The following guide to museum shows currently on view is compiled from Artforum’s three-times-yearly exhibition preview. Subscribe now to begin a year of Artforum—the world’s leading magazine of contemporary art. You’ll get all three big preview issues, featuring Artforum’s comprehensive advance roundups of the shows to see each season around the globe.
During his lifetime, Italian-born Brazilian painter Alfredo Volpi was often misleadingly portrayed as an artistic bon sauvage, largely due to his lack of formal training in the fine arts and his upbringing in Cambuci, a working-class neighborhood of São Paulo. Over the past couple of decades, however, critics such as Rodrigo Naves have complicated this reductive characterization of Volpi, arguing that his chromatically sophisticated tempera paintings offer a profound meditation on the contradictions of technical development underlying Brazil’s uneven modernization. On loan from the collection of Ladi Biezus, this rare assemblage of more than seventy small-scale paintings and drawings spanning the 1930s through the ’70s promises to further elaborate on the contemporary reception of Volpi’s idiosyncratic practice.
New Delhi–based trio Raqs Media Collective bring a refreshing geographic perspective to the Shanghai Biennale, assembling an exhibition that takes the underexamined cultural nexus of India and China (and, more broadly, South and East Asia) as its promising point of departure. Yet the show is no mere regional survey. Inspired by both Chinese speculative fiction and Jukti Takko Aar Gappo (Reason, Debate, and a Story), a pioneering 1974 work of Indian New Cinema by director Ritwik Ghatak, “Why Not Ask Again? Maneuvers, Disputations & Stories” will privilege fables and narrative as well as acts of inquiry. The challenge for its participants, which include artists Sun Yuan & Peng Yu, Moinak Biswas, and Robin Meier, will be to articulate hard questions, and to remember that sometimes the most rewarding queries are those for which no answers exist.
Eschewing lofty ruminations or far-future speculation, the tenth edition of the Taipei Biennial keeps things local, focusing on archive construction. Held at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum, among the most established institutions for the promotion of contemporary art in the Asia-Pacific region, the show will have a generative home base for reflecting on and critiquing practices of institutional bureaucracy. More than seventy individual artists and groups will present works of visual art, dance, performance, music, and film; these offerings will be coupled with symposia, workshops, and what are described as “editorial platforms,” the last addressing the increasingly urgent need for the writing and discussion of art histories beyond those presently regarded as mainstream. Supplementing the general themes of historicization and the archive will be a satellite retrospective of the history of the biennial from 1996 to 2014.
The practice of everyday life, a life examined, radical subjectivity, the personal made public: Moved by any and all of these, Juliette Blightman photographs, paints, films, writes, and performs the slow drawl of the quotidian with all its dance parties and traipsing children, houseplants and living rooms, naked bodies and jokey games, encountered artworks and occasional orgies. Hardly an autonomous author but a member of a community, Blightman will be exhibiting her own works at Kunsthalle Bern, alongside those of “friends, family, and heroes.” The compulsive self-documentation of Michel Auder comes to mind, as does the exhibitionism courted by Instagram, but such comparisons reduce Blightman’s work to its methods without sussing her peculiar voicea little licentious, sometimes shy, but invariably open.
“A place outside all places, outside of where.” This was, according to French philosopher and Islamic scholar Henry Corbin, the eighth climatea realm first described by Persian theosophist Shahab al-Din al-Suhrawardi in the twelfth century as being accessible only via “psycho-spiritual senses.” Drawing inspiration from Suhrawardi’s antirationalist geography, this year’s Gwangju Biennale features projects by 101 artists, as well as lectures, discussions, and a publication accompanying the show. “The Eighth Climate (What Does Art Do?)” poses a question that has prompted participating artists to look both backward and forward in time: A project by siren eun young jung, for example, unearths the subversive history of Yeosung Gukgeuk, a genre of all-female Korean vaudeville, while work by Tyler Coburn imagines ergonomic furniture for humanity’s highly evolved descendants. The subtitular query is simple yet loaded: As climate disaster impends, what role does the artist have? Can the mounting ills of our physical world be countered by the capacity of artists in an immaterial one?
This midcareer retrospective comprises forty-five oils by Daniel Richter, representing the German painter’s broad rangefrom his dense abstract constellations of the mid-1990s to the narrative works of the early 2000s to his reduced figure studies from last year. Typically discussed in the context of recent European history, Richter’s practice carries on the task of questioning German identity. All too relevant today, Tarifa, 2001, depicts huddled refugeesrace reconfigured through Richter’s vibrant color paletteaboard a dinghy drifting out of the picture plane. Borderline, 2009, could easily be interpreted as a reference to the former partitioning of Germany: A candy-cane border post divides the muted landscape, a stand of cyan trees in the distance indicating a brighter side. Beyond politics, the artist’s practice engages in an ongoing dialogue with the history of painting and other visual sources; Richter’s work reflects both an ironic and a romantic search for meaningful painting in a world flooded with images.