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Rearview mirror : 2015's Best List


As 2015 comes to an end, we take a look through the rearview mirror at some our most memorable and favourite moments among exhibitions seen in the past year.


10. Florian Slotawa, Galerie Nordenhake, Berlin A highlight from several Berlin trips this year, is undoubtedly German-born Florian Slotawa's solo exhibition at Galerie Nordenhake located in the gallery cluster along Lindenstraße. Noted for recontextualising exisiting objects, the show served as this year's freshest minimalist presentation bringing forth wall installations in sets of two; an object painted in auto lacquer juxtaposed with a monochrome plaquet bearing the same color.


9. Tina Barney, Paul Kasmin Gallery, New York City Tina Barney's ‘Four Decades’ at Paul Kasmin Gallery surverying a selection of key works from a career spanning over four decades of candidly capturing domsestic scenes of the American and European social elite and its privilege made for a lasting mark among a great number of shows in NYC this year. Presented together with images from her less publicized and less aestheticized ‘Small Towns’ series depicting rural America, the contrast in terms of saturation of colours spoke effortlessly of the many nuances universally found in every society.


8. Akram Zaatari, Moderna museet, Stockholm Alongside its extensive Louise Bourgeois retrospective, Moderna museet in Stockholm presented a most impressive solo show with Lebanese-born artist, curator and filmmaker Akram Zaatari, noted for employing an archaelogical-like approach to his practice which sees him appropriating found images from the Arab-speaking world. Walking through the show, a well-needed reminder was served; notably the importance of a nuanced image of non-Western societies provided by other than regular media outlets. Perhaps even more so in this day and age where parts of the Arab-speaking world finds itself torn by seemingly incessable conflict.


7. Lyndal Walker, Hangmen Projects, Stockholm Having just opened up its space in the art barren area of Skanstull in Stockholm in the end of last year, artists-driven Hangmen Projects have since in 2015 emerged as an eager fixture and addition to the local art scene with a dense every four weeks programme. The bar was set high with the gallery's presentation of Australian-born Lyndal Walker's 'The Artist's Model'; a study of masculinity from a situation of reversed objectification; the artist a female and her model the male in states of undress in front of her lense. The clever execution saw her images mounted on mirrors and staged in mirrored rooms with the presence of the artist showing in each, installed elegantly in the gallery space as optical installation putting forth the relationship trifecta of artist-subject-and-viewer.


6. Petra Lindholm, Galleri Magnus Karlsson, Stockholm Petra Lindholm whose body of work notably has seen her working with the medium of video, arrived with 'Whiteout' at a new distinctive process of working with imagery. Ethereal and faintly romantic in character, there was a true air of novelty about the way her delicate assemblage works incorporating textiles and paintings were used to address such universal notions such as self-affirmation and man's exploitation of nature.


5. Nadine Byrne, Elastic Gallery, Stockholm With a title deriving from Rainer Maria Rilke’s 'The Duino Elegies' (1923), Stockholm-based artist Nadine Byrne, a past graduate of the Royal Institute of the Art, presented for her first show with Elastic Gallery a suite of hybrid works departing from her own personal experiences about memory, family and the past. The personal foray that is ‘A Wave Rose Toward You’ marks one of the early great exhibitions seen in the year that passed and stands to mind primarily for the unusual and refreshing material command and understated palettes lending themselves perfectly to the evocative feel borne by her exhibited works.


4. Laure Prouvost, Carlier Gebauer, Berlin French-born Turner Prize-winner Laure Provost's 'Dear dirty dark drink drift down deep roll (in der dole)’ marked one of the standout shows during this year's Berlin Art Week back in September. The exhibition, presented in two parts, saw confused visitors gaining entry through a dark wooden sculptural installation in the shape of a book case with one door leading to a video installation and the other to the main exhibition space through a long dark hallway. The visually captivating video work alluding to universal themes of love, carnal desire and death in combination with wall-based sculptures, which made use of diverse materials extending to taxidermy, altogether created a surreal experience speaking to all senses.


3. Per B Sundberg, Andréhn-Schiptjenko, Stockholm Andréhn-Schiptjenko started the year with its first show with sculptor Per B Sundberg, noted previously for his work as a ceramics and glass designer for Swedish manufacturer Orrefors. Finding itself in a darker visual realm, Per B Sundberg's sculptural practice manages the unlikely feat of rendering the appalling idea of organic phallic-like forms as platforms for parasital growth, with beautiful visual allure. If the overwhelming masses crowding the opening were to be believed, the interest and fascination probed in the room was no less than great. And rightfully so; the runway-like presentation of a sculptural landscape on long tables set between the gallery walls made for a showcase of great cunning and intricate execution.


2. Isa Genzken, Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt This year Frankfurt proved to be much more than a site for transit between flights with its world-class institutions such as Städel, Schirn Kunsthalle and Museum für Moderne Kunst (I-III). Alongside a strong presentation of works exclusively by women from the collection, the MMK brought forth a solo exhibition of German-born sculptor Isa Genzken's most recent body of work. With her show, Genzken who notably employs mundane materials in her practice which alludes to popular culture and contemporary society at large, yet again challenges the concept of sculpture today. The exhibition, which appropriated the first floor, most notably showcased a series of dressed window shop-like mannequins installed in enclosed groups and her humorous sunglasses-clad Nefertiti busts.


1. Chantal Joffe, Cheim & Reid, New York City By far one of the most interesting contemporary figurative painters today, Chantal Joffe's solo exhibition at Cheim & Read this spring brought out a series of new portraits supposedly painted at night with a more intimate approach relating to the artist herself; her characteristic juvenile-like figures subjecting the artist and notably representing motherhood and Joffe's relationship with her daughter. We loved it through and through.


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