BY frieze in Exhibition Reviews | 30 MAY 22

The Five Best Shows to See in June

From Cecilia Alemani’s eclectic and ambitious Venice Biennale exhibition to Thomas Schütte’s melting ceramic busts at Frith Street Gallery, London

BY frieze in Exhibition Reviews | 30 MAY 22

‘The Milk of Dreams’ 

Arsenale and Giardini, Venice, Italy 

23 April – 27 November 2022 

Gabriel Chaile, 2022, installation view, 59th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, The Milk of Dreams. Courtesy: the artist, La Biennale di Venezia, Barro Gallery, Buenos Aires; ChertLudde, Berlin;  Ammodo; photograph: Roberto Marossi
Gabriel Chaile, installation view, 59th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, The Milk of Dreams. Courtesy: the artist, La Biennale di Venezia, Barro Gallery, Buenos Aires, ChertLudde, Berlin and Ammodo; photograph: Roberto Marossi

‘The Milk of Dreams’ at the Arsenale opens with Simone Leigh’s huge bronze bust of a woman’s head and torso, Brick House (2019) – a work that, shown alongside enigmatic figurative paintings by the Cuban printmaker Belkis Ayón, announces this exhibition’s emphasis on painting and sculpture, as well as its thematic love of the mythic, the monumental and the mysterious. ‘The Milk of Dreams’ – boasting more than 200 artists from 58 countries, the majority of whom are female or gender non-conforming – derives its title from a short story by Leonora Carrington, whose surreal paintings of dreamy interiors and ecstatic landscapes are also included here and serve as a sort of precis. – Andrew Durbin

Richard Prince 

Gagosian, West 21st Street, New York, US

10 May – 25 June 2022

Richard Prince, Hoods, 2022, installation view, Gagosian
Richard Prince, ‘Hoods’, 2022, installation view. Courtesy: the artist and Gagosian; photograph: Rob McKeever

Even before he started using his blue-chip, blue-check clout to stalk young women online, Prince never let you forget he has a penis. The through line from Marlboro Man to Nightcore Girl is the artist’s confused blend of bragging and critique – collecting Americana as an artform, to be collected in turn. In this scheme of things, the car hood paintings offer a nigh-on transcendent mix of Bondo and pigment with a subtlety of Rothko sherbet, and do so maybe despite themselves – as evidenced here by a stripped-down muscle car with plywood hood, or a grey hood with basketball hoop attached. Prince misfires by straying too far from the great American highway of big-dick modernism. – Travis Diehl 

‘The 23rd Biennale of Sydney: rīvus’

Various Venues, Sydney 

12 March – 13 June 

Rex Greeno and Dean Greeno, Ningher (Reed Canoe), 2020, installation view, Art Gallery of New South Wales. Courtesy: 23rd Biennale of Sydney

‘rīvus’ is at its best when it shows the natural world as an enchanting, seductive guide – whether in Clare Milledge’s shaman-inspired treatment of art-as-ecological-fieldwork (Imbás: a well at the bottom of the sea, 2022) or Jessie French’s design objects made with algae-based bioplastics (The Myth of Nature – agaG1, 2021–22). Politically, the exhibition highlights how biological complexity could serve as a model for culturally diversified humanity. – Wes Hill

Thomas Schütte

Frith Street Gallery, London, UK 

29 April – 25 June 

Thomas Schutte
Thomas Schütte, Experte O (Expert O), 2020. Courtesy: © the artist and Frith Street Gallery, London; photograph: Ben Westoby

The glass and ceramic busts on display in Frith Street’s first-floor gallery feel somewhere between human and other, as if the artist has captured people midway through coming into being. The intensity of the detail – from the glazing to the almost body horror-style rendering of the features – creates unworldly objects, faces that do not quite belong. Schütte applies precise decorative finishes to less-than-perfect, melting human faces. Old Friends Revisited (2021) sees a series of historical male busts rendered strange and absurd, some with closed eyes and somehow serene expressions, others gazing out into the world appearing almost monstrous. Downstairs, the glass heads You 24 and Me 24 (2018) appear melancholy, surrounded by urns and a group of six almost decomposing glass bulbs (Guter Geist, Good Soul, 2022). These unusual sculptures exist at a point of tension: between mundane and monstrous, being and nothingness. – Sam Moore

‘ARS22: Living Encounters’

Kiasma, Helsinki, Finland

08 April – 16 October

Eva Kot’átková, What Does a Turtle Feel Through the Carapace: Interspecies Traveling Classroom, 2022, installation view. Courtesy: the artist; photo: Petri Virtanen

‘ARS22’ – the tenth edition of Finland’s largest contemporary art show, which was first held in 1961 and has run roughly every five years at Kiasma since the 1990s – manages to (mostly) evade catastrophizing, and instead weaves the strands of contemporary life’s omnipresent anxieties into a complex and intriguing fabric. This is not a show with a single through-line or multiple pat narratives, but rather a dense expression of our equally dense ‘time of generalized crisis’ or ‘emergency convergence’ – the terms with which curator João Laia opens his catalogue essay. Amid this are nods to the past (some works on show were featured in prior iterations of the exhibition series), which show again and again that concerns such as racism are evergreen. – Kimberly Bradley

Main image: Cave Urban, Transience, 2019, installation view for Sculpture By The Sea (2019), Bondi. Courtesy: the artists, The 23rd Biennale of Sydney, Sculpture By The Sea and Transfield. Photograph: Juan Pablo

Contemporary Art and Culture