Apollo Magazine

Muse Reviews: 5 April

Christian Rosa's 'slacker abstraction'; Goya's witches and old women; and John Skoog's tribute to Hollywood's golden age

Sueno de buena echizera (Dream of a good witch), Feder und Pinsel in Grau und Schwarz (o.J.) von
Francisco JosÈ de Goya y Lucientes [30.3.1746 - 16.4.1828]
Blattmafl 23,4 x 14,6 cm
Inventar-Nr.: KdZ 4396
Person: Francisco JosÈ de Goya y Lucientes [1746 - 1828], Spanischer Maler
Personen / K¸nstler / Goya / Werke

A round-up of the week’s reviews and interviews

‘Christian Rosa: Put Your Eye in your Mouth’, at White Cube Masons Yard, 13 March–23 May 2015 © the artist and White Cube

‘Provisional painting’ or ‘slacker abstraction’? Christian Rosa at White Cube (Wessie Du Toit)

Advocates of the contemporary works emphasise their playfulness and improvisation, with terms like ‘casualism’ and ‘provisional painting.’ But this has inevitably invited more caustic labels such as ‘slacker abstraction’ or ‘zombie formalism’…Latent in these tags, I think, is the criticism that painters like Rosa are borrowing the fashions of the past without demonstrating any of that daring and commitment which originally characterised them…But subversion is not Rosa’s aim.

Sueno de buena echizera (Dream of a good witch), from the ‘Witches and Old Women’ Album (D), page 15 (detail; c. 1819–23), Francisco de Goya

Gleeful, savage and subversive: don’t miss Goya’s drawings at the Courtauld (Emma Crichton-Miller)

[T]he first six drawings feature figures tumbling, spinning, rising or falling, or carried in the air; it is as if they are born aloft by Goya’s imagination. His masterful use of light and shade, his indefatigable line, gives these drawings a purposeful energy: comic as the images may be, they have moral intent. And they are raucous with the squawks of monkeys, the shrieks of women, the banging of tambourines and clattering of castanets. There is a kind of joy in his extraordinary facility, which brings these creatures to life, defying our disbelief.

Skies, the State, Minneapolis, MN (2010–15), John Skoog

Shadowland: John Skoog’s tribute to cinema’s golden age (Fatema Ahmed)

Skoog is deliberately piling on a sense of uneasy melancholy: the footage, originally shot on 16mm film before being transferred to video, is grainy and the sound a lo-fi rumble of snatches from the original films. It all contributes to a sense that the landscape of the golden age of Hollywood is as out of work as much of the theatre network that screened its films.

Same Old, Brand New, by Cao Fei. Photo by Jessica Hromas/Art Basel 2015 © Art Basel

A strong year for Art Basel in Hong Kong (Emma Crichton-Miller)

Art Basel in Hong Kong (or ABHK) is the youngest of Art Basel’s progeny, but it is no less breezily confident for that…For Europeans, it was stimulating to experience a show curated from this quite different centre of gravity. The ‘Insights’ section of the fair devoted to special projects from ‘regional’ galleries reinforced the sense of a creatively vibrant greater Asia, stretching from Australia to Turkey.

Clara Serena Rubens (detail; 1618), Peter Paul Rubens. Liechtenstein, The Princely Collections, Vaduz-Vienna

First Look: Rubens in Private (Ben Van Beneden)

The Rubenshuis tries to focus on lesser known aspects of Rubens’ work. What better subject to show at Rubens’ family home than his family portraits?

First Look: Poussin and God at the Louvre (Nicolas Milovanovic and Mickaël Szanto)

The discovery that seems most important is the originality of Poussin’s religious compositions: the artist had no scruples about mixing antique and Christian traditions in order to visualize, with poetry, the most fundamental questions: Fortune, Providence, human freedom…

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