Our pick of this week’s art events: 1 – 7 January

RA Recommends

Published 8 January 2016

From JWM Turner in Edinburgh to an exhibition of friendship and fine art in London, we bring you the must-see shows this week.

  • Ivor Abrahams RA: Poised Companions

    The Mayor Gallery, 5 January – 5 February
    The Mayor Gallery affectionately remembers Ivor Abrahams RA with Poised Companions, an exhibition of his smaller sculptures. There is huge range in this modest show – a tiny Greek head that evokes the style, although not the scale, of a Gaudier Brzeska bust sits beside a quizzical, almost psychedelic, owl made of painted steel. This variety suggests a particularly British eclecticism to Abrahams’ personality and practice. He was a sculptor inspired by drawing, painting and cut-out; he found menace in manicured grounds and beauty in the suburban garden; he enjoyed the human body and the face of a bird; he worked in bronze, steel, resin, paper and paint. This intimate show – witty, melancholy and innovative – is a worthy tribute to the artist described by the gallery’s director, James Mayor, as “a European Rauschenberg”.

  • Prix Pictet Sixth Cycle: Disorder

    Somerset House, 5 – 17 January
    The Prix Pictet prize for photography and sustainability arrives at Somerset House this week. Disorder was the central theme of this year’s competition and Valérie Belin won with “Still Life”. The photographs in this series, some shot in black and white, others in deeply saturated colour, reek of Dionysian excess: toys, jewellery, broken machinery, skulls, un-blinking faces of shop dummies and undying blooms of fake flowers are captured. Through her images of organised chaos, Belin performs a neat critique of decadent over-consumption.

  • Valérie Belin, Still life with mirror #140207

    Valérie Belin, Still life with mirror #140207.

    From the series: Still Life.

    Pigment print. 135 x 171 cm. © Prix Pictet 2015.

  • Robel Temesgen: Adbar

    Tiwani Contemporary, 7 January – 6 February
    Ethiopian artist Robel Temesgen looks to his cultural heritage for inspiration. Temesgen grew up in northeast Ethiopia where the word “adbar” refers to the protective spirits caught within natural physical elements. Lakes, mountains or trees that possess adbar offer the community a link to the spirit world and so become places of shelter, worship and meeting. Temesgen has translated this idea into a series of fantastical landscapes, either hung against walls or floated, free standing across Tiwani’s gallery space. Temesgen uses enamel, spray paint and acrylic on high-gloss paper to conjure up his glittering mirages of another realm.

  • John Hoyland, Anthony Caro, Kenneth Noland

    Pace Gallery, 20 November 2015 – 16 January
    John Hoyland, Anthony Caro, Kenneth Noland at Pace Gallery closes next week: don’t miss this opportunity to consider how personal relationships develop professional output. Hoyland, Caro and Noland were all working in the wake of the first generation of the New York School and all fought to further the visual language of abstraction: Hoyland through huge abstract paintings of both geometric shapes in jewel tones and more expressionist work in softer hues, Caro through his strictly formal sculptural endeavours and Noland through his geometric reconstruction of things in paint. Shared interests of colour, form, material and series emerged in tandem throughout the 1960s and 1970s. The exhibition shows how these interests were developed through the artists’ friendship. Hoyland, Caro and Noland reveal the potential benefits of mixing business with pleasure.

  • Installation View

    Installation View

    © The John Hoyland Estate. All rights reserved, DACS 2015. © Barford Sculptures Limited. © Paige Rense Noland Marital Trust. DACS, London/VAGA, New York 2015.

  • Turner in January 2016: The Vaughn Bequest

    Scottish National Gallery, 1 – 31 January
    The winter solstice may have passed, but January stretches ahead like a long and gloomy corridor. The Scottish National Gallery makes the most of this month’s bleakness with Turner in January 2016: The Vaughn Bequest. In 1900, Henry Vaughn, a London art collector, bequeathed the gallery his collection of beautiful, delicate works by JMW Turner. His hoard included early wash drawings and watercolours from Turner’s travels across Europe (look out for the dynamically rendered scenes of Venice). They have been displayed for the first 31 days each year ever since. Though we grumble about the low sun, perpetual grey and thick cloud of deep winter, the daylight levels of more temperate seasons would fade and inflict permanent damage upon Turner’s exquisite landscapes. Turner in January brings light and colour to our darkest month: it is a Saturday in a month of Mondays.