Michaël Borremans

The Monkey

★★★★★

On until 26 July 2024

Borremans’ anthropomorphic paintings distorted monkey faces have the appearance of porcelain dolls. Alone, they would have been unremarkable. Borremans, however, places these eerie animal portraits next to his only slightly odd pictures of humans. This does to the human figure what Pierre Huyghe’s ape did with the absence in his Human Mask film.

The comparison unnervingly accentuates his people’s outre-mer characteristics. Some seem medieval, others come from Hollywood Westerns. This company gives even an entirely straightforward female nude a set of otherworldly qualities that she alone could not bear.

Borrowings from 17th-century court portraiture mix with 1980s pop. Borremans toys with his subjects, his audience, and with art history. His monkeys quite literally do so with them all when they appear as giant overlords of human life modelled at plaything scale in the painter’s already modestly sized pictures. 


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

Pope.L, Hospital at South London Gallery ★★★☆☆

Pope.L

Hospital

★★★☆☆

This project lands in the joke section of Animal Farm and not as a prophecy of the Jan 6th insurrection.

RE/SISTERS at Barbican ★★☆☆☆

RE/SISTERS

★★☆☆☆

Too many deadpan landscape photographs turn intrigue into fatigue and into paralysis.

Max Boyla, Crying like a fire in the sun at Workplace ★★☆☆☆

Max Boyla

Crying like a fire in the sun

★★☆☆☆

Rothko’s abstractions are said to have induced tears in viewers overwhelmed by abstraction. Staring at the sun here, however, barely causes blindness.

Your Ghosts Are Mine at Palazzo Franchetti ★★★☆☆

Your Ghosts Are Mine: Expanded Cinemas, Amplified Voices

★★★☆☆

This attempt at building pan-Arabic film aesthetics falls prey to the art technician’s trickery.

Kevin Brisco Jr, But I Hear There Are New Suns at Union Pacific ★★☆☆☆

Kevin Brisco Jr

But I Hear There Are New Suns

★★☆☆☆

I didn’t get to see this show. Perhaps for the best.

Alia Farid, Elsewhere at Chisenhale ★★★☆☆

Alia Farid

Elsewhere

★★★☆☆

There is no answer in the work. Its cause and the object become enmeshed in a bland, exoticized mess. 

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