovecot Tapestry Studio, who have spent two and a half years hand weaving this beautiful tapestry which reflects the artist’s ongoing interest in classical mythology.

  • Chris Ofili, A detail of the tapestry by Chris Ofili

    Chris Ofili, A detail of the tapestry by Chris Ofili.

    Courtesy the Artist and Victoria Miro, London © Chris Ofili. Photograph by Gautier Deblonde.

  • Geta Bratescu: The Studio: A Tireless, Ongoing Space

    Camden Arts Centre, London, 7 April – 18 June 2017

    Ranging from performance to printmaking and everything in between, Geta Bratescu’s work dispels the boundaries between art and life. The Romanian artist creates artworks using everyday objects such as cigarette papers, teabags and wooden stirrers, and explores her hidden emotions and conflicts through drawings produced with her eyes closed. Having spent most of her life living and working under an oppressive political regime, Bratescu is interested in how the studio can be used as a space for personal contemplation and reflection, as well as questions of identity, ethics and femininity.

  • Geta Bratescu, The Rule of the Circle, The Rule of the Game

    Geta Bratescu, The Rule of the Circle, The Rule of the Game, 1985.

    Courtesy of Ivan Gallery, Bucharest and Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin Photo: Stefan Sava.

  • John Constable: Constable and Brighton

    Brighton Museum and Art Gallery, 8 April – 8 October 2017

    Though he wasn’t a huge fan of “Piccadilly by the sea”, Constable moved to Brighton in 1824, in the hope that it would improve the health of his wife, Maria. He enjoyed four years there with his family, taking long walks in and around the city, until Maria died in 1828. This exhibition features over 60 of the artist’s sketches, drawings and paintings from that period, presenting them for the first time in the place where they were created. Highlights include Chain Pier; an oil painting featuring the Brighton landmark, which was swept away by a storm in 1896, as well as a letter written in 1824 in which Constable expresses his views on what it is to be a painter.

  • John Constable, Chain Pier

    John Constable, Chain Pier, 1826-7.

    © Tate, London 2016.

  • Queer British Art

    Tate Britain, London, 5 April – 1 October 2017

    With 2017 marking the 50th anniversary of the decriminalisation of male homosexuality in Britain, Tate presents the first ever exhibition dedicated to queer British art. The exhibition investigates the art of a century in which it was not easy to be different. Major paintings and artefacts including pieces by David Hockney RA, Ethel Sands, Francis Bacon and the door from Oscar Wilde’s prison cell in Reading Gaol are just some of the works on display. Works range from those which are clearly making a political statement to those by artists whose art is deeply personal.

  • David Hockney, Life Painting for a Diploma

    David Hockney, Life Painting for a Diploma, 1962.

    Yageo Foundation © Yageo Foundation.

  • Giacomo Balla: Designing the Future

    Estorick Collection, London, 5 April – 25 June 2017

    Giacomo Balla was a pioneering figure of European Modernism and the undeniable master of Modern Italian Art. His Futurist paintings convey an impression of dynamic movement, through subject matters including scurrying dachshunds, violinists’ hands and speeding vehicles. Featuring 116 works, this Estorik Collection retrospective also includes Balla’s less well-known figurative paintings and drawings, as well as applied art and fashion-related designs.

  • Giacomo Balla, Design for a Man’s Suit

    Giacomo Balla, Design for a Man’s Suit, 1914.

    watercolour on paper. Courtesy The Biagiotti Cigna Foundation.

  • Kaleidoscope: Colour and Sequence in 1960s British Art

    Longside Gallery, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield, 1 April - 18 June 2017

    Colour and form, rationality and irrationality, order and waywardness; Kaleidoscope explores these relationships via the art of the 1960s. From the perspectives of sequence, symmetry and repetition, the show presents paintings and sculptures by more than 20 artists including Tess Jaray RA, Tim Scott and Anthony Caro RA. The exhibition brings to light the radical transformation and breaking of tradition that British art underwent during this period, through works such as the rarely seen 4th Sculpture (1965) by New Generation sculptor, Michael Bolus and Op Art painter Bridget Riley’s, Movement in Squares (1961).

  • Tim Scott, Quinquereme

    Tim Scott, Quinquereme, 1966.

    Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre, London © the artist.

  • La Movida

    HOME, Manchester, 14 April - 17 July 2017

    La Movida (“the scene”) was a socio-cultural movement in post-Franco Spain, centred in Madrid. In the 1980s, politics and sexuality were finally out in the open, and Spanish creative communities were suddenly free to express themselves via clubbing, drugs, art and pornography. This exhibition explores the movement, presenting the art and artist groups, as well as international works which explore the immodesties of La Movida less directly. Highlights include the 2013 photo series Mad Ellie by Tokyo artist collective, Chim-Pom, whose practice responds to contemporary social issues, as well as work from Venezuelan-born Spanish video artist, Patricia Esquivias.

  • Chim-Pom, Uhyo

    Chim-Pom, Uhyo, 2014.

    Digital photographic print.

  • Maeve Brennan

    Chisenhale Gallery, London, until 4 June 2017

    In this single screen, cinematic installation by London- and Beirut-based artist Maeve Brennan, the politics of conflict are explored through the mapping of various urban sites in Lebanon. Brennan’s new film, The Drift, shifts between the activities of a Beirut archaeologist and a joyrider from the town of Britel, which is known for its trading of automobile parts and historic artefacts. The work presents narratives dealing with the destruction and preservation of heritage sites in the Middle East, and encourages us to consider the value of rebuilding communities.

  • Maeve Brennan, The Drift

    Maeve Brennan, The Drift, 2017.

    Film. Produced by Chisenhale Gallery, London and Spike Island, Bristol. Commissioned by Chisenhale Gallery; Spike Island; The Whitworth, The University of Manchester; and Lismore Castle Arts, Lismore. Courtesy of the artist..

  • Paul Nash

    Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, Norwich, 8 April – 20 August 2017

    Paul Nash, one of Britain’s most important 20th century artists, shows us the terrible impact of war through his powerful and symbolic paintings. Nash’s work combined avant garde, surrealist ideas with an interest in the countryside. Iconic works including The Menin Road (1919) are displayed alongside his later experiments in photography, collage and painting, which involved juxtapositions of found objects and landscapes.

  •  Paul Nash, Bomber in the Corn

    Paul Nash, Bomber in the Corn, 1940.

    Graphite and watercolour on paper. © Tate, London 2015.

  • The Studio and The Sea

    Tate St Ives, Cornwall, until 3 September 2017

    To celebrate the reopening of Tate St Ives this year, the overarching The Studio and The Sea exhibition explores the ceramics studio, the sea and the landscape. ‘That Continuous Thing’ sees over 50 artists from around the world look at how the ceramics studio has been a place of sociable international exchange from the 1920’s until today. The exhibition then moves onto the works of British artist Jessica Warboys. Her large-scale Sea Paintings, grandly produced with the help of the sea itself, provide a backdrop for the galleries, which are filled with various other sculptures, films and glass works by the artist.

  • Jessica Warboys, Sea Painting, Dunwich

    Jessica Warboys, Sea Painting, Dunwich, 2015.

    Mineral pigment on canvas. Courtesy the artist and Gaudel de Stampa, Paris..