"Josef Albers: Paintings Titled Variants" at David Zwirner

Colour study for a Variant/Adobe, 1970, Josef Albers, oil on blotting paper, 29.2 x 45.7 cm. On show at David Zwirner London.

In collaboration with The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, David Zwirner opened the exhibition Josef Albers: Paintings Titled Variants on the 28th of February, at their London location on Grafton Street. The show exhibits works begun in 1947 during Albers frequent travels to areas of Mexico and southern parts of the USA. Unlike his typical linear works previously made, the artist now experiments with blocks of colour, repeated in an almost serial manner, playing on the perception of the colour itself, applied on the canvas or paper straight from the tube. In different sections, the same few shades are repeated, and yet they give the impression of being used in different quantities. This is all a matter of personal perception, as Nicholas Fox Weber, Executive Director of The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, reveals to the audience at the opening night, mentioning that there is exactly the same amount of singular blocks of the chosen colours used in the paintings. Other personal anecdotes were disclosed by Weber, who knew the artist personally and worked with him during his last years, making the experience of the opening night even more unique.

Despite the initial apparent focus on the colours used, there also is a strong influence from the architecture, landscape and the uses and customs of the American Continent area that the Albers travelled through during that time.

Free entry, on until the 15th of April 2023. 

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"Donatello: Sculpting the Renaissance" at the V&A

Madonna of the Clouds, 1425-35, Donatello, marble, 33.1 x 32 cm. Currently on display the V&A exhibition Donatello: Sculpting the Renaissance.

At the V&A, Donatello’s pieces are shown highlighting the impressive skills that he still is recognised for today. In a large exhibition space on the lower ground floor, it was surprising to see quite a few original Donatello pieces, given that it is typically quite difficult to be allowed transportation of such works throughout countries. Of course, there was also a selection of artists from Donatello’s time and closer to ours that might have taken inspiration directly from his works and sketches. The exhibition made great use of the space giving a sense of perspective and illusion through arches that redirected the audience’s pathway through the room — much like the arches that are often used in these artwork’s depictions of architecture in which the protagonists find themselves in.

The section dedicated to the rilievo stiacciato (Tuscan dialect for “schiacciato” meaning “pressed” in Italian) was particularly interesting. Donatello was one of the few artists that managed to master this highly (at the time) sought-after carving technique. It was beautiful to see how it manages to give a greater sense of depth and perspective to the sculptured marble, done by carving out just a few millimetres with extreme delicacy.

Tickets from £10-20, free for members of the museum. On until the 11th of June 2023. 

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David Hockney: Bigger & Closer (not smaller & further away)

David Hockney: Bigger & Closer (not smaller & further away)

“Love Life” projection shot of the immersive experience at Lightroom London from David Hockney: Bigger & Closer (not smaller & further away).

It seems as though immersive experiences have been popular across the world lately and David Hockney’s “Bigger & Closer (not smaller & further away)” at the newly opened Lightroom in London’s King’s Cross is the latest addition to the trend. While previous ‘exhibitions’ of such were on artists like Van Gogh or Frida Kahlo, this one is executed differently due to it being about a living artist — therefore benefitting from a direct input from Hockney himself. His recorded voice guides the viewer through his lifetime’s career from his time in LA to when he experimented with photography and collage.

The quotation marks on the previously mentioned ‘exhibitions,’ wants to highlight the fact that one should be reminded that this is not a show as one would imagine. If one is looking for Hockney’s physical paintings, this is not the place, as this is an experience only. The audience is sitting in a large room with projections of Hockney’s works which lasts 50 minutes. Perhaps the point is to make the viewer get inside the work, becoming a crucial part of it, as a modern-day installation of sorts. For this reason, there have been contrasting opinions on the project but again, as long as one remembers that it is not an exhibition following the definition of the word, and remembering that there are no physical artworks, then it might become a more welcomed experience celebrating the artist’s long career and fruitful experimentation with technology.

Price ranging between £19-30, on until the 4th of June 2023.

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