Emmanuelle Walker

Must-see exhibitions of summer 2018: Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Australia

Discover Wu Guangzhong in Singapore, ZERO artists in Hobart and Marina Abramovic in Bangkok with the aid of our round-up of the hottest exhibitions in new and emerging art destinations across the globe this summer

This year has seen Marrakech establishing itself as a centre for African contemporary art. In addition to the opening of the Musée d'Art Contemporain Africain Al Maaden (MACAAL), the city hosted contemporary African art fair 1:54 — the first edition to be held on the continent — in February.

Soukaïna Aziz El Idrissi, Calibrated Compositions III, 2010-2017© Saad Alami

Soukaïna Aziz El Idrissi, Calibrated Compositions III, 2010-2017© Saad Alami

Second Life  responds to Africa’s increasing material consumption, featuring works by artists including El Anatsui, Abdoulaye Konaté and Serge Attukwei Clottey.

Best known for his ink paintings, charcoal drawings and woodcuts, Sun Xun is one of China’s most prolific young artists. Recently he has had well-reviewed solo shows at the Hayward Gallery in London and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, where he examined the impact of the Cultural Revolution and other recent events in Chinese history. His latest show explores the past’s relationship to the present, and reality versus fantasy. It also features a whopping new 40-metre painting that mixes Imperial Chinese and ancient Roman iconography.

Sun Xun, Magician Party and Dead Crow (still), 2016, image courtesy and © the artist

Sun Xun, Magician Party and Dead Crow (still), 2016, image courtesy and © the artist

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  • Brilliant City David Zwirner, H Queen’s, Hong Kong, until 4 August 2018

If you love art, it’s hard to imagine anything more exciting than a 24-storey building devoted to contemporary art galleries. At H Queen’s, which opened this year in Hong Kong’s Central district, international players such as Pace Gallery and Hauser & Wirth sit alongside Hong Kong stalwarts Pearl Lam and Galerie Ora-Ora, which is devoted to emerging talent. David Zwirner has also opened a new Asian outpost on the fifth and sixth floors, and currently has a show devoted, un-ironically, to how artists relate to dystopian metropolises. It features work by Chen Wei, Stan Douglas, Michael Lin, and Gordon Matta Clark, among others.

Chen Wei, Iron Sheet, 2015 © Chen Wei, courtesy of the artist, Ota Fine Arts, ShanghaiSingaporeTokyo, and David Zwirner

Chen Wei, Iron Sheet, 2015 © Chen Wei, courtesy of the artist, Ota Fine Arts, Shanghai/Singapore/Tokyo, and David Zwirner

The galleries are housed in an award-winning building designed by William Lim, and there are great restaurants, too. In all, it should be a shot in the arm for Hong Kong’s thriving contemporary art scene.

Find out more about the must-see exhibitions in the Americas for summer 2018

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  • Co-Lab: Contemporary Art and Savoir Faire Louvre Abu Dhabi, until 26 August 2018

When the Louvre opened its new Middle Eastern outpost with much fanfare in 2017, it also launched an Emirati-French cultural exchange programme to promote the flow of art and ideas between the two nations. The latest result of the dialogue is Co-Lab, which has partnered four living artists from the UAE with four historical French manufacturers. The results, in glass-making, weaving, embroidery and ceramics, are a fantastic combination of skills and cultures. A well-timed visit might coincide with the unveiling of the world’s most expensive artwork, Leonardo’s Salvator Mundi, which is due to be unveiled in the museum soon.

Co-Lab Contemporary Art and Savoir Faire at Louvre Abdu Dhabi © Department of culture and tourism, Co-Lab

Co-Lab: Contemporary Art and Savoir Faire at Louvre Abdu Dhabi © Department of culture and tourism, Co-Lab

When he died in 2010, at the age of 90, Wu Guanzhong was widely recognised as the founder of modern Chinese painting. This exhibition celebrates the forthcoming centenary of his birth and an eventful life that encompassed both writing and painting. Studying in Paris in the late 1940s, Guanzhong fell in love with the work of Cézanne, Gauguin and Van Gogh. But after the Cultural Revolution he was forbidden to paint, only returning to art in 1973.

Wu Guanzhong, Falling Flowers, 2007. Gift of the artist. Collection of National Gallery Singapore

Wu Guanzhong, Falling Flowers, 2007. Gift of the artist. Collection of National Gallery Singapore

As a painter, Guanzhong never had any difficulty marrying Western and Eastern influences. ‘When I take up a brush to paint, I paint a Chinese picture,’ he said.

In partnership with New York’s Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne’s NGV is exhibiting more than 200 key works from the American museum's collection. These are arranged chronologically in eight thematic sections that trace the development of modern art since the end of the 19th century.

Jeff Koons, New Shelton WetDry Doubledecker, 1981. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Werner and Elaine Dannheisser, 1996 © Jeff Koons

Jeff Koons, New Shelton Wet/Dry Doubledecker, 1981. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Werner and Elaine Dannheisser, 1996 © Jeff Koons

Paul Gauguin, The Moon and the Earth, 1893. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Lillie P. Bliss Collection, 1934. Digital Image © The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2018

Paul Gauguin, The Moon and the Earth, 1893. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Lillie P. Bliss Collection, 1934. Digital Image © The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2018

Works by artists such as Van Gogh, Gauguin and Cézanne represent some of MoMA’s earliest acquisitions. All the major themes of 20th century art including Cubism, Surrealism, Futurism and Abstract Expressionism, Pop and Minimalism follow suit, with examples by Pollock, Mondrian, Kahlo, Dalí, Picasso and Warhol. The visual art is accompanied throughout with architectural drawings, furniture, textiles, video games and even emojis, providing a neatly-packaged lesson in art history.

Find out more about the must-see exhibitions in Europe for summer 2018

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  • LGBTQI+ Banele Khoza Zeitz MOCAA, Cape Town, until 16 September 2018

Since its opening last year in Cape Town, Zeitz MOCAA — dedicated to exhibiting art by African and diaspora artists — has been heralded as Africa’s Tate. This summer it showcases figurative and abstract works by the Swaziland-born painter Banele Khoza, which address issues surrounding gay rights in South Africa and throughout the continent.

Banele Khoza, We All Want to Be Seen, 2017. On long-term loan from the Zeitz Collection. Image courtesy Zeitz MOCAA

Banele Khoza, We All Want to Be Seen, 2017. On long-term loan from the Zeitz Collection. Image courtesy Zeitz MOCAA

One of the first female artists in China to work with video, Tianmiao has in recent years been focusing on large-scale sensory installations. Her first institutional show in Shanghai, which occupies the second to the sixth floors of the Rockbund Museum, is organised as a journey through ‘consciousness’.

Lin Tianmiao, My Garden, 2018. Image courtesy the artist and Rockbund Art Museum

Lin Tianmiao, My Garden, 2018. Image courtesy the artist and Rockbund Art Museum

In one section of the show, visitors are given pulse sensors to wear on their wrists. The data is then displayed as dripping blue liquid in glass tubes, enabling viewers to observe their ‘blood’ in motion.

With its own vineyard and 'flashy dens' for guests to sleep in, MONA, the Museum of Old and New Art, has put Tasmania firmly on the global art map. Set up by the eccentric gambler David Walsh, the museum will, for $75,000, exhibit your ashes for eternity.

Yves Klein, Pigment bleu sec (Dry Blue Pigment), 1957; recreated in 2018. Private collection © The Estate of Yves Klein. ADAGPCopyright Agency, 2018. Image courtesy Museum of Old and New Art (Mona)

Yves Klein, Pigment bleu sec (Dry Blue Pigment), 1957; recreated in 2018. Private collection © The Estate of Yves Klein. ADAGP/Copyright Agency, 2018. Image courtesy Museum of Old and New Art (Mona)

Currently on display at MONA is ZERO, the first Australian show to look at Germany’s eponymous post-war art collective, which subsequently attracted adherents across the globe. The group, whose members famously wanted to exhibit on the Moon, collaborated on a range of sensory experiences. Artists represented in the exhibition include Heinz Mack, Adolf Luther, Lucio Fontana, Grazia Varisco, Enrico Castellani, Marcel Duchamp, Yves Klein and Yayoi Kusama.

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  • Bangkok Biennial Various locations, Bangkok, until 3 February 2019

This year sees the Thai capital launch its very own Biennial, running from July to September and featuring artists including Marina Abramovic, Yoshitomo Nara and the Russian video and installation collective AES+F.  

Jam Factory, Bangkok Biennale Pavilion © 2018 Bangkok River Partners

Jam Factory, Bangkok Biennale Pavilion © 2018 Bangkok River Partners

A Thailand Biennial, meanwhile, is set to open in November 2018 on the island of Krabi, running until the end of February 2019.