03 January 2019, The Tablet

Shows to surprise and delight

Shows to surprise and delight

Uncertain times bring fewer blockbusters: but for 2019, what the major shows lack in weight, they certainly make up for in quirkiness. “Twofers” were a standout feature of last year’s schedules; think “Mantegna and Bellini” at the National Gallery and “Klimt/ Schiele” at the Royal Academy. The headline pairing for 2019 is Bill Viola/ Michelangelo: Life Death Rebirth at the Royal Academy (from 26 January), and it focuses on artists born half a millennium apart.

What seems a stretch at first makes sense in the light of the shared preoccupations in the show’s subtitle. Viola is almost unique among contemporary artists in professing a belief in the human soul, earning his Tristan’s Ascension a place alongside Michelangelo’s The Risen Christ. But can a monumental video projection match the emotional power Michelangelo packs into a 15-inch drawing?

With this year’s other major draw, Vincent van Gogh, the surprise connection is with a place. Since its rebranding as Tate Britain, the Millbank gallery has struggled to leaven the national loaf by finding links to non-British artists. Last year it gave us “Impressionists in London”; this year it’s Van Gogh and Britain (from 27 March).

Get Instant Access

Continue Reading

Register for free to read this article in full

Subscribe for unlimited access

From just £21.50 quarterly

  Complete access to all Tablet website content including all premium content.
  The full weekly edition in print and digital including our 179 years archive.
  PDF version to view on iPad, iPhone or computer.

Already a subscriber? Login