On Our Radar: 7 Exhibitions to See in Europe this Winter

From Hilma af Klint in Malmö to Mohamed Bourouissa in Frankfurt

BY Carina Bukuts in Critic's Guides | 27 NOV 20

Otobong Nkanga in front of her work Double Plot (2018) at Gropius Bau, Berlin. Photograph: Laura Fiorio​​​ ​

Otobong Nkanga at Gropius Bau, Berlin, Germany, and Henie Onstand Kunstsenter, Høvikodden, Norway

‘When Nkanga looks at a landscape, she sees its scars – its hollowed-out, blasted and missing materials – but also its beauty and immense potential for resistance,’ writes Skye Arundhati Thomas in her recent profile of Antwerp-based artist Otobong Nkanga. Comprising tapestry, installation, drawing and performance, the artist’s works examine the relationship between natural resources, human bodies and the exploitation of both in a capitalist system. Winner of the Lise Wilhemsen Art Award in 2019, Nkanga is currently the subject of her first Norwegian solo show at the Henie Onstad Kunstsenter. Contemporaneously, Berlin’s Gropius Bau presents a mini retrospective of the artist’s works from the 1990s to today. One highlight is Wetin You Go Do? Oya Na (2020), a sound installation in a darkened room, in which Nkanga speaks as different characters, each of whom reflects on the idea that the world as we know it is unravelling. The reopening dates for ‘There’s No Such Thing as Solid Grounds’ at Gropius Bau, Berlin, and ‘Otobong Nkanga’ at Henie Onstand Kunstsenter, Høvikodden, are yet to be announced. The exhibitions are due to continue until 13 December (Berlin) and 31 January 2021 (Høvikodde).

Sandra Mujinga, ‘Midnight’, 2020, exhibition view, Vleeshal, Middelburg. Courtesy: the artist; photograph: Gunnar Meier

Sandra Mujinga at Vleeshal, Middelburg, the Netherlands

Oslo- and Berlin-based artist Sandra Mujinga’s uncanny installations often consist of large, hooded, faceless sculptures. Placed in darkened environments, the works reflect on the notion of visibility. Following a large-scale solo exhibition at Bergen Kunsthall in 2019, and ahead of a presentation at the Swiss Institute in New York next spring, Mujinga’s works are currently on display at Vleeshal, where they shed light on Middelburg’s involvement in the slave trade during the late 18th century. As Hera Chan observes in her review of the show: ‘Mujinga creates works informed by an awareness of the global discourses that extend beyond the confines of Europe to define the continent’s history of violence and human exploitation.’ ‘Midnight’ continues until 13 December.

Enzo Mari Hammer Sickle
Enzo Mari, Falce e martello (Hammer and Sickle), 1972–73, serigraph on card, 69,8 × 59,4 cm. Courtesy: Galleria Milano, Milan, and the artist 

Enzo Mari at Galleria Milano and Triennale Milano, Milan, Italy

‘[Enzo] Mari’s passion for design was his way of changing the world by giving it a better shape,’ states frieze contributing editor Barbara Casavecchia in her profile on the late Italian artist and designer, who passed away this October. Galleria Milano is currently hosting a reconstruction of Mari’s controversial 1973 exhibition, ‘Sickle and Hammer: Three Ways an Artist Can Contribute to the Class Struggle’. Comprising a series of abstract marble sculptures on plinths, which form a hammer and sickle when pieced together, the show speaks to the artist’s uncompromising belief in communism, which informed his artistic approach to bring practical improvements into people’s lives. Two days before Mari died, Milan’s Triennale Milano opened a huge retrospective paying tribute to his 60-year career. The show consists of archival material as well as contributions by contemporary artist such as Tacita Dean, Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster and Rirkrit Tiravanija. The reopening date for ‘Falce e Martello’ at Galleria Milano is yet to be announced. The exhibition will continue until 16 January 2021. ‘Enzo Mari Curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist with Francesca Giacomelli’ is on view until 18 April 2021 at Triennale Design Museum, Milan.

Hilma Af Klinft Moderna Museet Painting

Hilma af Klint, The Ten Largest, No. 2, Childhood, 1907 © Stiftelsen Hilma af Klints Verk; photograph: Albin Dahlström/Moderna Museet

Hilma af Klint at Moderna Muset Malmö, Sweden

Seven years after Moderna Museet in Stockholm presented a largescale exhibition of Hilma af Klint’s occultist abstract paintings, a show at the museum’s sister institution in Malmö now digs deeper into her practice as both an artist and researcher. Describing how shapes, colours and compositions came to her under the direction of spirit guides, Klint – who died in 1944 at the age of 81 – struggled to resonate with art audiences during her lifetime. However, as Anya Ventura put it in her review of a 2018 publication of Klint’s drawings: ‘It seems the world is finally ready for Hilma af Klint, and the underlying message of empowerment her story conveys.’ The reopening date for ‘Hilma af Klint: Artist, Researcher, Medium’ is yet to be announced. The exhibition continues until 21 February 2021.

Michael Dean Kiss Drawing Progetto
Michael Dean, baci (Working Title), 2020, lipstick on book page, 27.5 × 19.5 cm. Courtesy: the artist, Progetto, Lecce, and Herald St., London; photograph: Marco Cappelletti 

Michael Dean at Progetto, Lecce, Italy

Although his work ranges from drawing to sculpture and sound, London-based artist Michael Dean’s point of departure is always language. His most recent exhibition at Progetto explores how communication is both verbal and physical in 32 drawings that he created by kissing sheets of paper and then dusting the residual lip marks with cement powder. ‘Dean intellectualizes the girlish flourish of a letter sealed with a kiss, stretching the gesture thin in search of shapes for love and loss,’ writes Camilla McHugh in her review of the show. The reopening date for ‘Kiss Emitting Die Odes’ at Progetto, Lecce, is yet to be announced. The exhibition continues until 31 December.

Mohamed Bourouissa Shoplifers
Mohamed Bourouissa, Unknown#8, 2014, from the series ‘Shoplifters', 2014–15, photograph, 32 × 24 cm. Courtesy: the artist and kamel mennour, Paris, London

Mohamed Bourouissa at Galerie Parisa Kind, Frankfurt, Germany

Recently awarded with the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize 2020, Paris-based artist Mohamed Bourouissa currently has a solo show at Galerie Parisa Kind. At the centre of his excellent exhibition, which explores questions of social status and economic exclusion, is ‘Shoplifters’ (2014–15): a series of Polaroids originally taken by a supermarket owner in Brooklyn of people he caught shoplifting, holding the items they’d tried to steal. Mounted next to the store entrance, the images were intended to ward off other would-be thieves but the stolen goods – eggs, fruit, laundry detergent – speak more to the perpetrators’ precarious living conditions. Bourouissa was the subject of a frieze feature by Vivian Sky Rehberg in 2015. ‘Nasser’ is on view at Galerie Parisa Kind, Frankfurt, until 28 November.

Fiona Tan, Gray Glass, 2020, video still. Courtesy: the artist

Fiona Tan at Museum der Moderne Salzburg and Kunsthalle Krems, Austria

When asked in a 2009 frieze questionnaire what art is for, Amsterdam-based photographer and filmmaker Fiona Tan replied: ‘To give you new eyes through which to view the world; to provide new paradigms of thought and being for the future; to change what you think.’ Her mid-career retrospective, ‘With the Other Hand’, a collaboration between the Museum der Moderne Salzburg and Kunsthalle Krems, shows that Tan has lived up to her own expectations. The exhibition includes her noted film, A Lapse of Memory (2007), which Brian Dillon described in a 2010 feature for frieze as a return ‘to the questions of identity and exile that animate [the artist’s] early work.’ Tan also created a new work for the show, Gray Glass (2020): a black and white video installation set in the Austrian Alps that surround the city of Salzburg. The reopening date for ‘With the Other Hand’ is yet to be announced. The exhibition continues at Museum der Moderne Salzburg and Kunsthalle Krems until 14 February 2021 (Krems) and 21 February (Salzburg).

Main image: Fiona Tan, Depot, 2015, video still. Courtesy: the artist

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