Nov 28, 2023

Five exhibitions to see this winter

David Hockney, J.E.H MacDonald and more. These exhibitions are on view around the world this December 

David Hockney painting a portrait of Harry Styles in his studio

David Hockney Painting Harry Styles, (With Portrait of Clive Davis), Normandy Studio, 1st June 2022. Photo: Jean-Pierre Gonçalves de Lima

Winter is coming, and so are many exhibitions and installations around the globe. As we look ahead to a season of sleet, snow and more time indoors, here are five exhibitions going on view this December. 

1. David Hockney: Drawing from Life – London, England  

An acrylic portrait of Harry Styles by painter David Hockney

Harry Styles, 31st May 2022 by David Hockney. Acrylic on canvas. 1219.2 x 914.4 mm © David Hockney. Photo: Jonathan Wilkinson, Collection of the artist.

A much-loved exhibition has returned to the National Portrait Gallery in London, England after it’s staging was abruptly cut in March 2020 due to COVID-19. Open now through January 2024, David Hockney: Drawing from Life takes visitors through the last six decades of the painter’s portraiture works. Visitors can view portraits of Hockney’s family that helped broaden his range of mediums and styles from pencil to digital. In addition, on view are over 30 new portraits depicting his friends and visitors to his Normandy studio between 2021 and 2022.  

2. J.E.H. MacDonald? A Tangled Garden – Vancouver, British Columbia  

Sketch of a garden

?, Sketch after The Tangled Garden, n.d. oil on paperboard. Collection of the Vancouver Art Gallery 

On view starting December 16 to May 2024 at the Vancouver Art Gallery is a dive into the works of J.E.H. MacDonald, one of Canada’s most celebrated painters and founding member of the Group of Seven. It investigates the gallery’s acquisition of ten previously unknown sketches attributed to MacDonald. Alongside a significant installation of oil sketches by the Group of Seven drawn from the VAG’s collection, this exhibition showcases the work they’ve done with leading art historians, handwriting experts, and resources from the Canadian Conservation Institute to investigate the contested works. Visitors will be able to access the key evidence and come up with their own conclusions.  

3. Narsiso Martinez: From These Hands/De Estas Manos – Buffalo, New York  

Portrait of farmworker on a produce box

Narsiso Martinez, Easy Grape, 2019. Ink, gouache, collage, charcoal, and matte gel on recycled produce box. 27 x 30 inches (68.58 x 76.2 cm). Photo © 2019 Michael Underwood.

Mexican American artist Narsiso Martinez is opening his first solo exhibition on the East Coast at Buffalo AKG Art Museum this December in the Hemicycle Gallery. It will display a small retrospective of a selection of his works made in the last five years, all of which exemplify the artist’s practice of combining drawing and painting on reclaimed produce boxes. As a farmworker and artist, Martinez celebrates the labour of marginalized people, particularly those who bring food to our tables. For his works, he renders photographs of his subjects in charcoal and ink drawn on reclaimed produce boxes in a manner reminiscent of David Alfaro Siqueiros. This exhibition will run through April 2024.  

4. Descending the Staircase – Chicago, Illinois  

Laurie Simmons (American, b. 1949), Lying Objects, 1992.

Laurie Simmons (American, b. 1949), Lying Objects, 1992. Offset photo; Framed: 17 7/16 x 22 5/16 in. (44.3 x 56.7 cm). Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Gift of Jack and Sandra Guthman, 2016.49. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.

On view from December 16 to August 2024 at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago comes a new exhibition exploring the different ways artists represents the human body through art. Presenting figures of all kinds, the exhibiting artworks delves into “fundamental questions about the human body in the contemporary world, including its relationship to labour and machines, its presentation in advertising and social media, and its role within the everyday domestic sphere.” Part of an ongoing series that highlights key artists represented in the museum’s collection, this exhibition brings togethers new works and old favourites.  

5. Resistance & Respiration – Calgary, Alberta  

A man in a plastic bubble

Darrin Martin. Take Breath is Breath (still), 2023. Video diptych.

A new exhibition at the Contemporary Calgary uses the work of contemporary artists to explore the complexities of breathing through art. The theme is inspired by the scholarship of Jean-Thomas Tremblay and his new book Breathing Aesthetics (2022). The act of breathing in relation to disabled bodies is often associated with “spasmic bodies” and aid by technological apparatuses. It is also greatly stigmatized “through black bodies and police violence, and the literal physical struggle beset by our pandemic era.” The curator aims to explore how contemporary disabled artists make breathing more dynamic and less so dangerous. Also, imagining breathing and breathlessness, as a productive cause for giddiness, a sensation for whirling, and a tendency for staggering. This exhibition is on view now through April 2024. 

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