Joshua Leon
The Missing O and E


On until 21 April 2024

The gallery is empty except for a couple of battered wooden benches styled from the design of a violin. A single speaker periodically pipes isolated musical passages performed by the same instrument. This sound is extracted from an Elgar recording on which Leon’s grandfather, a Jewish refugee, played second violin. 

The music is lost without context in the open-plan gallery dominated by the invigilators’ chatter. A series of musical ephemera from the artist’s collection half-heartedly situates the project in post-war Birmingham of the 1940s, but also too vaguely in the sprawling lineage of Beethoven, Schubert, and Vivaldi.

The gallery text finally explains the aim of this confusion: Leon believes that the symphony is “cacophonous” and wants to rescue his ancestor from the oblivion of music. He disowns the tradition in which fulfilment came from playing part in a collective, rather than individual endeavour. This could have been a tender homage, or maybe a political charge found in a life’s work. Instead, this embarrassing display indicts today’s second-fiddlers with narcissism and egomania.

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

Amanda Wall, Femcel at Almine Rech ★★★☆☆

Amanda Wall



There’s no dignity in paint when the arc of art history tends to “show hole”.

Open Group, The Polish pavilion in Venice ★★★☆☆

Open Group

Repeat After Me II


The applause was rapturous. A sense of tragedy, however, was altogether missing.

Ed Webb-Ingall, A Bedroom for Everyone at PEER ★☆☆☆☆

Ed Webb-Ingall

A Bedroom for Everyone


How can art improve the lives of communities? Wrong answers only.

Soufiane Ababri, Their mouths at Barbican ★★☆☆☆

Soufiane Ababri

Their mouths were full of bumblebees


Ababri’s paintings for the Grindr generation are more cartoonish than they are from life.

Aleksandar Denić, The Serbian pavilion in Venice ★★★☆☆

Aleksandar Denić

Exposition Coloniale


Denić took the Biennale’s theme literally, as though he was not in on the art world joke.

Pakui Hardware, Maria Terese Rozanskaite, Inflammation at Lithuanian pavilion Venice ★★★☆☆

Pakui Hardware, Maria Terese Rožanskaité



One of the novelties in Venice is the artwork that looks good but on reflection isn’t.