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Culture Choices 2022: Exhibitions

By User:Diliff - Taken by user, CC BY 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=690130

Culture Choices 2022 is an annual series by Roar’s Culture section in which staff writers select their favourite Albums, Films, Books, and TV shows of the year.

Staff writer Mina Yasar explores the best exhibitions of 2022.

Like previous years, 2022 was a year full of exhibitions and art fairs. In London, there were different exhibitions for art lovers to attend, which were very interesting. Let’s look back some of the best exhibitions of 2022.

 “Dream Travel” 

One of the best exhibitions of 2022 was Stephen Wong’s “Dream Travel”, which reminded me of something. When I was a little child, an elderly neighbor told me travel stories about different countries and different cultures. This old neighbor was telling me those stories in a very detailed way that made me curious, and I listened to all the stories. One day, I learned that the neighbor had never been to many of those countries and learned everything from books, magazines, and movies. Today, after nearly fifteen years after this, I had the opportunity to understand my old neighbor with the help of this exhibition. Dream Travel consists of the landscape paintings of Wong depicting UK and Hong Kong. I think what makes the exhibition special is that Wong created paintings about UK landscapes without seeing them himself, instead he explored those places via Google Earth. The exhibition opened in Unit London from 22 November 2022, and will be open to visit until 27 January 2023. “Dream Travel” is Wong’s first exhibition in London, combining two different series of Wong’s landscape paintings.

In the first series, the artist depicts scenes from Hong Kong. According to the website of the Unit London, the artists who inspired Wong in his career were David Hockney and John Constable. When visitors enter to the gallery, they have the opportunity to see waterfalls from his hometown Hong Kong in large canvases. As someone who hasn’t visited Hong Kong before, I loved those paintings so much. The way Wong depicts the green areas of Hong Kong is exceptional. The colors are so vivid in most of the artworks of Wong. When I looked at these paintings of Wong, I felt like I was in a beautiful dream and surrounded by nature. It made me feel calm and happy to get away from city life while looking at the paintings of Wong.

This exhibition was my first opportunity to explore Wong’s paintings, but these paintings became one of my favorites now. In a century that, consuming is so fast and people live in crowded cities, it felt excellent to explore some artworks depicting natural settings. In the second part of the exhibition, Wong depicts landscapes from UK in smaller canvases.

It was fascinating to see those artworks because Wong explored those places in the UK via Google Earth during the pandemic. I loved this idea because it shows that people can use digital tools to learn about something or explore a place. This combines virtual and physical travels in the same exhibition. I loved the idea exploring places virtually and physically and connecting them in the same exhibition. Also, this exhibition made me question myself about the idea of travelling; I asked myself that for having the sense of travelling, “do we always need to go to these places?” Do the places we see in movies and documentaries, the places we learn about in books, count as travel? If it were like that, most of us would be travelled a lot. Surely, we need to explore places physically, but I still believe that exploring places through paintings and literature matters. You still have the chance to watch a video of the artist about the exhibition, request the digital catalog of the exhibition, and see some of the artworks virtually in Unit London’s website.

“Korean Art, Cultivating The Unexpected” 

Opera Gallery is one of my favorite galleries in London, located at 134 New Bond Street. I love this gallery because it allows visitors to explore different artists from different parts of the world. This year in London, visitors can explore some Korean artists in the exhibition “Korean Art, Cultivating the Unexpected.” The exhibition was open to visitors from March-April in 2022, however you can still see some of the artworks on Opera Gallery’s website. Artworks from five artists were included in the exhibition; Chun Kwan-Young, Jae Ko, Yoo Bong Sang, Seo Young-Deok, and Cho Sung-Hee. As stated on the gallery’s website, with the help of this exhibition, the visitors had the chance to explore themes via “different perspectives but with common culture background”. Some of the highlights from the exhibition are Cho Sung-Hee’s “White Blossom” and “Green Blossom” artworks from 2021.

“Van Gogh. Self-Portraits” 

My favorite exhibition of 2022 was the “Van Gogh. Self-Portraits” exhibition held in London, The Courtauld. The exhibition was from February to May 2022, and nearly half of the self-portraits the artist created during his lifetime were exhibited in Courtauld. Sixteen self-portraits were included in this exhibition, and it was an opportunity for visitors to see Van Gogh from the eyes of the painter himself. It was fascinating to try to understand his self-representation.

My favorite painting in this exhibition was “Self Portrait with Bandaged Ear” from 1889. I learned about this painting with the recommendation of the most special person in my life and I loved this painting so much. However, until this exhibition, I didn’t have the chance to see this painting in an exhibition. I loved how Van Gogh realistically represented himself with bandages, how he showed his suffering, the reality of his life. Also, there were different self-portraits like “Self-Portrait with a Straw Hat” 1887, “Self-Portrait as a Painter” from 1888, and many more. If you love seeing portraits and the link between self-representation and self-portraits, this was a unique exhibition. Unfortunately, you can not visit it anymore, but you still have the chance to see it via a virtual tour from Courtauld Gallery’s website.

“Man And Beast” 

For most people I know, and from most of the reviews I’ve read, Francis Bacon’s exhibition was one of the best exhibitions of 2022. Open from January to April 2022, this exhibition was one of the most visited exhibitions in 2022. It was exhibited in The Royal Academy of Arts based in Burlington House on Piccadilly in London. Francis Bacon is an Irish-born artist who is seen as one of the best artists of 20th century. In this exhibition, people are reminded about their primal instincts with the figures depicted in the artworks. As stated in RA’s website,  it is also possible to see Bacon’s fascination with animals one “the line between human and animal is blurred.” It is an excellent exhibition for people interested in psychology and psychoanalysis. I was interested in this exhibition because I had the opportunity to look at artworks from a psychological perspective by combining psychoanalysis with self-portraits in my history of art education. The figures in the artworks are not very visible since when we first look at the artworks, it is blurry, and we cannot be very sure of what we see in the paintings. If you didn’t have the chance to visit this exhibition, you can see some of Bacon’s paintings virtually on RA’s website. The exhibition consisted of artworks from the artist’s earliest works to some paintings that were exhibited for the first time. Some of the highlights from the exhibition are the “Study of Bull” painting from 1991, “Study of Chimpanzee” from 1957, and many more paintings.

Staff Writer

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