From anticipated film releases and exciting new plays to excellent photography exhibitions from the likes of Nan Goldin and William Eggleston, this month has much to offer
Sunshine can rarely be guaranteed in Berlin in January, but this year C/O Berlin are making sure of it with their new William Eggleston exhibition. Eggleston’s images boast natural light in abundance, with rays streaming through plane windows and dancing upon the bonnet of shiny Cadillacs. This is just one of the magical ways that the master of colour photography rendered the everyday sublime – which, incidentally, is the theme of the exhibition, opening its doors at the end of the month.
In London, a new group show at Pilar Corrias – featuring, among others, Lina Iris Viktor, Vivien Zhang, Philippe Parreno, Rachel Rose and Rirkrit Tiravanija – has much the same idea. Titled Let the Sunshine In, the exhibition is borne from its artists’ recent conversations about the state of current affairs, and the result is much more optimistic than you might imagine. “The future appears shrouded by an inevitable gloom,” the text reads. “Commonly understood as a marker of impending doom, such darkness can instead be used as the basis – a materia prima – for the emergence of a renewed world.”
At the Fitzrovia Chapel – the only remaining building from what once was Middlesex Hospital – a new display revisits a poignant series of images by Gideon Mendel. Taken in 1993, these document the Broderip and Charles Bell wards at the hospital, where Aids patients were being cared for and visited by their family and friends. Alongside the works, a new large-screen video installation will depict more of Mendel’s images taken at the time, many of which are previously unseen, as well as a new short film by the South African image-maker, which includes interviews with some of the people who appear in the original photographs.
In Paris, a new exhibition at the Musée Picasso will act as an extension of the New Museum’s 2022 Faith Ringgold retrospective – the show was conceived as a collaboration between the two institutions. The lauded American artist and activist has famously spent the past five decades challenging ideas surrounding African-American identity and gender inequality through her captivating paintings and quilts, but what’s her link to Picasso, you might ask? “Through Ringgold’s rereadings of modern art history, she engages in a genuine plastic and critical dialogue with the Parisian art scene of the early 20th century, particularly with Picasso and his Demoiselles d’Avignon,” the show’s press release explains – a topic the display seeks to shed further light on.
Fans of Nan Goldin should plan a trip to Berlin, stat. The taboo-busting American image-maker has been awarded the Käthe Kollwitz Prize 2022 and, in celebration, the Akademie der Künste is hosting an extensive retrospective of her spellbinding work, with its recurring themes of “love, sexuality and violence”. This spans black-and-white and colour photographs from her early Boston years, shots taken during stints in New York, Berlin, and Asia, and recent large-scale landscapes and grid compositions. Expect unflinching candour and tender connection in abundance.
Back in Paris, the distinct visions of two great makers collide in a new show at Fondation Azzedine Alaïa, focussing on the impact the late couturier and the American fashion photographer Arthur Elgort had upon the representation of women in 1980s Paris, and far beyond. Some 30 images taken by Elgort in and around Alaïa’s atelier show models decked in the designer’s endlessly creative and empowering designs, lifting the curtain on a pivotal chapter of fashion history in the making.
Serge Gainsbourg takes centre stage at the Bibliothèque Publique d’Information, where a new display offers fans the chance to peruse the French musician, actor, author and filmmaker’s treasured belongings, from manuscripts and annotated typescripts to various personal possessions, books from his library and archival documents. Divided into parts, the display will explore Gainsbourg’s literary influences and how they shaped both his work and public persona, as well as investigating the singer-songwriter’s unique approach to lyric writing.
Beginning his career as a graphic designer, the American artist Wayne Thiebaud rose to fame as a painter of extraordinarily tactile, food-centric still lifes. “These depicted the promise and profusion of the ’American way of life’, a society of supply without demand,” explain the notes for a new retrospective of Thiebaud’s work at Fondation Beyeler in Basel. Featuring dozens of sumptuous still lifes alongside just-as-technically-accomplished portraits, landscapes and more, the show will consider the ways in which Thiebaud has “pushed the possibilities of painterly expression to the very limits of the world as we see and imagine it”.
From January until September, a free outdoor display at Autograph, London will offer insight into the various stages of the journey made by the Windrush generation as they ventured from Commonwealth countries in the Caribbean to the UK in the wake of World War II. A series of archive photographs from Autograph's permanent collection – which also feature in a larger online exhibition, alongside the profound words of Professor Stuart Hall – will be presented outside the gallery as part of its ongoing endeavour to “preserve the legacy of important narratives that have contributed to British history”.
In 2020, Wim Wenders made a 3D film installation titled Two Or Three Things I Know About Edward Hopper to accompany the Fondation Beyeler’s Edward Hopper retrospective. The film plunges viewers into the singular visual world of the 20th-century American painter, as conjured by the famed German filmmaker, with the aim of “sharpening their senses to some aspects of his unique work”. Now, Galerie Bastian in Berlin is screening the installation for anyone who missed it the first time around, and we highly recommend a visit.
At New York’s Whitney Museum, don’t miss Every Ocean Hughes: Alive Side, a four-part presentation of recent work by the artist formerly known as Emily Roysdon, hooked to her current preoccupation with “transitions, thresholds, kinship, legacy, and queer life”. This includes a newly commissioned work that forms part of Hughes’ ongoing, multidisciplinary series inspired by her training in death care – which so far has proved as entertaining and unflinching as it is moving.
In 1938, a group of artists led by Raymond Jonson and Emil Bisttram came together in New Mexico with the goal of exploring “spiritually heightened abstraction” through the use of “free-wheeling symbols and imagery drawn from the collective unconscious”. Dubbing themselves the Transcendental Painting Group, they deemed that they would “carry painting beyond the appearance of the physical world, through new concepts of space, colour, light and design”. Their work is indeed transportative – although their endeavours were cut short by the onset of World War II – and can now be admired at a dedicated show currently on display at LACMA, offering a meditative start to the new year.
Events & Productions
There are plenty of excellent productions and events lined up this month to bust the January blues. First up, the return of The Lehman Trilogy to London following an acclaimed run in the US. Sam Mendes once again directs Stefano Massini’s Tony Award-winning play, a family epic following the rise and fall of the Lehman Brothers and their investment banking empire, at the Gillian Lynne Theatre from January 24. Be sure to catch Least Like the Other, Brian Irvine’s stirring opera about the tragic turn of events that saw JFK’s older sister Rosemary Kennedy subjected to a disastrous lobotomy in 1941. Directed and designed by Netia Jones for the Irish National Opera, the performances run from January 15-19 at the Royal Opera House.
From January 19, meanwhile, actor and playwright Travis Alabanza will present a riotous new play at the Royal Court, directed and co-created by Debbie Hannan. Titled Sound of the Underground, the show “spotlights London’s iconic underground club culture and questions what it means to get your money’s worth when it comes to art”.
Also opening on January 19, at Sadler’s Wells, there’s How Did We Get Here, an intimate evening of dance conjured up by acclaimed choreographer Jules Cunningham, performing alongside Spice Girl Melanie C and award-winning dancer Harry Alexander. A taste of what to expect? “What do we hold in our bodies?” the press release teases. “The fullness of our experience is alive and present in every moment. We feel our power, all the way to the edges of ourselves. The loneliness of living and never fully being understood. And the chaos that lives within and around us.”
Poetry lovers, it’s time to get booking your tickets for Out-Spoken, the Southbank Centre’s monthly poetry and music night. This month’s edition takes place on January 26 and features performances by poets Arji Manuelpillai, Mark Waldron and Kim Moore, accompanied by music from Sam ’Junior’ Bromfield. Last but not least, the end of January marks the start of the London International Mime Festival’s 2023 edition, a chance to see, among other highlights, the UK debut of Still Life, rising stars of Belgium’s contemporary theatre scene. Performing Flesh, a “wordless dark burlesque”, at the Barbican from January 24-28, the group promises to make audiences “lose all sense of proportion as [they] try to stifle appalled but helpless laughter.”
If the cinema is calling, there’s plenty to see on screen too. Don’t miss Alcarràs from Spanish director Carla Simón, which scooped the top prize at last year’s Berlinale. The stirring, slow-burning film follows a family of peach farmers in Catalonia whose livelihood comes under threat when the owner of their estate dies. Then there’s the much-anticipated release of Todd Field’s psychological drama Tár, the haunting character study of a renowned classical composer and conductor named Lydia Tár, played by an electrifyingly good Cate Blanchett. Meanwhile, American filmmaker Mary Nighy’s powerful feature debut Alice, Darling stars Anna Kendrick as a downtrodden woman whose best friends stage an intervention in an attempt to free her from her psychologically abusive relationship.
Damien Chazelle is back with Babylon, an epic drama set in 1920s Hollywood that charts “the rise and fall of multiple characters (Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Diego Calva and more) during an era of unbridled decadence and depravity”. Steven Spielberg also makes a return with The Fabelmans, the brilliant coming-of-age tale of an aspiring young filmmaker, inspired by the American director’s own past. Holy Spider, from Iranian filmmaker Ali Abbasi, is a chilling neo-noir thriller based on the true story of a serial killer who targeted sex workers in Mashhad, Iran in the early 2000s.
Finally, this month’s best documentaries include Dreaming Walls from Maya Duverdier and Amílie Van Elmbt, following the artist residents of New York’s iconic Chelsea Hotel as the building undergoes a lengthy upmarket renovation. Hide and Seek by Victoria Fiore traces four years in the life of Entonio – a Neapolitan street kid – and his grandmother Dora during “a critical state crackdown on families of organised crime”. While Ryan White’s Pamela, A Love Story will see Pamela Anderson share the story of her ascent from small-town girl to Baywatch superstar, offering intimate insight into the life and career of the pop culture icon.
Foodies, this January you’re in for a treat. In Bath, a former Georgian greenhouse on Bartlett Street will soon host Beckford Canteen, a modern British restaurant with a menu centred around provenance and seasonality. Expect to sample such dishes as sardines on toast and confit pork belly with pumpkin and quince, rounded off by a chocolate, Jerusalem artichoke and caramelised milk dessert. We, for one, are sold.
In Notting Hill, Palestinian chef and restaurateur Fadi Kattan will open his first UK venture, Akub, on January 16, celebrating “the under-represented rich culinary history of Palestine, with a bold and updated approach”. Combining British seasonal ingredients with the flavours and fragrances of his youth, Kattan’s menu will feature plates such as Mousakhan packet (chicken wraps) and Sheikh el Mahshi (stuffed aubergine) that pay tribute to his grandmother’s cooking, while dishes like Arak-cured sea bream and grapevine leaves stuffed with skate provide a contemporary edge.
Recently opened seaside getaway The Suffolk, located in a former 17th-century inn in Aldeburgh, is now taking overnight guests – the perfect excuse to visit its exquisite restaurant Sur-Mer, from the owners of L’Escargot Soho. Hand-dived scallops with Dingley Dell ‘nduja, crab linguini and Pump Street chocolate delice await, as do magnificent ocean views.
For those honouring Chinese New Year, be sure to book your table at Carousel, where Cantonese restaurant Poon’s is hosting a two-night celebration on January 19 and 20. A Cantonese Steamboat feast will ensue, the event page expands, with guests “gathering around a pot of simmering stock to gently poach an array of fresh seafood, marinated meats, home-made meatballs, Chinese vegetables and silken tofu to usher in the Year of the Rabbit.”
If you’re determined to up your vegetable intake after December’s inevitable feasting, Jikoni’s new vegetarian set lunch menu is just the ticket. Ravinder Bhogal is offering up the Farm Fresh Set Lunch every Wednesday through Friday at the much-loved Marylebone restaurant, with highlights including dhal makahni with Montgomery cheddar croquetas and heritage carrot achaar, and roasted Tandoori cauliflower with spicy chickpea relish, date and tamarind chutney, and smoked yoghurt.
Finally, popular neighbourhood restaurant Llewelyn’s in Herne Hill has just opened Lulu’s, a shop and wine bar right next door. There, daytime offerings include delicious sandwiches, salads and fresh produce, while in the evenings Danish chef Lasse Petersen serves up “classic and contemporary European dishes with a nod to new Nordic and Middle Eastern flavours” alongside complementary wines. Cheers to a new year!