May Art Gallery Highlights: Photography

Massie Cousins, grass, peoni, bum

Photo London opens next week on Thursday 18th until Sunday 21st at Somerset House in central London. In its third edition, the fair has gained momentum and photography is settling into London’s annual art calendar. To accompany the fair, three exhibitions by Mat Collishaw, Isaac Julien and Taryn Simon will also open at Somerset House. Since the coming week will all be about photography, May’s gallery highlights are commercial exhibitions on the medium. Expect pleasure-seeking from a young Maisie Cousins, a look back at Renate Bertlmann’s feminist wit and timeless elegance on the nature of desire and the gaze by Isaac Julien.

grass, peoni, bum Maisie Cousins at TJ Boulting opens Thursday 18th May until 24th June

Preview: Wednesday 17th 6 – 8pm All welcome

Cousins’ (b.1992 London, UK) approach to making images is hedonistic and performative as she explores topics on sensuality, indulgence and body image. Maisie’s work comes from a desire to see femininity and sexuality in a positive and open way. With honesty and humour she aims to create erotic and visceral work. Her first solo show, co-curated by Mia Pfeifer, is an exploration of nature and sexuality, producing an overall sensory experience, with an installation created in collaboration with celebrity perfumer Azzi Glasser.

Renate Bertlmann, Verwandlungen (Transformations), 1969
Renate Bertlmann, Verwandlungen (Transformations), 1969
Black and white photographs, in fifty-three parts
25 by 17 cm. 9 7/8 by 6 3/4 in.
Courtesy the artist and Sotheby’s S|2 London
Renate Bertlmann, Ambivalenzen (Ambivalence), 1976
Renate Bertlmann, Ambivalenzen (Ambivalence), 1976
Eight black and white photographs on paper
overall: 24 by 19.4 cm. 9 1/2 by 7 5/8 in.
Courtesy the artist and Sotheby’s S|2 London
Renate Bertlmann, Waschtag (Washing Day), 1976
Renate Bertlmann, Waschtag (Washing Day), 1976
Graphite on black and white photograph
17.5 by 24 cm. 6 3/4 by 9 1/2 in
Courtesy the artist and Sotheby’s S|2 London

Renate Bertlmann at Sotheby’s S|2 until Thursday 1st June

S2 is the newly launched private sales and gallery arm of Sothebys Contemporary Art Department. As the inaugural exhibition of S|2 program, the gallery opens with two solo presentations: the upper gallery features work by Austrian artist Renate Bertlmann; in the lower gallery, a presentation of paintings by fellow Austrian Maria Lassnig. Both Bertlmann and Lassnig should be seen as key figures in the current discussions around the re-evaluation of female artists of the post-war period.

Renate Bertlmann (b. 1943 Vienna, Austria) is one of the pioneering feminist artists, whose art practice focuses on representations of sex, love and male-female relationships. In her constant work on the interrelationship between the masculine and the feminine, Bertlmann

renders the fluidity and ambivalence of sexes, roles and desires, with humour and nonchalance. Despite her closeness to the women’s art movement in the 1970s, revolting against a male-dominated world and developing new aesthetics to represent the female body, Bertlmann’s work distinguished itself by its inclusion of the masculine point of view.

Isaac Julien, Pas de Deux with Roses (Looking for Langston Vintage Series), 1989:2016 (detail)
Isaac Julien, Pas de Deux with Roses (Looking for Langston Vintage Series), 1989:2016 (detail)
Courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro Gallery, London

Looking for Langston (1989/2017) Isaac Julien at Victoria Miro Gallery opens Thursday 18th May until 29th July

Preview: Wednesday 17th 6 – 8pm All welcome

Isaac Julien (b.1960 London, UK) presents “I dream a world” Looking for Langston in an exhibition of large-scale and silver gelatin photographic works and archival material at Victoria Miro Gallery. Also, a special presentation at Somerset House for Photo London features photographs presented as both large-scale works and silver gelatin prints, accompanied by an installation of the award-winning film.

Shot in sumptuous monochrome, Looking for Langston is a lyrical exploration – and recreation – of the private world of poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, and columnist Langston Hughes (1902 – 1967) and his fellow black artists and writers who formed the Harlem Renaissance during the 1920s. In his immersive, cinematic experiences, Julien’s hand guarantees a pursuit of beauty and sophistication.

Directed while he was a member of Sankofa Film and Video Collective, the 1989 film is a landmark in the exploration of artistic expression, the nature of desire and the reciprocity of the gaze, and would become the hallmark of what B. Ruby Rich named New Queer Cinema. Looking for Langston was made when the AIDS crisis was at its height and several of its actors died after the film was made. For Julien, the newly conceived photographs act as ‘memorial sites’. Looking for Langston is also regarded as a touchstone for African-American Studies and has been taught widely in North American art schools for nearly 30 years

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