Our pick of this week’s art events: 22 – 28 January

RA Recommends

Published 22 January 2016

From a multi-channel video installation to an immersive recreation of a modern master’s studio, we bring you the must-see shows opening this week.

  • Monuments Should Not Be Trusted

    Nottingham Contemporary, Nottingham, 16 January–4 March 2016
    From the 1960s through to the mid-1980s, the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (comprising Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Slovenia and Macedonia) was, in a sense, at the intersection of two worlds. The single-party state was built on eastern-style Communist principles, while at the same time encouraging western-style consumerism and allowing free travel. This contradictory situation, dubbed “socialism with a human face”, produced a unique art scene, with artists distorting pop culture – using a mixture of mediums including moving image, performance, conceptual art, sculpture and painting – to explore, question and critique their society. This exhibition features over 100 artworks and artefacts from key Yugoslavian artists, casting light on an important – yet often overlooked – aspect of 20th century art history.

  • Bogdanka Poznanovi?, Akcija srce – predmet

    Bogdanka Poznanovi?, Akcija srce – predmet, 1970.

    Marinko Sudac Collection.

  • Miro’s Studio

    Mayoral, London, 21 January–12 February 2016
    How much does an artist’s environment shape the work produced in it? The Spanish painter, sculptor and ceramicist Joan Miro travelled around Europe for much of his life, and was exiled from his homeland during the Spanish Civil War. He longed for a space to settle in, and while living in New York, he corresponded with the architect Josep Lluís Sert on designs for his dream workshop in Mallorca. This airy, peaceful studio – where the avant-garde artist worked from 1956 until his death in 1983 – has now been recreated in the Mayoral gallery, complete with furniture, painting materials, household items and archival documents. This unusual exhibition offers the chance to see 25 of Miro’s paintings and drawings, while experiencing the private sanctuary in which they were created.

  • Son Abrines studio

    Son Abrines studio

    Photo Jean Marie del Moral

  • Chantal Joffe

    Victoria Miro Mayfair, London, 22 January–24 March 2016
    Autobiography in art can be irresistible. Even if we have never met the artist, or their subjects, we want to know more about them. For the past few years, Chantal Joffe RA has been creating warm, intimate portraits of those closest to her, capturing their distinctive features and personalities in her trademark broad, creamy brushstrokes. It’s perhaps no surprise then that this highly personal painter is a fan of confessional poetry: the mid-20th century American literary school that brought “I” to the fore. This exhibition intermingles colourful portraits of people from Joffe’s own life with equally vibrant portraits of the writers she admires, such as Anne Sexton, Sylvia Plath and Robert Lowell. Here Joffe blurs the boundaries between life and art, the personal and the universal.

  • Flatland

    FOLD, London, 21 January–20 February 2016
    Flatland is a book by Edwin A. Abbott, published in 1888, about a two-dimensional world, where “lines, triangles, squares, pentagons, hexagons, and other figures, instead of remaining fixed in their places, move freely about, on or in the surface.” A new group exhibition at the Fold gallery in London takes this quirky book as its starting point, exploring the ways in which contemporary painters innovate and create worlds within their “flat” medium. Expect mostly abstract work that alludes to themes such as history, the body and space, from Simon Allison, Stephen Buckley, Tim Ellis, Jane Harris, Richard Kirwan and John Wilkins.

  • FLATLAND, installation view

    FLATLAND, installation view

    Courtesy of the artists and FOLD Gallery

  • John Akomfrah

    Lisson Gallery, London, 22 January–12 March 2016
    John Akomfrah is one of the most significant artist-filmmakers active today, making work that is at once political and poetic, urgent and contemplative. He is renowned for the way he interweaves the past with the present in his films, layering archival film footage with original material, questioning old narratives and constructing new ones. Last week, his video installation Vertigo Sea opened at the Arnolfini in Bristol and this week he presents three other new works at the Lisson gallery in London. The Airport (2016) is a three-screen installation that explores the legacy of empire through the cinematic languages of the directors Stanley Kubrick and Theo Angelopolous. Auto Da Fé (2016) is a period drama diptych that looks at the timely issue of migration through the historic lens of religious persecution. Finally, Tropikos (2016) revisits the UK’s role in the slave trade, focusing on the part the Tamar Valley river in the South West of England played.