Arts Radar: 15th March

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When things get drab, as they do, it’s always good to mix it up, to get some art in from all corners of the spectrum: Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud and a motley crew of other greats feature in an exhibition of painted figures that look real; Luke Burton introduces us to a painted man who does not. You want new? Sondra Perry’s digital art is so up to date it’s probably not even on Twitter yet. You want ancient? We got photographs at the National Portrait Gallery so old they were probably made by God on the eighth day. OK, you caught us exaggerating again. Sue us.
There’s a lot to be said for classical art - the technique, the symbolism, the history - but sometimes, it’s just really fucking boring. If you’re in the mood for some contemporary digital art on relevant issues like identity and race, then Sondra Perry has got you covered: there are 3D avatars, open source software and Chroma key blue screens, so the broadband junkie in you can rest assured there won’t be a still-life fruit bowl in sight.
The human body. How do we experience thee? Through a gruelling session at Barry’s Bootcamp? Through a very different kind of session, ft. pingers and Glen’s? Through feeding you a lifetime’s supply of baba ganoush and Jaffa Cakes? Whatever happened to good old art, guys. Flesh-loving legends like Lucian Freud and Francis Bacon will take you back to expressing the figure through painting, exhibited alongside some rare gems from Paula Rego and Frank Auerbach. Body zen restored.
Everyone knows from experience that art galleries are probably the worst place ever to make friends, so you’ll be surprised to know Luke Burton will be introducing you to a good friend of his in his latest exhibition. But before you get excited - he’s not real, he’s a cartoonish painting. He’s called ‘Ambivalent Man’ and is the 2k18 equivalent of Hugh Grant in the noughties, floundering about trying to make sense of life but actually just appearing kinda wet. A friend who’s a bit of a weed is a friend indeed.
Ever looked at a painting so thick it actually makes you feel physically full? No? You’re missing a treat then, pal, but Uncle Copeland will sort you right out. The American artist serves up bold, provocative imagery and slaps acrylic paint on canvas like it’s a hefty portion of double cream and maple syrup. His bikini-clad subjects are just as sweet and sickly.
The Victorian times have a bit of a gruesome rep: everyone had smallpox or diphtheria, you had to become a chimney sweep aged 6, the shilling was a really confusing unit of currency... but aside from all of that, the art photography scene was booming. Check out four of the big British players at this unmissable show at Nat Port Gal: Lady Clementine Hawarden, Oscar Rejlander, Julia Margaret Cameron and Lewis Carroll (yes the Alice in Wonderland guy).
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