As art galleries begin to reopen, many are hoping to bring joy and lift the spirits of visitors after the lockdown.
Galleries such as the Tate Modern, the V&A and the Royal Academy offer a variety of new exhibits, ranging from contemplative and reflective performances to luminous and immersive experiences, to help us return to their spaces after a year of searching for art. online.
“Nothing really replicates the experience of the real thing,” says arts psychologist Rebecca Chamberlain of Goldsmiths University, who missed her usual dose of art.
“Getting physically close to works of art that have been touched by an artist is a special experience and looking at them in a social space is great for well-being, which one just doesn’t get by looking in. a flat screen at home. “
Many galleries now offer pre-booked time slots to help reduce the flow of visitors to their exhibits so that there is more space to enjoy, meditate and interact with their works as well as to practice slow art.
For those feeling nervous about re-entering the gallery environment, Chamberlain advises checking out what’s on offer and getting ready. “Know what you’re comfortable with and what the restrictions will be,” she says.
Kew Gardens in London, for example, runs yoga and forest swimming sessions alongside its exhibits to help reduce anxiety and put visitors in the mood for art.
And if you can’t make it to a gallery, many art institutions continue to put some of their exhibitions and collections online.
Whether relaxing or stimulating, art can help us “connect with an artist,” “engage with the world,” and “make us feel less alone,” Chamberlain explains.
We take a look at a selection of some of the uplifting art exhibits on offer.
David Hockney: The Arrival of Spring, Normandy, 2020, Royal Academy London
Spring has definitely arrived at the Royal Academy thanks to David Hockney. The figurative artist filled the gallery with baby pinks, vivid yellows and fluorescent greens while depicting the unfolding of spring from his garden in Normandy, France, where he worked alone last year.
He originally created the digital artwork on his iPad to boost the spirits of his friends during the lockdown, and has now scaled them up on paper for the public to enjoy.
“Spring is exciting,” says Edith Devaney, curator, friend of Hockney’s and recipient of her work. “It’s about starting over, refreshing and it’s pretty remarkable that we don’t necessarily notice it when we maybe should.”
In his new works, Hockney also pays tribute to painters who worked in France before him, including Van Gogh, Bonnard and Monet, whose garden in Giverny, in northern France, delights visitors every year.
“Even when it’s all closed, nature continues and it’s interesting to think about it,” says Devaney.
Exhibition until September 26, 2021.
Joan Miró: La Gran Belleza, Newlands House Gallery, Petworth, West Sussex
Another artist who spreads joy is the painter, sculptor and ceramicist Joan Miró. Fifty pieces of his work are on display at the Newlands House Gallery in Petworth, West Sussex, in an exhibition spanning the artist’s long and successful career.
“We wanted an exhibition that was rewarding, colorful, positive and uplifting,” says gallery owner Nicola Jones. “Miró was inspired by the moon and the stars, and his art was influenced by nature.”
He also survived the Spanish Civil War and the two World Wars and sought solace in creating upbeat art.
Popular pieces in the exhibition include an ink drawing on corrugated cardboard (Tête, 1960), a playful stencil from his time with American sculptor Alexander Calder (Gouache-Dessin, 1934), and sculptures inspired by fruit and vegetables in the Spanish village in which he lived.
“If he lived today, he probably would have been inspired by Banksy – come and invigorate yourself,” says Jones.
Exhibition until July 4, 2021.
Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser, V&A, London
The latest V&A blockbuster takes you down the rabbit hole (finally the gallery steps) in a maze of themed rooms containing hundreds of objects associated with Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland books.
Highlights include the photograph by Tim Walker featuring models Naomi Campbell and Adwoa Aboah; stage costumes for the 2017 Royal Ballet production of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland; and original manuscripts written for the real Alice, Alice Liddell, who was photographed by V&A photographer Julia Margaret Cameron.
The exhibit also examines how Alice became a symbol of the surrealist and hippie movements with works by Salvador Dali and the San Francisco display company East Totem West.
“You don’t just learn about Alice, you become Alice,” says Rosalie Fabre, who leads the show’s virtual reality game element. “You can smell the roses, stroke the flamingos and play croquet with the Queen of Hearts. It’s a very vibrant and visceral experience, just what we need after being in the dark for so long. “
Exhibition until December 31, 2021.
Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirror Rooms, Tate Modern, London
One of the biggest fans of Alice in Wonderland is Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama. His new show at Tate Modern offers two immersive experiences, including Chandelier of Grief and the return of his largest overflow room: Filled with the Glow of Life.
It’s actually filled with “hundreds of tiny LED lights along with mirrors and water, like stepping into a galaxy of stars,” reveals co-curator Katy Wan. “Although Chandelier of Grief suggests that even in times of great sadness, we might find beauty, however fleeting. “
Exhibition until June 12, 2022.
Ryoji Ikeda at the Vinyl Factory, London
Ryoji Ikeda’s latest show is not so much a reflection as it is an assault on the senses. The Japanese DJ and light artist takes you on an immersive journey through bright (sometimes strobe) light, a blizzard of data (drawn from Nasa and Cern), and high-pitched sound frequencies around The Vinyl’s dark basement. Factory in London.
The exhibition also features two new works in the UK, including Point of No Return, an installation that the organizers describe as entering a black hole, and A (Continuum) – a work featuring six giant speakers with 300 recordings of tuning forks resonating the note A, which Ikeda says is up to the visitor to interpret.
“Music is beautiful because we can’t see it and we can’t touch it, but everyone knows it. You don’t need special tools to understand it. You can change it with any meaning. alone, ”he said.
Contemporary composer Max Richter, who is an Ikeda fan, says: “His work has an immediate sensory impact. You get the impression that you are being asked a question and that you are engaged by a spirit. A very rich experience and not always lived. with works of art. “
Just be sure to take your sunglasses.
Exhibition until August 1, 2021.
Naturally brilliant color, Kew Gardens, London
And finally, the Shirley Sherwood Gallery at Kew Gardens has opened its doors to what it claims to be the brightest color in the world, pure structural color. It is the iridescent jewel like shimmer that you might find on butterfly wings, the backs of beetles, and on the feathers of hummingbirds.
It was created in the laboratory, to the delight of botanical painters who, until now, have always struggled to reproduce what they see in nature, explains artist and scientist Andrew Parker.
Parker worked with scientific researchers at Lifescaped to develop the color, which is used by companies to make products such as illuminated glasses and shiny running sneakers.
The exhibit also features what Kew describes as the world’s brightest painting and a large kaleidoscope filled with nature’s most vivid colors, while exploring the evolution of color and the science behind it.
Once dazzled, you can step into the peaceful Kew Gardens and enjoy the colors for real.
Exhibition until September 26, 2021.