BY frieze in Critic's Guides | 15 MAR 24

What to See in Europe This Spring

From Jim Shaw’s hallucinatory visions to Leonard Rickhard’s modernist depictions of infrastructure and machinery, here’s what not to miss this March

BY frieze in Critic's Guides | 15 MAR 24

Jim Shaw | Museum of Contemporary Art, Antwerp, Belgium | 9 February – 19 May

Jim Shaw, Man-Machine (working men) #2, 2017
Jim Shaw, Man-Machine (working men) #2, 2017. Courtesy: Gagosian

Jim Shaw is a latter-day classical surrealist and symbol-wrangler on the frontiers of the American id, who seems to revel in the improbable arrangement of dream and pop images: Stevie Wonder, Wonder Bread, Yul Brynner, a Ken doll performing stand-up, a severed ear. In Mnemonic Device #2, Third Stone from The Sun (2020), which appears at the centre of his current solo exhibition, ‘The Ties That Bind’, highly detailed pictograms hover before the image of an enormous golden chick. A nudge from the painting’s title prompts us to decode each of the symbols (e.g., an image of a saxophone paired with a heroin needle = alto + H = ‘although’), a cipher that ultimately spells out lyrics from Jimi Hendrix’s apocalyptic jazz-rock reverie ‘Third Stone From The Sun’ (1967): ‘Although your world wonders me / with your majestic and superior cackling hen / your people I do not understand / so to you I shall put an end.’ The message provides little insight, itself a sort of admission of unintelligibility. For Shaw, words are merely the sinews binding his hallucinatory visions and the latent associations they might unravel for the viewer. – Ren Ebel

‘A Model’ | MUDAM, Luxembourg | 9 February – 8 September

Rayyane Tabet, Trilogy, 2023
Rayyane Tabet, Trilogy, 2023, exhibition view. Courtesy: the artist and MUDAM, Luxembourg; photograph: ​​​© Studio Rémi Villaggi

In 1968, Danish artist and activist Palle Nielsen turned Stockholm’s Moderna Museet into a space solely for children to play in. They could swing on tyres, clamber over wooden frames, participate in arts and crafts or join in with music sessions. Nielsen’s aim for his project, titled ‘The Model – A Model for a Qualitative Society’, was to explore how children’s creative play might inspire a more harmonious society, based on communication rather than competition.

Inspired by Nielsen’s experiment, MUDAM’s three-part exhibition, ‘A Model’, unites more than 30 artists and collectives in a similar pursuit: to challenge and reimagine the museum’s role in contemporary society. Whilst Nielsen’s optimistic project was very much a product of its time, MUDAM’s current director, Bettina Steinbrügge, has a comparable ambition for this programme – albeit through subtler means. Speaking to journalists before the opening, she stated that the exhibition aims to encourage visitors to actively participate in the art on display and to inspire audiences to carry a renewed sense of community back out into the world with them. – Max L. Feldman

Paul Kolling | Kunstverein München, Germany | 27 Januar – 21 April

Paul Kolling, Nadir, 2023/24
Paul Kolling, Nadir, 2023/24, film still. Courtesy: the artist

Unlocking perspectives previously unavailable to the human eye, aero-photogrammetry was revolutionary when it was developed around a century ago, primarily for the creation of military maps and surveillance systems. Since warping is inevitable with any translation from three-dimensions to two, however, it became standard practice for ‘the nadir image’ – the view of the ground directly beneath – to be taken in order to provide the most accurate and detailed perspective of a given territory. This unavoidable distortion not only informs the title of Paul Kolling’s solo show, ‘Nadir’, at Kunstverein München but also his technical approach to the representation of space through photogrammetry. – Gabriela Acha

Benjamin Houlihan and Vivian Greven | G2 Kunsthalle, Leipzig, Germany | 26 January – 19 May

Benjamin Houlihan and Vivian Greven, ‘EGOSTATE’, 2024
Vivian Greven, LA DI (detail), 2023, oil on canvas, 1.8 × 4.3 m. Courtesy: the artists and G2 Kunsthalle, Leipzig; photograph:

Published posthumously in Ego Psychology and Psychoses (1952), Jewish-Austrian psychologist Paul Federn’s collated writings on the ego expanded Sigmund Freud’s theory of how the self develops over time. Federn’s belief that the human personality consists of many ‘egostates’, rather than a single homogenous unit, is the inspiration for the aptly titled, two-person show ‘EGOSTATE’ at Leipzig’s G2 Kunsthalle. Curated by Leo Wedepohl, the exhibition brings together works by German artists Benjamin Houlihan and Vivian Greven – partners in life and, on occasion, art – featuring recognizable motifs that are split into multiple frames, folded and unfolded, or cut up and reshaped into eerie new forms, evoking a sense of uncanny disruption and repetition. – Zoe Cooper

Leonard Rickhard | Astrup Fearnley Museet, Oslo, Norway | 26 January – 19 May

Leonard Rickhard, Thoughtful Model-Plane Constructor, 2019–2023
Leonard Rickhard, Thoughtful Model-Plane Constructor, 2019–2023, acrylic on canvas, 2.1 × 2.1 m. Courtesy: Astrup Fearnley Collection

Leonard Rickhard, arguably the leading Norwegian artist to emerge during the 1970s, sadly passed away at the beginning of this year after a short illness, just weeks before the opening of his comprehensive career retrospective, ‘Between Construction and Collapse’, at Oslo’s Astrup Fearnley Museet. Born in 1945, Rickhard was a painter of modern infrastructure, machines and systems, with an engineer’s eye for detail. The latter enabled his works uniquely to reflect on the postwar, social-democratic reconstruction and industrialization of Norway, particularly in the south, where Rickhard lived for most of his life.

Rickhard’s paintings are typically landscapes, populated by homes, farms and industrial buildings, alongside associated agricultural machines and equipment. As such, he offers the viewer frequent reminders of the overwhelming complexity of the systems and technologies that man has invented to facilitate his mastery over nature. Yet, in certain works, there is also an underlying anxiety – hints that the very same technological progress has an inherent destructive potential, which leaves both society and the individual vulnerable. – Nicholas Norton

Main image: Vivian Greven, PSY AMO (1–2), 2023, oil on canvas, 2.1 × 3 m. Courtesy: the artists and G2 Kunsthalle, Leipzig; photograph:

Contemporary Art and Culture