A Portraiture Renaissance across Europe this spring

Tacita Dean: Still Life. Photo: Facebook National Gallery
Tacita Dean: Still Life. Photo: Facebook National Gallery

When American actress Grace Kelly married Prince Rainier III of Monaco in 1956, her ascent to nobility as Princess Consort Grace of Monaco was captured in an official oil portrait by the artist Mohamed Drisi. More recently, the same artist painted the Duchess of Cambridge. In both portraits, various signifiers, such as the colour blue and its symbolic link to the royal household, situate the portrait within a specific time period and set of cultural values that the portrait exists within and responds to.

Portraiture still is today a vehicle for communicating both individual and collective identities. This spring, a range of noteworthy exhibitions is emerging across Europe. From London to Basel, these exhibits take bold directions with the genre of portraiture, applying new methods and attributing new meanings to this timeless art form:

Tacita Dean OBE presents a highly anticipated collaborative exhibition – Landscape, Portrait, Still Life – held across three of London’s most distinctive cultural landmarks: The National Gallery, The National Portrait Gallery and Royal Academy of Arts.

Tacita Dean OBE is widely recognised for her contributions to the Young British Artists movement. She was a nominee for the Turner Prize in 1998, and elected to the Royal Academy of Arts in 2008. This unprecedented collaboration between three major cultural institutes will mark the opening of the New RA, and is The National Portrait Gallery’s first ever exhibition ever focused purely on film. Through the medium of 16mm film, Tacita Dean will exhibit moving, living portraits of cultural legends, including Merce Cunningham, Cy Twombly and David Hockney.

Tacita Dean: Portrait will be at the NPG March 15-May 28; Still Life at the National Gallery March 15-May 28; and Landscape at the RA May 19-August 12.

Photo: Facebook Mark Dziewulski
Photo: Facebook Mark Dziewulski

Renowned British artist and architect Mark Dziewulski will display a genre-defying new series of portraits at Gallery Different, London, that first launched at the Venice Biennale 2017 and The New York Times Building in Manhattan.

Mark Dziewulski has received numerous honours for his architecture, public art and sculptural practice, from a Gold Cross Order of Merit from the Polish Government to a Letter of Approval from Buckingham Palace. This spring, the artist will bring a provocative new series of paintings and sculptures to his hometown that question how we really see each other and reveal a fascination with movement and time at the heart of his conceptual practice.

Mark Dziewulski: Layers of Self will be at Gallery Different (14 Percy Street) April 26-May 1.

Fondation Beyeler, Basel, celebrates the 80th birthday of Georg Baselitz with a retrospective that assembles over 90 artworks, painting a portrait of German national identity in the wake of the Second World War.

Throughout his lifetime, Baselitz presented himself as a romantic outsider, depicting people who have traditionally been seen as outcasts in society. Although he is known for reviving the German Expressionism that had been denounced by the Nazis, and for returning the human subject to a central position in painting, his stylistic manner suggests a deep unease about the possibility of celebrating humanity in the wake of the Holocaust and WWII.

These stirring images, on view through the end of April, will be subsequently shown in a modified form at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington DC. Running in parallel with the presentation at the Fondation Beyeler is an exhibit of Baselitz’s works on paper at the Kuntsmuseum Basel.

Georg Baselitz at Fondation Beyeler, Basel, from January 29-April 29.

Y.Z. Kami’s studio, c. 2018. Photo: Facebook Gagosian
Y.Z. Kami’s studio, c. 2018. Photo: Facebook Gagosian

Gagosian Gallery opens the first solo exhibition in Paris of Iranian artist, Y. Z. Kami, revealing large-scale portraits that recreate the visceral experience of a face-to-face encounter.

Y.Z. Kami draws parallels between the questions of portraiture and the patterns or processes of geometry, considering various ways to seek and represent the truth. The artist, whose works belong to prominent collections such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and the Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC, probes the art historical quest to locate the unknown within material form.

Y.Z. Kami: Geometry of Light at Gagosian Paris (4 rue de Ponthieu) from March 16-May 5.

The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, announces “A Century of Women in Chinese Art”, featuring a diverse selection of women in Chinese art over the past 100 years.

This exhibition reflects a variety of styles and purposes for portraiture in Chinese art, from traditional literature to folk religion. For lovers of Chinese art or portraiture, this exhibition is not to be missed.

A Century of Women in Chinese Art at The Ashmolean Museum from May 1-October 7.


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