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The Year's Best List (2016)

C-print presents our annual list of ten outstanding exhibitions seen in the past year which left a standing mark, looking back in hindsight.

10. Vasilis Papageorgiou, Somebody had to do it, Elika Gallery, Athens

While visiting Athens in late spring, emerging sculptor Vasilis Papageorgiou presented a neat show which alluded to Atenian way of life; socializing at bars. Revolving around the bar as a meeting point, with elements of neon lights, random mundane objects and car parts stemming from the artist’s own studio, a former garage, the show tapped into urban city life inside and around the gallery space.

9. Katrin Westman, Disrobement, Galleri Andersson/Sandström, Stockholm

Speaking to the credit of the gallery, the most delightful surprise of the year was Galleri Andersson Sandström presenting recent Umeå Art Academy graduate, Katrin Westman in the solo show “Disrobement”. Rendering an accurate sense to the so often today misappropriated term “abstract”, Westman’s abstract expressionist-oriented works reeked of a parity of forceful yet poised gestures gilded with delectable colours, evidencing a kinship with an influencing figure like Cecily Brown. A tentative approach of expanding the scope of painting towards sculpture by strapping panels into cylindrical shapes (rather “mussels”) face down on the floor, gave the show a commendable rebel air, much like the bold move of presenting fifteen distinctive works as a close-knit unit covering a wall, with unlikely but accomplished visual coherence.

8. Bouchra Khalili, The opposite of voice-over, Färgfabriken, Stockholm

Following this year’s excellent Beckers Art Award exhibition with painter Tomas Lundgren, Färgfabriken hosted this year’s most current and socially poignant exhibition – Bouchra Khalili’s "The opposite of voice-over" curated by Jonatan Habib Engqvist. In the light of ongoing events and drawing on ever-relevant notions of identity, class, minority and borders, the exhibited series of works rendered a voice to those who are so frequently spoken of but not heard.

7. Zoë Paul, Solitude and Village, The Breeder, Athens

Athens-based RCA graduate Zoë Paul made for this year’s most well-due rediscovery. Working across several disciplines and with a notable command of material, her debut show at the Breeder appropriated the walls and floors of the former ice cream factory with an eclectic mix of works ranging from mosaic-embellished sinks to beaded curtains. While alluding to history and archeology, stressed by a series of clay sculptures on plinths, the impression that lingered on was that of novelty. Particularly impressive were colored thread-clad rusty fridge grills sharing wall space with site-specific drawings of naked men.

6. Siobhán Hapaska, Andréhn-Schiptjenko, Stockholm

Siobhán Hapaska’s impressive exhibition this year at Andréhn-Schiptjenko gravitated around a large-scale suggestive installation of an olive tree suspended and confined by construction straps inside a structure of fur-coated scaffolds, with tension and movement stressed by a running engine. Siobhan Hapaska’s sculptural work, intersecting the abstract and figurative, allows for a can of vivid imagination to open, and brought thought primarily to the sexual realm. The grandeur lies in her capacity in presenting work that surprises and challenges concept in equal measure.

5. Zoe Barcza, Texas Liquid Smoke, Loyal Gallery, Stockholm

With her "Texas Liquid Smoke" at Loyal, Canadian-born Zoe Barcza cleverly juxtaposed shiny industrial kitchen appliances with hand-blown glass sperm-like objects and transformed a cubicle-like small gallery space in a way which rendered the exhibition a grand and institutional character. A visual feast up close, it altogether made for one of this year’s most distinctive and original gallery presentations.

4. Annette Kelm, Synchro, Galerie Meyer Kainer, Vienna

Highlighted in MoMA’s New Photography in 2013, Annette Kelm approaches the tradition of still life in fresh manner that revolves around the mundane and artificial nature of objects and their representation. Hovering at times close to visual folly, Kelm’s work which weighs on cross-cultural references and pattern making to set the tone, nevertheless consistently retains a aesthetically titillating context and is pleasantly served by the occasional lightness of humour that finds itself as a result of peculiar elements in her canny orchestrations.

3. Karol Radziszewski, Ali, BWA,Warsaw

A standout at this this year’s edition of Warsaw Gallery Weekend in September, was Polish-born multi-artist Karol Radziszwski’s "Ali", an hommage to a late Nigerian who up until recently remained unknown to the general public for his participation in the uprising against Nazi Germany during WWII. Mostly noted for his queer-oriented practice, the show marked the artist’s return to traditional painting bringing forth a series of paintings notably lending its style from Picasso. In essence, a show which served a noble purpose of stretching

representation of diversity in a country where people of color still remain largely absent in the arts.

2. Ditte Ejlerskov, My Bajan Letters, ANNAELLE, Stockholm

Based on and deriving from a letter exchange with a scam artist inquiring for money (My Bajan Letters), the thematic show at ANNAELLE revolved around an utopian idea of Barbados and Rihanna, a Bajan native. Marked by intellectual thought that far exceeds what initially meets the eye, Ejlerskov’s work is characterized by a meticulous and probing study down to detail of her musical icons who include as well Beyoncé and Nicki Minaj in their apparent role as frontrunners of a contemporary body of feminism towards a generation disinclined to claim the word.

1. Moderna Museet, The New Human, Stockholm

Moderna Museet’s exhibition surveyed the video medium including all its corner; docu-social realism, post-Internet art, animation and poetically resonating mise-en-scéne, notably stretching the presentation of video beyond just the dark of screening rooms and television units with room-to-room spatial appropriation using an installation approach. As indicated by the title itself, the overall premise puts forth the human condition in a rapidly changing contemporary society, oscillitating lucidly between the staunchly political on the one hand and the absurdly comical on the other. In the midst, there was Santiago Mostyn’s hauntingly beautiful “Delay”, setting out to define the fallibility of human touch and interaction with strangers merging in forced everyday moments. Accentuated by an ethereal sound score by SW, the experience was no less than captivating in that momentary core shaking fashion that art rarely is.

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