On Our Radar: The Best Exhibitions in Europe Right Now

From Joanna Piotrowska in Warsaw to Leonor Antunes in Luxembourg

BY Carina Bukuts in Critic's Guides | 30 OCT 20

Miriam Cahn
Miriam Cahn, 'Me As Happening', 2020, installation view, Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Copenhagen. Courtesy: the artist, Meyer Riegger, Berlin/Kalsruhe, Galerie Jocelyn Wolff, Paris; photograph: David Stjernholm

Miriam Cahn at Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Copenhagen, Denmark

‘Significant events destabilize production on many levels, while raising questions as to whether we should continue in the same way, or shut down and start over,’ writes Juliette Blightman in her 2019 feature about artist Miriam Cahn. In a year in which a pandemic has significantly changed our lives, this sentence couldn’t feel timelier. Cahn’s works – currently on view in her first major Danish museum show at Kunsthal Charlottenborg – comprise drawings and paintings depicting sexual violence, people in flight and drowning bodies in the Mediterranean Sea. The exhibition is a brilliant example of the courage needed to address challenging questions in times of unease. ‘Me as Happening’ runs until 21 February

Joanna Piotrowska
Joanna Piotrowska, 'Frowst', 2020, exhibition view, Zacheta – National Gallery of Art, Warsaw. Courtesy: the artist and Zacheta – National Gallery of Art, Warsaw; photograph: Jakub Certowicz

Joanna Piotrowska at Zachęta – National Gallery of Art, Warsaw, Poland

Don’t we all sometimes need a place to hide? Since 2016, Joanna Piotrowska has been working on a series of untitled photographs for which she asks individuals to sit in structures made from chairs, boxes and blankets. By portraying adults mimicking the children’s game of building a den, the artist reveals the fragility of the spaces we regard as our homes. The series is one of the highlights of Piotrowska’s extensive exhibition at Zachęta in Warsaw. To learn more about the artist, don’t miss the visual essay she did for frieze in 2018. ‘Frows’ continues until 6 December

Simone Fattal
Simone Fattal, The Siege, 2019, stoneware fired in a wood kiln, glazed, 37 × 35 × 36.5 cm. Courtesy: the artist and Galerie Hubert Winter, Vienna; photograph: Simon Veres

Simone Fattal at Galerie Hubert Winter, Vienna, Austria

It’s difficult to summarize a practice as diverse as that of Damascus-born artist Simone Fattal. Trained as a painter in Lebanon in the 1970s, she founded a press for experimental poetry and prose in California in 1982 and now works primarily as a sculptor in Paris. All of these experiences have informed Fattal’s practice today, which finds traces of an ancient world in present-day imagery. As the artist stated in her recent interview with Negar Azimi for frieze: ‘History is a continuous movement.’ Fattal’s current exhibition at Galerie Hubert Winter shows a selection of her stunning collages and clay sculptures. Until 19 December

Leonor Antunes
Leonor Antunes, 'Joints, Voids and Gaps', 2020, exhibition view, Mudam Luxembourg. Courtesy: the artist and Mudam Luxembourg; photograph: Nick Ash

Leonor Antunes at Mudam Luxembourg, Luxembourg

Those familiar with the work of Berlin-based artist Leonor Antunes know that her delicate sculptural environments always respond to the spaces in which they are shown. For her current exhibition, ‘Joints, Voids and Gaps’, at Luxembourg’s Mudam, the artist created a series of sculptures out of steel and cords that double the hexagonal form of the museum pavilion, which was designed by I. M. Pei in 2006. As Amy Sherlock described the artist’s approach in her feature for frieze: ‘Antunes’s methodology is a kind of tracing, a transferring of specific geometries from one space into another.’ ‘Joints, Voids and Gaps’ continues until 5 April

Frank Walter
Frank Walter, Untitled, undated, oil on cardboard, 44.1 × 36.8 cm. Courtesy: the Estate of Frank Walter

Frank Walter at MMK Frankfurt, Germany

‘It is impossible not to read Frank Walter’s biography into his art,’ writes Sarah James in her review of the Antiguan artist’s exhibition at MMK Frankfurt. Walter, a descendant of both slaves and plantation owners, had numerous occupations before he started to paint the beautiful abstract works that form the heart of this retrospective. Here, more than 400 paintings, sculptures and texts have been placed in dialogue with pieces by contemporary artists such as John Akomfrah, Kader Attia, Kapwani Kiwangi and Howardena Pindell, offering a nuanced reflection of the continuity of colonial power structures. ‘A Retrospective’ is on view until 1 November

Ei Arakawa
Ei Arakawa, MONEY TRIGGERS (after the short interviews II), 2020, 107 cm diameter, music: Ei Arakawa, lyrics: Ei Arakawa and Dan Poston, arrangement: ZALA from Mish-Mosh. Courtesy: the artist and Galerie Max Mayer, Düsseldorf; photograph: Katja Illner

Ei Arakawa at Galerie Max Mayer, Düsseldorf, Germany

It’s been a difficult year for performance artists, with many live events cancelled due to the pandemic. Ei Arakawa’s exhibition ‘Fees & Nerf’ at Galerie Max Mayer, however, exposes how performative practices have long been precarious. A series of circular LED ‘paintings’ displays, in various currencies, the fee per minute that the artist received for his recent performances at institutions and biennials, prompting us to reflect on how much performance art is worth and how its value can be measured. Read Saim Demircan’s review of the show here. Until 31 October

Cindy Sherman
Cindy Sherman, Untitled #224, 1990, chromogenic color print, 121.9 × 96.5 cm. Courtesy: the artist and Metro Pictures, New York © 2020 Cindy Sherman

Cindy Sherman at Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris, France

Since the 1970s, Cindy Sherman has been slipping into different characters for her ‘disguised’ self-portraits, which stress the construction of identity. Her long-awaited retrospective at Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris, the biggest to date in Europe, comprises 170 works created between 1975 and 2020. Including her breakout series ‘Untitled Film Stills’ (1977–80), in which the artist embodies various generic female film characters, as well as her recent tapestry works from 2019, which transpose images from Sherman’s Instagram account onto textiles, the exhibition is a must-see. Read Sherman’s responses to our questionnaire from the May issue. ‘Cindy Sherman at the Fondation’ runs until 3 January

Main image: Simone Fattal, The Museum Is Not Enough (detail), 2020, collage, 31 × 81.5 cm. Courtesy: the artist and Galerie Hubert Winter, Vienna; photograph: Simon Veres

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