Russian-French artist, Marc Chagall, once said, “Great art starts where nature ends.” As beautiful as autumn can be, for those of us in Europe and the east coast of the U.S., the greying skies and empty trees mean only one thing – another excuse to visit a gallery.
This month we’ve got a great selection of art for you to check out, should you be close to any of the exhibitions in Miami, Berlin, London, Brussels, Paris, Hong Kong and Lima.
From the weird and wonderful dark art of Dr Lakra to the immersive and mesmerizing illuminations of Julio Le Parc – and from a selection of 58 images from within iconic photographer Robert Mapplethorpe's archives to an exhibition revolving around the theme of invisibility by artist Ignasi Aballi – prepare to be dazzled and disturbed in equal measure.
Ignasi Aballi, "something is missing," Berlin
An exhibition revolving around the theme of invisibility immediately makes you think there will be lots of art for visitors not to see. However in the case of “something is missing” the focus relates to the practice of minimal gestures and how they constantly disrupt the categories of painting, sculpture, literature and installation.
Reconstructed, found glass objects, photographed empty vitrines and a series of discarded glass vessels explore presence and absence. Unable to be fixed, the vessels become useless, they can’t contain any liquid nor can they be recycled. Although Aballí’s gesture of applying glue between the glass pieces is almost invisible, the object’s fate has been profoundly altered.
Aballí pays special attention to the major implications of apparently insignificant strategies of representation and re-signification. It leaves a lot up to your imagination as your thoughts oscillate between what is there, what is represented and what is actually missing.
Nordenhake, running until December 23
Kathryn Andrews, “Black Bars,” Los Angeles
Kathryn Andrews examines the latent power dynamics in acts of desire and consumption, creating works that implicate the viewer as both an agent and an object of such desire.
Her images and reference points are drawn from a broad swath of cultural production, including mass entertainment media, the Western art historical canon, commercial products and advertising. The viewer’s body is always an implied – and often a direct – subject of Andrews’s practice.
By using an actual flipper worn by Richard Dreyfuss in the 1975 film Jaws and a Stormtrooper costume from the Star Wars franchise, Andrews re-contextualizes certified props. She explores how objects oscillate between their roles as signifying forms and as mere physical, sensory things.
David Kordansky Gallery, running until December 17
Leigh Ledare, “Vokzal, The Walk, and The Large Group,” Brussels
Leigh Ledare is probably most famous for a body of work Oedipus would’ve been proud of. For that particular project he photographed his mother in various nude poses, masturbating and in the clutches of a younger man. There’s no sign of mother in his latest exhibition. The overlapping three bodies of work on display submit both their subjects – and viewers – to distinct social, material or psychological processes.
Shot and projected in color 16mm, the 60-minute film Vokzal uses the sprawling space connecting three Moscow train stations to map the dynamics emerging among individuals and the groups to which they belong. The Walk connects the large gallery space together and leads to another single channel video, The Large Group.
Culled from an expansive body of work in which Ledare organized and directed an immersive three-day experimental group psychology conference, the artist replicates the structural improvisational method associated with London’s Tavistock Institute. Using real psychologists and twenty-one participants, The Large Group stages a physical, temporal and psychic space to surface latent contradictions and tensions simmering below society’s surface.
Office Baroque, running from November 10 until December 23
Coralie Bickford-Smith, “The Fox and the Star,” London
Award-winning illustrator and author Coralie Bickford-Smith presents a rare and exciting opportunity to see how her best-selling book was conceived and produced. With original illustrations, proofs and sketches on display for the first time, it will explore the relationship between the book and William Morris’s renowned Kelmscott Press, a key influence for Bickford-Smith.
The Fox and the Star rose to prominence when it was named Waterstones Book of the Year in 2015, and is widely regarded as one of the most intricate and exquisitely illustrated children’s books of all time. Resonating with both children and adults, the story is a beautifully crafted tale of loss, friendship and discovery.
Bickford-Smith’s desire to create a book that intricately linked prose and design was inspired by the graphic work of William Morris, and in particular the work of his Kelmscott Press. Morris established the Kelmscott Press in 1891 to publish books that reflected the quality and craftsmanship that he admired in medieval books and manuscripts, with "the hope of producing some, which would have a definite claim to beauty."
William Morris Gallery, running from November 9 until January 29, 2017
Tom Wesselmann, “A Different Kind of Woman,” Paris
When Tom Wesselmann was enlisted into the army in 1953, it could only be assumed that his officer in charge wasn’t cut from the same cloth as the sergeant from Full Metal Jacket. In the two years he spent there he began drawing cartoons; by the time he returned home he was focused on making a career out of it.
He is perhaps best known for his great "American Nude" series with its sensuous forms and intense colors. In the 1970s, Wesselmann continued to explore the ideas and media that had preoccupied him during the 1960s. Most significantly, his large "Standing Still Life" series, which composed of free-standing shaped canvases, showed small intimate objects on a grand scale.
“A Different Kind of Woman” is inspired by the artist’s 1970 exhibition at Sidney Janis Gallery in New York. His now famous Bedroom Tit Box is installed alongside important examples of his post-collage works, making the exhibition the most significant presentation of the artist’s work in Paris since his 1995 retrospective at the Fondation Cartier and magnificent 1967 exhibition at Ileana Sonnabend Gallery.
Almine Rech Gallery, running until December 21
Mickaline Thomas, “the desire of the other,” Hong Kong
Mickaline Thomas is best known for her large-scale paintings combining art historical, political and pop cultural references to explore the contemporary female form.
Blurring the distinction between object and subject, concrete and abstract, real and imaginary, Thomas introduces complex notions of femininity, sexuality, class and power. Through an exploration of artifice, she also challenges common definitions of beauty and historical and artistic representations of women.
For her first exhibition in China, Thomas will present a series of recent paintings and works on paper that highlight her varied use of media, including oil and acrylic paint, enamel, silkscreen, rhinestones and collage.
Particularly inspired by the early modernists such as Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Edouard Manet and Romare Bearden, she models her figures on the classic poses and abstract settings popularized by these modern “masters.” In doing so, Thomas seeks to reclaim agency for women who have been presented as objects to be desired or subjugated.
Lehmann Maupin, running from November 18 until January 14, 2017
Nina Canell, “Foam-Skin Insulated Jelly-Filled Vowel,” Berlin
Being faced with numerous floor-based tangles made up from emptied-out, subterranean, fiber-optic cable sheaths makes you feel as though you’ve appeared in some kind of futuristic reptilian tank. You are in fact standing in Nina Canell’s third exhibition at Barbara Wien, “Foam-Skin Insulated Jelly-Filled Vowel.”
Adding to the surreal atmosphere, Shedding Sheaths B will share the gallery space with an installation that sets the short-term memory of wires into motion. Exercising their remembrance through heat they are synced and syncopated by an alphabet of sine waves.
Canell’s practice concerns the placement and displacement of energy. Her work employs an array of materials ranging from the synthetic to the organic in order to achieve a distinctive sculptural syntax. For Canell an output is never the pure transmission of a source – it is as much the distance it has travelled, the things it has come in contact with or bounced off.
Barbara Wien, running until November 30
Robert Mapplethorpe, “Teller on Mapplethorpe,” London
Robert Mapplethorpe was known for his sensitive-yet-blunt treatment of controversial subject matter using large-scale, highly stylized black-and-white photography. To coincide with what would have been the 70th birthday of the iconic American photographer, German-born photographer Juergen Teller will curate an exhibition of his work.
Teller's selection of 58 images exposes works within Mapplethorpe's archive that have rarely been exhibited before and span Mapplethorpe's entire career. They range from unique Polaroids of the early 1970s to his iconic medium of silver gelatin photographs from the mid-’70s through to the late ’80s.
Still life features as a prominent theme with unusual subjects including a banana with keys, a set of antique silverware, two coconuts, a television set and poppies in a glass vase with their buds still tightly closed. Teller has also chosen a number of images depicting animals, a subject matter that Mapplethorpe is not famously associated with, including a hanging bat, plate of frogs, reclining dog, kitten on a sofa, and horses.
Alison Jacques, running from November 18 until January 7, 2017
Dr Lakra, “Untitled,” Lima
The work of Jerónimo López Ramírez, better known as Dr. Lakra, involves embellishing found images and objects – for instance, dolls, old medical illustrations and pictures in 1950s Mexican magazines – with macabre or tattoo-style designs.
While he is best known for his drawings and paintings on appropriated posters, erotic magazines and postcards, his practice encompasses mural painting, collage and sculpture. Through these different mediums he explores his interests in anthropology and ethnography, documenting his fascination with the taboos, fetishes, myths and rituals of different cultures.
An avid collector of diverse objects, Lakra views the search for materials and images as an essential aspect of his practice. His compositions combine historical references and contemporary images, incorporating quotes from popular culture and intermingling them with diverse religious and social iconographies.
MATE Museo Mario Testino, running until February 18, 2017
Julio Le Parc, “Form into Action,” Miami
If you like fun but also enjoy good old-fashioned rules, then we suggest you head over to Miami to experience kinetic artist Julio Le Parc’s first retrospective on U.S. soil. Prepare to be amazed by the Argentine’s collection of more than 100 works, including immersive light installations and interactive games.
The exhibition traces the artist’s six decade-long engagement with concepts of perception and participation. His innovations in the fields of light were central to the Op and Kinetic art movements of the 1950s and ’60s. His theories of immediacy and spectatorship as a vehicle for social and political change informed the Parisian avant-garde in the same era.
Le Parc’s aim is to challenge our preconceptions of how to behave in an art gallery and allow us to interact with the exhibits. Once immersed and at ease in his world, you feel a real sense of liberation, sparked by a variety of visual and physical experiences.
Perez Art Museum Miami, running from November 18 until March 19, 2017
If you're interested in making your own works of art, check out our guide to taking great photos on the iPhone 7 Plus.