Films, Exhibitions, Food and More: Brilliant Things to Do This February

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Mary Ellen Mark, White Junior and Justin, 1983© Mary Ellen Mark, courtesy of Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York

As we hit February, here’s a handpicked list of the very best things to eat, drink, watch and see this month


A Female Gaze: Seven Decades of Women Street Photographers at Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York: Until April 2, 2022
At Howard Greenberg Gallery, a new exhibition showcases over seven decades of street photography by 12 great women photographers, from Diane Arbus, Helen Levitt and Vivian Maier to Mary Ellen Mark and Ruth Orkin. Spanning the 1930s through to the early 2000s, the show is filled with perfectly captured snapshots of everyday life in an ever-transforming world. As Mark herself once said, “photograph the world as it is, because nothing is more interesting than reality.” 

Drawing a Blank at 14 Wharf Road, London: February 17-27, 2022
The multi-city exhibition series Drawing a Blank returns to London this month for a pop-up show at the former site of Parasol Unit in Shoreditch. As with its previous iterations, the exhibition centres around the democratisation of the white cube, and “breaking down the very real barriers that prevent young and emerging artists from accessing, or even feeling comfortable in, these kinds of spaces”, in the words of the series’ founder Ben Broome. The show will offer visitors the chance to discover work by some of the most exciting new names in contemporary art, with featured artists including Rhea Dillon, Daniel Mebarek, Ebun Sodipo, Leo Xu and many more.

A Century of the Artist’s Studio 1920-2020 at Whitechapel Gallery, London: February 17 – May 29, 2022
In London, meanwhile, Whitechapel Gallery will soon present a compelling survey of the artist’s studio, as depicted in the work of various international artists and image-makers over a 100-year time span. Including paintings, sculptures, installations and films, the show will take us inside the work spaces of such icons as Francis Bacon, Louise Bourgeois, Egon Schiele and Andy Warhol, as well as contemporary figures like Walead Beshty, Lisa Brice and Kerry James Marshall, to examine “the wide-ranging possibilities and significance of these crucibles of creativity”.

Helen Frankenthaler: Radical Beauty at Dulwich Picture Gallery: Until April 18, 2022
Londoners, be sure to catch Dulwich Picture Gallery’s current display of rare and previously unseen woodcuts by the late pioneer of abstract expressionism, Helen Frankenthaler. With their sumptuous colours and surprisingly fluid forms, the works on display are a feast for the eyes, while revealing Frankenthaler as an experimental “trailblazer of the printmaking movement,” as the exhibition text notes.

The Great and The Good at Hamiltons Gallery, London: Until March 3, 2022
For fashion photography fans, there’s a new show at Hamiltons Gallery, featuring a range of spellbinding imagery by its represented artists. Mario Testino turns his lens on an elegant Gisele Bundchen, Richard Avedon captures a spliff-toking Lauren Hutton, while Helmut Newton’s iconic image of two models, one nude, the other decked in Yves Saint Laurent’s 1966 Le Smoking tuxedo, sits alongside Hiro’s famous image of a model sporting Cristóbal Balenciaga’s 1967 Four Cornered Dress.

Faith Ringgold: American People at New Museum, New York: February 17 – June 5, 2022
The remarkable American artist, author, educator, and organiser Faith Ringgold is the subject of an expansive retrospective, opening at New York’s New Museum later this month. Traversing her 60-year career, and featuring all of Ringgold’s best-known series, the show will examine the artist’s distinct figurative style “as it [has] evolved to meet the urgency of political and social change”. It will also spotlight Ringgold’s “radical explorations of gender and racial identities” as incorporated into her paintings, soft sculptures, and singular story quilts.

Thao Nguyen Phan at Tate St Ives, Cornwall: February 5 – May 2, 2022
Tate St Ives will soon stage the most extensive UK exhibition of Vietnamese artist Thao Nguyen Phan’s work to date. Through her poetic videos, paintings and sculptures, which draw on mythology and folklore, Phan considers “the historical and ecological issues facing her homeland ... while speaking to universal ideas surrounding ideas of tradition, ideology, ritual and environmental change”. Visitors will have the chance to view some of her most acclaimed work from across the past five years, alongside a new multi-channel film commission and accompanying series of paintings.

The Modern Woman at Ateneum Art Museum, Helsinki: February 11 – March 27, 2022
In Helsinki, a forthcoming show will foreground the work of 12 Finnish women artists and their striking contributions to 20th-century modernism. Some 180 paintings, sculptures, drawings and prints, and accompanying artists’ biographies, will reveal how each artist’s gender, social status and upbringing influenced both their independent professional careers and the works themselves. A particular highlight is the selection of breathtaking paintings by Helene Schjerfbeck, doyenne of the abstracted self-portrait.

Charles Ray at Centre Pompidou and the Pinault Collection, Paris: February 16 – June 20, 2022
For 50 years, the American artist Charles Ray has interrogated the meaning of sculpture, while inviting his audience to do the same. This month, at the Centre Pompidou and the Pinault Collection in Paris, a new two-part exhibition designed in dialogue with the artist himself, will guide visitors through Ray’s various investigations into sculpture over the years, from his early experimental performances, featuring his own body, through to his figurative pieces from the 1990s onwards. It will also present key new works, rendered in everything from computer-milled stainless steel to painted paper.

Yves Saint Laurent aux Musées, Paris: Until May 15, 2022
Exhibitions traversing multiple gallery spaces is à la mode in Paris, it seems: a vast Yves Saint Laurent blockbuster is currently occupying six museums in the French capital, including the Musée d’Art Moderne de Paris, the Louvre and the Musée d’Orsay. This makes sense, however, when you understand the exhibition’s theme: the vital influence of art, and in particular the art collections of French public museums, on the fêted couturier. A rare opportunity to see such iconic pieces as the A/W65 Mondrian dress, or the A/W79 Picasso-inspired cubist jacket, displayed next to the artworks that spawned them, it’s a must-see for all YSL devotees.

Alice Neel: Seeing Who We Are at Xavier Hufkens, Brussels: Until March 5, 2022
The late American painter Alice Neel is known for her extraordinary capacity to encapsulate the inner psyche of her sitters, regardless of their age, social standing, or relationship to her (she painted everyone from family members to strangers to celebrities). A new show at Xavier Hufkens in Brussels, further affirms this, and is notable for its inclusion of a number of never-before-exhibited works. Titled Seeing Who We Are, the display presents viewers with Neel’s subjects of all ages, from babies to children, young lovers to the eldery, each portrait as psychologically charged and intimate as the next.

A Trillion Sunsets: A Century of Image Overload at The International Center of Photography, New York: Until May 2, 2022
In New York, the ICP’s latest show takes what it terms “a long look at our worries and compulsive fascination with the proliferation of photographic images”, bringing together a century-spanning selection of imagery for the purpose. Including a scrapbook by German Dadaist Hannah Höch, and photographs by Robert Capa and Walker Evans, contemporary Chinese artist Guanyu Xu’s taboo-busting photographic installations, and Hank Willis Thomas’ “unbranded” advertisements, exploring the ways in which advertising imagery constructs and reinforces social prejudice, the exhibition offers plenty to see, and even more to think about.

America in Crisis at Saatchi Gallery, London: Until April 3, 2022
In 1969, Magnum Photos embarked upon a group project, dubbed America in Crisis, to document and assess the then-tumultuous state of the nation through photography. 53 years on, London’s Saatchi Gallery is now revisiting and recontextualising the project. Its new exhibition showcases the original works America in Crisis generated (by the likes of Bruce Davidson and Elliott Erwitt) in dialogue with images by a diverse range of contemporary practitioners like Kris Graves, Paul D’Amato and Zora J Murff. Presented alongside one another, the photographs powerfully highlight “the themes present in both eras, confronting the myth of American exceptionalism with the reality of current events”.


If you’re looking for excellent live entertainment this month, don’t miss Kontakthof, one of Pina Bausch’s most important pieces, performed by Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch at Sadler’s Wells 43 years after it premiered. Exploring the human desire for “love, appreciation and equality”, the work will be brought to life “by a group of mature dancers, playing out first encounters, courtship and uncertain romance”. Meanwhile, two acclaimed theatre productions are set to return to the UK capital: Jamie Lloyd’s brilliant rendition of Cyrano de Bergerac, a celebration of “linguistic ingenuity and the power of human connection”; and Rufus Norris’s Small Island, based on Andrea Levy’s prize-winning novel about racial inequality in Britain after the Second World War.

At The Almeida, be sure to catch the new production of Eugène Ionesco’s tragic farce The Chairs, translated and directed by Omar Elerian. Starring veteran stage actors Kathryn Hunter and Marcello Magni, the play “reflects on a life lived together: on what has been, what might have been, and what it all really means”. Elsewhere, The Young Vic is soon to stage the world premiere of Anthony McCarten’s latest play The Collaboration, directed by Kwame Kwei-Armah, and centred on the relationship between legendary artists Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat in 1980s New York. While for opera aficionados, there’s the ENO’s latest production of Leoš Janáček’s beloved opera The Cunning Little Vixen about a clever fox and the forester from whose clutches she escapes.


Great new films abound this month. First up: Lingui, The Sacred Bonds by Chadian director Mahamat-Saleh Haroun. Described by Mubi as “a stunning vision of female solidarity”, it is the story of a young Muslim mother and her pregnant teenage daughter. Japanese filmmaker Ryusuke Hamaguchi is back (shortly after the UK release of his masterful film Drive My Car) with Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy, a graceful, quietly comic tale of three women battling the complexities of modern love. Then there’s New Zealand-based director Gaysorn Thavat’s rousing drama The Justice of Bunny King, about a mother of two and her determined battle for custody of her kids.

British director Joanna Hogg returns with The Souvenir: Part II, which finds Julie (the young protagonist of her semi-autobiographical 2019 film The Souvenir) confronting the aftermath of her last, doomed relationship through filmmaking. Then there’s Rurangi, Max Currie’s stirring portrait of a transgender man who returns to his hometown ten years after he left, to see his friends and family for the first time since his transition. On Netflix, meanwhile, the new miniseries Inventing Anna will tell the riveting real-life story of Russian-born German influencer and “heiress”, Anna Delvey, and the journalist who set out to unravel her web of lies.

Documentary fanatics, keep your eyes peeled for Flee, the animated documentary from Danish filmmaker Jonas Poher Rasmussen, which follows a successful academic, on the brink of marrying his long-time boyfriend, as he grapples with a painful secret from his past. As its title suggests The Real Charlie Chaplin by James Spinney and Peter Middleton charts the dazzling rise of the British performer, from the slums of Victorian London to the heights of Hollywood fame, using previously unheard recordings, dramatic reconstructions and archive footage. While Netflix doc The Tinder Swindler investigates a ruthless con artist, who posed as a Playboy billionaire on Tinder to scam multiple women, and his victims’ fight for justice.

Food & Drink

On the look out for fabulous feasting opportunities this February? We’ve got you covered. On February 9 and 10, Poons, renowned purveyors of delicious Chinese cuisine, will take over the kitchen at Mortimer House in celebration of the Lunar New Year. The first night’s events will centre on the steamboat, a Chinese hot pot, and guests will be invited to cook select ingredients themselves in a pot of bone or vegetable broth. While the second night will offer a seven-course tasting menu, featuring wontons, drunken chicken and more. 

Or why not ring in the Year of the Tiger at fusion dumpling specialist Ugly Dumpling’s new Fitzrovia space, where co-founder Ping Hambi has dreamed up a limited-edition tiger stripe dumpling made from squid ink dough, filled with pork and prawn, and topped with sriracha mayo.

For those inclined to celebrate Valentine’s Day with a trip somewhere special, we recommend venturing to The Compasses Inn in Wiltshire, a quintessentially British pub helmed by restaurateur Ben Maschler. It will soon open more rooms, allowing guests the chance to eat tantalisingly tasty fare – think: wild venison lasagna – and luxuriate in the beauty of the idyllic Nadder Valley.

You could also book a visit to Hampton Manor, a 19th-century country manor outside Birmingham, where new restaurant Grace & Savour will open on February 25, replete with accompanying rooms. There, you can enjoy an indulgent one-night experience, billed as “a 24-hour culinary journey [that places you] at the heart of farm-to-table eating”.

At London’s Mandarin Oriental, new bar and restaurant The Aubrey, a self-professed “eccentric Izakaya” (an informal Japanese bar) brings a slice of Japan to the British capital. Its tempting drinks menu is centred around sake and Japanese spirits, which can be enjoyed alongside an enticing array of small dishes and bar snacks, including Japanese oysters, the restaurant’s own-label caviar, and crab korokke with tonyu béchamel and kani miso.

Last but not least, for a selection of seasonal cocktails served in a beautiful, cosy setting, be sure to check out La Goccia Bar, coming soon to La Goccia, Petersham Nurseries’ Italian restaurant, located in Covent Garden. Such delights as the Smoked Orange, made with invigorating herbal notes from Aperol, amaro and smoky Mexican mezcal, and the Remedy, an elevated take on the Hot Toddy, can be sampled amidst abstract floral arrangements and contemporary art. Chin chin!