Art in Print

Adrian Searle reviews Artes Mundi 7


A huge printed advertisement for suppositories hangs over the entrance to Chapter art centre in Cardiff. They soothe. They shrink. They provide pain relief, the ad tells us. They awaken God. “Just F***ing Take It,” the asterisked sign insists. Just the job, I thought. I took it, or at least would have, had not the blister-pack of bullet-shaped items proved empty, when I stole a box from the pile on the gallery floor.  So much for the promises of big pharma, contained in the leaflet accompanying the medicament. “Open the eyes, spread the butt cheeks,” it says, going on like this in five languages, including Arabic and Latin.
The advert and the pills are part of Nástio Mosquito’s contribution to Artes Mundi 7, which opened last Friday at both Chapter and the National Museum of Wales. The Angolan artist is one of six contenders for the £40,000 prize, awarded every two years to an artist whose work engages “with the human condition, social reality and lived experience”. 
Also at Chapter, and in the National Museum, Lamia Joreige  takes us on a filmed tour of Beirut, focusing on a canalised river that drains through the city in a valley of concrete. Joreige interviews residents and Syrian construction workers who came here to escape Isis. In her installation at the National Museum of Wales, Joreige also covers one wall with a list of hundreds of objects missing from the National Museum of Beirut, lost, looted or destroyed. The huge graphic display allows one to grasp the scale of the losses – sarcophagi and sphinxes, Iron and Bronze Age busts and Phoenician antiquities, and a pharaoh’s offering to the gods. They’ve gone down the river, who knows where.
John Akomfrah’s film Auto da Fé is one of a number of recent works by the artist that collapse space and time in their examinations of diaspora and escape. His films, with their wooden, static and self-conscious costume tableaux, may be gorgeous to look at but promise more than they deliver. Hugely talented, he feels a bit stuck to me, and the work does not improve on second viewing.
Bedwyr Williams’ stories from a city of glass tower is the stand out work of Artes Mundi. It is stirring and awful, tragic and hilarious. Filled with stories and alienated inhabitants, the city never sleeps. As it is, Williams really deserves to win, not because he is Welsh, but because his is the most consummately successful and engaging work here. It really stays with me. And, like Mosquito’s work, it cuts through all that talk of the human condition and social worth. 
Via: The Guardian

Tate Britain to show ‘lost’ Paul Nash sculpture found in pieces in a cupboard

The most important surrealist sculpture produced by the war artist Paul Nash, thought lost for 70 years, has been re-assembled by Tate Britain, after being discovered in pieces in a cupboard. Moon Aviary, created in 1937 by Nash, regarded as one of the most significant British artists of the 20th century, was last exhibited in 1942. It will now be displayed in one of the largest ever exhibitions devoted to Nash, a renowned war artist, whose work stretched from visionary landscape paintings to surrealism.
The sculpture, a dreamlike representation of birds poised to take flight, was feared destroyed. But it was found this year in pieces in a cardboard box by a collector, going through his archive. Thoughtfully, Nash, who died in 1946, had left a note alongside the “flat-packed” wood and ivory sculpture, with instructions on how to reassemble the work, IKEA-style.
Emma Chambers, exhibition curator, said: “Nobody knew what had happened to it since 1942. We feared it had perished and then these wooden pieces turned up in a cardboard box.” Ms Chambers added: “Paul Nash had left a picture of the work as it should be assembled and a note which read ‘If you have all the pieces, I can stick it together for you.’”
The exhibition runs at Tate Britain until March 5.
Via:  i

Two Terra-Cotta works said to be by Donatello and Verrochio

 The Museo dell’Opera del Duomo in Florence presented two little-known 15th-century terra-cotta sculptures on Thursday as the possible work of Donatello and Verrocchio (with, perhaps, the help of Verrocchio’s erstwhile assistant Leonardo da Vinci), proposed attributions that are expected to stir debate in Renaissance art scholarship.
Both of the works — a terra-cotta bust of St. Lawrence and a terra-cotta relief of the beheading of St. John the Baptist — belong to the Paris-based art collectors Peter Silverman and Kathleen Onorato, who lent them to the museum to encourage the discussion over their pedigrees.
The sculptures are being shown with a question mark next to the attribution.
With its plethora of original works by Donatello and Verrocchio in its permanent collection, the recently revamped Museo dell’Opera del Duomo is the perfect setting in which to view the two Silverman pieces, said the Rev. Timothy Verdon, the museum’s director. “In a sense, here they’ve come home,” he said Thursday in an interview after a news conference presenting the works.
In the case of the Donatello, which has not been visible to the public for decades, “the question will remain open until more scholarly attributions have been made, though I hope this exhibit will be an instrument in creating a dossier for the work,” Father Verdon said. As for the relief, and whether or not Leonardo’s hand is visible, “we cannot give a definitive answer, but it’s a question we are obliged to ask.”
Via The New York Times


Artist Hugh Mendes turns to the obituaries for inspiration

Newspaper obituaries are the unlikely inspiration for a new show of oil painting “mini-memorials” to some of the greatest figures in 20th-century art.
Artist Hugh Mendes said he wanted to make “something more permanent” from the images, which he clipped out of newspapers.
The show at the Charlie Smith London gallery in Shoreditch features paintings of 18 artists and two critics, including Brian Sewell, who write for the Evening Standard for many years. He died last September.
Mr Mendes, 60, said: “It just so happened that two of my favourite critics, Brian Sewell and Tom Lubbock, died during the period I was working on the show and I thought they made a nice pair because they were so different. It is also a really nice image of Brian — my dad used to buy the Evening Standard every day mainly to read his columns and he wrote to me once, in pre-email days, encouraging me in my career and that meant a lot to me.”
Mr Mendes, who is based in Hackney, has previously created what he calls “obituary paintings” of musicians including David Bowie and Prince. His portrait of Amy Winehouse was bought by former Rolling Stone Bill Wyman.
Via The Evening Standard

Smiling panda, weeping dragon: China's Banksy brings life to city sprawl

Armed with a bag of spray paint, a gas mask and a box of chalk, Qi Xinghua has embarked on a one-man mission to beautify urban China.
Since April this year the 34-year-old artist has been roaming cities across the country, including his home in Beijing, searching out derelict buildings or rubbble-strewn construction sites that are in need of a makeover.
 “I want to add some fun to our lives,” says Qi, who has been chronicling his quest on Weibo, China’s answer to Twitter, where he has nearly 200,000 followers.
He found fame as China’s number one 3-D painter and has broken four Guinness World records for his breathtaking “anamorphic” artwork. Qi cites China’s 20th century master Qi Baishi and the Renaissance painter Michelangelo among his influences, as well as Kurt Wenner, a 3-D pavement artist from the United States.
But more recently he has looked to the work of British street artist Banksy for inspiration as he seeks to spruce up China’s glum urban centres. Qi’s first piece of street art – thrown up on a crumbling wall in north-eastern Beijing in April this year – is a whimsical Banky-esque portrait of two smiling pandas, one of whom clutches a rainbow-coloured lollipop.
“I used to pass through that area all the time,” the Chinese artist says. “I felt it was just too ugly. I wanted to paint something funny on it, to play around a bit ... I wanted to bring some fun and vitality to that area.”
Elsewhere, in cities including Nanjing and Xiamen, he has painted whales, lions, crocodiles and mermaids, in a bid to breathe new life into dreary pollution-stained walls.
Via The Guardian