Francis Bacon: Man and Beast: Royal Academy of Arts
As told in our New Year's guide, What Is There To Look Forward To in 2022, The Royal Academy's Francis Bacon: Man and Beast has been meaning to happen for some time. Delayed last year due to COVID-19, the art world was left anxiously awaiting its opening. Finally opening to the public on 29 January 2022, tickets booked up in an instant - but there are still some kicking around. The show itself was met with stellar praise, heralded by The Guardian as an 'endlessly fascinating parade through the Royal Academy's main galleries', with art critic Adrian Searle proclaiming 'I want to run away, but I can't stop looking'. We don't know what to say without giving away too much but know this is a gory one; horribly grotesque yet hauntingly beautiful.
Francis Bacon: Man and Beast is on at the Royal Academy until 17 April. See more details here.
Fashioning Masculinities: Victoria and Albert Museum
When it comes to fashion exhibitions, who does it better than the V&A? Their top team of creatives and curators alike always throw their souls into inviting exhibition-goers into otherworldly portals of greatness; you only had to see the queues for the Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty show in 2015 to know what we mean. The South Kensington museum's new exhibition Fashioning Masculinities: The Art of Menswear is set to be a blockbuster. From Harry Styles donning a Harris Reed custom dress on the cover of Vogue this year to the ever stylishly put together Ziggy Stardust, menswear has undergone a series of transformations across the history of dress. The V&A show will unpick menswear from 17th century paintings to 21st century catwalks, thread by thread, including work by the likes of Alessandro Michele at Gucci, Grace Wales Bonner and Craig Green.
Fashioning Masculinities is open to the public at the Victoria and Albert Museum from 19 March. See more details here.
Surrealism Beyond Borders: Tate Modern
Opening to the public on 24 February 2022 was Surrealism Beyond Borders, the UK's largest retrospective of the art movement so far. Only, there's a twist, and it's quite a biggie. Without bearing all, don't expect to be blown away by Man Ray, Picasso and the other heavyweights; this one takes on an entirely different narrative altogether, as found out when I interviewed assistant curator Carine Harmand at the opening. Instead of Men and 1920s France (what many have come to understand as the fundamental elements to Surrealism), think women and Mexico. Think of the world tipped upside down where every trippy Salvador Dalí painting from the 1930s was replaced with a Ted Joans cadavre exquis (exquisite corpse). The museum has dubbed the exhibition as 'Surrealism, but not as you know it', and boy have they hidden a few surprises up their sleeves. The show also reveals how the movement was instrumental in fighting against colonialism and oppression. Opening to the public on 24 February, the same day as Putin invaded Ukraine, is a mere coincidence. However, as our review discloses in its last line, 'its pertinence offers food for thought regarding Ukraine's current situation and conflicts beyond'.
Surrealism Beyond Borders is open to the public at Tate Modern until 29 August 2022. See more details here.
Bona to Vada Your Dolly Bold Eek: Lamb London
Polari - derived from the Italian verb Palare (meaning To Speak) - is a language most commonly used amongst homosexuals pre 1967 to communicate with ease in public about one's sex life. Its most common phrase, 'Bona to vada your dolly old eek', has lent itself to Lamb London's latest exhibition centring around the work of French-Brazilian art duo AVAF. Looking to gay culture to inform the installation and individual sculptures within it, the exhibition's curation - through its small narrow corridors that lead to separate rooms - purposefully tries to emulate sex rooms in private members' clubs. We won't say anymore, but if you're into hilariously camp and hidden sexual connotations, this one's for you. You can also read our feature on the show here.
Bona to Vada Your Dolly Bold Eek is open to the public at Mayfair's Lamb London until 1 April. See more details here.
Louise Bourgeois: The Woven Child: Hayward Gallery
The artist Louise Bourgeois' career spanned an entire lifetime for most. From as early as the 1930s, Bourgeois started to work on paintings and prints, turning to industrial sculptures by the 40s before discovering and dedicating the rest of her life to intricately woven pieces, which she continued to create up until her death in 2010, aged 99. These very - at times, convoluted - fabric sculptures have become the centre of the latest retrospective of her work. Featuring at Southbank's Hayward Gallery, Louise Bourgeois: The Woven Child is a portrayal of the artist's life, thoughts and views summed up through only three decades of work. (Not many when you consider the artist's career straddled at least seven decades in total. Carrying on the theme of sex, each piece in the exhibition has an eerily phallic nature attached to it and even though the signs are very subtle at times, it doesn't mean they're not there. (Alas, the work High Heels, 1998 does not shy away from sex at all (or the doggy position for that matter).
Louise Bourgeois: The Woven Child is open to the public at Southbank's Hayward Gallery until 15 May. See more details here.
Asian Americans in New York Fashion: Design, Labour, Innovation: The Museum at Fashion Institute of Technology (MFIT)
Despite star-studded names like Peter Do, Prabal Gurung, and Vera Wang, the Asian American narrative within fashion design has largely been considered surreptitious. The rise of COVID-19, unfortunately, saw a dramatically sharp increase in racially motivated attacks against Asian Americans. Wanting to respond in a way they saw appropriate - by highlighting the depth and variety of Asian American design - FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology) teamed up with the Museum at FIT to celebrate the Asian American community's diverse contributions to the fashion industry through Asian Americans in New York Fashion: Design, Labor, Innovation; an exhibition needed now more than ever.
Asian Americans in New York Fashion: Design, Labour, Innovation will be open at the Museum at FIT until 27 March. See more details here.
Wild & Cultivated: Fashioning the Rose: Garden Museum
'The rose and fashion are inextricably entwined. Roses, like fashion, are a luxury, and they are ephemeral. They are both 'shown' seasonally, their appeal is multi-sensorial, and they each incite passion and obsession', writes the press release for set designer Simon Costin and guest curator Amy de la Haye's collaborative exhibition, Wild & Cultivated: Fashioning the Rose. Delving into the flower's entangled relationship through an expertly-curated showcase of designs from Alexander McQueen, Philip Treacy, Ashish, Comme des Garçons and others, de la Haye and Costin's efforts in connecting the rose to fashion are revealed through a myriad of ways - all of which concentrate drawing out illusions to love, beauty, sexuality, sin, rites of passage, degradation, and death. More than you could hope for; this exhibition provides depth to an overlooked yet intrinsic object that's always been a mainstay of fashion's inspiration, from the Victorian era to the modern day.
Wild & Cultivated: Fashioning the Rose will be open to the public at Southbank's Garden Museum until 19 June. See more details here.