The Very Best Things to Do This January

Pin It
Claudia Andujar
Journey by pirogue, Catrimani, Roraima, 1974© Claudia Andujar

A new year – and indeed a new decade – is upon us. Here, a host of tempting exhibitions, performances and restaurants to attend this January


Claudia Andujar: La Lutte Yanomami at Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, Paris: January 30 – May 10, 2020
A new exhibition places focus on Brazilian photographer Claudia Andujar’s documenting of the country’s indigenous Yanomami people. Having first photographed the group – whose population numbers over 35,000, spread across villages and settlements in the Amazon rainforest – in the 1970s, Andujar has since used her image-making to highlight the Yanomami and protect their ever-threatened way of life. In La Lutte Yanomami, over 200 photographs from the last 50 years are on show in Paris, the biggest retrospective of Andujar’s powerful work to date. “I am connected to the indigenous, to the land, to the primary struggle. All of that moves me deeply,” the photographer says. “I was driven there, to the Amazon jungle, for this reason. It was instinctive. I was looking to find myself.”

Mushrooms: The Art, Design and Future of Fungi at Somerset House, London: January 31 – April 26, 2020
Cy Twombly, Takashi Murakami, Carsten Höller, Beatrix Potter, Seana Gavin and a host of other artists spanning design, music, textiles, architecture, literature and art feature in an upcoming exhibition at Somerset House which focuses on mushrooms. From the multifarious ways in which fungi have been depicted in artworks to how mushrooms can be used as a material, the exhibition promises a look at the history of mushrooms in contemporary culture and as an integral part of the planet’s ecosystem, as well as how they might fare and continue to inspire in years to come.

Anna Maria Maiolino: Making Love Revolutionary at Whitechapel Gallery, London: until January 12, 2020
In the first half of January, be sure to catch the final days of the Whitechapel Gallery’s exhibition on Anna Maria Maiolino, Making Love Revolutionary, the Brazil-based artist’s first ever UK retrospective. Maiolino has long used her work to respond to the political climate in her home country – photographs, woodcuts and films created in the 20th century focus on the military regime she lived through in Brazil – and a series of hundreds of objects crafted from clay is testament to how the artist has made compelling work using the simplest of materials, including paper and ink, throughout her career. Maiolino’s works also incorporate surreal imagery, seen in the writhing clay forms and recurring motifs like eggs, lips and graphic writing.

Norman Rockwell: American Freedom at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston: until March 22, 2020
One of 20th-century America’s most recognised and widely celebrated artists, an exhibition dedicated to depictions of ‘freedom’ in the work of Norman Rockwell is open now in Houston. Rockwell – whose name has re-entered public consciousness lately with the release of Lana del Rey’s latest album, Norman Fucking Rockwell! – is famed for how his paintings became known throughout the country during the Second World War, in particular his 1943 depictions of the ‘four freedoms’ central to American life: Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship, Freedom from Fear, and Freedom from Want. Rockwell is best known for how he rendered everyday life in America in his work, and alongside his enduring paintings are works by artists like Dorothea Lange and Walker Evans, whose work also placed much focus on American life.

Dora Maar at Tate Modern, London: until March 15, 2020
Tate Modern’s extraordinary exhibition on Dora Maar continues until March of this year, an unprecedented study of one of Surrealism’s most prolific artists. Maar’s name has been known throughout the art world for years as she had a significant impact on the career of Pablo Picasso, as both his muse and collaborator, but this new exhibition showcases her own exceptional painting and photography via over 200 works. “Part of the thinking behind the exhibition is to think about Maar as someone who has been mythologised, whose image has been used, particularly in [Picasso’s] Weeping Woman,” Emma Lewis, assistant curator at Tate, told AnOther as the show opened. “But how much do we know about her, how far can we get beneath and beyond that? That’s what the exhibition at Tate Modern will do.”

Adorned: The Fashionable Show at Foam, Amsterdam: until March 11, 2020
‘How do we use fashion to show who we are, who we think we are, or who we want to be?’ asks Foam Amsterdam’s latest exhibition, Adorned: The Fashionable Show. Collating the work of numerous contemporary photographers – from Alexandra Leese and Tyler Mitchell to Justin Dingwall – it promises a far-from-straightforward perspective on modern fashion photography from outspoken image-makers challenging the status quo, whether in regards to culture, gender, race or age.

Harley Weir at Maison Europénne de la Photographie, Paris: until January 12, 2020
Exhibited as part of a programme dedicated to documentary photography, Harley Weir’s series Walls is on show in Paris now. The series, which the British image-maker returned to over a number of years, is a study of the border between Israel and Palestine, told via arresting landscapes and portraits. “In 2012 on a work trip visiting Israel I saw the wall that separates the country for the first time,” says Weir. “It woke me up to the complicated truths of the world and is an important moment for me in becoming aware. With the divides around the world growing, the symbol of the wall seems ever pressing.” Weir captures the tension of the locale on both sides of the border, honing in on the visceral and beautiful details she encountered over the years.

Tim Greathouse: Albeit at Daniel Cooney Fine Art, New York: January 9 – February 29, 2020
Spanning drawings, paintings and photographs, a new exhibition collates the work of Tim Greathouse, who gained renown in the 1980s as part of New York’s Lower East Side scene as both artist and gallerist. He is perhaps best known as the latter: his eponymous T. Greenhouse gallery would be the first to show works by artists including Zoe Leonard, Jimmy de Sana and Kathe Burkhart. Few people knew he continued to make art until his death, due to complications from Aids, in 1998 – aged just 48 – meaning much of the artwork in the exhibition has never before been on public display. The result is a unique and poignant portrait of New York’s avant-garde in a seminal decade – and of an artist who has thus far been overlooked.

The Best of Film

January’s grey, wintery days demand regular cinema trips, and this month is positively overflowing with anticipated new releases. There’s Sam Mendes’ 1917, a tense World War One epic about two young British soldiers sent on a treacherous mission to save the lives of nearly 2,000 men. Further nail-biting escapades come courtesy of the Safdie brothers’ latest movie, Uncut Gems, starring Adam Sandler as a determined New York City jeweller who makes a high-stakes bet in the hope that it’ll score him the windfall of a lifetime. Terrence Malick makes his return with acclaimed new drama A Hidden Life, based on the true story of an Austrian farmer (played by August Diehl) who faced execution after refusing to fight for the Nazis during World War Two.

Don’t miss Queen and Slim, the debut feature from director and Beyoncé collaborator Melina Matsoukas, written by Lena Waithe. A timely and provocative fugitive drama, it is the tale of a first date gone horribly awry, featuring spellbinding performances from Jodie Turner-Smith and Daniel Kaluuya. For those in search of sinister spooks, be sure to catch The Lighthouse, Robert Eggers’ much-talked-about follow up to The Witch. Shot in black and white, it stars Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe as two lighthouse keepers struggling to retain their sanity on a remote island in the 1890s. For a heart-wrenching family drama, look no further than Waves from Trey Edward Shults, the raw and powerful portrait of a suburban African-American family navigating a tragic loss. This month’s must-see documentaries, meanwhile, include Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blache by Pamela B. Green, which delves into the history of the cinema’s first female director and her mysterious disappearance. Midnight Traveller follows Afghan director Hassan Fazili as he and his family are forced to flee their native country after the Taliban places a bounty on Fazili’s head. Last but not least, there’s Everything – The Real Thing Story, the inspiring story of the first all-black British band to hit number one in the UK pop charts, directed by Simon Sheridan.

Food and Drink

Lucky & Joy, London: open now
This month, the Chinese-inspired Lucky & Joy – which began life as a series of sold-out pop-ups in 2017 – will open its new permanent home in east London’s Clapton. Comprising food by Ellen Parr, who trained at cult Exmouth Market eatery Moro, and drinks by Pete Kelly, formerly of Morito, expect vividly flavoured dishes in a colourful, kitschy setting, inspired by the pair’s travels across China (and the world’s Chinatowns) – from Yunnan-style ‘smacked’ cucumber, crispy ‘typhoon shelter’ brussel sprouts, and a take on Lo Bak Go, Chinese turnip cake, to Xinjiang lamb chops and pineapple fried rice. Elsewhere, bar snacks – including the particularly moreish pickled peanuts – can be enjoyed with Kelly’s concise, appealing wine and cocktail menu. 

Glass House, London: open now
From the team behind Bun House, Wun’s Tea Room and Pleasant Lady, Glass House is open now on Brick Lane. Billed as a “bar and community hub”, Glass House is a space where working with a coffee in the afternoon makes way for a cocktail in the evening. The industrial, glass-fronted building is equally suited to both: with tables big enough for sharing, plenty of greenery and an inviting menu of food and drink, Glass House is set to become a new east London favourite. 

Great Performances

There are plenty of productions to pique the interest of theatre-goers, dance fans and opera lovers alike this month. First up, a new production of John Cranko’s balletic take on Alexander Pushkin’s celebrated novel Onegin at the Royal Opera House. “Featuring finely drawn characters who are transformed by the conflicts they face”, Onegin confirms Cranko as a master of narrative choreography. Scenes with Girls – a new 22-scene play from Miriam Battye, centred on a female friendship – arrives at the Royal Court on January 15. (“Other friends have come, got boyfriends and gone,” the tagline teases. “So what? Tosh and Lou have each other.”) Meanwhile, the first major revival of The Sugar Syndrome by Lucy Prebble (of ENRON and Succession fame) will open at Richmond’s Orange Tree Theatre. Chilling and darkly funny, it is the story of a 17-year-old girl looking for love online. Instead, she finds “a man twice her age who thinks she’s an 11-year-old boy”.

Roxana Silbert celebrates her directorial debut as Hampstead Theatre’s new artistic director with the world premiere of Al Blyth’s The Haystack. An “explosive espionage thriller”, the play seeks to challenge “the ‘nothing to hide, nothing to fear’ mantra” while exploring “how we can live honestly... when the advances in cutting-edge technology outpace the law”. At ENO, a spellbinding production of Carmen by Calixto Bieito relocates Georges Bizet’s beloved opera (and its passionate protagonist) to 1970s North Africa, at the tail-end of Franco’s regime. Last but not least, January marks the return of  London International Mime Festival with a variety of captivating shows across the capital. This year’s highlights include Romanticing the Apocalypse by British performance duo Thick & Tight at Sadler’s Wells – “a programme of brand-new works combining dance, mime, queer culture and outsider art” – and The Slapstick Home, a screening of three early 20th-century American silent comedies at The Barbican, with a focus on domestic settings, set to a live jazz score.