Brilliant Things To Do in February

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Lucian Freud - Girl With Dog
Lucian Freud, Girl with a White Dog, 1950-1© Tate

Celebrate the end of January with exhibitions, films, theatre and food to indulge in throughout the next 28 days

Exhibitions and Events

All Too Human: Bacon, Freud and a Century of Painting Life at Tate Britain, London: February 28 – August 27, 2018
The relationship between painter and sitter is a storied, mysterious and fascinating one that has captured the attention of the art world and beyond for centuries. In a celebration of painters who strove to capture people and their human experiences, Tate Britain is staging All Too Human, which brings together paintings by iconic artists from the past century. Lucien Freud and Francis Bacon will feature, including works by the latter which have not been on display in the UK for more than 30 years. Highlighting the mastery of paint that these artists commanded and the impact their practices have had on today’s working painters, All Too Human is set to be an unforgettable exhibition.

Picasso Ceramics at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark: February 1, 2018 – May 27, 2018
While we have to wait another month for Tate Modern’s monumental and much-anticipated Picasso exhibition to come around, Denmark’s Louisiana Museum of Modern Art is celebrating the Spanish artist via his work in ceramic. They might not be as well known as his paintings, but the artist’s ceramics are just as enthralling and idiosyncratic as you’d expect – and he produced over 4,000 of them during his working life.

Tamar Guimarães and Kasper Akhøj at the De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill-on-Sea: February 24 – June 3, 2018
Located in Sussex, the De La Warr Pavilion is an impressive Art Deco structure, the architecture of which has proven influential to many creatives since its construction in 1935. The Pavilion has invited contemporary artists Tamar Guimarães and Kasper Akhøj, showing for the first time in the UK, to present work created in response to architecture. Having spent time making work in Brazil, the artists will exhibit photography, film and installation in the Pavilion, forming an insightful look at the convergences of art and architecture the world over.

Ethnobotany at The House of St Barnabas, London: until July, 2018
Art and environmentalism come together in The Earth Issue’s new exhibition, Ethnobotany. In the aptly titled Garden Room of London’s The House of St Barnabas, five artists will exhibit work connected to and in celebration of nature. Expect vibrant colours, stark silhouettes of plants and captivating shots of greenery set against hazy pink skies. Further indulge a thirst for nature with The Earth Issue’s latest publication, which explores the effects – both negative and positive – of humanity’s presence in natural environments.

Post Zang Tumb Tuuum. Art Life Politics: Italia 1918-1943 at the Fondazione Prada, Milan: February 18 – June 25, 2018
Zang Tumb Tuuum is a 1912 Italian Modernist poem by Marinetti whose influence spread through the 20th century and has extended into the 21st, since it is central to the Fondazione Prada’s next exhibition. The show will look at how politics influences artists, illustrated with specific works from the years during and between the two world wars, a period of political strife in Italy. A mammoth exhibition boasting over 500 pieces of art, Art Life Politics promises a look at the complexities that occur when art and politics collide, as well as the immense and fruitful creative production that such a combination allows.

Sheila Hicks: Lignes de Vie at Centre Pompidou, Paris: February 7 – April 30, 2018
Sheila Hicks and her vibrant, singular textile forms are arriving at the Pompidou Centre this month in an exhibition on display at the gallery’s street level. Fans of both art and fashion will likely flock to this show, following the design duo Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCullough at Proenza Schouler noting Hicks as their inspiration for the brand’s recent ready-to-wear collection. The groundbreaking textile artist creates mammoth woven works in kaleidoscopic shades that command any space, resulting in affecting and unforgettable viewing.

Virginia Woolf: An Exhibition Inspired by Her Writings at Tate, St Ives: February 10 – April 29, 2018
It’s no secret that Modernist writer Virginia Woolf has inspired many artists, writers and thinkers over the past century, and a new exhibition in St Ives, where Woolf spent much time in her youth, is spotlighting just that. Woolf’s seminal texts are the starting point for this Tate show, and as such the exhibited artists share this feminist perspective when it comes to their own work. Bringing together pieces by Woolf’s contemporaries, including her sister Vanessa Bell, and work by some of today’s most innovative and fascinating artists. As if another reason was needed to visit Cornwall…

Another Kind of Life: Photography on the Margins at the Barbican, London: February 28 – May 27, 2018
Sub- and countercultures exist throughout the world, and London’s Barbican is celebrating the people within these groups – those who go against the grain – in a monumental new exhibition called Photography on the Margins. The show comprises imagery dating back to the 1950s by image makers who have immersed themselves in these communities and found inspiration in their people; expect fearless photography by the likes of Pieter Hugo, Mary Ellen Mark and Paz Errázuriz.

Eddie Peake: Concrete Pitch at White Cube Bermondsey: February 7 – April 8, 2018
Eddie Peake’s upcoming solo exhibition at White Cube Bermondsey will see the artist bring together sculpture, painting, installation and sound pieces and, as is his signature, Peake will perform in the gallery throughout the exhibition. Taking inspiration from a concrete playground in North London, this will be an exhibition like no other: while Peake “orchestrates the drama of the everyday” surrounded by his new artworks, a radio show will be broadcast online via pirate station Kool London.

NOW at Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art, Manchester: February 16 – April 29, 2018
Although it is lead by the Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art in Manchester, NOW is a nationwide programme dedicated to championing female Chinese artists working today. Honing in on themes of identity and perception, NOW showcases seven artists and their boundary-pushing work. With events also held in Middlesbrough, Margate, Nottingham and London, NOW is a programme to look out for, and opens to coincide with the Chinese New Year celebrations.

It’s Been A Fantastic Ride at Gallery Vassie, Amsterdam: February 3 – April 21, 2018
British photographer Michael Putland has been capturing music industry legends since the 1960s, perhaps most notably The Rolling Stones, George Michael, Bob Marley and Patti Smith. Images from his 50-year career will be on show in Amsterdam this month in a riot of an exhibition, with each black-and-white photograph as thrilling and captivating as the next, whether its subject is Pete Townsend mid-guitar solo jump, “the wonderful and very cool” Leonard Cohen laughing in a hotel room, or Bianca and Mick Jagger catching some shut-eye on the road.

Henri Michaux: The Other Side at the Guggenheim Bilbao: February 2 – May 13, 2018
The Guggenheim Bilbao is spotlighting cult artist and poet Henri Michaux this month, placing focus on his experimental, varied style and highly unique oeuvre. Michaux’s practice evolved over the course of his category-defying 60-year career – which spanned the 1920s to the 1980s – a facet which the Guggenheim Bilbao’s exhibition will explore and showcase.  

Here and There: Paintings by Lisa Milroy at Parasol Unit, London: until March 18, 2018
What could be more satisfying than multiple pairs of gleaming black shoes painted onto a crisp white background? British-Canadian artist Lisa Milroy’s style is rooted in such paintings, creating in the 1980s still life images made up of everyday objects elevated to the realms of the extraordinary through composition. A retrospective of Milroy’s compelling pieces opens this month in London, and comprises both her still lifes, portraits, landscapes, installation and performance pieces – a variation indicative of the impressive breadth of her practice.

Yto Barrada: Agadir at The Curve, Barbican: February 7 – May 20, 2018
Yto Barrada looks to London for her piece at the Barbican this month. Rooted in the surreal – specifically a 1967 text entitled Agadir which was written in response to the 1960 earthquake in Morocco – Barrada’s work fills The Curve and centres on an imagined disaster and the city’s subsequent methods of survival and reinvention. Barrada’s wide-ranging influences and themes are evident here in this transportative multimedia exhibition, which engages in a refreshingly direct way with today’s political and social climate.

Papier.Salon. at Wentrup Gallery, Berlin: until February 23, 2018
Riffing on the historical art world tradition of salons as places to exhibit as well as to socialise, Papier.Salon. at Berlin’s Wentrup Gallery pairs modern furniture with drawings in an installation-cum-exhibition. Exquisite furniture in jewel tones is arranged in the gallery space, while drawings by artists such as Jean Cocteau and William Copley hang on the walls around it. This set-up is nothing short of charming, without scrimping on design interest either: some of the chairs on display are mid-century modern pieces, while others are by The Memphis Group.

David Goldblatt at Centre Pompidou, Paris: February 21 – May 7, 2018
The Pompidou Centre is host to another unmissable exhibition this month: a retrospective of South African photographer David Goldblatt. A documentary photographer with a 50-year career behind him, Goldblatt’s work places focus on his native country, its towns and inhabitants. On one hand, his predominantly black-and-white oeuvre paints a picture of South Africa and the implications of its social history, Goldblatt having lived and worked through apartheid, while he has also taken the country’s impressive landscapes as his subject in recent colour images.

The Best of Film

February is always an exciting month when it comes to film, with the Oscars on the horizon. Leading the nominations this year is The Shape of Water, Guillermo del Toro’s latest fantasy venture starring Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon and Octavia Spencer. Hawkins plays a mute laboratory worker who befriends an amphibian creature in the beautifully shot, gripping tale. Lady Bird has earned Greta Gerwig a nomination for Best Director – only the fifth woman ever to do so – amongst other nods, and is a bittersweet journey through adolescence in Sacramento with Saoirse Ronan as the eponymous Lady Bird, a sharp, sensitive and daring protagonist. In what is his reportedly his last role, Daniel Day-Lewis plays Reynolds Woodcock in Phantom Thread, a couturier in 1950s London who begins a tumultuous relationship with his fit model and muse, played by Vicky Krieps. I, Tonya sees Margot Robbie transformed into figure skating star Tonya Harding for a riotous look at the 1994 scandal between Harding and her Olympic rival Nancy Kerrigan. Nominated in the category of Best Foreign Language Film is Loveless, a searing Russian tale of a separated couple brought together when their child goes missing.

Don’t miss Ingmar Bergman season at the British Film Institute, which boasts screenings of the famed Swedish director’s films, talks and events (and be sure to brush up on Bergman with the help of our five-point guide before you go). Black Panther makes history as the first all-black Marvel film: action-packed fantasy escapism at its very best, a perfect jolt of energy if spirits are low post-January. When it comes to documentaries, Emmanuel Gras’ Makala and The Ice King from James Erskine should be on your watch list, tracing the stories of a young Congolese charcoal farmer and ice skating legend John Curry respectively.

Food and Drink

Chinese New Year Menu at Hutong, London: February 5 – 16, 2018
Seeking to combine traditional Chinese cuisine with some 21st century twists and techniques, London eaterie Hutong has created a menu designed in celebration of the Chinese New Year. As is custom, the food served is supposed to bestow luck and good fortune upon diners – and is also bound to be utterly delicious.

Sabor, London: opening February 1, 2018
The name of new Heddon Street restaurant Sabor translates to ‘flavour’ in Spanish, and is so-called due to its focus on bold food from the country. Think fresh seafood, prepared in view of diners seated at the bar, and tapas-inspired dishes, with the service and decor heavily influenced by Spanish dining traditions too. Head to the bar pre- or post-dinner for a wide selection of Spanish gins (who knew?) and vermouths.  

Kulcha collaboration at Jamavar, London: until February 25, 2018
Michelin-starred Mount Street haunt Jamavar has invited prominent chefs to its kitchen to offer their spin on a kulcha, a traditional Indian stuffed bread. This week has seen Claude Bosi of Bibendum take to the kitchen, while next week is the turn of Sat Bains to create a fresh filling for the naan, and in a few weeks’ time, on February 25, the five guest chefs and their dishes will come together for a special dinner at the restaurant, featuring seven courses, wines to match and, of course, the various takes on kulcha.

Mee Market, London: open now
Perhaps the only thing better than a cosy and serene food establishment serving super fresh Korean rice bowls in the centre of London’s Soho, is one that does so alongside a broad range of beautiful homewares and lifestyle gifts, all of which are for sale – a combination which makes Mee Market, the new deli and takeaway by restauranteur Linda Lee, completely irresistible. Choose from a range of classic dishes to enjoy while you absent-mindedly populate your kitchen shelves and desktop, or, even better, those of a much-loved friend – before walking back out into central London’s frenetic theatre district. You’ll scarcely believe the one sits so comfortably within the other.

Farm Girl, Chelsea: opening February 2018
For those wanting to prolong a January health kick – or indeed hoping to begin one in February – Farm Girl’s new all-day restaurant in Chelsea is a must-visit. You’ll find ‘Superfood Cocktails’ on the menu come evening time (ingredients include lavender-infused vodka) and oven-baked aubergines, cod croquettes and a BLT made with coconut bacon in the way of food.

Great Performances

Telling the story of Bronagh, a young woman who lives on the titular moor and is struggling to grapple with her past and present, The Moor is a haunting exploration of this central female character as she becomes embroiled in criminal happenings. Elsewhere on stage, Girls & Boys at the Royal Court stars Carey Mulligan as Woman, and follows a couple as they meet in an airport, settle down and find their lives taking ‘disturbing turns’. 1960s Yorkshire is the setting for The York Realist, showing this month at the Donmar Warehouse. Two men find themselves in love while staging a community production of The York Mystery plays, but social and cultural boundaries, expectations and differences get in the way. Head to Waterloo Tunnels for theatrical festival Vault, back in 2018 for its biggest edition yet. Highlights include If We Got Some More Cocaine I Could Show You How I Love You, a two-man play set at a Halloween party during which both characters are stuck on the roof. If you’re in Antwerp from February 2, don’t miss Marco Brambilla’s contemporary reworking of Pelléas et Mélisande at Opera Vlaandeeren. Created in collaboration with none other than Marina Abramović and Iris Van Herpen and incorporating visuals courtesy of NASA, the production is set to show French composer Claude Debussy’s pioneering score in its finest light to date, before travelling on to Luxembourg, Strasbourg, Geneva and Venice for next year. Finally, be sure to catch epic Pina Bausch-conceived piece Viktor from Tanz Theatre Wupperthal, which is at Sadler’s Wells for just a few days this month. Its dance and music references span countries, centuries and styles from the Middle Ages to the 1930s, rendering Viktor unlike any other dance spectacle.