Picasso once said that art washes the dust of everyday life from the soul, and with newsstands preparing us for a future defined by Donald Trump, global warming and Britain's potential exit from the European Union, it seems like there’s an awful lot of dust to wash off these days.
To try to inspire some kind of en masse soul cleanse, we’ve scoured the four corners of the earth to bring you the best exhibitions to check out this month in major cities all across the world.
From architectural transformations to works that blur the line between painting and sculpture, and neon brights to subdued grays, it's all here. Be sure to drop into one of these shows if you’re nearby.
Yayoi Kusama: sculptures, paintings & mirror rooms
Though it shares affiliations with Surrealism, Minimalism, pop art, the Zero and Nul movements, Eccentric Abstraction and feminist art, Yayoi Kusama has developed a bizarre and psychedelic practice that resists any singular classification.
For her latest exhibition, Kusama’s obsessive repetition of multiplying dots and dense "infinity net" patterns - which she has described as responses to hallucinations first experienced in childhood - continues. Her signature pumpkins are also present in the form of new polished mirror sculptures, while her Infinity Mirror Rooms provide a magical glimpse into the kaleidoscopic mind of one of the world’s most popular artists.
Victoria Miro Gallery, London, 25 May - 30 July
Rudi Fuchs: Excitement
Rudi Fuchs is something of a curatorial legend. Known for his energetic and precise installations, this passionate supporter of the avant-garde prefers to provide an experience, rather than to simply make a point.
In his Excitement exhibition, Stedelijk's former director looks back over his lengthy career. In a presentation containing over 100 pieces, Fuchs offers us a glimpse of the works that defined the Dutch state art collection.
Share the joy Fuchs must have felt when he first encountered iconic works from artists such as Georg Baselitz, Jan Dibbets, Tracey Emin, Gilbert & George, Damien Hirst, Jannis Kounellis and A.R. Penck.
Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, May 27 – October 2
Scott Daniel Ellison: Witch Hazel
Drawing from personal experiences and fantasies, Scott Daniel Ellison paints with a loose narrative involving an assortment of beasts, monsters and ghouls. Often beginning with a favorite moment from classic horror cinema, the artist allows his mind to wander; setting the stage for an obscure episode from a story with no beginning or end.
Trained as a photographer who counts Diane Arbus and Ralph Eugene Meatyard as influences, Ellison’s work as a painter engages the storytelling methods of American folklore with pared-down lines and forms. Many of the paintings in Witch Hazel were created with only black, white and gray, with his aesthetic referencing classroom chalkboards, and daydreaming doodles in the margins of a mathematics textbook.
ClampArt, NYC, May 26 - July 8
Angel Otero: Born in the Echoes
For his first Hong Kong gallery exhibition, Puerto Rican artist Angel Otero presents "Born in the Echoes," a group of new paintings that bring his unique visual language into focus.
Dedicated to continuing the tradition of abstraction, Otero continues to innovate within the genre. He begins each painting by reproducing reference images in thick oil paint on a large plate of glass. Once the paint is almost dry, the artist scrapes the “oil skin” from the glass surface, draping and collaging it onto large-scale canvases, obscuring the original painted imagery and revealing a completely new composition.
Lehmann Maupin, Hong Kong, May 26 – July 2
Ken Price: Drawings
Ken Price is best known for his small-scale, brightly-colored ceramic sculptures. However, this exhibition features 34 drawings, all from the estate of the artist and most on view for the first time.
Like experimental backdrops to an ’80s cartoon, each of the artist's drawings presents his impeccable sense of color. Having spent years star gazing under the LA sky and admiring the shimmering horizon of the desert near Taos - the two places he lived for most of his life - it’s easy to see how the artist honed his command of optical effects.
Matthew Marks Gallery, NYC, May 5 – June 25
Stephen G. Rhodes: Sweethaven Assumption: Or The Propertylessness Preparedness and Pals
Stephen G. Rhodes’ immersive installation invites us to stare into the abyss that is the world we live in; long and hard until we can’t bear to look anymore.
Based on two real-life locations, the exhibition focuses on Sweethaven Village, the name given to the Maltese fake town built to film Popeye in 1980, and Assumption Parish, a county in Louisiana where aggressive fracking practices created a sinkhole in 2012, leading to the evacuation of a whole town.
Fueled by themes of capitalism, nationalism and humanitarian and environmental decay, the viewer is led through the installation by sculptures, shantytown structures, theme-park replicas, paintings and videos. Rhodes' work also references the migrant crisis in Europe, and the ugly rise of xenophobic and right-wing sentiments in Germany.
Isabella Bortolozzi Galerie, Berlin, April 27 – June 25
Yang Jiechang: 100 Layers of Ink
Taoism provided Yang Jiechang a mental and spiritual language in which to construct his work, and he chose to renounce color, representation, allusion and symbolism. Since 1988, Yang Jiechang has worked on a series entitled "100 Layers of Ink," in which he applied ink to the same piece of paper, day after day, until the paper was completely saturated.
Painting only in Chinese ink and layered with collaged rice paper, the pictures themselves appear black across the entire surface. However, they are not uniform: the collaged, textured sections pick up and reflect the light, while the flat, dark edges absorb it. The simplicity of the forms are rich, allowing both darkness and light to come together on a single surface.
ARNDT, Singapore, May 6 – July 31
Zoe Barcza: Texas Liquid Smoke
“For 10 days, a fresh egg was Zoe Barcza's best friend,” begins the press release for Zoe Barcza’s new show. In a chronicle of the artist and her relationship with the egg, Zoe explains why it doesn’t have any corners or holes or angles, and then, almost sadistically, shows her egg the kitchen. “Here is the mixer where I might have fluffed you up," She says. "Here is the rack where I would have put the bread your corpse might have been a part of.”
There’s no more information to accompany the show, but (spoiler warning!) the story ends with Zoe making the egg into an omelette on the tenth day. The core themes at play here seem to be life, death and the thin line between living and not quite making it to that point - like an egg.
Loyal Gallery, Stockholm, May 26 - July 2
For nearly five decades, the French conceptual artist Daniel Buren has been applying contrasting colored stripes to assorted objects and environments for his in-situ works. Through a play of colors, projections, reflections, transparencies and contrasts, both inside and outside, his latest work is a temporary installation on the Fondation Louis Vuitton building.
Transcending what was already an inspiring structure, “The Observatory of Light” is installed across the emblematic glass ‘sails’ of the building. The interior spaces and various terraces of the Fondation provide an unmatched perspective for visitors to admire this spectacular installation in all of its subtlety, especially under the sun.
Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris, from May 11
Nothing is as it appears in Kathrin Sonntag’s work. Her photographs, objets trouvés and films - mostly presented in the context of installations - explore perception, observation and cognition. For her current show, she was inspired by her stay in New York and her research there about perception in the world of magic.
Magicians attract the audience’s attention and suddenly surprise them. Sonntag’s show plays with shapes and words—blurred between reality and fiction—in order to toy with the viewers’ perception, before allowing them to observe themselves in the act of seeing and understanding.
Kadel Willborn, Düsseldorf, May 20 – June 25
If you're not quite ready to leave the house but want to see some more great art, check out our round up of the 14 best artists to follow on Instagram.