Cui Jie
Thermal Landscapes

★☆☆☆☆

On until 4 November 2023

Cui’s acrylics are what today’s megacities would look like if the characters of the 1960s cartoon The Jetsons had free reign over architecture. The skyscrapers are so tall that it would make no difference to a street-level observer to make them any taller. There is no sky anyhow and the structures have no Earthly foundations, either. There are stripes and checks on the canvas edge for scale, but they have no key. It’s a futuristic vision, except Abu Dhabi and Shanghai already built it.

But it’s the prehistoric Flintstones – the jet family’s contemporaries in the animation studio – that get the final word because ‘architectural’ models of giant animals dominate the canvases and the buildings. There’s a mega-giraffe, a skyscraper-sized rooster, a cathedral-like rabbit. Dino, the Flintstones’ pet dinosaur, must be close by too.

For all the liberties Cui takes with architectural conventions, this attempt to bring a simulacrum of the natural world together with the megapolis is unsustainable. The exhibition thus feels like a lecture on climate change sponsored by the designers of The Line, Saudi Arabia’s dystopian plan for a 110-mile linear city in the desert.


notes and notices are short and curt exhibition reviews. Read more:

Miranda Forrester, Arrival at Tiwani Contemporary ★★★☆☆

Miranda Forrester

Arrival

★★★☆☆

Forrester’s project is timely when foundational concepts like ‘mother’ and their ‘as-though’ counterparts are readily confused.

Material Rites at Gathering ★★★☆☆

Fritsch, Genzken, Oldenburg, Shani, Sherman, Smithson, Thek

Material Rites

★★★☆☆

The instincts are right, but too much makes sense to make sense together.

Karrabing Film Collective, Night Fishing with Ancestors at Goldsmiths CCA ★☆☆☆☆

Karrabing Film Collective

Night Fishing with Ancestors

★☆☆☆☆

Little separates this display from a human zoo complete with curators who occasionally kettle-prod the once noble savage into a spectacular rage.

Asami Shoji et al., Gestures of Resistance at A.I. ★★★★☆

Asami Shoji et al.

Gestures of Resistance

★★★★☆

The figures appear as though in x-ray and helplessly foretell their own ends.

Stuart Middleton, The Human Model at Carlos/Ishikawa ★★☆☆☆

Stuart Middleton

The Human Model

★★☆☆☆

An interest in material is core to this practice but Middleton mistrusts his instincts.

Abdullah Al Saadi, Sites of Memory, Sites of Amnesia, UAE pavilion in Venice ★★★☆☆

Abdullah Al Saadi

Sites of Memory, Sites of Amnesia

★★★☆☆

The exhibition’s user experience rivals that of the Apple Store.

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