My year in art: 2023

Carrie Mae Weems, Reflections for Now, Installation view, Barbican Art Gallery, 2023
(c) Jemma Yong

From Steve McQueen’s compelling note on social injustice, Carrie Mae Weems and Isaac Julien’s unpacking of race, color and gender, Shirin Neshat’s politically charged film and stills, and Tomás Saraceno’s note to a planet in deep crisis, there was no shortage of hard-hitting art in 2023. And there was so much beauty too, namely Mark Rothko’s utterly gorgeous, unmissable show in Paris.

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‘Georg Baselitz: Sculptures 2011-2015’ opens at the Serpentine, London

Georg Baselitz “Zero Mobil” (2013-2014) © Jochen Littkenmann for Georg Baselitz At Serpentine

Ten wooden sculptures by the German artist Georg Baselitz, each shaped from an individual tree trunk, stand and recline and hover over the daylight-lit rooms of the Serpentine South gallery. Some are enormous, carved with twisting and turning shapes and crude, rough edges. They are at once overpowering yet soft and gentle. And there is humor and humanity in their interactions.

“Georg Baselitz: Sculptures 2011-2015” is the first public showing of this body of work, created between the dates on the title and modelled on himself and his wife Elke, a life-long inspiration and artistic partner, with subjects that reflect on history, personal life, childhood memories. “What is essentially being exhibited is like a cabinet of wonders: a sphere within a sphere within a sphere from a tree trunk with a chainsaw,” says Baselitz of the exhibition.

Read the full review here

Sanlé Sory and Kyle Weeks connect at ‘Meeting at the Volta’ at David Hill Gallery 

Kyle Weeks, “Spo and Holali,” Accra, Ghana, 2021 © Kyle Weeks

Two generations of photographers, displayed side-by-side, powerfully capture the lively energy of West Africa. ‘Meeting at the Volta,’ at David Hill Gallery in London, features Sanlé Sory’s gentle studio-shot monochrome portraits of Burkina Faso in the 1960s-80s alongside contemporary photographer Kyle Weeks’ bold and colourful body of work, taken within the last six years on the streets of the Ghanaian capital Accra.

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‘Lost Girls’ at Flowers Gallery looks to the world of girls and women affected by war

An exhibition opening this October at Flowers Gallery in London looks at the profound challenges facing girls and women affected by war. Organised by War Child UK and curated by intersectional feminist art collective InFems to coincide with the UN International Day of the Girl Child, the ‘Lost Girls’ message is about empowering women in war by focusing on survival rather than victimhood. It marks 30 years since War Child and Flowers Gallery showed their celebrated charity exhibition ‘Little Pieces from Big Stars’.

All the artists represented in the show have put women and girls at the centre of their practice. They include artists and activists Ai Weiwei, Owanto, Tewodros Hagos and Tracey Moffatt, radical British-born American feminist Penelope Slinger, the art-punk pioneer Linder, and Caroline Coon, a counterculture hero since the 1960s.

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Insight: Hauser & Wirth partner and global creative director on experiential gallery spaces

Camille Henrot “Inside Job” 2019 at Hauser and Wirth Minorca, summer 2022

What happens to art and the artist when their work is exhibited outside a traditional gallery space? And do unusual venues and experimental curations set culture free to be explored and experienced in new and exciting ways, and by a public way beyond the original borders? What are the limits and the possibilities?

I put this to Neil Wenman, partner and global creative director at Hauser & Wirth, the leading commercial gallery which has been exploring unusual spaces to present art since opening the Somerset gallery on an old farm in 2014.

Read the interview here