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The grand reopening: our critics pick the best art shows for 2021
Art has been unseen for so long. Like the proverbial flower in the desert, it is hard to believe it is all still there waiting for us in warehouses, crates and long-dark museums. But very soon the sight of it will be instantaneously restored. From 9am on 17 May, all things going to plan, England’s galleries are allowed to open their doors once again in a dam-bursting flood of exhibitions. On 26 April, Scotland’s venues will start reopening, with Wales and Northern Ireland still under review.To get more art in the news 2021, you can visit shine news official website.
The blight has been epochal. Small galleries died, biennales withered, museums cancelled or postponed momentous blockbusters, from Raphael to David Hockney, and nixed many more throughout the pandemic. Shows opened and shut in one day like a Feydeau farce. Hundreds of staff were furloughed, then axed altogether at the Tate, the National Gallery and the V&A, where “departmental restructuring” will mean the loss of deep curatorial knowledge.
But now the surviving staff are scrambling to secure their last Rodin or Rubens from abroad, anticipating a continental third wave. Shows are being hastily recast, catalogues rewritten, events like Glasgow International coming offline into living reality. Eighty-seven galleries are mounting the first ever London Gallery Weekend in June. To set eyes on art once more will be a revelation, literally; and the auguries for the future are strong. Galleries turned themselves into safe spaces from the start, and visitors are increasingly armed with vaccines. Pray the doors never have to close again.
It seems almost impossible that this is the first major British show of this wild and zany Frenchman in half a century – but so it is. Dubuffet is unique. His interest in the raw art of the mentally ill and the untrained, from caveman to graffiti artist, fed directly into his brilliantly coloured and expressive painting, in which he goes at it with everything from asphalt and tar to spray gun and plaster. Expect to be startled by his spontaneity and surprised by his influence on so much of what followed. LC
The fantastical dreams of the Kenyan-born painter Michael Armitage (b 1984) are mesmerising, vast and densely worked. Armitage works on lubugu bark cloth, a material made by the Baganda people of Uganda, and all of his paintings speak to cultural assumptions about Africa, its politics and history, but spliced with motifs from western art. Fifteen of his mural-sized works will be displayed alongside paintings by contemporary East African painters who have influenced his career as a figurative artist.
The biggest show of the egg-woman (as she was once known) since her death in 1975, this survey marks the 10th anniversary of the museum that takes her name. Every part of Hepworth’s career will be on show, from the famous strung sculptures of the 40s and 50s to the carved marble works and the large bronzes of her later years. And as if that were not enough, Tacita Dean and Veronica Ryan have been commissioned to create related works. LC