The must-see exhibitions of 2020 — the rest of the world

From Cartier-Bresson in Taipei to Doig in Tokyo and Arbus in Ontario — our updated guide to the must-see exhibitions in Africa, Asia, Australasia and the Middle East


Diane Arbus: Photographs, 1956-1971Art Gallery of Ontario, Canada Until 8 November 2020

In 2016, the Art Gallery of Ontario acquired 522 works by the legendary New York photographer Diane Arbus — so creating what it claimed to be the world’s second-largest collection of her work. To celebrate, the gallery has organised the first solo exhibition of her pictures in Canada for nearly 30 years.

The show chronicles 15 years of her career, from her 1940s experiments with self-portraiture to her switch to the 2¼-inch Rolleiflex camera that led to her iconic square images, as well as later shoots for Esquire and Harper’s Bazaar. During this decade and a half, says the AGO’s curator of photography Sophie Hackett, Arbus ‘produced perhaps the most compelling and demanding body of portraits the 20th century had seen’.

The gallery is now open Thursday to Sunday. Tickets must be booked in advance


Diane Arbus, Untitled (49), 1970-1971. Gelatin silver print; printed later. Sheet: 50.8 x 40.6 cm. Anonymous gift, 2016. © Estate of Diane Arbus 2016/827

Don’t miss… Untitled (49), 1970-1971, one of 66 photographs from Arbus’s series documenting festivities at residences for people with developmental disabilities. The poignant body of work was one of the photographer’s last. 

Henri Cartier-Bresson: China, 1948-1949/1958Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taipei Until 1 November 2020

In 1948-1949 and 1958, the French photojournalist Henri Cartier-Bresson made two trips to China. The first was for Life magazine, which commissioned him to document the country’s changing political landscape. Among other events, he shot the People’s Liberation Army entering Nanking and the Kuomintang forces retreating after the collapse of negotiations with the Communist Party. Almost a decade later, he returned to photograph the chaotic aftermath of the Chinese Communist Revolution.

His rarely seen body of work from this period is now regarded as a crucial eye-witness account of life in China during those turbulent years. 

This exhibition of 170 photographs was recently shown at the Henri Cartier-Bresson Foundation in Paris; now, after a two-month delay, it has travelled to the Taipei Fine Arts Museum, where it has been expanded with an additional 40 images. 


Henri-Cartier-Bresson: China, 1948-1949/1958  at Taipei Fine Arts Museum 2020. © Foundation Henri Cartier-Bresson/Magnum Photos

Don’t miss… Cartier-Bresson’s photograph of the 1948 Shanghai ‘Gold Rush’, which depicts a violent mass of people trying to exchange yuan for gold at the banks on the Bund as hyperinflation gripped the country. 

Peter DoigThe National Museum of Modern Art (MONAT), Tokyo Until 11 October 2020

Fusing the landscapes of his two homelands, Canada and Trinidad, with the painterly styles of Gauguin, Matisse and Munch, Peter Doig has become something of a hero among 21st-century painters.

His long-awaited first solo show in Japan — extended from June until October — ranges from his early-career images of snow-filled vistas to his latest, more figurative portraits. It is a rare opportunity to see works by the notoriously publicity-shy artist, many of which are in private hands.


Peter Doig, Swamped, 1990. 197 x 241 cm. Oil on canvas. © Peter Doig. All rights reserved, DACS & JASPAR 2019 C3006

Don’t miss… Swamped, a Doig painting based on a still from the 1980s cult horror classic Friday the 13th. The 1990 work was sold by Christie’s in 2015 for more than $25 million.

Sally Rees: CroneMuseum of Old and New Art, Tasmania, Australia Autumn 2020

In April 2019, Sally Rees was one of three people to receive an award from Suspended Moment: The Katthy Cavaliere Fellowship, the largest prize in Australia for women artists. The fellowship is named after and funded by the estate of the Italian-Australian performance artist who died in 2012 aged 40, and Rees is using her A$100,000 grant to mount a multimedia installation and performance series at Hobart’s Museum of Old and New Art (MONA).

Rees’s new exhibition, Crone (named after the white-haired woman of folklore), will examine the role of ‘older’, socially invisible women, and the ways in which they can be powerful and transgressive figures. 

The show was scheduled to open in April but has been delayed to the autumn, due to Covid-19. Dates are yet to be confirmed. 


Sally Rees, winner of a Katthy Cavaliere Fellowship award in April 2019. Image: Daniel Boud 2019

Don’t miss… Rees’s walk from nearby Mount Wellington to MONA dressed in full ‘crone’ garb. The day-long trek (date to be confirmed) will close the show and mark the artist’s 50th birthday. 

Beatriz Milhazes: Avenida PaulistaSão Paulo Museum of Art, Brazil 11 December 2020 to 23 March 2021

The Brazilian artist Beatriz Milhazes (b. 1960) is a key figure in the booming South American art scene. Her unique take on Op Art — bold, abstract paintings inspired by Brazil’s flora, fauna and carnival celebrations — got rave reviews when she represented Brazil in 2003 at the 50th Venice Biennale. More recently, Milhazes has signed international representation contracts with White Cube and Pace Gallery.

This show at São Paolo’s MASP focuses on work completed since 1990, and will include paintings and collages. Expect maximum visual impact. 


Beatriz Milhazes, Maracujola, 2015. Acrylic on linen, 246 x 299 cm. Private collection. Credit: Pepe Schettino

Don’t miss… Never-before-seen works made by Milhazes in collaboration with her sister, the choreographer Marcia Milhazes, on show as part of MASP’s ‘Histories of Dance’ year.

Furusiyya: The Art of Chivalry between East and WestLouvre Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi Until 18 October 2020

Between the 10th and 16th centuries, from Spain to Syria, the tradition of knighthood flourished. But why did it start, and how did knights from the East and West interact? 

Bringing together more than 130 artworks and objects, from weapons and armour to ceramics, manuscripts and jewels, the latest show at the Louvre Abu Dhabi explores these questions. It also looks at the ways in which knights and their chivalric codes became important pillars of the medieval Islamic and Christian faiths.

Many of the works are on loan from the Museum’s Parisian counterpart and are rarely seen outside France. 


Helmet. Iraq, Turkey or Caucasus, circa 1450-1500. Steel damascened with silver and traces of gold, iron. Abu Dhabi, Louvre Abu Dhabi © Department of Culture and Tourism–Abu Dhabi / Photo: Thierry Ollivier

Don't miss... The fearsome 15th-century Islamic helmet (above), which is designed to resemble a turban and is decorated with prayers intended to protect its wearer during battle.

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Elizabeth Peyton: PracticeUllens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA), Beijing Until 29 November

Over the past 30 years the bold, dynamic portraits of American artist Elizabeth Peyton (b. 1965) have been a driving force in the revival of interest in figurative painting. In 2013, for example, Christie’s sold Peyton’s energetic picture of Leonardo DiCaprio for over $1 million. The proceeds from the sale were donated to his environmental foundation

This show — Peyton’s first ever solo exhibition in China — focuses mainly on her most recent decade, and how her repertoire has expanded from intimate depictions of close friends and family to cultural icons besides DiCaprio such as Frida Kahlo, Angela Merkel and Queen Elizabeth II. 


Elizabeth Peyton (b. 1965), Napoleon, 1991. Charcoal on paper, 55.9 x 45.7 cm. Courtesy Sadie Coles HQ

Don’t miss… Peyton’s beautiful charcoal character study of a young Napoleon. The delicacy of the work makes it look like it has been lifted straight from the easel of Edward Burne-Jones.

Abdoulaye KonatéGallery 1957, Ghana 18 September to 18 November 2020

The labour-intensive, gigantic fringed tapestries of Abdoulaye Konaté, which employ coloured dyes central to West African aesthetics and reflect his homeland’s material culture, have been a huge hit with collectors and institutions over the past few years. 

In 2019 Blain Southern inaugurated its new outpost in New York with a show by the Malian artist, hot on the heels of his work being exhibited at the 2019 Havana Biennial and the 2017 Venice Biennale. 

For his latest show at Gallery 1957 in Ghana’s capital Accra, he has made a new body of large-scale, site-specific works, employing for the first time Ghanaian Kente cloth. 


Abdoulaye Konaté, 2016, Courtesy the artist and Blain Southern, Photo Peter Mallet

Don’t miss… Coucher de soleil (Ghana), a recent installation in which Konaté depicts a central, blazing tapestry sun against a brooding sky — his nod to traditional landscape painting motifs. 

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