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Francis Alÿs, Artist with a Timely Interest in Borders, Will Represent Belgium at 2022 Venice Biennale

Alex Greenberger

Alex GreenbergerJune 15, 2020 4:53pm

Francis Alÿs.

The Venice Biennale has been pushed back a year, from next year to 2022, but that has not stopped Belgium—which has often presented one of the most talked-about pavilions at the biennial—from revealing its plans. Artist Francis Alÿs has been selected to represent Belgium for the forthcoming edition, according to the Belgian publication De Tijd. Hilde Teerlinck, a curator at the Han Nefkens Foundation in Barcelona, will oversee the pavilion.

The 2022 Belgian Pavilion will not be Alÿs’s first major presentation at the Venice Biennale. In 2017, Alÿs, who is based in Mexico City, was among the artists commissioned to show in the Iraq Pavilion, for which he exhibited a work about a refugee camp. According to De Tijd, Alÿs’s Belgian Pavilion will broach similar subject matter, with new work developed from his 2017 video Children’s Games #19: Haram Soccer, which featured children playing a sport that the Islamic State has attempted to forbid in Iraq. Alÿs also figured in the main exhibitions of the Venice Biennale in 1999, 2001, and 2007.

Alÿs’s work has been acclaimed for the way it has dealt with borders and conflict. Working primarily in film and video, he has boldly addressed political issues, often through metaphorical means. For his famed REEL-UNREEL (2011), made in collaboration with filmmaker Julien Devaux and architect Ajmal Maiwandi, he showed a film reel being rolled through Kabul, Afghanistan, as a reflection on how it was virtually impossible to represent a firsthand experience of war there.

“Francis Alÿs deals with history, current events, and location in an impressive way, both during the creation and the presentation,” the Belgium Pavilion’s jury said in a statement to De Tijd.

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ARTnews in Brief: Mary Bauermeister Awarded Germany’s Highest Honor—and More from June 16, 2020

ByJune 15, 2020 4:56pm

Mary Bauermeister in New York in
Mary Bauermeister in New York in 2017. NINJA ELISA FELSKE

Tuesday, June 16

Mary Bauermeister Awarded Germany’s Highest Honor
Mary Bauermeister has been awarded the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit, the highest honor that can be bestowed on any German individual by the nation. The accolade is awarded in recognition of achievements in the political, economic, humanitarian, and cultural realms. Bauermeister, whose practice spans drawing, installation, sculpture, and music, was selected for her significant contributions to Germany’s postwar art scene. Nordrhein-Westfalen’s Minister of Culture and Science, Isabel Pfeiffer-Poensgen, said in a statement, “Her work as a determining and sustainable initiator in the art world and her great commitment to young artists deserve special recognition.” Previous recipients in the cultural field include Anselm Kiefer, Josef Albers, and Wolfgang Tillmans.

Almine Rech Heads to Shanghai

June Art Fair to Partner with Hauser & Wirth for Online Edition
The second edition of June Art Fair, which debuted in Basel last year, will take place online as part of a collaboration with ArtReview and Hauser & Wirth gallery, which will host the fair on its website. Running from August 20–31, exhibitors include Green Gallery (of Milwaukee), Misako & Rosen (Tokyo), Document (Chicago), Embajada (San Juan), and other enterprises.

Monday, June 15

Kenny Scharf Joins Almine Rech
Almine Rech gallery has added American painter and graffiti artist Kenny Scharf to its roster. Scharf, who describes his fantastical paintings and installations as “pop-surrealism,” first gained notoriety in the 1980s East Village art scene. His work was featured in the 1985 Whitney Biennial and has since been the subject of solo exhibitions at institutions such as the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles and Queens Museum in  New York. He will debut new work this fall in the solo exhibition, “Kenny Scharf: DystopianPainting,” at Almine Rech in New York. Running September 10–October 24, the show will feature 15 paintings and one sculpture by Scharf.

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Kenny Scharf, ZOOM WAY!, 2020, oil and acrylic on linen with powder coated aluminum frame. COURTESY THE ARTIST AND ALMINE RECH

Hamptons Virtual Art Fair Set to Launch This Summer
The new Hamptons Virtual Art Fair, which will showcase postwar and contemporary art, will open with a VIP preview running July 23–26. (The fair will officially launch over Labor Day weekend.) The event was founded by Southampton local and collector Rick Friedman in response to Covid-19’s impact on the art market and his community. “Anyone who travels here during the summer for the arts knows what a loss the shutdown is,” Friedman said in a statement.

Modern Art Gallery Adds Sarah Rapson to Roster
The London-based gallery Modern Art now represents Sarah Rapson, who creates contemplative paintings and collages using a variety of materials. The artist’s understated works frequently incorporate newsprint, and her practice also extends to filmmaking. Rapson has previously shown work at Essex Street gallery in New York, the Seattle Art Museum, Spazio Ostrakon in Milan, and elsewhere.

Artist Wayne Ngan Is Dead at 83
Wayne Ngan, whose practice spanned pottery, painting, sculpture, and other mediums, has died at age 83. Having immigrated to Canada from China in 1951, the artist has lived and worked on Hornby Island in British Columbia since 1967, where he has nurtured his love of gardening. Since the 1960s, Ngan has exhibited works at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, the American Crafts Museum in Massachusetts, Hanart Art Gallery in Taipei, and other venues. 

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British Airways sells its artworks to raise cash

Gary Hume silk tapestry from 1998
Image caption Gary Hume silk tapestry from 1998, shown in a BA lounge at Heathrow Airport Terminal 5

British Airways is selling some of its multi-million-pound art collection to raise cash to help it through the coronavirus pandemic.

The collection includes art by Damien Hirst, Bridget Riley and Peter Doig, with one work believed to have been valued at more than £1m.

It is understood at least 10 pieces have been identified for sale, although exactly which ones is unclear.

BA has seen a collapse in air travel and is set to cut thousands of jobs.

Last week, BA boss Alex Cruz warned that the cash-strapped airline’s survival was at stake unless there was a drastic restructuring of the business.

London’s Evening Standard newspaper, which first reported news of the art sell-off, said auction house Sotheby’s had been brought in to arrange sales as soon as possible.Image captionBA owns art by Damien Hirst, although not one of his “pickled sharks”.

Other works in BA’s collection are pieces by Tracey Emin, Anish Kapoor and Chris Ofili. The airline would not comment on the sale, nor identify which works would go under the hammer.

However, the most valuable piece is believed to be by Bridget Riley and worth, according to one source, “at least seven figures”. It was bought many years ago and has risen substantially in value.

Much of the collection was amassed with the help of London-based curators Artwise, which worked with BA for 17 years until 2012 and bought more than 1,500 works for the airline.

‘Admired collection’

Founders Susie Allen and Laura Culpan said in a statement to the BBC: “Generally we purchased and commissioned works by artists early in their careers, so during this time many of the works have grown in value – although this was never the intention behind the collection.”

It established BA as one of the big corporate supporters of contemporary art. The works would rotate around BA offices globally, they said.

“We are of course very sad to see some of the key treasures from the BA art collection being put up for auction – a collection which, in its day, was so admired and was the first of its kind within the airline industry. However, we do understand that these are unprecedented times,” Artwise said.

Like most airlines, BA’s finances have been hit by the grounding of aircraft due to the virus lockdown. The airline proposes to make 12,000 staff redundant, with more than 1,000 pilot roles at risk.

BA said it was acting now to protect as many jobs possible and insisted no final decision had been made on the number of jobs to go.

Plans for job cuts have sparked a bitter row with unions, and BA has been accused by some MPs of using the pandemic as an excuse to restructure the airline.

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Museums Are Collecting Signs from the Ongoing Protests in Real Time and More: Morning Links from June 11, 2020

To receive Morning Links in your inbox every weekday, sign up for our Breakfast with ARTnews newsletter.


Curators from three Smithsonian museums have begun collecting signs from the ongoing protests against George Floyd’s killing by police, as part of an initiative to collect historical artifacts in real time. [The New York Times]

The French government has announced an open call to create a memorial to the victims of slavery that will be installed near the Louvre in Paris. An advocacy group said that “the artist chosen must be of African descent.” [The Art Newspaper]

The Philadelphia Museum of Art has been accused of union-busting by its workers who are looking to organize the staff. [Artforum]

The Art Market

Art historian Chika Okeke-Agulu has called out Christie’s for its planned sale of a pair of Igbo sculptures that were taken from Nigeria during the height of its civil war. [ARTnews]

A bronze sculpture by Richmond Barthé, which was modeled in 1935 and cast in 1986, sold for $629,000, or 15 times its low estimate. [Art Market Monitor]

Artsy has compiled a list of Black-owned galleries across the United States that collectors can support. [Artsy]


British Airways has hired Sotheby’s to assess its collection of mostly British contemporary art, which it hopes to sell to help the airline company survive the coronavirus pandemic. [Evening Standard]

Ronald Ollie, who was a major collector of African American abstract art and gifted 81 of them to the St. Louis Art Museum, has died.  [Culture Type]

Art & Artists

The Guardian Print Shop is offering a print by Turner prize–winning artist Lubaina Himid, which reads “You Say the Magic Words: Black Lives Matter.” [The Guardian]

Josa Lukman checked in with ruangrupa, the art collective that will organize Documenta 15 set to open in 2022, about how the pandemic has affected their curatorial process. [The Jakarta Post]

Here’s a round-up of the best online exhibitions focusing on the work of LGBTQ+ artists, timed to Pride Month. [The Guardian]

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Banksy Issues Statement About Systemic Racism, Creates New Work

June 8, 2020 12:57pm

Artworks by Banksy in an exhibition
Artworks by Banksy in an exhibition in Yokohama, Japan. AFLO/SHUTTERSTOCK

As protests in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd continue around the globe, some artists, curators, and dealers have established initiatives to support the Black Lives Matter movement, and several U.S. museums have taken steps to sever ties with local police amid growing calls for divestment.

Now, another prominent figure in the art world has weighed in on the ongoing demonstrations. The artist Banksy took to Instagram on Saturday to share a new artwork and a message.

The painting depicts a vigil with flowers, a burning candle, and a framed picture below an American flag affixed to a wall. The candle’s flame burns the corner of the flag and begins to spread upward along its stripes.

Banksy also shared a message about police brutality and systemic racism with followers. “People of color are being failed by the system. The white system. Like a broken pipe flooding the apartment of the people living downstairs,” the artist’s statement reads in part. “This is a white problem. And if white people don’t fix it, someone will have to come upstairs and kick the door in.”

This is not the first time during the course of the pandemic that the elusive artist has shared new work on Instagram. In April, Banksy posted a playful display of rat stencils rendered throughout the walls and fixtures in a bathroom. As an ode to frontline hospital workers in the pandemic, Banksy also created a piece showing a child playing with a superhero figurine dressed as a medical professional.

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Pioneering Artist Zhang Huan Reveals His Pandemic Diary: ‘Death Is My Lover!’

June 10, 2020 8:30am

Zhang Huan in his studio.

While in lockdown, many artists have taken on new projects of various kinds. The latest body of work by Zhang Huan, a Chinese artist based in Shanghai and New York, is a direct response to his experience of the pandemic. In a new pandemic diary below, Zhang, who here debuts a new series of paintings, describes reading news about the coronavirus and finding spiritual equilibrium in the meanwhile.

Death is my lover! Every time I went to Tibet, my mind became delusional, and I started to have strong hallucinations. Tibet is intoxicating! Maybe it was the geography of the Tibetan plateau? I yearned for a sky burial, which is my mysterious garden. And I dreamed of countless vultures taking my body and soul, flying high in the blue sky! The process of dying, which comes between breaths, is a revolution of 49 days, a reincarnation! During this period, a person will experience the trajectory from death to birth, undergo a process of cause and effect, go through uncertain reincarnation, and, finally, obtain rebirth.

These are the stories that moved me during the pandemic…

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“Unknown Pneumonia”

Weng Qiuqiu, a 32-year-old, pregnant woman in Huanggang, Hubei, felt unwell on January 8. After visiting multiple hospitals, she was finally examined, and it was discovered that both of her lungs appeared unusually white in her X-rays. After beginning medical treatment on January 10, she entered the ICU at the daily cost of RMB 50,000 to 60,000 ($7,100 to $8,500). After she borrowed more than RMB 200,000 ($28,000) for her medical care, her condition still didn’t improve, and on January 21 her husband, Chen Yong, finally signed a consent form, agreeing to cease medical support of Weng Qiuqiu. An hour later, she died—only twelve days from the onset of her symptoms. This suggests that she could not afford to waste any time in obtaining a diagnosis for COVID-19. On January 22, the government announced that treatment for the new coronavirus would be free.

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Zhang Huan, Amitabha No. 7, 2020. ©ZHANG HUAN/COURTESY PACE GALLERY

“Beijing’s First COVID-19 Death”

Yang Jun traveled to visit Wuhan from the 8th to the 12th of January and was diagnosed with COVID-19 on January 22. He died five days later. Just a few days before, he had posted on social media: “The first stop of the first day of 2020: the playground. It’s time to move around and experience youth in its prime.”

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Zhang Huan, Amitabha No. 8, 2020. ©ZHANG HUAN/COURTESY PACE GALLERY

Li Wenliang

On December 30, 2019, ophthalmologist Li Wenliang released information about the outbreak that began in Wuhan’s South China Seafood Market. For posting this information in a WeChat group of his classmates, he was labeled a “whistle blower” by the public.

On January 3, 2020, the police station in his jurisdiction reprimanded him for “publishing untrue statements on the Internet.”

On January 10, 2020, two days after examining one of his patients who was later diagnosed with COVID-19, Li Wenliang developed a cough.

On February 1, 2020, he was admitted to the hospital after being diagnosed with COVID-19.

On February 7, 2020, he passed away early in the morning, missing the birth of his second child.

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Zhang Huan, Amitabha No. 3, 2020. ©ZHANG HUAN/COURTESY PACE GALLERY

Chang Kai’s last words were: “I’ve done my filial piety for my son, my father, and my wife with sincerity! Farewell to the people I love and to those who love me!”

Chang Kai was a film director, based in Wuhan. On January 25, the first day of the Chinese New Year, his father developed symptoms of pneumonia and sought admittance to many hospitals without success. Due to a shortage of hospital beds, he resorted to treating himself at home and died on January 27. His family also developed infections, leading to the death of his mother on February 2. Chang Kai and his sister also succumbed to the disease on February 14. In seventeen days, four people in Chang Kai’s family passed away one after the other. His son, who was studying abroad, was spared from the virus.

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Zhang Huan, Amitabha No. 1, 2020. ©ZHANG HUAN/COURTESY PACE GALLERY

Qiu Jun, a 72-year-old retiree, was a winner of the National Bodybuilding Championship as a result of his rigorous fitness training and balanced diet. From the moment he developed symptoms of COVID-19 on January 24, it took eleven days for him to obtain a diagnosis and hospital admission. He passed away after spending just three days in the hospital, a sudden turn of events that deprived him of the opportunity to participate in the Nanjing World Olympic Games scheduled for this June.

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Zhang Huan, Amitabha No. 9, 2020.

Liu Zhiming, deputy secretary and dean of the Party Committee of the Wuchang Hospital in Wuhan, was always at the front lines of epidemic prevention and control. During this crisis, he was unfortunately infected with COVID-19. His wife Cai Liping, the head nurse of the anti-epidemic staff at another hospital, offered several times to take care of Liu Zhiming, who declined her help out of concern for her. On February 18, Liu died due to inadequate treatment. He was 51 years old.

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During the pandemic, a pregnant cat lived alone for 40 days at home, giving birth to 4 kittens. The fish in the home’s aquarium disappeared.

Regarding Love, Love comes from a dust suspended in the sunlight. Those you have loved and those who have loved you; those you know and those you don’t know; those you have heard of and those who have lived on this planet will eventually spend a lifetime here, everyone’s life. The Earth in the universe is this dust suspended in the sunlight! Like a dream, an illusion, a bubble, a shadow, without beginning and end. How will we define life and death?

Are we still obsessed with the insignificant self? Are we still finding joy and sorrow in the comings and goings of the material world? The energy of the universe comes from love, from a dust suspended in the sunlight.

Zhang Huan, 2020

Translation courtesy Zhang Huan’s studio. Journal courtesy Pace Gallery.

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Peterborough artist paints fist bump racial ‘respect’ mural

A street artist whose mural promoting racial unity gained global attention and was praised by rapper Ice T has created a second work representing “respect between all races”.
Nathan Murdoch painted two hands in the shape of a heart in Peterborough last year, but the image was widely shared after the death of George Floyd.
His new work, which he said shows “respect”, is two hands in a fist bump.
Mr Murdoch said he was “trying to use art to represent unity”.
Both pieces of work were commissioned by local charity Diaspora with the aim of using art to highlight anti-racism.
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Global pandemic #Awareness

Encouraging everyone around the world to wash their hands as per prescribed by World Health Organization ,Together we can beat this virus ,let’s be cautious and be hygienic #wash hands #sanitize#united we stand #you can order this painting to remind you #embrace #zimart
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Awareness on Covid 19

Title. Prayer for help, acrylics on canvas 80cmx52cm. AL the world has raised their hands in each country. The hands have been raised not in surrender but in prayer and help feon God. Science is another option which the world is basing on. The art has been given a bit of abstract from an African art point of view#Chooselife#stay safer sanitized keep the faith alive #Ethelartconnect #Embrace #order