Brilliant Things To Do in April

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Yoshinori MizutaniCourtesy of IBASHO Gallery

The onset of spring ushers in more than just longer days and daffodils. Here are the art exhibitions, restaurant openings and cultural happenings you need to know about

Yoshinori Mizutani: Sakura at IBASHO Gallery, Antwerp: From April 7 until May 8
Immerse yourself in Japanese tradition by way of photographer Yoshinori Mizutani's abstract, surrealistic and unforgettably vibrant photographs of cherry blossoms and Tokyo's birdlife, at Antwerp's IBASHO Gallery this spring. The exhibition will showcase Mizutani's latest series, Sakura, alongside previous projects Tokyo Parrots and Yusurika, all of which capture Japanese culture so distinctively that they have even been recreated on Issey Miyake garments. As if the images themselves weren't draw enough, Dutch landscape artist Ronald van der Hilst will be producing a special installation of cherry blossoms in the gallery space, in honour of the exhibition.

Strange and Familiar: Britain as Revealed by International Photographers at the Barbican, London: Until June 19
Focusing on the British identity within the social, cultural and political spheres, iconic photographer Martin Parr has curated a new exhibition showcasing captivating images from international photographers. The show, which takes place at London's Barbican centre, will depict how some of the most important photographers to have shot on these shores have shaped the international view of Britain, and how this has evolved since the 1930s. The show will include works from Henri Cartier-Bresson, Rineke Dijkstra, Robert Frank and Garry Winogrand.

Bompas and Parr, Romancing the Armpit at Alcoholic Architecture, London: April 27
Pheromones are a powerful thing, and food-based design duo Bompas and Parr, masters of strange sensory phenomena, are keen to harness their potential for a new interactive experience. Presenting, then, Romancing the Armpit, an evening of scent-based dating at Alcoholic Architecture which will invite guests to indulge in “shared olfactory stimulations and intimate explorations of personality,” via the armpit. Perspiration-themed cocktails, a lecture about sexual attraction and pheromones and an enactment of the sniffing ritual, followed by compliments and conversation, will all take place in the duo’s specially constructed safe space, in which, as they proclaim, “there are no rules on cleanliness and coiffure.” In other words, don’t feel obliged to deodorise.

The Best of Film
April brings with it a whole host of compelling cinematic offerings. Don't miss extraordinary German thriller, Victoria – out today – which follows a young Spanish woman (masterfully played by Laia Costa) over the course of one night, as she is roped into misadventure by four Berlin men she meets in a nightclub in the German capital. Shot in a single take, Sebastian Schipper's film is an exhilarating tour de force that sucks you in and doesn't release its grip until the title credits roll. The clue is in the title in Tom Geens’ accomplished sophomore feature Couple in a Hole, which finds middle-class Scottish couple, John and Karen, living in a hole in the middle of the French countryside. But the straightforwardness ends there in this mysterious drama, which unfolds at a slow but entrancing pace.

Dheepan – the latest offering from A Prophet director Jacques Audiard – tells the tale of a Sri Lankan Tamil warrior who flees to France in a bid to escape the civil war, forming a fake family alongside a woman and young girl previously unknown to him. But violence proves hard to escape courtesy of the gang warfare that enshrouds the family's new home on a rundown estate. Then there's Son of Saul, the stunning debut from Hungarian writer-director Laszlo Nemes. Set in notorious World War Two concentration camp, Auschwitz, the chilling drama follows a Jewish worker as he tries to instigate the proper burial of a young boy he takes to be his son.

For those in search of documentary entertainment, there's I Am Belfast, Mark Cousins' poetic ode to his birthplace, which merges documentary and drama to unique effect. Finally, there's the much anticipated Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures, Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato’s cinematic portrait of the lauded photographer.

Gauguin’s Worlds at Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen: April 15 until August 28
The spring special exhibition at Copenhagen’s Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek museum shines a light on Paul Gauguin’s “experimental wrestling with the so-called primitive across cultures and geographical destinations”. Illustrated through 60 of the lauded artist's works in various media, the show promises to be a colourful investigation into this celebrated chapter of Gauguin’s output.

Kalliopi Lemos: In Balance at Gazelli Art House, London: Until April 24
This month, Gazelli Art House hosts Kalliopi Lemos' solo exhibition, In Balance – an exploration of the challenge which accompanies the artist's attempt to maintain inner balance, in a world seemingly set on upsetting the internal stability of the individual. With old and new works on display, the show presents a diverse display, with artwork evocative of the tension and psychological anguish of Lemos' work. Think sculpture, interactive elements, oil and wax paintings and film – not to be missed.

The Best of Food and Drink
Healthy and delicious food establishment The Good Life Eatery opens a new store in Belgravia this month, making it even easier to procure tasty and good-for-you (not to mention inherently Instagrammable) meals while out and about in central London. Meanwhile from the Soho House Group, new Mediterranean themed restaurant Café Monico is set to open on Shaftesbury Avenue on April 4. With a menu by Rowley Leigh, and heritage in the form of an 1877 restaurant which once overlooked Piccadilly Circus, the new iteration is slated to serve “rustic Italian and French favourites.”

In fiction and fantasy, award-winning cocktail bar Calloo Callay launches a younger, but similarly Lewis Carroll-themed, sister establishment this spring. Little Bat, so named after poem Twinkle Twinkle Little Bat by the eccentric English novelist, promises a botanical garden, floating bookshelves and a magic wardrobe, not to mention a cocktail menu which draws inspiration from classic serves, updated with unexpected twists. Whatever you do, don’t miss the secret chamber.

Exhibitionism: The Rolling Stones at the Saatchi Gallery, London: From April 5 until September 4
Nothing less than a two-floor exhibition comprising 500 original artefacts, including backstage paraphernalia, instruments, costumes, stage designs, rare audio tracks and video footage would suffice for a show aiming to sum up 50 years worth of the Rolling Stones – and that is precisely what the Saatchi Gallery gives us with Exhibitionism. The extensive show also features Andy Warhol, Alexander McQueen and Martin Scorcese to name but a few key players in the all-star line-up, and promises to be the musical exhibition of the decade.


Art Fairs
The world is abuzz with art fairs this spring, from the alternative, like The Other Art Fair London (April 4 until April 10) and Stockholm's SUPERMARKET (from April 21 to 24), to the revolutionary, for example Taipei's Art Revolution (April 22 until 25) and San Francisco's Art Market (27 until May 1). If you're US-based and find yourself in Texas, don't miss Dallas' annual Art Fair (Apri 14-18), whose convenient placement downtown next to the Dallas Museum of Art means you'll be occupied for days. 

Great Performances
Completely bizarre but utterly enchanting for it, Welsh songstress Cate Le Bon follows up her masterful previous album Mug Museum with the equally captivating Crab Day this spring – a collection of songs which will hold you in their grasp for weeks after your first listen. “Crab Day was lovingly formed in the mouth of the Pacific Ocean, as it quietly mocked us with its magnitude,” she writes on her website. “It’s the sound of the ‘accidentally on purpose’ coming together of the right people at precisely the right time in an environment that furnished and fuelled the abandonment we felt effortlessly. It’s a coalition of inescapable feelings and fabricated nonsense, each propping the other up. Crab Day is an old holiday. Crab Day is a new holiday. Crab Day isn’t a holiday at all.” Catch her on stages across the US and Europe this spring.

In drama, X, a new play from Alistair McDowall, graces the Royal Court's downstairs theatre, casting the audience into outer space where the lone research base on Pluto has lost contact with Earth, and the skeleton crew sit waiting. Then there's Boy, the latest offering from talented political playwright Leo Butler, which arrives at the Almeida on April 5th – a shrewd commentary on coming of age in 21st-century London. Meanwhile for dance aficionados, Pattern Recognition, a unique new work from the Alexander Whitley Dance Company and digital artist Memo Akten "at the cutting edge of dance and motion-responsive technology" to explore the concept of memory in the digital age. 

Living in the Amsterdam School at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam: Apr 9 until August 24
The internationally renowned Amsterdam School is returning to the Stedelijk Museum this April, with architectural wonders and anti-rationalist interior designs, complete with domestic accessories from artists such as Jaap Gidding, Michel de Klerk, Piet Kramer, Hildo Krop, and Marie Kuyken. In this exhibition, sculptors and designers will get the recognition they truly deserve through the powerful expression of rich upholsteries, dark palettes and strong sculptural shapes. The Amsterdam School was a vitally important institution in defining the architectural and interior aesthetics of Amsterdam between the two World Wars.

Joe Sweeney, Take Away at the Cob Gallery, London: Until April 2
“Rooted in British behaviour” and “inspired by market slang”, Joe Sweeney’s Take Away is a colloquial and thought-provoking reflection by the artist on his hometown of Brixton, at the Cob Gallery until April 2 (don't hang around!). “Take Away displays the everyday happenings, disruptions and dialogues that are both familiar and strange within the ever-changing neighbourhood,” the gallery explains. “With his sculptural interpretations of pie boxes, milk cartons, and ceramic fried chicken bones, local ephemera has been transformed into something more permanent, impactful and often funny.” Gilbert and George are fans, which can only mean good things for the young artist, whose unique take on grit and Britishness make for compelling viewing.