My favourite exhibition of 2015 had to be the Richard Diebenkorn at the Royal Academy. His love of paint, brushstrokes, colour and composition exuded and filled the rooms in the Sackler wing. So rare to have an exhibition that didn’t have a bad painting in the whole show.
This was closely followed by the James Turrell exhibit at the magnificent Palladian Houghton Hall in Norfolk. From his purpose built Skyscape viewing chamber in the house’s grounds to the individual light pieces set in the stable block and the darkened subterranean rooms culminating with the 45 minute light show against the hall’s west facade: this was a thoroughly enjoyable day out.
Tate Modern’s re-evalutation of the work of Sonia Delaunay was another highlight and finally setting right her legacy and understanding that to be a multi-faceted artist makes her more not less important. Her creative energy filled the rooms with examples of her textiles, fashion, costume design and interiors alongside her paintings.
I also really enjoyed Magnificent Obsessions at the Barbican which explored the personal collections of post-war and contemporary artists including Andy Warhol, Peter Blake, Edmund de Waal, Damien Hirst, Howard Hodgkin, Sol LeWitt and Martin Parr and illustrating the astonishing variety of things artists surround themselves with that has a direct relationship to the art they make. Compulsive stuff! It worked well as a companion piece to the excellent Joseph Cornell at the Royal Academy with his assemblage boxes and quirky imaginative worlds.
From the emerging sector special mention must go to Silent Movie which took place at the Q underground Car Park in Cavendish Square during Frieze week. Its black and white theme was explored by numerous artists from all over the world in different ways and succeeded in challenging, enticing, inspiring and entertaining its audience. Similarly, the black paintings show at Charlie Smith proved that working with a restrictive palette does not restrict creativity or invention.
20 years of Collecting at the Zabludowicz Collection was varied, enjoyable and pinpointed the collections ongoing support of artists early in their careers. So many went on to make major contributions towards the landscape of contemporary art. The Jim Lambie installation transforming the wooden boards of the former Methodist chapel into a pop riot of perception-altering lines. A similar Jim Lambie installation during the Royal Academy’s summer exhibition made walking up the main staircase of the RA an uneasy experience.