Spring has finally sprung, and with it, the art world has woken up from its Winter nap. Fairs are being attended, biennials prepared for, gallery weekends organized and pre-Art Basel diets started. We’re part of that hustle too, obviously: while pretending to read the latest issue of Frieze to appear intellectual on a low-cost airline flight, we’ve selected five shows you shouldn’t miss in April. Enjoy!
1. Barbara Hepworth at Pace Gallery, New York
For some, the sheer beauty of Barbara Hepworth’s work could be enough to send them into delirium. Few are the artists who have matched the British sculptor’s command of form; this can currently be verified at Pace Gallery‘s 24th Street location, where a show of works by Hepworth, titled “A Matter of Form,” is on view. Barbara Hepworth had what so many successful artists lack: a constant, deep and spiritual relationship to the physicality of her practice. She was almost emotionally involved with her materials; the consciousness she had of her body being as much a driving force behind her work as her mind made for works as elegant as they are cathartic. The harmony one can witness in every angle, arch, curve and surface she carved or drew is a testament to a talent that remains unmatched, one might argue. The show at Pace, which also comes with a beautiful catalog, honors the stellar quality and legacy of Hepworth’s oeuvre.
Pace Gallery, 537 West 24th Street, New York, NY 10011
2. Timur Si-Qin at Société, Berlin
Berlin-based artist Timur Si-Qin once again combines the messianic tone of advertising with lush imagery in his latest show at Berlin’s Société. In “Campaign For a New Protocol, Part I,” images of glossy foliage, fashionably colored sand and enticingly textured surfaces are either overlaid (and titled) with New-Agey slogans or left blank, which seems like a choice even more based on some expensive marketing strategy. Visually, these new works function like the artistic extrapolation of whatever enlightened craze currently preached by an elite of privileged individuals. The almost funny press text, sprinkled with cringy expressions such as “secular faith of the real” or “mysticism for the anthropocene,” is a perfect introduction to Si-Qin’s overlap of prophetic slogans and originalist imagery. In the end, the viewer shall decide whether this is to be interpreted as a complex joke, or simply a reflection on the consequences of our inflationary need for inspirational content.
Société, Genthiner Strasse 36, 10785 Berlin
3. Sylvie Fleury at Karma International, Los Angeles
Sylvie Fleury’s reputation is undoubtedly a solid one. She’s known for her interest in consumer culture, the world of luxury and its intersectionality with art. At Karma International’s LA space, Fleury has let the city inspire her – in fact, most of the pieces on view were produced during the weeks prior to the opening. Titled “LA Bougainvillea,” it highlights colors inherent to the Californian skies and nature – from deep orange to soft green over pulsating purple and hot pink. The artist applies this palette to a series of fluffy paintings - made out of fake fur - sculptures of cast boots, as well as a limited edition sweater and lipstick. An almost relaxing impression of sloppiness emanates from this body of work: it somehow captures LA’s signature blend of glamour, ease, and shallowness in an effortless way.
Karma International, 4619 W Washington Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90016
4. Sophia Al-Maria at Project Native Informant, London
Qatari-American artist Sophia Al-Maria continues her exploration of the sexism and violence inherent to celebrity culture. In her show “ylism,” currently on view at London’s Project Native Informant, she presents a group of works in which actress Bai Ling occupies a central role. Blurring the lines between reality and fiction, Al-Maria creates video works in which one can witness the Chinese-American actress explain career choices – such as her decision to pose for Playboy magazine – or whisper affirmations of self-love, among others. The formats, setting and narrative structures chosen by Al-Maria make for an almost intimate experience, transforming the gallery space into a sort of digital confession room; some works are also on view on Project Native Informant’s website, which is a refreshing way to give digital audiences access to an interesting practice.
Project Native Informant, Morley House,26 Holborn Viaduct, London EC1A 2AQ
5. Marianne Vlaschits at Galerie Nathalie Halgand, Vienna
Over the past couple of years, artist Marianne Vlaschits has created a body of work that proposes female-centric science-fiction scenarios, dystopias, and visions of potential futures. She expands her vocabulary in her current show at Galerie Nathalie Halgand, titled “A New Home.” Curious and undismissive, Vlaschits finds inspiration in a wide array of sources, which are pleasantly eclectic: Science-fiction writer Ursula K. Le Guin seems as much a driving force as cosmology or the movie Avatar. Yet, it is also a very organized exhibition, almost scholarly in its declination of topics, colors, and formats. While the author of these lines might be slightly biased – he curated a show by the artist some years ago – “A New Home” certainly manages to combine the softness of a dream with the sharpness of reality into a tempting recipe.
Galerie Nathalie Halgand, Stiegengasse 2/3, 1060 Vienna
– Karim Crippa