Brilliant Things To Do in April

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Nude Museum, 2018© Thomas Mailaender, original artwork by Marina Benitez Lazaretto. Courtesy of Michael Hoppen Gallery

Longer days! Warmer temperatures! Take full advantage with our curated list of cultural activities

Exhibitions and Events

Thomas Maileander at Michael Hoppen Gallery, London: April 17 – May 26, 2018
Any body of work that stems from what the artist calls a ‘Fun Archive’ is bound to delight, so Thomas Maileander’s upcoming solo show at Michael Hoppen Gallery is one to look forward to. The French artist’s collection of amusing amateur photography has been an ongoing venture since 2000, and he uses the imagery to create new multimedia works. The resulting pieces are irreverent and tongue-in-cheek, and will sit alongside pieces from Maileander’s Fun Archaeology – a newer project which consists of his just as weird and wonderful unedited found objects.

Studio Drift: Coded Nature at Stedelijk, Amsterdam: April 25 – August 26, 2018
Specialising in abstract and somewhat futuristic installations, collective Studio Drift explores the connections between art, technology and nature in its work. For its first solo show, which opens this month at Amsterdam’s Stedelijk museum, the duo – Lonneke Gordijn and Ralph Nauta – will present eight of these installations, mammoth pieces that take up a room’s worth of space each, and are made of materials such as concrete and lighting fixtures. Films will also be on display alongside the intriguing installations, adding to the performative nature of Studio Drift’s work.  

Water Lilies: American Abstract Paintings and Last Monet at Musée de l’Orangerie, Paris: April 13 – August 20, 2018
Paris’ Musée de l’Orangerie is famously home to Monet’s astonishing water lily paintings, the pieces having become icons of the Impressionist period in French art history. Now, an exhibition at the same museum explores the impact that Monet’s works had in America, and how their presence in New York gave birth to the rise of Abstract art, and eventually Abstract Impressionism. This show is a rare chance to see the greats of American art alongside one another – and indeed among the highly influential water lilies – to assess how artists working on different continents and in different eras were able to inform each other: the likes of Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Philip Guston and Joan Mitchell are to be featured.  

Nevertheless, She Persisted at the Barbican, London: April 18 – 24, 2018
The Barbican presents a season of feminist documentaries this month, centring on the stories of a number of women from across the globe and their formidable stories. To mention a few, the line-up includes: Georgie Girl, which focuses on transgender New Zealand MP Georgina Beyer; Leila and the Wolves documents the realities of Arab women and their lives throughout much of the 20th century; and Be Pretty and Shut Up recovers interviews conducted 40 years ago by Delphine Seyrig with fellow actresses of the era – Jane Fonda, Maria Schneider and Shirley MacLaine voice their opinions – on their frustrations with what their industry expects of them.

Look out too for a series of longreads guest-edited by Claire Marie Healy (Dazed’s deputy editor). Riffing off each documentary, a series of round-table discussions are chaired by agenda-setting London-based zines: gal-dem on Shirley Chisholm (Chisholm 72), Cause and Effect on Georgina Beyer (Georgie Girl) and OOMK on Malalai Joya (Enemies of Happiness).

Painted in Mexico, 1700 – 1790 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York: April 24 – July 22, 2018
New York’s Metropolitan Museum is placing art from 18th-century Mexico – or ‘New Spain’, as it was known then – centre-stage with its landmark exhibition Painted in Mexico. An area of art history that’s been somewhat under-explored in major institutions, the Mexican art on show will be revelatory of new techniques, styles and subjects that were favoured at the time via myriad paintings that will be exhibited for the first time.

Décor: Barbara Bloom, Andrea Fraser, Louise Lawler at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles: April 28 – July 15, 2018
Décor is an upcoming Los Angeles exhibition which subverts and plays with ideas of interior design, installation and museum displays. One of its central focuses is The Reign of Narcissism, a “faux-neoclassical” space by Barbara Bloom and dedicated to a fictional version of the artist herself; the recreation of this room is illustrated with photography and video work by Louise Lawler and Andrea Fraser, who also playfully explore with unprecedented attention the sphere of looking at and displaying art.

If I Was Your Girlfriend: A Jam at Belmacz Gallery, London: April 21 – June 16, 2018
Any exhibition that notes its ‘accompanying playlist’ is compiled by Jarvis Cocker is, it’s safe to assume, worth a visit. And if that musical enticement weren’t enough, If I Was Your Girlfriend offers more by way of its premise: the show is a celebration of Prince. From the star’s seminal talent, wildly appealing songs, and idiosyncratic style, the show will trace the musician’s legacy via works inspired by him and referencing his music. Expect shades of purple to be prominent, naturally.

Life Model II at Fabrica, Brighton: April 14 – May 27, 2018
Illustrator and artist David Shrigley has produced a Brighton-based immersive installation set to open this month as part of the city’s festival. In an irreverent look at the storied tradition of life drawing, Shrigley places a nine-foot tall unclothed mannequin in the studio, and exhibition-goers will draw the figure, with the resulting pieces will be displayed in the space, meaning the viewer is both observing and participating in the show.

Torbjørn Rødland: The Touch That Made You at Milan Osservatorio, Milan: April 5 – August 20, 2018
Torbjørn Rødland’s The Touch That Made You travels from London’s Serpentine Sackler Gallery to the Fondazione Prada in Milan this month. The photographer’s signature approach to the tactile in imagery is at once surreal, unsettling and familiar, his staged scenes appealing to both the recognition and imagination of the viewer. As the exhibition’s title suggests, the textures of Rødland’s work are visceral and evocative.

Jonas Wood: Prints at Gagosian, New York: April 5 – May 25, 2018
American artist Jonas Wood creates satisfying prints and etchings of quotidian scenes – interiors punctuated with plants and interesting printed furniture, for example – crafted in a highly detailed style. Wood’s etchings are especially entrancing, with their black and white, line-based compositions somehow presenting as both peaceful and effervescent, as they are lacking, yet still suggestive of, a human presence.

Bouchra Khalili at Secession, Vienna: April 13 – June 17, 2018
Bouchra Khalili addresses the political and historical in her photography, film and installation work, looking to such topics as colonialism and illegal migration. For her first solo exhibition in Vienna, Khalili’s affecting, complex pieces explore the anti-colonial history of North Africa – the artist herself is a native of Morocco – by spotlighting revolutionary movements and marginalised sections of society, ideas that are nonetheless continually prescient in 2018.

Tomo Campbell: There at Cob Gallery, London: April 11 – May 5, 2018
Pooling inspiration from a variety of time periods (medieval, Victorian) and pieces (antique vases, tapestries), artist Tomo Campbell’s captivating paintings are nothing short of eclectic. Cob Gallery’s exhibition of Campbell’s work promises a disorienting yet pleasing look at the painter’s practice and style. In the gallery’s back room, two almost-identical paintings will hang opposite each other, their nearly-but-not-quite mirror image surfaces set to intrigue and puzzle the viewer.

Fashioned From Nature at the V&A, London: opening April 21, 2018
It’s no secret that the world of fashion has plundered the inspirational depths of nature throughout history, but rarely is this unique, niche relationship considered in great detail. The V&A is addressing this very theme with Fashioned From Nature, an exhibition that looks as far back as 1600 to study the intermingling of these two spheres. Exquisite garments will be on display alongside artefacts from the natural world, offering a comprehensive look at nature’s ever-evolving relationship with and impact on fashion. What’s more, the show plants these notions firmly in our own time, too, by featuring examples from as recent as 2017.

Jonas Mekas: Conversations with Filmmakers at Peckhamplex Cinema, London: April 10, 2019
Iconic avant garde filmmaker Jonas Mekas will be in Peckham in ten days’ time. Coinciding with Mekas’ recent book publication of the same title – in which his interviews with the likes of Andy Warhol, John Cassavetes and Susan Sontag from the 1960s and 70s are reproduced – Conversations with Filmmakers will no doubt be an unforgettable evening, as Hans Ulrich Obrist speaks to Mekas about his pioneering career in film. The evening will be rounded off with a screening of Outtakes From the Life of a Happy Man, Mekas’ 2012 autobiographical piece. Look out too for the arrival of Mekas’ film As I Was Moving Ahead Occasionally I Saw Glimpses of Beauty on MUBI this month. 

Mequitta Ahuja: Notations at Tiwani Contemporary, London: April 13 – June 2, 2018
Taking herself and her own practice as her subjects, artist Mequitta Ahuja’s paintings are a meditation on the process of creating work. Each piece is rendered in extraordinary hues but varies in style, with Ahuja variously in her studio, unveiling a new painting (seemingly to her own reflection), and engrossed in what looks like a leaflet. The idea of the artist engrossed in her own life, and apparently unaware of being depicted on canvas, makes for fascinating viewing, and it’s the presence of the figure that interests Ahuja. “My central intent is to turn the artist’s self-portrait, especially the woman-of-colour’s self-portrait, long circumscribed by identity, into a discourse on picture-making, past and present,” she explains.  

Aspects of the Documentary in MMK’s Photography Collection at MMK Museum, Frankfurt: until July 15, 2018
Documentary photography has long been a fascinating subsection of the field, its voyeuristic and inquisitive nature often universally engaging. Frankfurt’s MMK Museum has looked into its own collection to create an edit of the genre and its relation to press, politics and society, interrogating the documentary photograph’s place in the media landscape. In times of social disruption, whether in recent years or looking back through the last half century (Larry Clark’s documentation of the Vietnam War and Thomas Demand’s meditation on how technology can manipulate reality, for example, both feature in the exhibition) the role of documentary photography has remained a key way of digesting significant, era-defining cultural events.  

Josephine Meckseper: PELLEA[S] at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York: April 29, 2018
The Whitney’s ongoing exhibition An Incomplete History of Protest is a prescient look at the power of protest and, as the title suggests, how its force continues today in light of our contemporary political and social climate by demonstrating the ongoing relevance of some of history’s most significant displays of protest. Art can be an impactful tool when it comes to activism, and supplementing the exhibition is a programme of pieces created by today’s working artists. Josephine Meckseper will debut PELLEA[S], a film which transposes a 1892 text about forbidden love into America’s current political climate and intersperses the story with footage from Trump’s 2017 inauguration and the Wasington DC Women’s March of the same year.

Salone del Mobile, Milan: April 17 – 22, 2018
For its upcoming edition, Salone del Mobile is once again providing everything it has become famed for since its inception in 1961: innovation, creativity and technology in the world of design. The event is all-encompassing when it comes to furniture: workplace designs, individual pieces and furnishing accessories all feature, setting the tone for upcoming trends in the industry. Exciting crossovers between fashion and design are also in abundance this year: COS will unveil a sculptural installation by Phillip K. Smith III; Marni has collaborated with communities in Colombia to produce a series of playful and vibrant furniture and accessories; and Roberto Cavalli Home’s new Tropical Glamour collection will launch with an exotic and entrancing installation.

Supermarket 2018, Stockholm: April 12 – 15, 2018
April marks ten years since the first edition of Supermarket in Stockholm, the artist-run fair which showcases artistic initiatives from across the globe. Talks, performance and extra events pepper the programme, which is unique in its championing of the artist’s role in all processes.

The Best of Film

This month is awash with cinematic offerings to suit all tastes. 120 Beats per Minute hones in on a group of passionate activists during the devastating AIDS crisis in early-90s Paris. Against a backdrop of heady parties and fiery protests, newcomer Nathan falls for radical group member Sean in a stirring exploration of a dark yet hopeful moment in history. Don’t miss Xavier Legrand’s award-winning, white-knuckle drama Custody, the story of an 11-year-old boy who finds himself a pawn in his abusive father’s mind games following his parents’ acrimonious divorce.

Those in search of a hearty dose of black comedy will find it in Cory Finley’s thrilling debut Thoroughbreds, the story of two wealthy teens who rekindle their unlikely childhood friendship and join forces in a deadly quest to solve both their problems. Another spellbinding tale of female vengeance comes courtesy of Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts by Indonesian director-writer Mouly Surya. After killing the man who rapes her, our eponymous protagonist sets off in search of redemption, only to find herself haunted by her attacker’s ghost in a brilliantly unusual, feminist take on the spaghetti western.

Be sure to catch beautifully shot South African drama The Wound, centred on a male coming-of-age ritual in a small, indigenous community, and the subsequent unearthing of a factory worker’s painstakingly concealed homosexuality. Last but not least, Juliette Binoche delivers an exceptional performance in Let the Sunshine In, Claire Denis’ richly told story of a divorced Parisian artist and her refusal to settle for anything less than true love. While Antonio Lopez 1970: Sex, Fashion & Disco is this month’s most unmissable documentary, offering fascinating insight into the fabulous life and career of the New York and Paris-based fashion illustrator.

The Best in Food and Drink

Arepa & Co.: open now
Cornflour, black beans, fried plantain and shredded pork are the (figurative) bread and butter at this Venezuelan eatery which, having set up shop canalside in London’s Haggerston in 2014, is now opening a second restaurant in Paradise Row, Bethnal Green. The new menu draws more heavily on the South American food at large: the trademark arepas will be accompanied by “pastelitos, hallaquitas and tequenos” – various cheese stuffed pastries served with guava sauce. Excellent for brunch, but dinner too.

Freak Scene, London: open now
‘Curious Asian plates’ will dominate the menu at Freak Scene, a new venture from Scott Hallsworth. The offerings pool from flavours and cooking styles of South East Asia, producing eclectic dishes that are matched by the natty interiors. By way of drinks, try a ‘sake bomb’ or a beer flavoured with yuzu.

Cook for Syria at Popham’s Bakery, London: until April 13, 2018
Beloved North London eatery Popham’s has developed an irresistible limited edition delight – a baklava filling with almonds and rose water, encased in crisp pastry – for Cook for Syria, with all profits going to Unicef’s Syrian Relief Fund. Reason enough to buy a box (and not feel an ounce of guilt for doing so).

Great Performances

If you’re looking for excellent productions to improve your April, there’s plenty to be excited about. Jane Horrocks and Mark Bonnar star in the Royal Court’s latest offering Instructions For Correct Assembly by Thomas Eccleshare: the story of a couple who, dissatisfied with their first round of parenthood, decide to try again. Only this time, we’re told, “they’ve got a 30-day money back guarantee and an easy-to-follow construction manual. They’re certain, as long as they follow it step-by-step, he’s going to be perfect.” Ella Hickson, the playwright behind 2016’s celebrated production, Oil returns to the Almeida theatre with her newest offering, The Writer, an explosive investigation into power and patriarchy in the publishing world, directed by Blanche McIntyre and starring Romola Garai. While the idiosyncrasies of family life come under the lens in Natasha Gordon’s moving and funny debut Nine Night, opening at the National Theatre this April. It is the tale of ailing grandmother Gloria, an ailing grandmother, whose death, and the traditional Jamaican Nine Night Wake that proceeds it proves a trying time for her children and grandchildren.

Can choreography be performed in the form of an exhibition? This the question that motivated pioneering Belgian choreographer Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker to create Work / Travail / Arbeid, the much-acclaimed translation of her prior stage performance Vortex Temporum into an exhibition experience. In the show, which arrives at Berlin’s Volksbühne for two special performances this month, De Keersmaeker’s audience assume the role of exhibition visitors, while musicians metamorphosise into dancers, dancers into sculptures, instruments into objects. Underbelly Festival Southbank opens on April 9, bringing the best in comedy and circus to the London riverside. Highlights include Katy Brand’s Book Group, which sees the much loved comedian discuss and read from her favourite tomes, as well as Edinburgh hit, Circus Abyssinia: Ethiopian Dreams, a magical combination of extraordinary stunts and surreal storytelling.