Wednesday, 18 November 2020

Review of Toulouse-Lautrec and the Masters of Montmartre online at Victoria Art Gallery, Bath


Toulouse-Lautrec and the Masters of Montmartre 

Victoria Art Gallery, Bath

Available online


“They don’t pretend to be precious stuff; they’ll be torn down in a little while and others will be put up, and so on: they don’t give a damn! That’s great! – and that’s art, by God, and the best kind, mixed in with life, art without any bluffing or boasting and within the easy reach of ordinary guys,” said the anarchist art critic and aesthete Félix Fénéon.


This exhibition, comprising 80 colour “street art” posters by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and his contemporaries, including Pierre Bonnard, Jules Chéret, Alphonse Mucha and Théophile Steinlen, was long in the planning at Victoria Art Gallery in Bath. Sadly, it was open for less than two months before closing because of the Covid pandemic. The gallery, however, which intends to remain closed until next spring, has responded by moving nearly 50 works from the exhibition online: and not just the images, but also audio accompaniments for 16 of them, giving information about the artists, the bohemian celebrities of turn-of-the-century Montmartre, and background music to bring the atmosphere of the café-concert to life. 

Read the full review here


Tuesday, 17 November 2020

Interview with Paloma Varga Weisz


Interview with Paloma Varga Weisz

Born into an artistic family and classically trained in the traditional techniques of woodcarving, Paloma Varga Weisz, who lives and works in Düsseldorf, Germany, uses the mediums of sculpture, watercolour and drawing to explore a world of masquerades and disguises, revealing histories and creating narratives. Entering the art world in the heyday of the early 2000s, her career took off quickly, and she has exhibited widely internationally and received numerous stipends and awards. 

Her most recent exhibition, “Bumped Body”, was shown at the Bonnefanten Museum in Maastricht, the Netherlands, before traveling to the Henry Moore Institute in Leeds, UK, where it was reinstalled in a completely new iteration, opened with a private view, and then closed due to the Covid-19 lockdown. One work, Bumpman, however, stood outside the gallery throughout like an omen or watchman. 


Varga Weisz is also preparing to install an eight-metre-tall female figure, Foreign Body, in the Joshua Tree National Park, in the Mojave Desert, as part of “High Desert Test Sites 2020”, curated by Iwona Blazwick—again, something which has had to be postponed for the time being.

Read my interview for Sculpture Magazine here

Friday, 13 November 2020

Interview with Arik Levy and Zoé Ouvrier


Interview: Arik Levy and Zoé Ouvrier 

Arik Levy (b1963, Tel Aviv) and Zoé Ouvrier (b1975, Montpellier, France) create works inspired by nature, but they do not simply attempt to interpret what they see; rather, they go beyond this, exploring, in Levy’s case, psychological and material polarities, and, in Ouvrier’s, feelings, emotions and narratives. Beyond Nature, then, is an appropriate title for this first exhibition bringing together the married couple’s works, and they are as excited as anyone to see what new conversations will arise as a result. 


I spoke to Levy and Ouvrier via Zoom from their new home and studio in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, France. 

Read the full interview here

Monday, 2 November 2020

Review of Artemisia at the National Gallery, London



National Gallery, London

3 October 2020 – 24 January 2021


The Italian Baroque painter Artemisia Gentileschi (1593-c1656) is well on her way to becoming as widely recognised an artistic icon as Frida Kahlo. Certainly in the era of #MeToo, her autobiography of being raped by a fellow artist, a friend of her father, at the age of 17, and enduring a seven-month-long trial, which included torture, to test the veracity of her testament, goes before her and makes her name – for better or worse – more well-known than her artwork. Of the latter, those paintings depicting biblical heroines as strong – and often vengefully violent – real women are the most beloved, and, in fact, generally the only ones known. I confess to having been oblivious to many of her more tender subjects until this long-overdue – and latterly delayed due to Covid-19 closures – exhibition at the National Gallery, London, finally opened its doors.

Read the full article here

Thursday, 24 September 2020

NA Meets: Øystein Ustvedt, Munch expert


NA Meets: Øystein Ustvedt, Munch expert

There is a small library of books on Edvard Munch, including several already written by the art critic, curator, and expert on the artist, Øystein Ustvedt. But his new publication, Edvard Munch: An Inner Life, is intended to offer a wide-reaching, all-encompassing introduction for the lay reader.


Ustvedt couldn’t be better qualified for the task. He is head of the Stenersen Museum, a curator at the National Museum in Oslo and has curated several exhibitions of Munch’s work. Ahead of the book’s publication, Norwegian Arts talked with Ustvedt about what this volume will offer that others do not, his personal views on the artist he has spent so much time researching, and how he would like to expand his horizons in the future.

Read the full interview here

Saturday, 5 September 2020

Interview with Alberta Whittle


Interview with Alberta Whittle

Alberta Whittle (b1980, Barbados) has had a phenomenal couple of years. The Glasgow-based artist, who works in film, sculpture, performance, collage and choreographed installation, was the recipient of the 2018-19 Margaret Tait Award and, this year, was one of the 10 artists to receive a Turner bursary award from Tate Britain, in place of the annual Turner Prize. She is about to show work in the Photoworks Festival in Brighton and in a group show at Copperfield in south-east London. 


The Liverpool Biennial and Art Night have been postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, giving Whittle a little longer to finesse her works for these events, but equally raising new challenges as to how to adapt to the restrictions and changes in the way she can interact with her audience – something which, for Whittle, is key, since she seeks to pose questions and unsettle people from their positions of privilege and passivity. Key themes in her work include anti-blackness, legacies of slavery and apartheid, the erasure of black people and people of colour in everyday society, and also environmental issues.


Whittle spoke to Studio International about her practice and motivations, the effect of the pandemic, and the role of viscerality in her work.

Read the full interview here