sat 02/07/2022

Visual Arts Reviews

Eric Ravilious: Drawn to War review - a lovingly crafted documentary portrait

Saskia Baron

There’s a sharp observation, delivered in Alan Bennett’s soft tones, that sums up the reputation of the painter Eric Ravilious: “Because his paintings are so accessible, I don’t think he’s thought to be a great artist. It’s because of his charm. He’s so easy to like and things have to be hard, if they’re not hard, then they’re not great."

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Vivian Maier: Anthology, MK Gallery review - what an amazing eye!

Sarah Kent

The story is riveting. A nanny living in New York and Chicago spent her spare time wandering the streets taking photographs. She learned to develop and print, but her plan to publish the images as postcards fell through and, as time passed, she stopped bothering even to develop the negatives let alone print them.

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Venice Biennale 2022 review - The Milk of Dreams Part 2: The Arsenale

Mark Hudson

Part two of The Milk of Dreams, the central International Exhibition at the 2022 Venice Biennale, housed in the Arsenale shipyard, starts with the kind of massive, grandstanding gesture that’s necessary in a venue of this scale: a colossal bronze bust of a Black woman by American artist Simone Leigh.

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In the Air, Wellcome Collection review - art in an emergency

Mark Sheerin

Air is a weighty subject, and in both senses; if we did not contain its gases in our bodies, the air would crush us. Ninety-nine per cent of the world’s population breathe polluted air daily. There was a time on this planet, 3.5 billion years ago, before oxygen. Startling facts like these are perhaps to be expected from an exhibition at the scientific Wellcome Collection.

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Whitstable Biennale review - a breath of fresh air

Sarah Kent

If you need an excuse to spend a day in the charming seaside town of Whitstable, the Biennale is it. After a four-year hiatus, the festival is back with a somewhat edgy, apocalyptic feel.

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Venice Biennale 2022 review - The Milk of Dreams Part 1: The Giardini

Mark Hudson

Cecelia Alemani's vision for The Milk of Dreams, the International Exhibition at the Venice Biennale 2022 had me excited – and perplexed – from the moment I heard about it.

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Cornelia Parker, Tate Britain review – divine intelligence

Sarah Kent

Cornelia Parker’s early installations are as fresh and as thought provoking as when they were made. Her Tate Britain retrospective opens with Thirty Pieces of Silver (pictured below left: Detail).

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Walter Sickert, Tate Britain review - all the world's a stage

Sarah Kent

Who was Walter Sickert and what made him tick? The best way to address the question is to make a beeline for the final room of his Tate Britain retrospective. It’s hung with an impressive array of his last and most colourful paintings.

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Ming Smith: A Dream Deferred, Pippy Houldsworth Gallery review - snapping the Blues

Bill Knight

Ming Smith is a Black female photographer. When she first dropped off her portfolio at New York’s Museum of Modern Art in 1978 the receptionist assumed she was a courier. When MoMA offered to buy her work she declined at first because the fee didn’t cover her bills. Luckily for us, she relented.

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Ali Cherri: If you prick us, do we not bleed?, National Gallery review - cabinets of curiosity

Sarah Kent

I’m a sucker for traditional vitrines and the procession of old style display cases installed by Ali Cherri in the Renaissance galleries of the Sainsbury Wing look very handsome.

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