Arts Radar: 19th April

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Art is life, they told you. But you didn’t listen to them, because they were second year UAL students mid-performance in a grotty third-floor flat on Kingsland Road, and you weren’t sure why everyone was wearing balaclavas and Mickey Mouse gloves. But they were right, as Radar will attest to this week. Because colours can be political; manipulated photos can tell family histories; normal photos can ALSO tell family histories (particularly of famous Presidents); and installations can recreate the frenzies of city life while still feeling like a piece of art. So yeah. Thanks, Dalston weirdos.
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When you think about it, ‘pink’ is a pretty big deal. Aerosmith told us in that catchy tune, Syd Barrett used it to name one of the best bands of all time and Nick Drake made us all cry on that album. Ok, it’s weirdly popular in music for some reason. But is pink political? Enter seven artists that may or may not be able to answer that for you. What’s great about this group show is that everyone’s got a different opinion, but by expressing them through wicked paintings instead of angrily commenting on Facebook threads, the discussion feels a lot more chill. Which we like.
Hearts might’ve been left in Havana but Carlos Garaicoa managed to bring his art back from Cuba, so we think everything’s going to be ok. The artist uses the idea of ‘cities’ to inspire his work, taking into account the typical architecture and infrastructure of Madrid and Havana as well as their societal habits and political climates to inform his photography and sculpture. There’s also a big carpet he’s made that you can walk across which is always fun.
What do memories, the soul and imagination have in common? Probably a lot but we’ve only got 100 words to talk about it in, so the short answer is French artist Christian Boltanski’s new exhibition. He takes the fragile, intangible nature of these concepts and makes them into physical artworks, be they photos, sculptures or films. But then he makes sure all his works are themselves fragile, ever-changing and fluctuating. Head-fuck maybe, worth seeing definitely.
A few remedies for feeling down on life include buying bright yellow Crocs and wearing them around people who find them hideous; being able to make that squeaky noise with long blades of grass held between your thumbs; and staring like you’re Cameron from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off at the big oil paintings of Tomo Campbell. These pastel joys and wobbly figures will be enjoyed with a capital E, you have our word.
At the moment, if you go round saying ‘I’m really interested in other people’s lives’ you’ll probably get accused of working for Cambridge Analytica, so if you can disguise yourself as simply curious about the lives of some genuinely astonishing people, let’s say the Kennedys, perhaps you’ll get let off the hook. This exhibition of the photography of late renowned LIFE photojournalist Mark Shaw is a fascinating insight into the private world of the iconic First Couple, and is as warming as it is sobering.
Last Chance Saloon
The revered German photographer Andreas Gursky is widely regarded as being the most significant photographer about. He shoots huge scale, high vantage shots of mesmerisingly intricate compositions depicting human existence and contemporary life. The show ends on the 22nd April, so if you've been dawdling, sort it out, mate.
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