Monarch of the Glen & Rachel Maclean: The Lion and The Unicorn @ National Gallery
There’s two great exhibitions on at the same time at The National Gallery. One room is dominated by the majestic stag that is the Monarch of the Glen. The painting has made the trek down from Scotland to be situated in Trafalgar Square next to the square’s lions that were also created by the artist Edward Landseer. Nearby is one of my favourite young artists in Rachel Maclean. Her video shows a lion (representing England) and a unicorn (Scotland) debating about how the two nations could separate. It’s great to re-visit the first film that brought her work to my attention. Until 3 February.
Lemsalu: 4Life @ Goldsmiths CCA
Ceramic birds lift up items of clothing and rainbow coloured divers plunge into a pool that is clasped by many hands and filled with brown liquid. Welcome to the quirky and surreal world of Kris Lemsalu. I’ve seen her smaller works before but it’s great to see her work expanded to a larger show, and she’s done a great job of rising to the occasion. This is only the second major exhibition at this new gallery space and I’m enjoying their fun programme so far. Until 3 February.
Aleksandra Mir @ Hayward Gallery, HENI Project Space
Trump dominates the headlines today, but this show proves he’s always been at it. Enlarged front pages highlight how American tabloids have always been obsessed with his personal life and financial fortune. There are positive and negative stories about his business dealings and sexual exploits. Geopolitics and serious crimes get relegated to the inside of the paper as Trump takes centre stage. It’s a damning view of today’s world and indicative of how Trump rose to power. Until 7 February.
Klimt / Schiele @ Royal Academy of Arts
Two Austrian masters combine in this exhibition of drawings examining how Klimt (the mentor) influenced the works of his mentee Schiele. It’s two powerhouse artists combined that confronts viewers with nudity to the point of discomfort. It’s awkward enough looking at a naked young woman, but to learn she was probably 14 at the time makes me want to look away. The works here are fantastic, particularly those by Schiele. Read my full review here. Until 3 February.
Mat Collishaw: The Mask of Youth @ Queen’s House
An animatronic face based on the death mask of Elizabeth I makes eye contact with me and blinks realistically. It’s very creepy and made more so by the mechanism behind it being purposefully visible. It literally faces off with the ‘Armada portrait’ of the Queen — the real meets the idealised in this clash of history with contemporary technology. Until 3 February.
Winter Lights @ Canary Wharf
One of my favourite outdoor festivals returns to Canary Wharf. The Christmas Lights have come down and the area is now aglow with immersive installations including an oscillating wave of lights by Squidsoup – step inside and it feels like an outdoor Kusama infinity room. Inside Crossrail Place are the fantastic city and colony on Mars made from recycled materials by artist Oskar Krajewski. These are just two of the excellent installations in this photogenic and popular festival. Until 26 January.
Figure Totem Beast: Sculpture in Britain in the 1950s @ Tate Britain
I think the central Duveen Galleries at Tate Britain are made for sculpture. Tate has currently filled them with a selection of post-war sculptures by some the British greats. Lynn Chadwick’s rather sleek looking Fisheater contrasts with a solid reclining figure by Henry Moore. It’s work people may have seen before, but given the space it needs to be fully appreciated. Until 4 February.