BY frieze in Critic's Guides | 24 MAY 24

What to See Across the UK This May

From Dean Sameshima's vulnerable silhouettes to Danica Lundy's carnal paintings of the female body, here's what not to miss

BY frieze in Critic's Guides | 24 MAY 24

Adriano Costa | Emalin, London | 12 April – 13 July

Adriano Costa, Uma montanha fodendo sua própria metade (A mountain fucking its own counterpart), 2024
Adriano Costa, Uma montanha fodendo sua própria metade (A mountain fucking its own counterpart), 2024, bronze, 27 × 28 × 24 cm. Courtesy: the artist and Emalin, London; photograph: Stephen James

Adriano Costa’s exhibition ‘ax-d. us. t’ is littered with perishable goods. The front room at Emalin is taken up by Casas (2023–24), a series of assemblages made from various detritus – a beer keg, a tulip and a square of sandpaper, among other things – brought together to form clusters of vaguely architectural forms. Together, they give the impression of a fragile cityscape.

One might be tempted to describe these materials as found objects, but Costa wouldn’t; he has said that the idea erroneously implies an essential difference between everyday ephemera and the special items we choose to designate as art. The works on show here are displayed according to this principle of non-hierarchy. Bronze sculptures like Uma montanha fodendo sua própria metade (A mountain fucking its own counterpart) (2024) sit plainly on the floor: after all, why elevate the historically esteemed medium of sculpture? Sampa (2024), a torn-apart and bolted-back-together coffee cup that sits on a window-level surface with the Casas, is equally worthy of reverence. In the grand scheme of time, all objects will turn to dust eventually. – Phin Jennings 

Maz Murray | Focal Point Gallery, Southend-on-Sea | 27 March – 15 June

Maz Murray, ‘Principal Boy’, 2024
Maz Murray, ‘Principal Boy’, 2024, installation view. Courtesy: the artist and Focal Point Gallery, Southend-on-Sea photograph: Anna Lukala

Maz Murray’s new film, Principal Boy (2024), presented alongside Thigh Rise (2023) and a range of sets and props at Focal Point Gallery, raises a series of intriguing questions. Firstly, how audiences used to seeing trans and non-binary people as minor characters in narratives created by cisgender people might engage with art made by and for trans and non-binary people. Secondly, what trans and non-binary artists might do to make our work more ‘accessible’ and, lastly, the extent to which we should.

These two films appear in the main space, with a third, Laindon (2018), playing on a screen outside, alongside works by Amy Pennington and Gaby Sahhar. One significant difference between Thigh Rise, about a trans man who lives in a giant trans woman’s boot, and Principal Boy, about a transmasculine person who wants a role in a pantomime traditionally reserved for a woman playing a man, is the budget: Murray’s latest film received Arts Council funding. The result is a discernible improvement in make-up, costumes and film stock. – Juliet Jacques 

Dean Sameshima | Soft Opening, London | 26 April – 8 June

Dean Sameshima, being alone (No. 3), 2022
Dean Sameshima, being alone (No. 3), 2022, archival inkjet print, 60 × 42 cm. Courtesy: the artist and Soft Opening, London; photograph: Lewis Ronald

What does it mean to be alone? In Dean Sameshima’s recent body of work – 25 monochrome photographs of queer men in Berlin porn theatres with sumptuous black negative spaces and blinding white cinema screens – ‘alone’ is a complicated term. Each intimately scaled work in the series ‘being alone’ (2022) invites the viewer to step closer and peer into the rooms photographed, offering only small clues about the spaces and people they are observing. 

Velvety matte black occupies large swathes of these pictures. Sometimes, light serves as an interior detail, illuminating drab rooms with fissured tiles, messy plaster repairs, ventilation pipes snaking across the ceiling and rows of seats bolted to the floor. Sameshima redirects the viewer’s attention from the on-screen pornography – the most urgently visible thing as far as his subjects are concerned – to silhouettes of the individuals that populate these tawdry spaces. – Emily Steer

Danica Lundy | White Cube Mason's Yard, London | 15 May – 29 June 

Danica Lundy, Yank, 2024
Danica Lundy, Yank, 2024, oil on canvas, 91 × 122 cm. Courtesy: the artist; photograph: © White Cube (David Westwood)

Danica Lundy’s second exhibition at White Cube builds a world disfigured by warped compositions, dissected, sinewy limbs speckled with sweat and blood, shadow figures and blown-up proportions, giving shape to atemporal, anxiety-inducing scenes. ‘Boombox’ reminds us that female bodies are not temples; they are playgrounds and battlefields, sites on which political and social subjugation render a woman’s body as both spectacle and leverage. In her carnal paintings, Lundy interrogates this insight down to the bone. – Kimi Zarate-Smith

Judy Chicago | Serpentine Gallery, London | 23 May – 1 September

Judy Chicago, In the Beginning, from Birth Project (detail), 1982, prismacolour on paper, 1.7 × 9.9 m. Courtesy: © Judy Chicago and Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; photograph: © Donald Woodman/ARS, NY

For five decades now, Judy Chicago has created work that addresses universal experiences including birth, death and the relationships between species, as well as societal questions around systemic imbalances and abuses of power. Using jewel-like colours and techniques ranging from pyrotechnics to porcelain and printmaking, she renders intriguing and expressive imagery that represents aspects of the human condition while helping the viewer reach a deeper understand of its subject matter. – Ellen Mara De Wachter

Main image: Danica Lundy, Powerbar, 2024, oil on canvas, 91 × 183 cm. Courtesy: the artist; photograph: © White Cube (David Westwood)

Contemporary Art and Culture