Arts

Three exhibitions to see in London this weekend

Feliciano Centurión, Ave del Paraiso Florecido (c.1995) Courtesy of Cecilia Brunson Projects

I Am Awake at Cecilia Brunson Projects (until 13 December; free) is the first UK solo show of the Paraguayan artist Feliciano Centurión. A double debut, many of the exhibition's works are being shown to the public for the first time, having spent the last 20 years hidden away in an unopened box at Centurións family home. According to Cecilia Brunson, the gallerys founder, Centurión, who died aged 34 of AIDS in 1996, instructed the box to be opened "when the time felt right". Inside, Brunson found a collection of small blankets on which Centurión, in the last years of his life, had crocheted patterns and creatures from his homeland onto brightly coloured backgrounds. Shown alongside dinosaur figurines collected from Argentinian street markets and decorative paper plates, they combine the tragic reality of his disease with a kitschy and whimsical sensibility. Several works were made in collaboration with fellow South American artists associated with the Arte Light movement. For Centurión and his peers (80% of whom died of AIDS-related illnesses), the private and the political were often blurred as their very existence became politicised by a government that sought to erase their identities. On many of these household textiles, Centurión had hand-stitched phrases, mantras he must have repeated to himself like prayers to process his fate. "Death is a recurring part of my life", reads one. To look upon it is not to understand just his fear, but to feel his defiance too. These later works prove that beauty can spring forth from the darkest moments, locating Centurión's legacy in his bravery, and serving as a battlecry for future generations.

Valie Export changed her name aged 28 as a means of breaking away from what had come before. Eschewing both her family surname and that of her first husband, she adopted a new one from a cigarette packet. Export came about in the wake of the Vienna Actionists but hers was, and still is, a decidedly feminist brand of work. Her early performances, such as Tapp- und Tast-Kino (1969), where she invited the public to touch her breasts through a box over her torso, are hallmarks of the cannon now, but would still shock many. In the mid-1980s, Export represented Austria at the Venice Biennale, alongside the painter Maria Lassnig. This week, The 1980 Venice Biennale Works, recreating Exports Venice installation opened at Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac (until 25 January 2021; free). For fans of Exports work, the show is a welcome historical exhibition (sadly sans Lassnig) that also includes archival documents and is a fascinating time capsule. Among the works on show are the famous Geburtenbett (1980) with its spread legs, red neon and video of a Catholic mass—which received a “so-so” reaction at the time according to Export—and the visceral …Remote….Remote… (1973), a video of her removing dead skin from her fingernails—an extreme manicure of sorts—using a Stanley knife.

Last year Marcin Dudek made a to-scale recreation of a makeshift gym, originally built in the 1990s by his crew of football hooligans in the basement of a Krakow council estate. Now the centre-piece of Read More – Source