The Best Exhibitions to See in the EU this Spring

From Rebecca Ackroyd's painted lockdown dreams in Berlin to Diana Policarpo's investigations of ergot fungus

BY Carina Bukuts in EU Reviews , Reviews | 26 FEB 21

Rebecca Ackroyd, 1,000,000 Eggs, 2020, gouache, soft pastel on Somerset satin paper, 165 × 130 cm. Courtesy: the artist and Peres Projects, Berlin; photograph: Matthias Kolb

Rebecca Ackroyd

Peres Project, Berlin, Germany

Since the beginning of the pandemic, multiple reputable media outlets have reported on a global increase in people experiencing vivid and unusual dreams. Based on ‘100mph’, Rebecca Ackroyd’s second solo exhibition at Peres Projects, I’d wager that this nocturnal shift has also happened to the Berlin-based artist. Nowhere is this as clear as in the show’s titular work, which depicts some of Ackroyd’s lockdown dreams in a series of pen and coloured pencil drawings on paper. With scenes ranging from hotel orgies to an artist being fed into a meat grinder, they make my own reoccurring nightmare of crumbling teeth look positively banal. – Chloe Stead

Amelie von Wulffen, Ohne Titel (Untitled), 2019, oil and photos on canvas. Courtesy: the artist and Galerie Meyer Kainer, Vienna

Amelie von Wulffen

KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin, Germany

Amelie von Wulffen is an expert at spotting the outgrowths of German folklore and romanticism in packaging, adverts and children’s television, and welding them together with their historical counterparts – or, at least, our warped ideas of them. These simultaneous references are not a matter of incongruity or juxtaposition, but manifestations of equivalence. Though weird in the extreme, Von Wulffen’s motifs don’t read like an ironic employment of kitsch, chosen for their outlandishness. Rather, the accumulated works constitute a kind of mise-en-abyme, wherein each piece is the core of an uncannily familiar and potentially infinite interior. – Kristian Vistrup Madsen


Cudelice Brazelton IV, Counterpoint, 2021, installation view, sans titre (2016)
Cudelice Brazelton IV, Counterpoint, 2021, audio, exciter, inkjet print, wire, battery, various dimensions. Courtesy: the artist, sans titre (2016), Paris, and Wschód Gallery, Warsaw  

Cudelice Brazelton IV: Bronzed from Silver

Sans titre (2016), Paris, France

The question of how objects – and at large fashion – serve as tools for (cultural) identification runs through all of [Cudelice] Brazelton’s work but is, perhaps, most evident in the two paintings featured in the show that give the impression of being quickly pieced together. In Barb (all works 2020), a canvas daubed with broad brushstrokes of black paint is adorned by a synthetic leather belt, coins and magnets. Rip Technology features a canvas half-covered in synthetic black leather, edged by a precision-cut steel bar and overlain with a rubber car mat. In both works, the synthetic leather, with its scratches and mottled surface, is reminiscent of skin. Brazelton’s choice of materials and their treatment can also be read in relation to his biography: having grown up in the US Rust Belt, the artist uses steel to evoke his training as a metal cutter. – Oriane Durand

Diana Policarpo, Infected Ear, 2020, installation view, Galeria Municipal do Porto. Courtesy: the artist; photograph: Dinis Santos / Galeria Municipal do Porto

Diana Policarpo: Nets of Hyphae

Galeria Municiparl do Porto, Portugal

Also known as St. Anthony’s Fire, ergotism was rife in Europe during the Middle Ages, especially among the poor, and was the subject of various paintings, notably by Hieronymus Bosch and Matthias Grünewald, who symbolically depicted its gruesome torments as the trials of evil forces testing St. Anthony’s devotion. Ergot is also the nidus of Lisbon-based artist Diana Policarpo’s exhibition, ‘Nets of Hyphae’, at Galeria Municipal do Porto: a purple-lit labyrinth of videos, prints on fabric, sound work and digital animations curated by Stefanie Hessler. – Cristina Sanchez-Kozyreva

Denis Savary, Villa 3, 2020, installation view, Galerie Maria Bernheim
Denis Savary, Villa III, 2021, mixed media, 150 × 150 × 150 cm. Courtesy: the artist and Galerie Maria Bernheim, Zurich; photograph: Annik Wetter 

Denis Savary: Ithaca

Galerie Maria Bernheim, Zurich, Switzerland

Denis Savary’s exhibition, ‘Ithaca’, at Galerie Maria Bernheim comprises three large dollhouses modelled after the red-shingled roof and stucco exterior of Swiss suburban family homes. By distorting these generic forms, the Geneva-based artist unsettles associations with a bygone bourgeois ideal, projecting a literary and art-historical phantasmagoria onto its components. It is as if an altered centre of gravity has warped these oversized miniatures, leaving roofs concave and doors slanted. The effect is uncanny, precisely in the way Sigmund Freud’s defined the term in his eponymous 1919 essay about the familiar-yet-eerie nature of dolls. – Camila McHugh

Carina Bukuts is associate editor of frieze. She is based in Berlin, Germany.