February diary: where to go and what to see

1 February 2018

There’s a huge variety of exciting exhibitions opening this month, from surrealist paintings by Jonathan Gardner and rarely seen graphic design from North Korea in the UK, to must-see photography in Berlin, Paris and Marrakech. The It’s Nice That team has selected its top ten as a handy guide.

Jonathan Gardner: The Spot of the Eye
10 February – 24 March 2018
Mary Mary, Glasgow

New York-based artist Jonathan Gardner presents a series of new works in his second solo show with the Scottish gallery, this time focusing on invented interior imagery. The vibrant, surrealist paintings feature abstract still lifes and stylised figures, distorted in scale and space, dreamlike in their strange perspectives and goings-on.

Eddie Peake: Concrete Pitch
7 February — 8 April 2018
White Cube South Gallery, London

Eddie Peake’s new exhibition Concrete Pitch displays the multi-disciplinary work of the artist covering new paintings, sculpture, installation and sound. Eddie will also be working and performing within the gallery space for the duration of the show. The exhibition’s title relates to “the bare concrete recreation ground in Finsbury Park, where Peake grew up,” explains White Cube. “The pitch served as a playground, a sports field, a stage for encounters and dramas, and a meeting place for people of every age, class and ethnicity from the surrounding area.” Consequently, the work picks apart the area as the artist creates a “rich portrait of his childhood neighbourhood as a microcosm of London”. While working in the gallery Eddie will be accompanied by DJs from koollondon.com who will broadcast an online radio show. 

Anthony McCall: Solid Light Works
16 February – 3 June 2018
The Hepworth Wakefield, West Yorkshire

Best known for his large-scale, immersive light installations, Anthony McCall’s new “solid light” works use only projected light and thin mist to create the appearance of sculptural forms in space. The first major UK exhibition of the artist’s work in over ten years and in keeping with previous shows, visitors will be invited to interact directly with the work by disrupting the projected forms. The exhibition also explores Anthony’s early work from the 1970s, and examines his meticulous preparatory creations. His working process is revealed through a large display of drawings, sketchbooks and maquettes.

Made in North Korea: Everyday Graphics from the DPRK
23 February – 13 May 2018
House of Illustration, London

The UK’s first ever exhibition of graphic design from North Korea draws from Nicholas Bonner’s vast collection of ephemera, gathered over 20 years. Everything from sweet wrappers and food labels to postcards and state invitations is on display, shining a fascinating spotlight on the country cloaked in mystery and its rarely seen visual culture.

Darren Bader: More or Less
13 January – 3 March 2018
Sadie Coles HQ, London

Darren Bader fills Sadie Coles HQ with “found objects”, from giant cherries to, what appears to be miniature torpedos. His series of installations, videos and text resemble a colossal “still life”. Together with the artist Anna Munteanu Rimnic, Darren has created and curated this large-scale arrangement of objects, that includes both his work and that of other artists. Through the casual, mundane and seemingly random layout, Darren invites viewers to question what art is. 

David Goldblatt
21 February – 7 May 2018
Center Pompidou, Paris

For the first time ever, the Center Pompidou is hosting a retrospective of prolific artist David Goldblatt. A key figure in the South African photographic scene, his images tell the story of his homeland, his geography and his people. The exhibition traces his career through a selection of his most prominent work but also reveals more lesser known ensembles taken in the townships of Johannesburg. David’s striking black and white photographs depict the complexity of social relations under apartheid as well as earning him a reputation as a leading artist in documentary filmmaking.

Frederike Helwig and Anne Waak: Kriegskinder
2 February — 8 April 2018
Freiraum Fur Fotografie, Berlin

“What did my parents experience when they were the same age as my son today? What made them who they are today?” – the leading questions of photographer Frederike Helwig’s upcoming exhibition featuring accompanying texts by author Anne Waak. Both children of those born in the late 1930s and 40s who grew up during the Second World War, the pair explore the aforementioned question through 44 analogue portraits “of a generation whose memories will soon be gone,” explains the gallery. “Based on interview excerpts, which are compared to the portraits of contemporary witnesses, the result is a complex picture of the war children’s years, which were born in the time of National Socialism.” 

Sung Hwan Kim: And who has not dreamed of violence?
27 January – 25 February 2018
Daadgalerie, Berlin

The New York-based artist Sung Hwan Kim explores fear, domestic violence and racism in his first Berlin solo show through a series of drawing and sketches accompanied by music. His exhibition And who has not dreamed of violence? transforms the gallery’s interior into oppressive, dream-like sets that resist a linear narrative. Sung is also screening his video, Love before Bond, which is made up of quotes from African-American and European literature and even gets its title from James Baldwin’s 1961 essay Alas, poor Richard

Bob and Roberta Smith: The Whole World is an Art School!
3 February – 24 March 2018
Von Bartha, Basel

A new immersive exhibition from artist Bob and Roberta Smith transforms the Von Bartha gallery into an art school, and visitors into art students. It asks people to confront the motives behind artistic practice and “celebrate the often ‘nonsensical purposeless’ of the inspiration-finding process”. The artist’s signature type-based calls to action will be on show, and activities will include “painting with both hands” and a “build your own blob” workshop.

Africa Is No Island
24 February – 24 August 2018
The Museum of African Contemporary Art Al Maaden, Marrakech

This independent, not-for-profit contemporary art museum is one of the first of its kind in North Africa and opens this month to international audiences, following a local launch in 2016. One of the two opening shows is Africa Is No Island, a group show of 40 emerging and established photographers working on the continent and in the wider diaspora. These include Ishola Akpo, Joana Choumali and Mouna Karray.

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