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The Guide: exhibitions: I Would Like To Join A Club And Hit Myself Over The Head With It Manchester: Keith Vaughan Newcastle upon Tyne: Art Social London: Disobedient Objects London: Helio Oiticica Dublin: American Impressionism Edinburgh: Joan Fontcuberta London: Sandra Blow Penzance

July 26, 2014

Skye Sherwin Robert Clark



Keith Vaughan, Newcastle upon Tyne

During the postwar cultural hiatus of the late 1940s Keith Vaughan emerged as a member of a retro trend known as neo-Romanticism. It was an awkward interbreeding of the visionary eccentricity of William Blake's angels with the classicism of Paul Cezanne's bathers in a slightly halfhearted attempt to kickstart modern art's flagging experimental spirit. This show of drawings and prints includes lithograph illustrations for Arthur Rimbaud's A Season In Hell, but Vaughan's clunky cubism appears a little tame next to the poem's hallucinatory intensity. Unlike Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud who went on to greater things, Vaughan got stuck with his mashup modernism.

Northumbria University Gallery And Baring Wing, to 12 Sep

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I Would Like To Join A Club And Hit Myself Over The Head With It, Manchester

While Ryan Gander's major exhibition continues to bewilder and captivate at Manchester Art Gallery (to 14 Sep), down the road at the Castlefield five local artists respond to his idea of Culturefield, an imaginary place or state of mind that provides ideal circumstances for the making of art. Robert Carter, Helen Collett, Monty, Lois MacDonald and Joe Fletcher Orr present work that keeps its perspectives open to unforeseen and at times quite barmy possibilities. It's a show of half-realised ideas: sculptural and pictorial fragments riffing on contemporary slang such as Turnt Down and I Dunno Shit, plus conceptualist propositions about such matters as the purchasing of wine.

Castlefield Gallery, to 17 Aug

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Art Social, London

Art Social boasts a programme of collaborative work and performances by young artists, alongside talks and workshops. The headline act is British techno star Actress, who teams up with digital artist and designer Margot Bowman. The latter's dystopian cartoon worlds provide an interactive setting for the former's dark sounds. Patrick Murphy's flock of neon pigeons has been given its own symphony by musician Keaton Henson, while other highlights include musician Richard Strange in conversation with Gavin Turk and a discussion of London's street sounds with St Etienne's Bob Stanley and others.

House Of St Banarbas, W1, Thu to 3 Aug

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Disobedient Objects, London

This fiery survey of protest objects made by grassroots social movements n staged at the Victoria & Albert Museum, of all places n is a rebel yell from the heart of the establishment. It begins in the 1970s, the decade that birthed neoliberalism, and includes material used to service global causes. Works such as Ed Hall's union banner, commemorating British struggles like the miners' strike and poll tax protests, are feats of human endeavour, but the show moves well beyond the expected rally placards. This is a show where creativity, evident in everything from experimental bikes to videogames, meets practicality, such as the ilock-onsi used by Greenpeace protesters.

Victoria & Albert Museum, SW1, Sat to 1 Feb

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Helio Oiticica, Dublin

It's hard not to see Helio Oiticica's art as typically Brazilian: it's full of sun-drenched colours, dancing rhythms and bright community spirit. You are invited to move panels of painted sculptures around and even dress up in dazzling textiles to become mobile works of art. His extraordinary achievement was to transform such carnival enjoyment into a body of contemporary art that became internationally influential in the realm of what became rather soberly known as irelational aestheticsi. Oiticicia's work takes place in the space between art and viewer, or between art and willing participant.

Irish Museum Of Modern Art, to 5 Oct

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American Impressionism, Edinburgh

Up until Pollock started whizzing paint about and Warhol got fixated on soup cans, it seemed imperative for most American painters to get themselves over to Paris to connect with the art centre's innovatory spirit. The two most historically renowned Americans artists in this attractive summer show, Mary Cassatt and James McNeill Whistler, even moved over and hitched up as friends with French impressionist giants and emerged from their company all the better for it, compared with their stay-at-home colleagues. So it is these two who can be seen to have most convincingly managed their own personal take on impressionism's dappled charms. Remarkably for a woman artist of the time, Cassatt imbued domestic images with a quite passionate painterly flourish, while the macho-decadent Whistler moved on to London where he was responsible for the most wonderfully evocative nighttime cityscapes.

Scottish National Gallery Of Modern Art, to 19 Oct

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Joan Fontcuberta, London

It's telling that Joan Fontcuberta started out in advertising: his elaborate photographic ruses hit the point where incredulity crumbles and we buy into bizarre fictions. This survey of his work boasts horticultural marvels and even the odd miracle. His plants with strange trumpets sprouting from their stems, winged unicorn monkey and mermaid fossil are ridiculous but conjured with dedicated attention to detail. It's the con itself that's the target in such exactingly staged hoaxes. The satirical spoofs peak in Karelia: Miracles & Co, a series born of Fontcuberta's purported visit to a Finnish monastery where monks learn how to work miracles, such as levitation.

The Science Museum, SW7, to 9 Nov

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Sandra Blow, Penzance

Sandra Blow's obsession with abstract forms began in the late 1940s: while motorbiking around postwar Italy, the aspiring 22-year-old painter met Alberto Burri, the artist and former POW who, bereft of pigment, made art from sacking and cement. For the next decade Blow created earthy, elemental works using everything from tar to tea stains. In the 1960s, while teaching at London'sSlade School of Art, she used Matisse-like cut-outs of brightly painted canvas and paper. These three shows over two venues, include drawings and smaller works. The highlights, though, are her vast late canvasses from the 1990s, where loose geometries dance with dynamic gestural abstraction and perfect blue skies.

The Exchange & Newlyn Art Gallery, Sat to 4 Oct

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Source: Guardian (UK)


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