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Oceania - Royal Academy of Arts


Exhibition preview

FROM September 29 to December 10, 2018, the Royal Academy of Arts is presenting Oceania, the first ever major survey of Oceanic art to be held in the United Kingdom.

This ambitious exhibition will celebrate the art of Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia, encompassing the vast Pacific region from New Guinea to Easter Island, Hawaii to New Zealand.

Oceania will bring together around 200 exceptional works from public and private collections worldwide, and will span over 500 years. It will be a rare opportunity to be immersed in the art and culture of an area that represents nearly a third of the world’s surface, a region rich in history, ritual and ceremony.

The exhibition marks the 250th anniversary of the Royal Academy, founded in 1768, the same year Captain James Cook set sail on his first expedition to the Pacific on the Endeavour.

It has been nearly 40 years since the last major exhibition, held at the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, presented an overview of the entire region of Oceania. Over this time, Oceanic art has been re-imagined by curators, art historians, anthropologists and artists creating new dialogues and deepening awareness both of past history and present-day issues.

Oceania will offer the chance to view its art and culture, including seminal works produced by contemporary artists exploring history, identity and climate change.

In 1768, Captain James Cook left Plymouth on what was the first of three voyages. Across the Pacific he encountered a world that was both highly sophisticated and, thanks to ocean-going canoes and navigational aids, interconnected despite the significant distances between islands. Oceania will draw on rich and well-documented historic collections to explore this history and, in so doing, present new contexts in which these objects can be better understood and appreciated.

With a focus on art made in the Oceanic region by Pacific Islanders, the exhibition will be organised around three main themes: Voyaging will look at life on the water as revealed through the extraordinary stories of indigenous navigation and the arts of the canoe and canoe accoutrements such as carved prows and paddles. Place-making will explore the settlement of communities and Encounter will focus on trade and exchange in Pacific cultures.

Highlights of the exhibition will include the 14th century wooden Kaitaia carving, (Auckland War Memorial Museum, Auckland) which was excavated in 1920. This is one of the oldest known objects to have been found in New Zealand.

Objects gifted or collected during the 18th century voyages include: two Māori hoe, canoe paddles (Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Cambridge) collected on October 12, 1769, during the first voyage of Captain James Cook, just three days after the Endeavour‘s crew encountered Māori for the first time; drawings made on the first Cook voyage, by the Tahitian priest and expert navigator Tupaia (c.1725-1770) who, after joining the Endeavour in Tahiti, took to the unfamiliar medium of ink and paper to produce fascinating depictions of his culture including Dancing girl and Chief mourner, June-August 1769 (British Library, London); an 18th century Heva tupapau, known as ‘the Costume of the Chief Mourner’, from Tahiti, Society Islands (Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery, Exeter).

This is one of only six known examples still in existence and was obtained in Tahiti in 1791 by Francis Godolphin Bond, first lieutenant on the Providence, the ship commanded by William Bligh; and a late 18th century Feather god image (akua hulu manu) from the Hawaiian Islands (British Museum), likely to have been collected on Cook’s third voyage.

Further highlights will include: a rare Fijian late 18th or early 19th century double headed whale ivory hook, (Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Cambridge) just one of three known representing these sacred and powerful doubled female deities; Tuai’s Drawing of Korokoro’s moko (face tattoo), 1818 (Auckland Libraries, Auckland).

Tuai travelled to Britain in 1818 and this drawing, which represents the facial tattoo of his elder brother, Korokoro, was most likely made to illustrate Maori customs and culture; a 19th century Solomon Islands Nguzunguzu, a prow ornament for a war canoe (Museum der Kulturen, Basel) featuring a pigeon, an expression of navigational virtuosity; Tene Waitere’s Ta Moko panel, 1896-99, (Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington), a sculptural illustration of male and female tattoos.

Tene Waitere (1854-1931) was arguably the most important Maori sculptor of the late 19th and early 20th centuries; and an extraordinary 19th century Ceremonial Feast Bowl from the Solomon Islands (British Museum). Measuring nearly seven metres in length, this bowl has never been exhibited before.

The exhibition will be a revelation of modernity as well as tradition in Oceania including contemporary art that speaks of the salience of the past as well as the challenges of the present. Contemporary work in the exhibition will include the vast panoramic video In Pursuit of Venus [infected], 2015-17, by the New Zealand multi-media artist, Lisa Reihana (Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki) and John Pule’s Kehe tau hauaga foou (To all new arrivals), 2007 (Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki).

Oceania continues the RA’s tradition of hosting outstanding exhibitions exploring world cultures, which have included Africa: The Art of a Continent (1995), Aztecs (2002), Turks: A Journey of a Thousand Years (2005), China: The Three Emperors, 1662-1795 (2005); Byzantium 330-1453 (2008) and Bronze (2012).

Oceania will be accompanied by a comprehensive book edited by Peter Brunt and Nicholas homas with contributions by Noelle Kahanu, Emmanuel Kasarhérou, Sean Mallon, Michael Mel and Anne Salmond.

Image: Canoe prow figure nguzunguzu; wood, pigments, resin, shell; 16,5 × 9 × 15,5 cm; Marovo Lagoon, New Georgia Archipelago, Solomon Islands; collection Eugen Paravicini 1929; © Vb 7525; Museum der Kulturen Basel; photo: Derek Li Wan Po; 2013; all rights reserved.

Admission: £20 full price (£18 without Gift Aid donation); concessions available; children under 16 and Friends of the RA go free.

Free admission to the Oceania exhibition for all New Zealand, Kingdom of Tonga and Papua New Guinea passport holders.

Tickets for Oceania are available daily at the RA or online at Group bookings: Groups of 10+ are asked to book in advance. Telephone 020 7300 8027 or email

Opening Hours: Daily from 10am to 6pm (last admission 5.30pm). Late night opening: Fridays until 10pm (last admission 9.30pm).

Michelangelo Pistoletto: Origins and Consequences - Mazzoleni

Exhibition preview

MAZZOLENI has announced the exhibition Michelangelo Pistoletto: Origins and Consequences. Curated by Alberto Fiz, it opens to the public on September 27 and continues until December 15, 2018.

Collating artworks from various private collections, this exhibition will focus on a selection of works spanning from 1958 to 2012, and will feature early figurative oils on canvas, works in charcoal on paper, acrylic, wood, bronze and glass, alongside silkscreens on stainless steel – the renowned ‘mirror works’ that define his oeuvre.

Pistoletto is one of the most distinguished figures within the Arte Povera movement. The exhibition will examine his early experimental period and elucidate the techniques that led to his mature work. It will feature three rare oil paintings on canvas depicting male portraits, including L’uomo nero, 1959.

These seminal works should be viewed as the hereditary seat of Pistoletto’s visual language; an arresting exploration of portraiture as well as an important precursor to the artist’s series of self-portraits on a reflective black background – his first works to explore the reflective device.

Pistoletto presented his first solo show in 1960 at Galleria Galatea in Turin. That same year he made several life-sized self-portraits on gold, silver and copper monochrome backgrounds. In 1962, he initiated the use of reflective materials by applying painted and later photographic-silkscreened images to highly-polished stainless steel, the ‘mirror works’ that have earned him an enduring international artistic reputation.

What animates the ‘mirror paintings’ is the duality of a fixed photo image placed on the surface of a reflective steel plate and the moving images produced by reflections of the viewer and their environment. The performative element of the works is completed by the observer who becomes the central protagonist.

Pistoletto comments of his work: “It suggested a double projection, into the wall and out into the space of the viewer. In a way it integrated painting and sculpture”.

This is true of Dono di Mercurio allo Specchio (Mercury’s Gift to the Mirror), 1971, where a bronze statue of Venus is strategically placed by a mirror. Pistoletto forces the viewer to stand alongside Venus, judged to be the most beautiful woman of the classical world and enter into a visual dialogue. The poetry of the mundane is once more elevated, echoing Pistoletto’s renowned Art Povera work, Venus of the Rags, 1967. However, in this case it is the viewer who is installed in its place.

In Donna con lampada, 1974, a silkscreen of a photographic image on stainless steel, a technique perfected in 1971, the drama of the piece is heightened by an image of photographer’s assistant (his wife) holding a lamp. The work is from a series produced with photographer Paolo Mussat Sartor, Pistoletto’s long-term collaborator in Turin, where the photographer and his wife became Pistoletto’s subjects – a photography shoot within a photography shoot.

Further works from the 80s, 90s and from 2010, will also be presented, including ‘black’ works on canvas, such as Tela Nera, 1985, and Specchio Nero, (Black Mirror), 1961-1989, a wood and glass work, where the artist explores the ‘dark’ reflection and contrasts the light with the void.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue with an essay in English and Italian by Alberto Fiz.

Admission: Free.

Gallery Hours: Monday to Friday from 10am to 6pm; Saturday from 11am to 5pm.

Mazzoleni, 27 Albemarle Street, London W1S 4HZ

Tel: +44 2074958805


I object: Ian Hislop’s search for dissent - British Museum

Exhibition preview

IAN Hislop has been on a mission to find stories of dissent, subversion and satire hidden within the vast collections of the British Museum, for a new exhibition this autumn.

The Citi exhibition I object: Ian Hislop’s search for dissent, on display from September 6, 2018 to January 20, 2019, will see the journalist, historian and broadcaster showcase over 100 objects that challenge the official version of events and defy established narratives.

With items spanning three millennia – from ancient Mesopotamia in 1300BC to the 2016 Presidential election – the exhibition demonstrates that humans have always subverted concepts of authority.

As guest-curator, all objects in the exhibition have been hand-picked by Ian Hislop, ably assisted by British Museum curator Tom Hockenhull. Hislop’s diverse and eclectic choices are drawn from across the British Museum’s collection and from all corners of the globe, and include everyday items alongside finely crafted works of art.

Many will be on display for the first time and together are evidence for the power of objects and their potential to carry messages about histories and stories that go against the mainstream.

Some objects in the exhibition are obvious in their messaging, such as an Edwardian coin that has been defaced with the slogan ‘Votes for Women’ by a suffragette, or the 18th Century satirical British prints showing George, Prince of Wales, the future King George IV, as an obese and uncouth man with a love of banqueting, booze and women.

But many other objects in the show convey a concealed meaning, often because they have been produced in environments where dissent is dangerous.

Examples of these include an ornate silver-gilt salt cellar made during the English Reformation which conceals Catholic religious imagery, in defiance of Protestant legislation at the time; a raffia cloth from Democratic Republic of Congo which subverts the image of a leaping leopard, symbol of Zaire’s military dictator Mobutu Sese Seko; and an innocuous painting of two owls, created by an artist in response to the persecution they suffered after their previous work of a single winking owl was interpreted as a harbinger of doom by the monitors of Mao’s Cultural Revolution in China.

Alongside these are also objects which test the boundaries of permissible dissent, such as a Roman oil lamp depicting a female having intercourse with a crocodile which was possibly propaganda directed against Queen Cleopatra, while a papier-mâché skeleton of a factory owner shows the public mockery of authority figures is permitted during Mexico’s Day of the Dead festival.

The Museum itself doesn’t avoid censure, as a highlight of the exhibition will be an artwork by Banksy which was secretly ‘installed’ by the artist in the Museum in 2005. The hoax piece, called Peckham Rock, returns to the Museum on loan, 13 years after being placed in one of the galleries by the anonymous graffiti-artist and lying undiscovered for three days alongside its mock information label. It was returned to Banksy shortly after its discovery, but afterhaving featured in the artist’s exhibitions in London and Bristol, it goes back on display at its original home for this exhibition – this time with the Museum’s permission.

Also on display will be items of dissent from contemporary movements and events which have dominated headlines around the world. One of the most well-known will be a pink knitted ‘pussyhat’ – newly acquired by the British Museum for this exhibition – which was worn at the Washington DC Women’s March on January 21, 2017 in protest against the policies of newly-elected President Trump.

The exhibition will be preceded by a three-part series of the same name on BBC Radio 4. Presented by Ian Hislop and broadcast in August 2018, the series will include objects featured in the exhibition and expand on some of the narrative themes.

Ian Hislop, special-guest curator, says: “This is a fresh look at the collection that turns up a treasure trove of dissent in the midst of the conformity. At first sight the British Museum seems to be a reinforcement, if not a celebration, of authority – of history’s rulers and their artefacts. But from ancient civilisations through to our own, there are extraordinary objects that bear witness to someone questioning the authorised version of their times and deciding to make a small though often lasting protest.”

Image (top): Huang Yongyu (born 1924), Two Owls, China, 1977, painting and calligraphy on paper © The Trustees of the British Museum.

Image (bottom): Factory owner from Day of Dead festival, Mexico, 1980s, papier-mâché. © The Trustees of the British Museum.


British Museum, Great Russell Street, London, WC1B 3DG

Modern Couples: Art, Intimacy and the Avant-garde - Barbican Art Gallery

Exhibition preview

BARBICAN Art Gallery’s pioneering autumn exhibition Modern Couples: Art, Intimacy and the Avant-garde showcases the creative output of over 40 artist couples active in the first half of the 20th century and is on display from October 10, 2018 to January 27, 2019.

Drawing on loans from private and public collections worldwide, this major interdisciplinary show features the work of painters, sculptors, photographers, architects, designers, writers, musicians and performers, shown alongside personal photographs, love letters, gifts and rare archival material.

Among the highlights are legendary duos such as: Jean Arp and Sophie Taeuber-Arp; Camille Claudel and Auguste Rodin; Barbara Hepworth and Ben Nicholson; Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera; Dora Maar and Pablo Picasso; Lee Miller and Man Ray; Varvara Stepanova and Alexander Rodchenko; Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West; as well as lesser known pairings such as Emilie Flöge and Gustav Klimt, Federico García Lorca and Salvador Dalí, Romaine Brooks and Natalie Clifford-Barney and Lavinia Schulz and Walter Holdt.

Modern Couples is part of the Barbican Centre’s The Art of Change, a yearlong season that explores the relationship between art, society and politics. By focusing on intimate relationships in all their forms – obsessional, conventional, mythic, platonic, fleeting, life-long – it also reveals the way in which creative individuals came together, transgressing the constraints of their time, reshaping art, redefining gender stereotypes and forging news ways of living and loving.

Importantly, the exhibition also challenges the idea that the history of art was a singular line of solitary, predominantly male geniuses.

Jane Alison, Head of Visual Arts, Barbican, said: “This is such an extraordinary project as it brings together many of the most exciting figures of the avant-garde period, while setting up fascinating juxtapositions and taking visitors on a journey of discovery. Its new take on modern art history, focusing on collaboration and mutual influence in intimate relationships, could not be timelier. The show offers visitors a deeply personal and revealing insight into the transformative impact artists’ had on each other. Ultimately it is an exhibition about modern art and modern love.”

Carefully choreographed as a journey through a series of rooms dedicated to different couples, Modern Couples offers visitors a chance to immerse themselves in a diverse range of artistic collaborations. Each room sheds light on the artists’ personal and creative encounters, bringing to life a particular moment in their work or highlighting a shared creative interest.

Modern Couples also includes two displays focusing on larger communities of artists: one devoted to Surrealism’s ‘Chance Encounter’ and the other to radical Lesbian artists of the Parisian Left Bank during the 1920s and 30s.

Legendary couple Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera’s well-documented relationship was notoriously tumultuous and emotionally charged. The inclusion of Kahlo’s powerful and rarely seen painting The Wounded Deer (1946) alludes both to the physical trauma she endured following an unsuccessful operation and to the fragility of her relationship with Diego as well as more broadly encapsulating the pain that goes with love.

The exhibition also reveals lesser-known aspects of famous artists’ works, emphasising their influences, inspirations and collaborations. Gustav Klimt’s lifelong soul mate Emilie Flöge, for instance, was more than just a muse. A talented fashion designer who ran her own couture house, the Schwestern Flöge (1904–1938) in Vienna, she was also Klimt’s sparring partner. Both shared a euphoric sense of a new world of art outside the confines of academic tradition and a love of textiles and ornamentation, which fed into both their practices.

The exhibition features Klimt’s photographs of Flöge modelling her reform dresses, perhaps one of the earliest examples of ‘artist as fashion photographer’, as well as intimate letters between them.

Also at the intersection of design and art, visitors are able to explore the Omega workshop (1913–1919) created by Vanessa Bell, Roger Fry and Duncan Grant and the multi-disciplinary symphony of colour called ‘Simultaneism’ developed in tandem by Sonia Delaunay and Robert Delaunay; as well as Aino Aalto and Alvar Aalto’s Artek, a design company and showroom they opened in Helsinki in 1935. Evoking the shop design of the time, a selection of their iconic pieces of furniture and glass are on show.

Eileen Gray and Jean Badovici’s modernist villa E1027 in the south of France (1926-29) is also featured with original furniture pieces.

Photography is brought to life through the collaborations of legendary figures including Claude Cahun and Marcel Moore; Lucia Moholy and László Moholy-Nagy’s photographic portrayal of the Bauhaus; Lee Miller and Man Ray’s shared experiments in the darkroom and Edward Weston’s reciprocally inspirational relationships with both Margrethe Mather and Tina Modotti.

Little known partnerships such as the photographic trio PaJaMa (forged by Paul Cadmus, Jared French and Margaret French) are one of the discoveries in the exhibition. Their work is shown in close dialogue with work of photographer George Platt Lynes, forming another American trio with writer Glenway Wescott and publisher Monroe Wheeler. Their potent images, often taken of one another, highlight the emergence of a graphic homoeroticism in the American interwar period.

Literature also plays a strong part in Modern Couples. There is a focus on the leading Modernist writer Virginia Woolf and her landmark text Orlando: A Biography, 1928, a celebration of her transformative relationship with Vita Sackville-West. Woolf’s rarely seen, original manuscript is on display. Modern Couples also features a selection of 35 first edition books published with her husband Leonard Woolf under the imprint of The Hogarth Press.

The exhibition also includes the work of political activist Nancy Cunard alongside her partner and muse, the poet and jazz musician Henry Crowder. She was the founder of the influential Hours Press in the 1920s, publishing Samuel Beckett for the first time.

Additionally, Modern Couples presents an array of beautifully crafted books of love poems that came out of iconic Surrealist relationships and collaborations, as well as Alexander Rodchenko’s radical and bold graphic design for the Russian review periodicals Lef and Novy Lef.

At the same time as Orlando was published, Natalie Clifford Barney was holding Friday evening salons in Paris, principally for women attracted to women. Coined The Temple de l’Amitie (The Temple of Friendship), it became a space for female desire and artistic innovation. In a display dedicated to the Temple and to the wider community of lesbian and bisexual artists and writers, works by Romaine Brooks, Barney’s partner, are included such as her rarely seen portrait of Luisa Casati (1920) as well as her nude photographs of her once lover Ida Rubinstein.

This section also includes the emblematic nude double portrait of women lovers, Les Deux Amies (1923) by Tamara de Lempicka.

A special display dedicated to the Chance Encounter in Surrealism brings together the extraordinarily creative and intimate relationships formed by André Breton and Jacqueline Lamba, Nusch and Paul Éluard, Toyen and Styrsky, Unica Zürn and Hans Bellmer and many more.

Other highlights include original love letters between Auguste Rodin and Camille Claudel; Leonora Carrington’s stunning Portrait of Max Ernst (1937) which is a coded double portrait with Carrington appearing as her ‘alter-ego’ the ‘Bride of the Wind’; Gerda Wegener’s painting of Lili Elbe, the artist couple that inspired the book and film The Danish Girl; two little seen matching self-portraits by Varvara Stepanova and Alexander Rodchenko; as well as a section devoted to Hannah Höch and Raoul Hausmann’s masterful use of the photomontage as a political tool; Gabriele Münter and Wassily Kandinsky; Marianne von Werefkin and Alexej von Jawlensky works from their days together in their self-styled artist colony at Murnau; and rarely seen drawings, original correspondence and photographs exchanged between Federico García Lorca and Salvador Dalí.

Also, in the Barbican’s Curve: Francis Upritchard: Wetwang Slack.

For more information, call 020 7638 8891 or visit

Full casting announced for Early Doors Live - Hammersmith Eventim Apollo and on tour

Casting news

FINAL casting has been announced for Early Doors Live, the pub sitcom, which begins its sold out three week run in Salford on August 29, 2018. It will subsequently visit Hammersmith Eventim Apollo on October 2 as part of a UK Tour.

Joining writers Craig Cash (Joe) and Phil Mealey (Duffy) on stage for the first time is John Henshaw (Ken), Susan Cookson (Tanya), Joan Kempson (Winnie), Lisa Millett (Debbie), James Quinn (Phil), Peter Wight (Nige), Judith Barker (Jean), Vicky Binns (June), Nick Birkinshaw (Tommy), Neil Hurst (Freddie) and Laura Woodward (Mel).

The live show was originally planned as a one week run at Salford Lowry’s Quay’s Theatre. But due to huge public demand for tickets those shows sold out instantly and a further two weeks of shows at the Lowry’s larger Lyric Theatre were added, which also sold out in record time. The UK tour will then kick off in Glasgow on September 24.

Commissioned by leading West End producer Philip McIntyre to adapt their award-winning television series for the stage, Craig Cash and Phil Mealey have written a brand new story featuring the same hilarious characters from the TV show.

Craig Cash and Phil Mealey said: “Writing Early Doors again has been a joy and we’re really excited by the results. Putting it on stage for the first time ever will be a huge thrill. One that we hope you will come along and share.”

The Grapes Pub will reopen its doors for the UK tour, in a not-to-be-missed night of fun and laughter. Ken’s got love on his mind, but will barmaid, Tanya, ring the landlord’s bell? Old Tommy would play Cupid – if only he didn’t have IBS (Irritable Bugger’s Syndrome). Crime is on the rise but fear not, as local cops Phil and Nige are getting stuck in… to a couple of pints in the back room. After all, “Crime can’t crack itself.” All of this and much, much more when Early Doors returns.

Tour dates: Glasgow SEC Armadillo (September 24), Newcastle City Hall (September 25), Nottingham Motorpoint Arena (September 27), Arena Birmingham (September 28), Cardiff Motorpoint Arena (September 29), Sheffield FlyDSA Arena (September 30), Hammersmith Eventim Apollo (October 2), Blackpool Opera House (October 3), Manchester Arena (October 4), Leeds First Direct Arena (October 5), Hull Bonus Arena (October 6) and Liverpool Echo Arena (October 7).

Tickets: From £22.50 – available through

Cirque du Soleil returns to London with Totem in January 2019

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

CIRQUE du Soleil has announced that due to popular demand, its famous show Totem will return to London in January 2019.

Approaching its 10th successful year of touring since its 2010 debut, Totem is a fascinating glimpse into the journey of mankind. It will open at the Royal Albert Hall on January 12 and run until February 9, 2019.

On an island evoking the shape of a giant turtle, Totem traces the fascinating journey of the human species from its original amphibian state to its ultimate desire to fly. Through a visual and acrobatic language, Totem explores the ties that bind Man to other species, his dreams and his infinite potential.

With acrobatic performances evoking selected scenes from the story of evolution, Totem depicts a world of archetypal characters who, in their own way, witness and act out the perennial, existential, questions of life.

Alternating between science and legend, and peppered with aboriginal stories of creation, Totem explores the evolutionary progress of species, Man’s ongoing search for balance, and the curiosity that propels him ever further, faster, and higher…

Since its world premiere in 2010, more than 4.5 million people, in more than 45 cities around the world, have been mesmerized by the intimacy and beauty of Totem. Written and directed by Robert Lepage, Totem features a cast of 46 acrobats, actors, musicians and singers, in an uplifting array of athleticism, comedy, soul-touching theatrics and surprising visual effects.

Totem returns to London after being Cirque Du Soleil’s highest selling tour to visit the city before the incredible success of 2018’s Ovo. Pre-sale tickets for this spectacular show are available from 2pm on June 4 via Cirque Club, SKODA pre-sale from 9am on June 5, with tickets going on sale to the general public at 9am on June 8 via the Cirque du Soleil website or or 020 7589 8212.

A range of Hospitality Experiences are available to enjoy including premium seats – VIP Rouge in the Gallery, Fine Dining at Coda Restaurant by Éric Chavot, the Family Fun Circus Box and VIP Box Experience with a dedicated waiter. Additional packages will be announced later in the year. For more information or to book any of the experiences please contact 020 7589 8212 or visit

What is Europe? Views from Asia - British Museum

Exhibition preview

THE NEW Asahi Shimbun Display at the British Museum, What is Europe? Views from Asia features objects that illustrate encounters between Europe and Asia from the 18th to the 20th century. Each of the thirteen objects on show has a unique story and reveals that this engagement was far more nuanced than has often been presented.

This focussed exhibition, which explores perceptions of Europe through specially chosen objects from Japan, China and South Asia, is on display in Room 3 until Sunday, October 21, 2018.

Western perspective was adopted by many Asian painters and printmakers, and techniques such as etching were learned from printed European manuals in Japan. This display demonstrates the influence of European art through the display of a work by German expressionist Käthe Kollwitz.

This print shows two men pulling a plough and clearly inspired the woodblock print on display by Chinese artist Li Hua that depicts the same theme. Kollwitz’s prints were introduced in China through a work by leading literary figure Lu Xun. Only 50 copies of this insightful and rare volume were published, and the British Museum holds a copy in its collection.

Other objects reveal a more dissenting adoption of European styles to communicate ideas and agendas that were specific to the local regions.

For hundreds of years porcelain figures of Guanyin (Kannon) and child were made for Buddhist devotion in China and Japan. Between the 18th and 21st centuries, these Blanc de Chine figures transformed Guanyin into a Madonna, under the guise of appealing to European markets. However, these figures served another purpose as Christianity was forbidden in Japan between 1587 to 1859, and so ‘hidden’ Christians were able to worship ‘Maria Kannon’ sculptures such as these.

This show also presents objects that reveal resentment and fear inspired by European political and religious incursions.

Several works of popular culture mocked European powers outright, such as a 1943 wartime manga magazine representing Winston Churchill. An earlier print by Kobayashi Kiyochika (1847–1915) ridicules the Russian Navy during the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-5, describing them as ‘aimless boats’. Japan’s victory in the Battle of Tsushima was the first major instance in the modern era of an Asian country defeating a European one. This triumph stimulated nationalist movements across Asia, where colonial powers still controlled large territories.

At the heart of this display stands the striking Nicobar hentakoi board that was deemed to possess protective and healing powers. The Nicobar Islands were colonised by the Danes in 1756 who then sold them to the British in 1869. After India became independent from British rule in 1947, the Islands became a union territory of India.

This highly detailed object sheds light on the complex response to European trade and power relations, as demonstrated by the selective adoption of European symbols and images. This includes both local and European objects, deemed valuable and symbolically powerful. The central deity in the top register is accompanied by a compass, watch and chronometer. On a lower register, a Nicobarese boat is joined by a European vessel as well as a Chinese sailing ship. Nearby the hentakoi stands a kareau – a protective figure – wearing a European pith helmet.

The transnational focus of this show harnesses objects to reveal diverse worldviews, recognising that, as today, Europe was viewed from many backgrounds and sight lines.

Visitor responses will also be central to this Asahi Shimbun Display. When they enter the space visitors will be invited to answer the following question: ‘What does Europe mean to you?’ A selection of answers, in multiple languages, will be projected onto the walls of the gallery space each week, their voices forming part of the collage of perspectives on display.

Image: Kondo Hidezo. Manga Magazine showing satirical drawings on political topics, including Winston Churchill and wartime India. December 1943. © the Trustees of the British Museum.

Admission: Free.

Opening times: Saturday to Thursday from 10am to 5.30pm, Friday from 10am to 8.30pm.


British Museum, Great Russell Street, London, WC1B 3DG

Renzo Piano: The Art of Making Buildings - Royal Academy of Arts

Exhibition preview

FROM September 15, 2018 to January 20, 2019, the Royal Academy of Arts will be presenting an exhibition of the internationally-renowned architect and Honorary Royal Academician Renzo Piano.

This will be the first comprehensive survey of Piano’s career to be held in London since 1989, and will be presented in the new Gabrielle Jungels-Winkler Galleries in Burlington Gardens, on the occasion of the 250th anniversary of the Royal Academy.

Renzo Piano (b.1937) is one of the world’s leading architects and his buildings have enriched cities and spaces across the globe. From designing the Centre Pompidou in Paris as a young architect with Richard Rogers, to projects including The Shard in London and the new Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, Piano’s work continues to pioneer ground-breaking architecture that touches the human spirit.

In 1981, the architect founded the Renzo Piano Building Workshop (RPBW), located in Paris, Genoa and New York, which, with a team of 150 staff, has realised over 100 projects that include large cultural and institutional buildings, housing and offices, as well as urban plans for entire city districts.

Born into a family of Italian builders, Piano places great importance on the crafting of elegant structures that embody a sense of lightness. Designing buildings “piece by piece”, Piano’s practice makes deft use of form, material and engineering to achieve a precise yet poetic elegance. He has a command of the entire process, from the structural systems to individual building components, designed for optimum technical performance as well as aesthetic and haptic qualities.

Such is the importance of these aspects of the architecture, that full-scale mock-ups of sections of the buildings are created during the design process to test how they will look and feel, from the composition as a whole, to smaller technical details.

Renzo Piano: The Art of Making Buildings will offer an overview of the architect’s practice through sixteen of his most significant projects, dating from his early career when he was experimenting with innovative structural systems, to the signature buildings of the present day.

Highlights include Centre Pompidou, Paris (1971), Jean-Marie Tjibaou Cultural Centre, Nouméa (1998), The New York Times Building (2007), The Shard, London (2012), Jérôme Seydoux Pathé Foundation, Paris
(2014) and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2015).

Rarely seen archival material, models, photographs and drawings will reveal the process behind the conception and realisation of Piano’s best known buildings. For example, on display will be one of the original models made during the design process for the Menil Collection in Houston (1986), showing how Piano and his team rigorously explored creative ways to bring natural light into the galleries, creating spaces that would be ideal for viewing art.

Other highlights will include the white ceramic rods from the 1:1 mock-up of The New York Times Building, produced to test their scale, surface and reflectivity, as well as the original competition drawings for the Jean-Marie Tjibaou Cultural Centre in Noumea that captivated the jury.

At the heart of the exhibition, there will be a focus on the architect himself through 16 photographs by Gianni Berengo Gardin and a specially commissioned film by Thomas Riedelsheimer highlighting Piano’s personal sensibilities and attitude to architecture. The centrepiece of this space will be a sculptural installation designed by RPBW especially for the exhibition, bringing together 100 of Piano’s projects on an imaginary island.

The exhibition will provide an exceptional insight into the work, aspirations and achievements of a man who believes passionately in the possibilities of architecture. It will demonstrate that far from being a straightforward art-form, architecture is a complex profession that carries social, political and financial responsibilities.

Renzo Piano comments: “It is an honour to be working with the Royal Academy on the inaugural architecture exhibition in the Gabrielle Jungels-Winkler Galleries. This exhibition aims to show how making buildings is a civic gesture and social responsibility. I believe passionately that architecture is about making a place for people to come together and share values.”

The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated book with an introductory essay by Kate Goodwin and an interview with Renzo Piano by Sir John Tusa. In addition, there will be a series of short essays from major figures in the worlds of culture, politics and building that will each explore different aspects of Piano’s work and attitude to architecture.

Tickets: £14 full price (£12 without Gift Aid donation); concessions available; children under 16 and Friends of the RA go free. Tickets are available daily at the RA or visit Group bookings: Groups of 10+ are asked to book in advance. Telephone 020 7300 8027 or email

Times: 10am – 6pm daily (last admission 5.30pm). Late night opening: Fridays until 10pm (last admission 9.30pm).

Francis Upritchard: Wetwang Slack - The Curve, Barbican Centre

Exhibition preview

THIS autumn, marking the 30th Curve commission at the Barbican, New Zealand born and London-based artist Francis Upritchard has conceived of a new, site-specific installation.

Drawing from both figurative sculpture and craft traditions – ceramics, tapestry, glassblowing to enamelling – Francis Upritchard pushes these practices in new directions, bringing them together to create a striking and original visual language of her own.

Francis Upritchard: Wetwang Slack opens in The Curve on Thursday, September 27, 2018 and will be on display until January 6, 2019.

Playing with scale, colour and texture, Upritchard has approached The Curve as three separate ‘galleries,’ each populated by a spectrum of different materials and vibrant figures and objects.

The first contains large, brightly coloured polymer clay sculptures in various poses, bedecked in hand-made garments supported by plinths. In contrast, the second gallery has a series of bespoke metal and glass shelves suspended from the ceiling, displaying small-scale works in bronze, glass and over-sized shirt tapestries.

The large figures displayed in the final section are sculpted from balata, a natural rubber harvested in Brazil, and are based on the Japanese folklore characters of Ashinaga-tenaga (Long Legs and Long Arms), who extol the virtues of harmonious working relationships.

Francis Upritchard said: “I’m envisaging an exhibition which works with the brutalist Barbican architecture with stone, wood, glass and metal – brutal but rational with my delicate, strange and sometimes colourful works atop. I’ve been thinking about The Curve as offering a kind of rainbow-light spectrum that plays with distortion and scale.”

Known for her array of archetypal figures in varying sizes from medieval knights to meditating futuristic hippies, these tantalising forms are hand-modelled in polymer clay, their skins painted in a range of monochromatic colours or distinct gridded patterns as if from an otherworldly tribe. Hand-woven blankets, tie-dyed silks and bespoke garments often decorate these deftly made sculptures which are frequently combined with found objects.

Upritchard also regularly creates sculptural installations of utilitarian objects from vases, plates, lamps or urns often imbued with anthropomorphic forms and carefully arranged into mysterious domestic environments. More recently, she has experimented with both form and material, creating a group of dinosaurs out of papier-mâché or extracts from rubber trees in Brazil which have been displayed on elegant tables manufactured by the Italian company Olivetti.

For The Curve commission, Upritchard is working with Fine Cell Works to embroider the oversized shirt tapestries. FCW is a therapeutic programme which teaches creative needlework skills to prisoners promoting self-esteem and discipline. Upritchard will also work with designer Martino Gamper to create bespoke steel and glass shelving and plinths for the sculptures, as well as the glass artist, Jochen Holz.

Jane Alison, Head of Visual Arts, Barbican, said: “It is with great pleasure that we are welcoming Francis Upritchard to devise a new installation. Our thirtieth commission, Upritchard is the latest in an exciting lineage of contemporary artists, such as Tomas Saraceno, rAndom International, Richard Mosse, Yto Barrada, and many more, who have exhibited in our unique space.

“I am especially excited to see an installation of figurative sculpture and have no doubt that Upritchard’s cast of remarkable characters will occupy The Curve space in an entirely magical way, demonstrating her imaginative approach and sensitivity to materials.”

Previous works include Upritchard’s provocative installation, Traveller’s Collection (2003), in which she created a tomb-like cabinet of curiosities, influenced by both Ancient Egypt and Maori cultures. Her installation Rainwob I & II (2007) similarly saw Upritchard drawing inspiration from different historical periods, whereby her small, handmade, colourful figures were based on 15th century wooden sculptures to 1970s photographs of revellers at Glastonbury Festival.

Upritchard represented New Zealand at the Venice Biennale in 2009 with her installation Save Yourself in which she created an imaginary landscape of figures and structures, placed on recycled wooden table tops. More recently, a survey of the last two decades of her work entitled Jealous Saboteurs was presented at the Monash University Museum, Melbourne, Australia; Christchurch Art Gallery, New Zealand and Dunedin Public Art Gallery, New Zealand in 2016–17.

Image: Installation view of A Long Wait, 2012, Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati. Photograph by Daylight Photo © Francis Upritchard, courtesy Kate MacGarry, London.

CRW Nevinson: Prints of War and Peace - British Museum

Looking through Brooklyn Bridge, New York by CRW Nevinson

Exhibition preview

FROM July 24 to September 13, 2018, the British Museum is presenting CRW Nevinson: Prints of War and Peace, a new display celebrating a selection of works documenting Nevinson’s experiences during the First World War.

This free show commemorates the centenary of Nevinson’s substantial gift of 25 of his prints to the British Museum in 1918, with a number of works on display for the first time.

Christopher Richard Wayne Nevinson (to give him his full name, though he always preferred to be known by his initials) attended the Slade School of Art from 1909 – 1912. It was a golden generation of artists that were studying there at the time – among his fellow students were: Stanley Spencer, Mark Gertler, Paul Nash and Dora Carrington.

On display is a remarkable self-portrait Nevinson executed while a student at the Slade. This striking work echoes the Old Masters drawings that the school’s formidable tutor, Henry Tonks, encouraged his students to examine at the British Museum. This will be presented alongside a visitor book from the British Museum’s Print Room with both Nevinson and Gertler’s signatures in, and both artists were often found working there during these years.

It was the new and exciting style of the Futurists that captured Nevinson’s imagination. Once Nevinson experienced for himself the ugly reality of war when he volunteered as an ambulance driver (November 1914 – January 1915) he saw the slaughter that the first mechanised war could deliver. On display are works such as A Dawn, 1914 and Column on the March, which both show massed ranks of French soldiers, devoid of any individuality, tightly packed together marching to their doom as future cannon fodder.

Shocked and disgusted by the conditions that the wounded soldiers had to endure, Nevinson vividly conveyed the desolation and horror he encountered in prints such as The Doctor and Twilight. In his autobiography Paint and Prejudice (1937), Nevinson recorded his impressions of ‘The Shambles’, a disused railway goods yard outside Dunkirk, where wounded French and German soldiers had been abandoned:

There we found them. They lay on dirty straw, foul with old bandages and filth…It was dark when we arrived. There was a strong smell of gangrene, urine, and French cigarettes, although a spark on the floor would have turned the whole place into a crematorium. Our doctors took charge, and in five minutes I was nurse, water-carrier, stretcher-bearer, driver and interpreter. Gradually the shed was cleansed, disinfected and made habitable, and by working all night we managed to dress most of the patients’ wounds.

This focussed display also includes dynamic urban cityscapes that Nevinson created after the war. From the vertiginous skyscrapers in Looking down into Wall Street and the exquisite Looking through Brooklyn Bridge, New York with the misty Manhattan sky line visible in the background (pictured). The febrile atmosphere of the crowd is superbly rendered in the large lithograph Wet Evening, Oxford Street and Nevinson’s favourite city, Paris, is affectionately captured in From a Paris Window, 1922 and Place Blanche, 1922.

As critical acclaim for Nevinson’s prints reached its height in the late 1920s, he had to give up printmaking for health reasons and died in 1946. As his painting became more conventional, Nevinson’s reputation suffered and today he is an almost forgotten artist. The stark black and white images of the First World War presented in powerful display showcase Nevinson as one of the finest modernist printmakers of his generation.

CRW Nevinson: Prints of War and Peace will be on display in Room 90a, Prints and Drawings Gallery.

Related events

Truth from the Trenches: CRW Nevinson, printmaking and the Great War – in Room 90a on Tuesday, July 31 at 1.15pm.

Gallery talk by Jonathan Black, Kingston University.

Prints and Prejudice: The Graphic Art of CRW Nevinson – in Room 90a on Friday, September 7 at 1.15pm.

Gallery talk by Jennifer Ramkalawon.

Admission to exhibition: Free.

Opening hours: Saturdays to Thursdays, 10am to 5.30pm; Fridays, 10am to 8.30pm.


British Museum, Great Russell Street, London, WC1B 3DG