BY frieze in Exhibition Reviews | 03 MAR 23

Five Shows to See this Spring

From Joan Brown’s documentation of everyday personal experiences at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, California to Mohammed Sami’s evocative canvases at Camden Art Centre, London

BY frieze in Exhibition Reviews | 03 MAR 23

Mohammed Sami

Camden Art Centre, London, UK 

27 January – 28 May 

Mohammed Sami, Ten Siblings, 2021, acrylic on linen, 165 × 240 cm. Courtesy: the artist, Modern Art, London and Luhring Augustine, New York

Sami’s compositions are intriguing, occasionally startling; his handling of paint is frequently thrilling. Often citing the metaphorical writings of the 20th century Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish, Sami creates works characterized by visual ambiguity. He paints in similes, some of which, once spotted, do not always sustain interest. However, his best works could ensnare you forever. – Tom Jeffreys 

Joan Brown

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, US

19 November 2022 – 12 March 2023

Joan Brown-The Bride-1970-cat-hat-walking-rat
Joan Brown, The Bride, 1970, oil, enamel paint and glitter on canvas, 2.3 × 1.4 m. Courtesy: © Estate of Joan Brown; photograph: Johnna Arnold/Impart Photography

From her beginnings as a painter until her tragic death at age 52 in 1990, Joan Brown made work that was in both explicit and implicit dialogue with self-portraiture: in painting herself, Brown also painted for herself, developing a distinctive style that had little in common with her contemporaries. Her documentation of everyday personal experience, combined with surreal dream logic, often executed on a grand scale, resulted in a highly eccentric oeuvre that, though largely relegated as an oddity regional to the California Bay Area where she lived and worked, has long held legendary status for a significant clique of clued-in painters. – Sarah Lehrer-Graiwer

Matthew Arthur Williams

Dundee Contemporary Arts, UK 

10 December 2022 – 26 March 2023 

Matthew Arthur Williams-soon-come-2022
Matthew Arthur Williams, Soon Come, 2023, film still. Courtesy: the artist and Dundee Contemporary Arts

Matthew Arthur Williams’s first institutional UK solo exhibition, ‘Soon Come’, presents a rich body of work that fully engages with history’s slipperiness and its affective legacies. ‘Soon Come’ is a West Indian phrase that assures return without committing to specifics: somewhere between now, later and never. Time, here, is fluid rather than linear, as multiple pasts coalesce, particularly the intertwined histories of Clarendon in Jamaica, where Williams’s mother was born, and Stoke-on-Trent in the UK, where she grew up. – Helen Charman 

Débora Delmar

Llano, Mexico City

4 February – 1 April

Débora Delmar, ‘Castles’, 2023, installation view. Courtesy: the artist and Llano, Mexico City

This is Débora Delmar’s first solo show in Mexico City since 2014: her near-decade absence has been all the more deeply felt for her increased influence on the city’s scene. The exhibition sees the artist build on her previous work on gentrification, speculation and inflation as forces shaping the city. Her reference points range from the colonial Chapultepec Castle, built for a Viceroy of ‘New Spain’, to the visual language of contemporary real estate development and the aesthetic habits of Mexico City’s recent influx of digital nomads. – Gaby Cepeda 


Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, the Netherlands 

10 February – 4 June 

Johannes Vermeer, The Glass of Wine, c. 1659–61, oil on canvas, 65 × 77 cm. Courtesy: Staatliche Museen zu Berlin – Gemäldegalerie

The Rijkmuseum’s exhibition of paintings by Johannes Vermeer, opened in early February to great acclaim, is unprecedented in its scope. Of the artist’s modest oeuvre of around 35 known paintings, 28 are on show here, on loan from galleries all over the world. Three from New York’s Frick Collection are on loan for the first time ever during the museum’s temporary closure for renovation. What results is an exhibition not only comprehensive in its scope, but also enlightening and enriching in its use of new biographical research and advanced scanning technologies to subtly shift received notions about Vermeer’s life and work. – Lua Vollaard

Main image: Matthew Arthur William, Soon Come, 2023, film still. Courtesy: the artist and Dundee Contemporary Arts

Contemporary Art and Culture