Brilliant Things To Do in January

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Tina Barney, Fun Slide, 2017Courtesy Paul Kasmin Gallery

New year, new list – here are the exhibitions, eateries, films and theatre productions not to miss this month

Exhibitions and Events

Tina Barney Landscapes at Paul Kasmin Gallery, New York: January 17 – March 3, 2018
Photographer Tina Barney is best known for the rich portraits she takes of her family and friends, but she is now turning her attention to landscapes for an exhibition at New York’s Paul Kasmin Gallery. Having last worked in landscapes in the late 1980s – some photographs in the show are from these early years – Barney returned to the genre over the summer of 2017, capturing the New England country in vibrant snapshots. Barney’s images are full of personality, whether they depict bustling beaches, residential streets full of children or an almost empty fairground attraction.

GIANTS – Body of Work at Lazinc, London: January 12 – February 28, 2018
Based on a series of outdoor sculptures created by anonymous artist JR for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, GIANTS – Body of Work is the first exhibition at the newly relaunched Lazinc gallery. JR’s gargantuan sculptures depict athletes in the throes of sport, launching from buildings in a high-jump or diving into the sea. The show takes JR’s pieces and presents the processes behind them: from architectural drawings (such is the scale of the sculptures) to insights into his photography techniques.

Philip Pearlstein Paintings 1990 – 2017 at the Saatchi Gallery, London: January 17 – March 25, 2018
The nude is a subject that has long enthralled artist Philip Pearlstein, whose painted figures are often surrounded by the artist’s own household ephemera in his complex and captivating pieces. Pearlstein – who once justified his interest in the nude with “it is a shape that is always changing” – is the subject of a new Saatchi Gallery exhibition, comprising eight paintings that date from 1990 to 2017. Each artwork is a fascinating study of the body, made even more intriguing by Pearlstein’s idiosyncratic composition and style.

Town to Town at the Martin Parr Foundation, Bristol: January 31 – May 12, 2018
Niall McDiarmid’s Town to Town is exactly that: a study of over 200 UK towns and their people, which the photographer has been travelling to over the last seven years. McDiarmid took portraits in each town, over 60 of which will be on display at the end of January at the Martin Parr Foundation in Bristol. Plus, in celebration of the exhibition, McDiarmid has created an extension of the series, documenting people in towns of West England, including Bath, Hereford, Gloucester and Swindon.

Rose Wylie: Quack Quack at Serpentine Sackler Gallery, London: until February 11, 2018
Prolific British artist Rose Wylie’s inspirations and subject matters are vast in range. From life in London during the Blitz to Hyde Park today or the Pedro Almodóvar masterpiece Volver, Wylie combines innovative collage-like techniques with memory and text to make her compelling pieces, which are large in size as well as personality. A number of new paintings inspired by Kensington Gardens and created for the exhibition will also be on display – the show’s title is both a reference to the park’s wildlife and a nod to a type of artillery used in the Second World War.

I am a Problem at Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt: until February 18, 2018
Legend has it that opera star Maria Callas washed a tapeworm down with a glass of champagne in order to achieve a slimmer figure. This tale serves as inspiration for a new Frankfurt exhibition, which unpacks humanity’s “grotesque self-optimisation and the ubiquitous pressure to achieve”, and the lengths people and artists will go to to engage with this notion. Featuring work by Bettina Rheims, Thomas Ruff and Juergen Teller, I am a Problem is an unmissable look at the malleability and manipulation of identity in contemporary art and culture.

North: Fashioning Identity at Somerset House, London: until February 4, 2018
How does geography affect style? North: Fashioning Identity is an exhibition of photography at Somerset House which addresses this notion, honing in on the North of England and its influence in fashion, art and photography. The exhibition is immersive, incorporating film and installation alongside photography from the mid-20th century to today to highlight the singular appeal of the region and why it has long inspired artists.

The Everywhere Studio at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami: until February 26, 2018
The Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami’s inaugural exhibition is an exploration of the artist’s studio, looking at its significance and relevance in the last decades. The mammoth show – which features over 100 works rendered in paint, film, sculpture and installation, by the likes of Picasso, Laure Prouvost, Kerry James Marshall and Andy Warhol – examines how the studio as a space has evolved and become an important marker of the artist’s own identity and style, and takes into account the impact of technology in our digital age.

Revolt & Revolutions at Yorkshire Sculpture Park: January 6 – April 15, 2018
It’s a well documented fact that art has the power to affect change, on both large and small scales and in varying spheres of life. Revolt & Revolutions, a new exhibition at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, explores this notion through the work of anti-establishment, counter-culture artists. With works dating from the 1970s to today and in a variety of media – including the interactive piece A Jukebox of People Trying to Change the World by Ruth Ewan, which allows for viewers to select their own soundtrack of protest music – this exciting show seeks to inspire action in its visitors, “on an individual, community and even global level”.

From Life at the Royal Academy: until March 11, 2018
Life drawing has been a mainstay in art throughout its history, and the Royal Academy has turned its attention to this storied practice for From Life. The exhibition brings together historical and modern instances of life drawing, tracing the tradition from the 18th century to today. In no other exhibition would you expect to see 19th century classical sculpture or 18th century drawings by Richard Harraden alongside the fruits of Jeremy Deller’s Iggy Pop Life Class.

London Art Fair at the Business Design Centre, London: January 17 – 21, 2018
Kicking off 2018’s roster of art events is the London Art Fair, which returns for its 30th edition this year. The art on offer ranges from the early 20th century to the present day, and from established galleries to up-and-coming names. Of particular note are the smaller curated sections of the fair, which take younger galleries and contemporary artists as their subjects: Photo50 is curated this year by the Hemera Collective, entitled Resolution is not the point., and which looks at photography’s constantly evolving practitioners and influence.

The Best of Film

There aren’t many steadfast cures for the January blues but a hefty dose of cinematic escapism is certainly one of them. Top of our list this month is Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing Missouri, the new film from In Bruges’ Martin McDonagh. A raven-black comedy, it stars Frances McDormand as a grieving mother who decides to appropriate three enormous billboards in her local town to publicly shame its revered Chief of Police (Woody Harlesden) for failing to capture her young daughter’s murderer. Don’t miss Richard Linklater’s Last Flag Flying, featuring Steve Carell, Bryan Cranston and Laurence Fishburne as Doc, Sal and Richard, three Vietnam War veterans who reunite 30 years after serving together to bury Doc’s son, a young marine killed in Iraq. A sombre road trip ensues, raising poignant questions about patriotism and grief, and interspersed by welcome bursts of excellently delivered humour.

There’s the award-winning French-Belgian drama A Woman’s Life, the story of Jeanne Le Perthuis des Vauds (Judith Chemla), an aristocratic landowner whose decision to marry a roguish local Viscount finds her the victim of the social and moral codes imposed upon women in 19th century France. While Philippe Garrel’s Lover for a Day – the final instalment in the French director’s compelling black-and-white trilogy investigating love and fidelity – follows a heartbroken 23-year-old as she seeks solace at her father’s Paris apartment, only to find him there with a new lover her own age. For those in search of must-see documentaries, be sure to catch Greg Barker’s The Final Year, shadowing Obama and his foreign policy team during their last year in office and offering unique insight into the inner-workings of the inimitable 44th president’s administration. After that, soothe your shattered soul with Walk With Me, a marvellously meditative affair, narrated by Benedict Cumberbatch and centred on Plum Village, a community of monks and nuns in southwest France who have devoted themselves to the art of mindfulness, guided by the celebrated Zen Buddhist master Thich Nhat Hanh.

The Best in Food & Drink

Yamagoya: open now
Simple but effective, Japanese ramen chain Yamagoya has arrived in London from Fukuoka, serving no-frills dishes in a pared-back interior. The perfect place to stop off mid-way through a cold January day of gallery-hopping; we recommend the raindrop cake for dessert.

Cellar Bar at TT Liquor, London: open now
Favoured East London shop TT Liquor has transformed its cellar into a hideaway cocktail bar, which is open now. The intimate space is the epitome of underground chic, serving unparalleled cocktails – new takes on classics include the Groglet, inspired by the traditional Gimlet and with gin at its core – either on their own or as part of a signature immersive ‘cocktail journey’ alongside small plates. The ideal hiding place for when dry January doesn’t last.

Bread Ahead, Beak Street: opening January 5, 2018
Borough Market bakers Bread Ahead is opening a new Soho location this month. The new bakery and cafe will serve Bread Ahead’s regular favourites – croque monsieur, french toast, doughnuts and the like – as well as a new lunch menu, all to be enjoyed in its cosy, plush interiors, replete with velvet sofas and marble-topped counters.

Salon, Brixton’s 5th Birthday: January 28, 2018
Brixton haunt Salon is celebrating five years with five guest chefs, each of whom will cook one course throughout the dinner. Making appearances on the night are John Chantarasak from som saa, Dougie McMaster of Cub, Josh Katz from Berber & Q, among others. Five unforgettable courses in one dinner – be sure to get tickets soon. 

Great Performances

Theatrical delights also abound this month. There’s Pulitzer Prize-winner Annie Baker’s new drama John, opening at the National Theatre on January 17 after its acclaimed New York run. Set in a small bed and breakfast in Pennsylvania, it sees “a cheerful host welcome a young couple struggling to salvage their relationship, while thousands of inanimate objects look on”. Robert Icke’s brilliant adaptation of Friedrich Schiller’s political tragedy Mary Stuart, set to music by Laura Marling, is heading to the West End after its sell-out run at the Almeida. Don’t miss the opportunity to see Juliet Stevenson and Lia Williams tear up the stage as Queen Elizabeth I and her imprisoned half-sister Mary Queen of Scots (the actresses swap roles from performance to performance, their parts decided by the toss of a coin). Meanwhile the London International Mime Festival returns to Sadler’s Wells for its annual showcase of the best in contemporary visual theatre. This year will see Jakop Ahlbom return with his masterful brand of surreal slapstick and acrobatics for a mesmerising reinterpretation of Buster Keaton’s 1920 silent film The Scarecrow. Finally, for those that missed last year’s Edinburgh Fringe, there’s the chance to catch Paines Plough’s Roundabout plays at the Orange Tree Theatre, three thrilling new productions from three of Britain’s most exciting playwrights, performed by the same cast in repertoire, which proved one of the festival’s resounding successes.