Den Frie Centre of Contemporary Art in Copenhagen presents “On Short-Term Contracts” through October 29.
Den Frie has presented exhibitions rooted in the collective tradition, contemporary artistic communities, artists’ associations, and experimental groups and networks. “On Short-Term Contracts” addresses the conditions under which artists work and live today while housing rents are rising in Copenhagen. During the exhibition, the museum presents three consecutive shows under the same title, and in addition to the three shows at Den Frie, Holckenhus, Nikolaj Kunsthal, and the studio collective AGA Works also present exhibitions on the same theme. The participating artists deal with the state of urban development in Denmark, typical artists’ studios in the city, and general questions about the economic power structures that govern art and society.
Ultimately, the exhibition raises the following questions: Who has the right to exist in the city? Who determines urban development? How can we create more diverse urban spaces?
Palais de Tokyo in Paris has run the Lasco project since 2012, inviting artists to paint the building’s underground passageways. Through September 10, Palais de Tokyo presents “Il morso delle termiti.” In addition to the Lasco project, the exhibition invites more than 50 unknown artists to showcase graffiti.
The exhibition focuses on graffiti as a form that reveals certain experiences, attitudes, imaginations, and streams of thought, rather than an explicit theme or aesthetic. The show presents the experiences of illegality and broken windows, the wanderings of bodies in movement, an attraction to murky perspectives, and the romanticism of a kind of vandalism.
The title of the exhibition, translating to “Termite Bites,” quotes the theory of American painter Manny Farber (1917-2008). Comparing “termite artists” to “white elephant artists,” Farber said termite artists express themselves in practices that are more difficult to grasp and manipulate, comparing their art to tapeworm, moss, or fungus. According to Farber, their art leaves only signs of devouring, industrious, and disorderly activity, which the exhibition emphasizes as a connection to graffiti art.
Kunsthaus Bregenz presents “Pathos and the Twilight of the Idle,” a solo exhibition by Michael Armitage (b. 1984), on view through October 29. The title is brought from the 2019 work with the same name, which the artist painted after seeing a demonstration by Kenya’s largest opposition party in Nairobi in 2017.
Armitage was born in Kenya and studied in the UK. He became well known for his large-scale paintings that depict figures in somnambulistic landscapes. He depicts African rituals, political protests, plant and animal life, and people, often utilizing photos and videos from social media.
Armitage weaves “Lubugo” cloth made from the trimmed bark of ficus trees in Uganda, into a large canvas on which he applies layers of paint, scraping, and re-layering. Paint applied over the seams of the cloth creates irregular marks and holes in the painting. The juxtaposition of complementary colors and the prominence of the contour line of figures are also characteristic of his paintings.
Although Armitage depicts African political realities, his colors and forms also reveal the deep influence of European painters such as Édouard Manet, Francisco de Goya, the Fauvists, R. B. Kitaj, Egon Schiele, and Paul Gauguin, as well as the European religious iconography.