Brilliant Things To Do in April

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Ed van der Elsken, Beethovenstraat, Amsterdam (1967)Nederlands Fotomuseum, © Ed van der Elsken / Collection Ed van der Elsken Estate

As spring gets underway, allow us to guide you through the best of the cultural calendar this month

Ed van der Elsken: Camera in Love at Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam: until May 21, 2017
From Paris to Tokyo and Amsterdam to Africa, Dutch photographer Ed van der Elsken snapped images of interesting people he encountered on the city streets. It’s no surprise that admirers of Van der Elsken’s work include Nan Goldin, and that he is seen to be in the same league as the likes of Robert Frank – his work captures intriguing moments of normal life, whether that be three laughing women crossing an Amsterdam street or a moment of seemingly intense contemplation in a Tokyo subway station. The Stedelijk’s retrospective is the largest there has been of Van der Elsken’s work in 25 years, with film as well as photography exhibited to highlight just how enthusiastic the imagemaker was to explore the nuances of the cultures and countercultures that surrounded him.

American Desert Dreams by Nancy Baron and Pamela Littky at Kehrer Galerie, Berlin: April 1 – May 6, 2017
Photographers Nancy Baron and Pamela Littky have both chosen the desert states of America as their subjects through their respective series of images, Baron’s of Palm Springs, California, and Littky’s of Baker, California and Beatty, Nevada. Baron places particular focus on the mid-century modern enthusiasts (in every aspect of life: interior design, cars and architecture) of Palm Springs and their almost unbelievably bright lifestyles. Seemingly at odds with Baron’s exuberant picture of Palm Springs, Littky’s shots of two towns – both of which have earned themselves the moniker ‘Gateway to Death Valley’ – in California and Nevada that have a mutual feeling of vacancy about them. Littky captures the static and disparate nature of these two environments and the resulting photographs are so still that they almost inspire silence. Together, the two series create a fascinating glimpse into the United States, and how its landscapes can serve to enhance the effects of the ever-elusive and oft-referenced American Dream.

Andy Warhol: Sixty Last Suppers at Museo del Novecento, Milan: until May 18, 2017
It’s been 30 years since Andy Warhol’s final cycle, The Last Supper – inspired by Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece of the same title and commissioned by gallerist Alexandre Iolas –made its debut in Milan. To celebrate, the city’s Museo del Novecento (in collaboration with the Gagosian gallery) is re-exhibiting one of its key works, the monumental painting Sixty Last Suppers – on display in the museum’s stunning Sala Fontana until May 18.

Tokyo – Paris: Masterpieces from Bridgestone Museum of Art, Collection Ishibashi Foundation at Musée de l’Orangerie, Paris: April 5 – August 21, 2017
20th-century Impressionist art might not be the first thing that springs to mind when you think of Japanese industrial family dynasty Ishibashi and its company Bridgestone. However, the corporation’s founder Shojiro Ishibashi was an enthusiastic collector of Western art. Ishibashi’s collection was so significant (and it has continued to grow, today numbering over 2,500 pieces) that he had a museum built in Tokyo to house it, and it is the Bridgestone Museum of Art and the Ishibashi Foundation which, now, are lending the collection to Paris’ Musée de l’Orangerie.

Work by artists who were at the forefront of Impressionism and the period that followed, such as Picasso, Cézanne and Renoir, will be on show in Paris, as well as works of Abstract Expressionism by the likes of Jackson Pollock, whilst also drawing attention to links between the art and the collectors with a look at Japan’s modern history. Just in case you’re in need of another excuse to pop over to Paris.

Irving Penn: Centennial at The Metropolitan Museum, New York: April 24 – July 30, 2017
2017 marks the year that seminal photographer Irving Penn would have turned 100, and to coincide with his centennial, a mammoth retrospective of Penn’s work in fashion photography, portraiture and still lifes will be held at New York’s Metropolitan Museum. Comprising images from The Met’s existing collection of Penn’s work alongside 150 photographs recently gifted to the museum by The Irving Penn Foundation, expect absorbing still lifes, highly memorable and varied portraits – subjects range from a fishmonger to Truman Capote – and exquisite fashion photography, some starring Penn’s wife, Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn, all featuring Penn’s signature aesthetic of minimal elegance.

Chris Ofili: Weaving Magic at The National Gallery, London: April 26 – August 28, 2017
Turner Prize-winning artist Chris Ofili’s first foray into the world of tapestry comes in the form of Weaving Magic at the National Gallery this month, which will debut Ofili’s weaved offering, The Caged Bird’s Song. The tapestry itself was produced over the course of two and a half years by the Edinburgh-based Dovecot Tapestry Studio, and is a tribute to Ofili’s ongoing interest in classic mythology (something he explored in his last exhibition at the National Gallery, Titian: Metamorphosis 2012) as well as the inspiration he finds in the land and stories of Trinidad, where he currently lives and works. Ofili describes the resulting tapestry as “a marriage of watercolour and weaving” – an intriguing combination, and one which certainly piques our interest.

Peter Shire: Naked is the Best Disguise at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles: April 22 – July 2, 2017
Los Angeles-based artist Peter Shire’s work from the 1970s until today is to be exhibited in the city’s Museum of Contemporary Art, paying particular attention to the ceramics and furniture Shire has become known for. His work is full of unexpected compositions and vibrant colours (see the celebrated Bel Air Chair of 1981), employing the use of multiple materials in one piece: metal, ceramics and plastic, among others. Additionally, the exhibition will pay due attention to the teapot – a vessel that Shire has experimented with and produced in multifarious forms.

The Earth Issue: Adam’s Eden at Tea Leaf, London: April 7 – May 20, 2017
We’ve spotlighted the work of The Earth Issue before, but now the collective offers the chance to see its work firsthand, with an exhibition in London. Described as featuring “transcendental deities” and “psychedelic landscapes”, this show is made up of unpublished work by Adam Popli, whose photography also appears in The Earth Issue’s eponymous printed publication. The Earth Issue aims to bridge the gap between art and environmentalism, with focus continuously placed on climate change.

Kate Cooper at VITRINE, London: April 28 – June 18, 2017
Gender is a central theme in Amsterdam and London-based artist Kate Cooper’s work – specifically, representations of femininity. VITRINE is hosting her first solo exhibition in the UK, which comprises video and photography exploring ideas of the female body in modern and historical iterations alike. Cooper’s hyperreal imagery is eerie and arresting, with bright colours and intense detail used to communicate the chosen subject matter, calling into question the role of women in today’s digital age as well as the rapidly evolving technology which surrounds us.

Scott Myles: This Way Out at The Modern Institute, Glasgow: until April 28, 2017
For his latest exhibition at Glasgow’s The Modern Institute, Scott Myles is bringing his studio into the show space. For the duration of the exhibit, his workshop will be on display as he works away at ongoing projects. A true insight into the creative practice of the artist, Myles will use tools he has developed especially for the exhibition, such as an exposure unit for completing screen prints, and a shelving unit to replicate one from his actual studio. 

The Events Edit

Salone del Mobile, Milan: April 4 – 9, 2017
For its 56th 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.

Somerset House Terrace, presented by Peroni Ambra: April 1 – September, 2017 and Now Play This at Somerset House, London: April 7 – 9, 2017
If you can’t make it to Milan, don’t fret – there are plenty of exciting goings on in London this month too, and two such events are courtesy of Somerset House. First off, Now Play This is a three-day event which looks at games in their multiple forms: from computer to board to playground. Accompanying the event is an exhibition documenting the history of game-playing as we know it today, from the more traditional forms to the designs which influence modern day iterations.

Secondly, Somerset House brings the perks of summer to London early with Somerset House Terrace, presented by Peroni Ambra, which is the latest offering from the Italian aperitivo giant. Peroni Ambra combines flavours of chinotto, an Italian citrus fruit, with the beer that we know and love, and is to be served over ice in a tumbler on the al fresco, tree-covered terrace. Molto bene!

Art Market San Francisco: April 27 – 30, 2017
Should you be lucky enough to find yourself on the west coast of America come the end of the month, make sure to stop by Art Market San Francisco. This year will be the fair’s seventh edition, and promises all the excitement that has come to be expected of it: a wide selection of modern and contemporary artists and exhibitors, plus newcomers to watch out for.

The Best of Food and Drink

Monty’s Deli, London: opening mid April, 2017
Monty’s Deli began as a market stall in 2012, specialising in the salt beef and pastrami sandwiches that dreams are made of. Every aspect of the menu is down to them: bagels are made on-site, just as meat is cured and mustard made in-house too. Monty's prides itself on its perfect salt beef and more-than-generous portions – what more could anybody want?

Shackfuyu’s Bottomless ‘Boozy Monday Brunch’: every Monday
Soho favourite Shackfuyu is moving a typically weekend-based concept right to the beginning of the week with its Boozy Monday Brunches. Think endless prosecco and pineapple sake, alongside three courses of the restaurant’s signature western-style Japanese cuisine. Mondays just became much more appealing.

Grain Store’s ‘Kitchen Culture’ Supper Club: April 3, 2017
Grain Store is launching monthly Supper Clubs from tonight, with each night featuring a one-off menu and a sense of exclusivity, as each event will host only 20 people. With each night to be themed, but not announced until the evening itself, likely points of focus will be Ireland or Saudi Arabia and others inspired by chef Bruno Laubet’s travels and experiences. What’s more, each event will offer the option of BYOB at no extra cost, making it easy on the purse strings too.

Hunting for Hotdogs with Bubbledogs at Bubbledogs, London: April 14, 15 and 17, 2017
We all know Bubbledogs by now, for their pairing of champagne and hotdogs is certainly unforgettable. But this month their appeal grows with the introduction of a Easter-themed hunt over the bank holiday weekend. 1,000 champagne bottle-shaped treasures will be hidden throughout the vicinity of Soho and Fitzrovia for one and all to seek out. Once found, head to the restaurant’s Charlotte Street home to claim a free hotdog and indulge in a well-earned glass of bubbles.

Gome Galily residence at L’Escargot, London: April 3 – 6, 2017
The flavours of Ibiza are coming to London’s famed Soho haunt, L’Escargot (which turns 90 this year), for four nights only with chef Gome Galily’s residence. The food will be exactly as sumptuous and delightful as one might expect from L’Escargot, but with a distinct hint of island life: examples include crab truffle with quail’s egg, or matcha profiteroles with goji berries.

The Best of Film

Should the April showers interrupt our current sunny spell, the cinema is the perfect place to hide out this month. Two very different but equally brilliant odes to poetry make for unmissable viewing. Jackie director Pablo Larraín returns with another masterful subversion of the traditional biopic, this time focussing on Chilean poet and politician Pablo Neruda, whose story is told using a thrilling blend of fantasy and realism. A Quiet Passion is Terence Davies’ exploration into the life of American poet Emily Dickinson (wonderfully embodied by Cynthia Nixon), tracing her journey from ambitious schoolgirl to reclusive, unknown artist. Julia Ducournau’s Raw, AKA the French cannibalism film that made viewers vomit at Cannes, has finally arrived to put your stomach to the test. It follows a young student (Garance Marillier) who abandons her vegetarianism – and then some – in a bid to fit in at veterinary school. Only slightly more palatable is Lady Macbeth, William Oldroyd’s exquisitely shot tale of a young newly-wed (Florence Pugh) whose arranged marriage to a cruel older man in 19th-century rural England prompts a burgeoning rebellion.

Acclaimed South Korean director Park Chan-wook is back with The Handmaiden, a spellbinding film set in Japanese-occupied Korea in the 1930s, which follows a young woman enlisted as a servant to a Japanese heiress. Twists, turns and immaculate performances abound. Don’t miss Finnish drama The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki, the Cannes-winning, true story of the famous Finnish boxer as he trains for the 1962 world featherweight championship, all the while falling madly in love. For those in search of excellent documentaries, Raoul Peck’s I am Not Your Negro, a stirring essay on race in modern America, based on an unfinished manuscript by James Baldwin, is a must-watch. The same applies to Who’s Gonna Love Me Now, the deeply moving story of Saar, a gay Israeli expat living in London, whose diagnosis with HIV sees him attempt to reconcile with his orthodox family back home.

Great Performances

There is no shortage of fabulous productions to pique your interest this April. We can’t wait for the European premiere of Guards at the Taj, the darkly funny play by Pulitzer Prize nominee Rajiv Joseph, arriving at the newly renovated Bush Theatre. The tale of two guards hired to keep watch as the final flourishes are added to the Taj Mahal in 17th-century Agra, it poses important questions about art and privilege that remain relevant to this day. This year marks the 40th anniversary of Mike Leigh’s brilliant satirical comedy Abigail’s Party, which has been revived for a new UK tour, starring Amanda Abbington as the inimitable Beverly, whose decision to play host to her new neighbours results in the drinks party from hell. The Onassis Cultural Centre in Athens presents STAGED? by Maria Hassabi, which sees the pioneering performance artist take to the stage alongside Jessie Gold, Hristoula Harakas and Oisín Monaghan, three of New York’s finest dancers, for a piece that continues her exploration of the body as an artwork in space. Last but not least, there’s the chance to watch 90s classic Sister Act with a live choir and band at Westminster’s Central Hall: Oh Happy Day!