The Easel

7th June 2022

Nicholas Galanin

Shows of contemporary indigenous art seldom receive such a full size review. Galanin’s multimedia work addresses the survival of traditional indigenous culture in the face of ghastly “assimilation” policies, as well as inappropriate handling of indigenous cultural objects. As befits an artist represented in some major public collections, this show is full of “indelible imagery”. Says the writer, “his art makes me squirm.”

How ‘Animal Crossing’ and the pandemic informed Takashi Murakami’s new Broad show

Murakami is having a high-profile museum show, the first in years. His early works are a blizzard of “stridently cheerful” flowers and manga-influenced figures, presented in “primary colours and jewel tones”. Newer “darker” works, inspired by the pandemic and the Fukushima disaster, are rendered in “cotton candy pink, bright blue and lemon yellow”. And the curator is buzzy about his new AR works – “It’s the next step. He’s moving physical objects into the metaverse”. Images are here.

The Prodigal Son of Spanish Baroque Art

Seville-based Murillo, one of the great religious painters of the Spanish Golden Age, loved to tell a story. The Prodigal Son was an ideal topic – a strong narrative but little detail that might restrict the artist’s imagination. Some of Murillo’s works are criticized as having “a bit of a bubble gum quality”. Not these. Full of little Seville details, they are an inventive and dynamic imagining of the protagonist’s progress “from lost to found”. Detail on the Prodigal Son cycle is here.

31st May 2022

Eye-catching textiles from India, at the Textile Museum

Indian textiles have long been a case study in diversity. Regional differences have always existed in the raw materials and dyes used and the customer base spans all social classes. As Islamic influences grew in northern India from around the 12th century, floral and figurative elements started appearing. Chintz, with its floral designs, arrived in the 1700’s and, via its popularity as a sofa covering, now influences interior design everywhere. A quick tour of the history of Indian textiles is here.

Sean Scully: the Shape of Ideas at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Scully’s work is so often on show that it takes a “massive” retrospective to attract attention. This review falls toward the ‘adoring’ end of the spectrum but is thorough. Scully’s early career in New York yielded tight geometric abstractions. Since his acclaimed Backs and Fronts in 1981, his work has become less tightly controlled, more self-expressive. The writer admiringly uses Robert Hughes’ comment that Scully’s stripes possess “something fierce … a grandeur shaded by awkwardness”.