Our top picks of exhibitions together with cultural spaces and places, both online and in the real world.

All, Art, Auctions, Exhibitions, Travel & Hospitality, Initiatives

Viewing Hugh Mendes at Charlie Smith London

Newspaper design and layout can be the prompt for a flood of memories and it’s the power of news headlines that Hugh Mendes seizes upon in his work. Charlie Smith Gallery at the Truman Brewery in East London is presenting over 100 paintings spanning 20 years of work with a hypnotic line up of Mendes’ political and obituary painting that spin the visual language of newspapers with trompe l’oeil effects.

Mendes found his oeuvre while studying for an MA at City & Guilds of London Art School. The first show of his collaged, juxtaposed newspaper clippings works was on 9/11 2001 when the Twin Towers were struck in a world-shattering act of terrorism. The images of Osama Bin Laden left an indelible mark on Mendes mind and he followed through with an exhibition entitled Into Manhattan’s Memory. It included a pencil on paper piece for which Mendes handwrote the names of all the 3,000 who died in the event. Many of these seminal works feature in the show that also includes his artist obituary series.

Far from locked in time, the work offers up a meditation on the role of the artist in society and a way of recording it through the lives of individuals. On Saturday 11th, Mendes will be leading a Meditation for Peace at the gallery – an opportunity to reflect on the last 20 years of global history. Book direct@charliesmithlondon.com. The exhibition runs from 8 – 12 September.

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08 September 2021 — 12 September 2021

Viewing Epic Iran, V&A London

Epic Iran is the first UK exhibition in almost a century to explore 5,000 years of Iranian art, design and culture. Featuring ten immersive sections, it brings together over 300 objects ranging from sculpture, ceramics and carpets to textiles, photography and film that celebrate the country’s vibrant culture, history, architectural splendours, myths and poetry.

This landmark survey opens with striking images of Iran’s dramatic and varied landscapes and concludes with works by modern and contemporary artists, including Sirak Melkonian, Monir Farmanfarmaian and Shirin Neshat. In between, you’ll meander through time, empires, faiths, royal rulers and more.

What strikes is the variety and quality of works on display. You’ll encounter everything from a gold model of a chariot from the Persian empire to Parthian and Sasanian sculpture, gold and silverware. The Shahnameh or Book of Kings, arguably the world’s greatest epic poem written at the start of the 11th century by the poet Ferdowsi, is without a doubt among the star exhibits. Elsewhere, spectacular religious pieces — including illuminated manuscripts, prayer rugs and Qur’ans — that chart the place of Islam in Iranian culture are shown alongside architectural drawings from the 19th century, exquisite textiles and watercolours that show Iran’s modernisation.

There is a lot to gallop through here but persevere and you’ll leave feeling enriched and enlivened — and no doubt wanting more.

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29 May 2021 — 12 September 2021
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Viewing Alexander Nolan at Crean & Co

The New York-based artist Alexander Nolan is developing a name for himself as an exciting new painting talent. Often inspired by scenes of city life, his works spanning oils, acrylics, pastels, watercolours and inks on paper conjure a colourful world of fantastical realism, fusing the satirical, the surreal and the salacious. (Think wine-swigging monks, candlelit dinners with skeletons and violin concertos attended by cats and dogs.)

His first solo viewing room of works at online gallery Crean & Company includes 31 new works that draw on a range of styles and movements, from the genre scenes of Old Masters to the darkly comic storytelling of Tom & Jerry. ‘I enjoy walking through my mind as if it were a forest,’ Nolan says. ‘There is something mesmerising about the appearance of things — drawing the world around me stimulates the world within me’.

Online highlights include Stocking Up On Toilet Paper (2020), which references the pandemonium of 2020; and On Nancy’s Couch, which evokes the tedium of self-isolation. Needless to say, this one should provide ample lunch-time distraction.

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12 August 2021 — 24 September 2021
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Visual Arts
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Happenings, Travel