Thinking of Francis Bacon’s paintings as constantly touching on and circling around what can and cannot be shown, what can and can’t be revealed, opens a different perspective on the artist’s shifting, fugitive representation of the human body. Rather than be explicit in works only shown in private, Bacon was hinting and suggesting in public – a different kind of risk at a time when gay men faced social stigma and criminal punishment.
My review of Couplings, the show of Francis Bacon paintings at Gagosian London, for ArtReview. Read here
In recent years the Turner Prize has struggled against the nagging criticism that it has lost its relevance and that its selections have been too ‘insiderish’. But following last year’s shortlist, when the prize abolished its fifty-year age limit while emphasising a greater ethnic diversity (including Hurvin Anderson and prizewinner Lubaina Himid), this year’s selectors have made an unabashed turn to artists who, as the Tate’s blurb puts it, are ‘tackling pressing issues in society today’.
My review of the 2018 Turner Prize, in the January-February issue of ArtReview. Read it here
Institutionally, the group’s activity is indicative of how both academic and curatorial cultures have become entwined in this wider shift in the locus of political activism, with the art gallery becoming just another channel of dissemination for this broader political culture of independent and quasi-institutional activism.
My review of Forensic Architecture at the ICA, for ArtReview, here
My review of ‘Phantom Limbs’ at Pilar Corrias, London, on Art Agenda. Read it here
“People who have lost arms or legs often report experiencing a “phantom limb”—the sense that the limb is still there, or that they can still move or feel it. It’s a good metaphor, too, for current post-internet art debates concerning the shifting relationship of real to virtual, digital to material.“Phantom Limbs,” Pilar Corrias’s smarter-than-most summer show, does a concise job of mapping the various poles of this cultural and theoretical inquiry…”
Berlin-based Natascha Sadr Haghighian’s exhibition at Carroll / Fletcher might appear visually spare, but with each work, Haghighian draws you further into a game of institutional hide-and-seek, in which visibility and invisibility, the act of remaining hidden and being revealed, are played out as Machiavellian manipulations of the conventions of spectatorship and exhibition, where voyeurism plays a critical role. Continue reading “Natascha Sadr Haghighian at Carroll/Fletcher, London”→
“There are artworks that work on the viewer’s apprehension of an implied absence, and then there are artworks that simply stand there waiting for that apparent lack to be filled in by contextualizing talk. The former has something to do with aesthetic experience, the latter with a loss of interest in it, and standing among Yto Barrada’s work at Pace Gallery London, I get the feeling the talk wins…”
“I’ve got a game on my phone which consists of a grid of randomly coloured spots. It looks a bit like one of Damien Hirst’s many spot paintings. But at least with the game on my phone, if you get a row of the same colour, the spots go away…”
My review of Damien Hirst’s Spot Paintings extravaganza just up on Time Out…
“Commenting on new work by a “great” artist is always difficult. The task is fraught with paradoxes. After all, the moment you’re faced with recent work from an artist who has long ago been elevated to the canon of contemporary art history, what is there left to say?”