The Easel

19th October 2021

Ceaseless Porousness

Installing your work in the Turbine Hall of Tate Modern is a sought-after commission. Given her chance, Yi has created a swarm of aquatic-inspired interactive balloons (“aerobes”), illustrating her interest in the way art and science interact. It’s pretty cerebral stuff, Yi’s representation of “humans and the ecosystems we live in”. As to the installation itself, the museum calls it “unforgettable”. In that vast hall, however, critics are less sure, one calling it “all a bit ho-hum”.

Theaster Gates: London, urban reform and exemplars of Black excellence

Gates has travelled far from his roots as a ceramic artist, being also a musician, an urban community activist and more. Demonstrating how he has the art world “at his feet”, he has three concurrent pottery shows in London. Mostly the reviews gush – this is not the only one to use the word ‘magnificent’ – but they struggle to keep separate the artist from his multiple other activities. One way or another, though, they support the comment that “this is a man who does not stay still”.

12th October 2021

Poussin and the Dance review, National Gallery: A youthful, light-hearted look at the French painter

Poussin, the “father of French painting”, has a reputation for “emotionally remote”, even “stuffy” works. Well, that’s not the whole story. At age 30, Poussin went to Rome. Inspired by its ancient statues and sensual lifestyle, he suddenly started painting lighthearted – even bawdy – dance scenes. His later career returned to serious and sombre but, for a decade, Poussin painted “post-Renaissance rave art”. His “austerely beautiful” art was, for a time, not quite so inscrutable.

Gilbert & George, Full of Themselves Again

Gilbert & George aim to provoke. In their coupledom, their opinions, their art, it has been a 50-year effort. Does it still ring true? The affirmative view highlights their message of inclusion, set against the harsher realities of urban London.  The linked piece, however, hints at a certain weariness. These “scalawags … are past masters of the titillating, half-meaningful, half-nonsensical, verbal provocation …What better place to enjoy all this spectacle than a well-appointed gallery in Mayfair?”