Exhibition of the week
The visionary film-maker was also a powerful artist. This is a full survey of a great British radical.
• Manchester Art Gallery until 10 April
Psychedelic cats mingle with the feline cartoons of this delightful animal artist in a show that explores his later life as a psychiatric patient, at one of Britain’s most fascinating small museums.
• Bethlem Museum of the Mind, Beckenham from 4 December until 14 April
Films and paintings that mix autobiography, history and politics in a vision of colonialism’s legacy.
• Arnolfini, Bristol until 13 February
Excellent sampling of the revered dream artist’s uncanny works from the Artist Rooms collecfion.
• Tate Liverpool until 16 January
Life in a Cup
A celebration of the cultures of coffee in the Islamic world, where the coffee house was invented more than 400 years ago.
• British Museum, London until September 2022
Image of the week
Njideka Akunyili Crosby’s painting is currently showing at Tate Britain’s Life Between Islands: Caribbean-British Art 1950s-Now. It is an exhibition of protests and pleasures, celebrations and insurrections. Several years in the making, and as important as it is timely – as well as long overdue – it is also an exhibition of arrivals, departures and returns.
What we learned
Masterpiece of the week
Pieter Saenredam: The Interior of the Grote Kerk at Haarlem (1636-7)
This ethereal painter of architectural space delights in the pure geometry of circular columns and the still emptiness of a near-deserted church. It is tempting to see Saenredam as a modern artist. His feel for stripped down white space is almost minimalist. Flat diamond panels on columns interrupt the whiteness, like canvases by Malevich or Mondrian. But Saenredam lived in the 1600s and reflects his own age. The Protestant Reformation stripped northern churches bare, often unleashing waves of violent iconoclasm against the art and relics that filled medieval churches. Instead of mourning that, Saenredam sees beauty and mystery in the new look, and finds a new holiness in the matter of fact. This painting ponders where the sacred can be found in a material world.
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