The Wick - What is the best way to be happy Charlie Mackesy is a drawing by Charlie mackesy

Discover Charlie Mackesy, What is the best way to be happy

It’s hard to think of a British artist of more touching scenes than Charlie Mackesy. His endearing drawings of four unlikely friends, the boy, the mole, the fox and the horse, accompanied by life-affirming words and phrases, have earned him an adoring public the world over. Many have sought comfort and solace in his uplifting messages of love and friendship. But why does his work resonate so widely? ‘The world is complicated and quite frightening and there is a simplicity to it perhaps,’ he has said. Added to this is his refreshing outlook on what constitutes success. ‘To me the [greatest] achievement is to love and be kind. It’s so rarely seen as success, but I think it is.’ This gorgeous illustration is testament to Mackesy’s heart-warming vision. Share or save immediately.
The Wick - James Turrell x Lalique Range Rider Purple Sage 2022, edition of 100.

Discover James Turrell x Lalique

Think of James Turrell and immersive light installations are likely to be the first things that spring to mind. For over 50 years, the American artist has made mesmerising light works that challenge the limits and wonder of human perception. In 2022 Turrell unveiled his first small-scale pieces, conceived in partnership with Lalique. The collaboration consists of 42 crystal light panels, inspired by an image of the artist’s Aten Reign installation at the Guggenheim in 2013, and two handmade crystal perfume bottles, each in a limited edition of 100. The prismatic bottles, inspired by ancient Egyptian architecture and the stupa shapes found in Asia, diffuse and diffract the light, showcasing the shine of the colour-saturated crystal. Turrell also co-created the two scents. ‘Creating a perfume is a bit like creating a world you have known,’ Turrell said. ‘Like René Lalique, I seek light and will continue to seek it.’
Head of a Man , 1960 © Estate of Francis Bacon. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2022
Courtesy Sainsbury Centre, University of East Anglia

Discover Francis Bacon, Head of a Man, 1960

The 1960s saw Francis Bacon focus on portraiture. He painted close friends and lovers including Henrietta Moraes, Isabel Rawsthorne, Lucian Freud and George Dyer. Unlike Freud, however, Bacon did not like to paint from life, explaining that ‘I very much prefer working from the photographs than from them.’ This painting from 1960 is thought to be a self-portrait. He is seated, as in earlier self-portraits, but his facial expression here ‘combines a slightly wary wistfulness with an almost jaunty nonchalance.’ The artist’s relationship with self-portraiture was, it turns out, a complex one. ‘I loathe my own face, but I go on painting it only because I haven’t got any other people to do,’ he told the art critic David Sylvester. Head of a Man is on display in Friends and Relations at Gagosian Grosvenor Hill until 28 January 2023.
The Wick - Chantal Joffe, Brunette in a Car, 2013

Discover Chantal Joffe, Brunette in a Car, 2013

Models, porn actresses, mothers and children, loved ones and literary heroines populate the emotionally probing paintings of Chantal Joffe. Her female subjects are painted in a loosely gestural and expressive style and are influenced by a diverse range of sources, from Impressionism to fashion photography. As important as her subject, however, is the paint itself: Joffe’s drips, marks and broad, fluid brushstrokes imbue her protagonists with a captivating dynamism that make it hard to look away. Then there’s her experimentations with scale. Her intimate and large-scale canvases such as Brunette in a Car heighten complex narratives about intimacy, connection, perception and representation, prompting us to question the relationship between artist and subject, subject and viewer.
The Wick - Hernan Bas, The party is over, 2016

Discover Hernan Bas, The party is over, 2016

Although Hernan Bas draws on a range of art historical references, from the supernatural to classical poetry, mythology and 19th-century Romanticism, his visual language is distinctly his own. For the past two decades, he has constructed vast otherworldly landscapes and captivating interior scenes brimming with colourful objects, curiosities and oddities that make his waifish male protagonists feel ponderous and alone.

His pictures, spanning a wide range of time periods and subjects, address themes of queerness, masculinity and desire as well as politics, news and the occult. ‘I like to put a spotlight on the obscure,’ he once told Artsy. In this 2016 painting, Bas depicts two young men unsure how best to confront the morning after the party. Despite their physical proximity to one another, there’s a distance and tension between them. As they gaze in opposite directions, a sense of awkwardness pervades the canvas, prompting the viewer to wonder what's next.
The Wick - Jenny Saville, Odysseus I, 2020-21

Discover Jenny Saville, Odysseus I, 2020-21

Coming to prominence in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Jenny Saville is internationally respected for her sumptuous portraits of fleshy bodies, female nudes and studies of motherhood. She has been captivated by the ‘imperfections’ of human flesh since childhood and has explored its potential in paint for more than twenty years. Though progressive in form and outlook, her work reveals a deep understanding of how the body has been represented in the past, from Renaissance drawing and painting to the work of modern artists such as Henri Matisse, Willem de Kooning and Picasso. In a recent series of large-scale faces executed in dense layers of jewel coloured paint, young men and women with intense gazes look at us from unattainable heights. But these faces, which include Odysseus I, are far more than their physicality. They radiate, says Sergio Risaliti, director of the Museo Novecento in Florence, ‘a pure solar energy, convincing us of the idea that we are infinite.’
The Wick - Discover Frida Kahlo, The Broken Column, 1944

Discover Frida Kahlo, The Broken Column, 1944

Frida Kahlo’s self-portraits thrum with pain. In this painting Kahlo’s nude torso is split in two. In place of her spine is a crumbling Ionic column. Her broken body is held together by a polio support. Nails pierce her skin; tears run down her face. Kahlo painted The Broken Column in 1944 shortly after undergoing spinal surgery to correct on-going problems which had resulted from a tram accident when she was 18. Unlike many of her other self-portraits, Frida is alone in a bleak and fractured landscape. Despite her evident physical suffering, her gaze is steadfast, symbolic of her strength within.
The Wick - Al-Wei-Wei  © Credit Francesco Allegretto

Discover Ai Weiwei, La Commedia Umana 

In August 2022 Ai Weiwei unveiled his first-ever body of work in glass for a new solo show at the Basilica of San Giorgio Maggiore in Venice. The centrepiece of the exhibition, which explores themes of spirituality, freedom, life and death, is La Commedia Umana, a monumental chandelier featuring over 2,000 pieces of black glass made in collaboration with craftsmen in the Berengo Studio in Murano.

A closer look at the twisted hanging sculpture, measuring more than six metres wide and almost nine metres high, reveals a cascade of bones, organs, skulls and surveillance cameras — a poignant plea for us to fight for our freedom before we die. When sunbeams fall from the church’s windows, it casts angular, eerie shadows around the space. ‘It is a work that stirs emotions, that forces us to come to terms not only with our own mortality, but with the part our lives have to play in the greater theatre of human history,’ says Adriano Berengo, Founder of Berengo Studio. Catch it in Venice until 27 November.
The Wick - Alice Neel, Marxist Girl (Irene Peslikis), 1972
Oil on canvas
151.8 x 106.7 cm
59 3/4 x 42 in
© The Estate of Alice Neel
Courtesy The Estate of Alice Neel and Victoria Miro

Discover Alice Neel, Marxist Girl, Irene Peslikis, 1972

Little known during her lifetime, Alice Neel is now regarded as one of the most radical painters of the twentieth century. A champion of social justice, she painted still lifes, cityscapes, landscapes and the people she encountered on the streets of New York, from her family and friends to Puerto Rican immigrants, homosexual couples, single mothers and African American writers. ‘For me, people come first,’ Neel once said. ‘I have tried to assert the dignity and eternal importance of the human being.’ Devoid of any sentimentality, this striking portrait of the American feminist, activist and artist Irene Peslikis is evidence of Neel’s unflinching approach to her subjects. See it at the Centre Pompidou this autumn in the first monographic exhibition in France dedicated to the artist.