BY frieze in Critic's Guides | 23 AUG 21

Top Eight Shows from Around the World

From Karla Black at Fruitmarket to Cauleen Smith at Los Angeles Museum of Art, here are Frieze’s must-see shows

BY frieze in Critic's Guides | 23 AUG 21

Karla Black, ‘sculptures 2001–2021: details for a retrospective’, 2021, exhibition view. Courtesy: the artist and Galerie Gisela Capitain, Cologne

Karla Black

Fruitmarket, Edinburgh

7 July – 24 October 2021

Karla Black has been given free run of Fruitmarket, newly expanded as part of a GB£4.3 million development. Old works occupy the pre-existing, white-walled spaces, showcasing Black’s attractive, candied aesthetic. Upstairs is a gallery-filling installation, Punctuation is pretty popular: nobody wants to admit to much (2008/21): a landscape of pale-pink plaster powder covering nearly the entire floor. Red, orange and lime green threads form curling lines along the ground or dangle from the rafters. The white walls glow a little with reflected pink. In the ground-floor galleries, standing upright or suspended from the ceiling, are two dozen sculptures dating back to 2006 in Black’s characteristic materials: polystyrene, soil, cellophane, cardboard. All may be abstract, but it’s hard not to think of sweet things (meringue, spun sugar, tottering wedges of coffee cake) or to see the muted pastel shades as flavours of ice cream (chocolate, pistachio, strawberry). Black’s aesthetic makes tackiness tasteful. – Tom Jeffreys

Hardeep Pandhal, Spectral Scripts Reluctantly Festoon Tantric Dungeon, 2020. Courtesy: © the artist; photograph: Patrick Jameson

British Art Show 9

Various venues, Aberdeen

Aberdeen 10 July – 10 October 2021 

Wolverhampton 22 January – 10 April 2022

Manchester 13 May – 4 September 2022

Plymouth 8 October – 23 December 2022

In Aberdeen – on Scotland’s east coast – the long-awaited British Art Show 9 (BAS9) opened at the Art Gallery & Museum on 10 July. ‘Britishness’ is a disputed identity in Scotland, and grouping artists together under such a rubric seems itself controversial in 2021. Shows with a broad remit invariably evoke questions with equally broad answers (and curatorial ambitions): is contemporary art a reaction to social, political and local specificities or is it active in creating new utopic, progressive impulses? The BAS9 aspires to ask both. It’s a five-yearly snapshot of artistic production among 47 artists in Britain and a touring exhibition (curated by Irene Aristizábal and Hammad Nasar) that feeds into the communities – first Aberdeen, and later Wolverhampton, Manchester and Plymouth – in which it lands. Its success lies not only in how it appears in the pristine galleries of Aberdeen’s newly refurbished museum but also in the schools and streets that the programme seeks to reach. – Sean Burns

Dara McGrath, 8 Blarney, Constable Thomas Joseph Walsh, Royal Irish Constabulary, 2021, photograph of where Constable Thomas Joseph Walsh was killed in an IRA ambush. Courtesy: the artist and Crawford Art Gallery, Cork

Dara McGrath

Crawford Art Gallery, Cork, Ireland

24 April – 29 August 2021

Photographer Dara McGrath’s latest exhibition, ‘For Those That Tell No Talesʼ at Crawford Art Gallery, documents sites across Cork where the lives of IRA volunteers, British armed forces and civilians were lost during the Irish War of Independence (1919–21). McGrath’s photographs serve as testament to those who died a century ago, connecting their histories to the present topography. Since no witnesses to these events are alive today, we are now the guardians of these memories – and soon, others will be. – Nigel Swann

Yael Bartana, Malka Germania, 2021, film still. Commissioned by the Jewish Museum Berlin

Yael Bartana

Jewish Museum, Berlin, Germany

4 June – 10 October 2021 

In early 2020, as the first COVID-19 lockdowns were announced, social-media channels were filled with stories about nature’s resurgence: dolphins in the Venetian lagoon, wild boar swarming Haifa and Barcelona, elephants ambling through a remote Chinese village. With humans locked in, the world appeared to be healing itself. That many of these stories turned out to be fake didn’t seem to matter. Call it millennial millenarianism, but who doesn’t hope – faced with rising oceans, pandemics and wars – for salvation or something close to it? All of which makes ‘Redemption Now’, Yael Bartana’s expansive solo exhibition at the Jewish Museum Berlin, feel timelier than ever. Spanning over two decades of the Israeli-born, Berlin-and-Amsterdam-based artist’s career, many of the more than 50 works on display grapple with political narratives of collective redemption. – Boaz Levin

‘All Wet: Marilyn Minter’, 2021, exhibition view, Montpellier Contemporain, France. Courtesy: the artist and Montpellier Contemporain, France

Marilyn Minter

MO.CO. Montpellier Contemporain, France

26 June – 5 September 2021

It struck me that, from the beginning of art history, almost all paintings of women grooming have been made by men. I wanted to know whether it would change the meaning if, as a woman, I painted other women bathing. From Jean-Honoré Fragonard to Pierre Bonnard, France has a rich history of paintings of bathers so, when I was invited to do this exhibition in Montpellier, I knew straight away that I wanted to show these works. – Marilyn Minter in conversation with Chloe Stead

‘The Imaginary Sea’, 2021, exhibition view, Villa Carmignac, Pourquerolles. Courtesy: Fondation Carmignac, Pourquerolles; photography: Marc Domage

The Imaginary Sea

Villa Carmignac, Porquerolles Island, France

20 May – 17 October 2021

The octopus is sleeping. Or, at least, he’s resting his eyes. Around them, his bulbous head sac swells and deflates in a continuous pumping motion. ‘L’oeil ouvert, très humain,’ reads an intertitle: ‘The open eye is very human.’ In the initial sequence of Jean Painlevé’s La Pieuvre (The Octopus, 1928), a fisherman turns an octopus’s head inside out and tries, indecorously, to yank out its entrails: the eyes are evidently not human enough to spare him a beastly fate. The strangeness and beauty of the creatures that live beneath the sea – a world distant from yet deeply enmeshed with and threatened by our own – is explored in works by 33 artists in ‘The Imaginary Sea’, guest curated by Chris Sharp at Villa Carmignac. Situated on a hill on the edge of the natural park that occupies most of the small, beach-scattered island of Pourquerolles in western Provence, Villa Carmignac looks out over an expanse of blue. – Amy Sherlock

Cauleen Smith, Space Station: Two Rebeccas, 2018, wallpaper, disco balls, turntable, motor, fur, shag carpet, two projectors, and two-channel digital video (color, sound); Rebecca Jackson: 2 minutes, 25 seconds; Rebecca Peroth: 2 minutes, 57 seconds. Courtesy: the artist, Corbett vs. Dempsey, Chicago, and Kate Werble Gallery, New York

Cauleen Smith

Los Angeles County Museum of Art

1 April – 31 October 2021

'Give It or Leave It’, Cauleen Smith’s immersive, kaleidoscopic solo exhibition at Los Angeles County Museum of Art, begins with the proposition to give instead of take. A revision of the saying ‘take it or leave it’, the title signals what Smith describes in the exhibition catalogue as an act of ‘radical generosity’ and the show – which encompasses film, video, installation and sculpture – certainly exudes generosity in its visual exuberance and celebration of utopian worldbuilding. Yet, the travelling exhibition – organized by the Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania – also recognizes that the habit of taking is not easily overcome. — Natalie Haddad

Keiji Usami, Laser: Beam: Joint, 1968, installation view. Courtesy: Komaba Museum, University of Tokyo ​​​​​​

Keiji Usami

Komaba Museum, Tokyo

28 April – 29 August 2021

Highly feted in Japan throughout the 1970s, Keiji Usami had been the subject of a major retrospectives in Tokyo in 1993 and in Wakayama in 2016. But, unlike his contemporaries, the Mono-ha artists, Usami has receded from public awareness. At the urging of younger arts faculty members, a major symposium was convened at Tokyo University in 2018 to initiate a re-appraisal of Usami’s work. The current exhibition, which includes extensive archival material and an informative catalogue, is one major outcome of this process. – Azby Brown

Contemporary Art and Culture