Bridging almost a century of Brazilian art, Visions of Brazil: Reimagining Modernity from Tarsila to Sonia at Blum & Poe in New York (30 April–22 June 2019), hosted in collaboration with Mendes Wood DM, offers a rereading of Brazilian Modernism through the works of artists practising at different times, from the 20th century through to the...
In 1969, Horikawa Michio, schoolteacher and member of the artist collective GUN (Group Ultra Niigata), filled out the customs paperwork to mail a one-kilogram river stone from Niigata, the proverbial 'backside of Japan', to President Nixon. In return, Horikawa received a thank you note for this 'most unusual Christmas gift'—a muted anti-war...
'He was not a "political" kind of person. He just wanted to be honest and straight. But it was not easy in Korea to live like that,' writes curator Kim Inhye on artist Yun Hyong-keun. For much of his life, Yun lived in proximity to some of the most tumultuous moments in modern Korean history, from which he emerged as a pioneer of abstract...
Ingleby Gallery's 2019 exhibition programme opens with an exhibition of photography. Four artists who use self-portraiture as a kind of challenge to both confront, and yet avoid, the viewer's gaze. In doing so something of themselves is simultaneously revealed and concealed; exposed but held back.
It is a beguiling contradiction achieved through one of the most direct mediums in which the Self becomes both subject and object; laid bare but distanced by the artifice of props and costume.
The unrivalled master of this way of working is Cindy Sherman, (b.1954) represented here by a small but captivatingly intense portrait from 1975. It is an image that subverts conventions of femininity and religion to present the artist as film star, sex-bomb, the Madonna. In Sherman's words:
'I feel I'm anonymous in my work. When I look at the pictures, I never see myself; they aren't self-portraits. Sometimes I disappear.' (The New York Times, 1 Feb 1990)
In this statement she might have been describing the work of her near contemporary Francesca Woodman (1958—1981) who, despite her death at age 23, created an extraordinarily mature and absorbing body of work in which ideas of presence and absence are constantly entwined. For one who died young Woodman has had a huge influence on a more recent generation of photographers, especially perhaps in her use of props and objects (including her own body) within architectural settings.
The Romanian photographer Oana Stanciu's (b.1988) series '!EU(!ME)' owes something to Woodman in the way she poses herself in often uncomfortable domestic tableaux; occupying space with the self-awareness and control of a dancer, and distorting the viewer's expectations in a kind of off-kilter riddle.
This sense of the image as a fragment of a half-told story is also present in the photographs of the South African artist and self-described 'visual activist' Zanele Muholi (b.1972) whose extraordinary series 'Hail the Dark Lioness' is one of the most compelling and politically powerful bodies of self-portraiture made anywhere in recent years. She too uses props, or materials as she refers to them to layer the imagery with meaning and association, with the ultimate tool being herself:
'The black body itself is the material, the black body that is ever scrutinised, and violated and undermined'. (The Guardian, 14 July 2017)
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