From a group show at Beyond the Streets to an exhibition of Amir H. Fallah at the Fowler, here are the best shows to see right now
Strings of Desire
29 January – 7 May
Strings of Desire, 2023, installation view. Courtesy: Craft Contemporary; photograph: Ian Byers-Gamber
Embroidery takes centre stage in ‘Strings of Desire’, a group show featuring 13 artists, each of whom has embedded their personal history into works that range across pattern, design, painting, sculpture and architecture. As suggested by the exhibition title, at the core of this exploration are the themes of desire and longing: to belong, connect, retrieve memories or expand our understanding of overlooked realities. Kang Seung Lee, for example, combines a three-channel video with two works created with sambe, a woven hemp textile traditionally used in Korean funerary practices, to pay homage to Korean poet Gi Hyeong-do and Chinese-American artist Martin Wong. In Untitled (Put Badly, Gi Hyeong-do) (2022), Lee uses gold thread to embroider Hyeong-do’s poem Put Badly (1989) translated into American Sign Language, which Wong also used in many of his paintings. Born in Vietnam, Diem Chau combines embroidered threads with functional porcelain ware to memorialize her family’s stories of immigration to the United States as refugees in 1986. Such personal connections to the medium also make space for exciting new takes on abstraction, as seen in the work of Mexican-born Miguel Osuna and Chilean-born Carmen Mardónez. Osuna embroidered cotton during regular Zoom calls with his mother who lives in Mexico, allowing them to share time across space, an idea present in his precise linework, while Mardónez chronicles the passage of time through colour, at the same moment problematizing the traditional feminine associations of embroidery with her vibrant shades of pink. A varied body of diasporic histories are woven together in a thought-provoking show that points the way to harmonious futures.