Paula Rego – Obedience and Defiance

There’s a scene in her son Nick Willing’s BBC documentary, timed to coincide with the opening of this exhibition, in which Paula Rego tells that the first thing her future husband said to her at a party in the 1950s was to ask her to take her knickers off. She complied. It seemed to encapsulate so much of the essence of this remarkable show at MK Gallery – explicit, sexually charged and compliant.

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Caught in the Net – Erub Arts

You will have to have been stranded on a remote desert island over the past couple of years not to be aware of the danger to our planet and to our wildlife of plastic pollution. TV programmes such as Blue Planet have regaled us with shocking images of how plastic is choking the life out of sea creatures, and the food industry is almost falling over itself now to reduce plastic bags and packaging to help reduce our dependence on the material.

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Enrique Martinez Celaya – The Mariner’s Meadow

Enrique Martinez Celaya is a most unusual artist. Unusual, not just in the sense of being of high quality, nor as one steeped also in literature and philosophy, but because he began his career as a scientist. And not just any old science but quantum physics to boot. His particular niche was laser technology in which he holds a PhD. It might seem a complete change of direction when switching to Fine Art but, as his first exhibition at Blain Southern illustrates, he is addressing complex questions relevant to both.

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Jake Wood-Evans – Legacy and Disorder

Strewn around the floor of his Hastings studio are paper images, torn out of books, of many Old Master paintings from which British painter Jake Wood-Evans takes inspiration. It might be Turner, Stubbs, Landseer, Gainsborough or Constable. Over a period of time, the pages have become creased, torn and splattered with paint, which the artist admits, makes them more interesting.

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Esther Teichmann – On Sleeping and Drowning

Esther Teichmann’s world is a mystical one of caves, swamps and underground lakes that exist somewhere between the real and the imagined, between autobiography and fiction. They are fragments of memory informed by the landscape of the Rhine Valley and the valleys of the Black Forest where she grew up and reimagined as mysterious, womb-like spaces where women sometimes sleep and dream. 

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Bruce McLean – Five Decades of Sculpture, Part One 1967-1994

Sculptor, painter, ceramicist, performance artist, filmmaker, Bruce McLean’s career flits about in a variety of genres. He’s regarded as having led the development of British conceptual art in the 1960s. Not that he would necessarily have it that way. He regards himself solely as a sculptor. His work subtly and playfully makes fun of the pomposity and established forms of the art world.

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Zhuang Hong Yi – Earth

Exhibitions at Unit London are always glitzy affairs. Videos of the featured artists playing at the entrance, thumping music, a slick social media and strong digital presence make for what the commercially savvy owners, Joe Kennedy and Jonny Burt term “an immersive experience”. They’ve reached out to a younger crowd who queue around the block in their hundreds for opening nights. 

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Various Artists – The Lie of the Land

The portrait above suggests how the aristocracy and the English landscape are as harmonious and natural as the sun that shines down on the rolling hills of the estate over which its subject, Mr Plampin, lauds.

It was around the time that Gainsborough painted the picture that landed estates, sculpted by landscape artists such as Capability Brown, were opened up to the public as places of leisure and which came to influence the British obsession with parks and gardens. The first to do so was Stowe Gardens in Buckinghamshire and part of the theme of Lie of the Land is to trace a line between Stowe and the urban experiment that is Milton Keynes only 15 miles away and which forms the inaugural exhibition in the city’s sparkingly refurbished Milton Keynes Gallery.

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