Three exhibitions to see in London this weekend

David Bomberg's The Mud Bath (1914) Courtesy of Tate

It is easy to assume that a move towards abstraction means a break from tradition. When David Bomberg showed his bold geometric works at Chelsea's Chenil Gallery in 1914, he was seen by many as denouncing “the Fat Man of the Renaissance”. But, as convincingly argued byYoung Bomberg and the Old Masters at the National Gallery (until 1 March 2020; free), his audacious brand of modernism was heavily—and avowedly—indebted to the past. Pressed for space, the show combines 8 Bombergs (half of which are preliminary studies) with two Old Masters. In the 1912 Vision for Ezekiel, angular bodies serve as biblical references while in the quintessential The Mud Bath (1914) figuration is all but thrown out the window. The shows catalogue teases at its possible inspirations (Rembrandt, Michaelangelo) but we are largely left to imagine these links. Far more effective is when we get direct comparisons to the Renaissance—Botticellis Portrait of a Young Man (around 1480-5) hangs besides a pencil self portrait, both projecting a charismatic, determined stare. Even better is the towering study for Sappers at Work (1918–19), a bellicose portrayal of a mine attack, which has its roses and lilacs tethered to the swirling pinks and purples of El Greco. Mercifully, Bomberg is never pitted against the Old Masters (there is no doubt who'd win), allowing his reverence for the Old Masters to shine through.

“Im gonna breakaway, breakaway from the everyday,” sings Toni Basil in Bruce Conners mesmerising, addictive, sexy and infinitely catchy Breakaway (1966). The exhibition Bruce Conner: Breakaway at Thomas Dane Gallery (until 22 February 2020; free) is of a single work that only lasts five minutes. But visitors will find it hard to not watch more than once or be able to shake off the tune for the rest of the day. On the face of it, especially in a post-MTV world, the experimental US artists film is a straightforward music video. But it is in the works seeming simplicity where the brilliance lies. Shot on 16mm black and white film, the work shows the US singer and performer Toni Basil dancing in front of a black background, wearing different outfits—quickly losing then gaining them again—as her song plays over the top. The fast cut film edits, jitteriness of the 16mm and frenzied zooms create a strobe-like effect and at times the flickers of Basils body make it become almost abstracted; she becomes a trace of herself before boldly coming back. Its all over too fast before being played back in reverse using a backmasking technique popularised by The Beatles that very same year. Basil then makes two fleeting final spectral appearances before the end credit: “fine”.

You would be forgiven for thinking that the Victoria and Albert Museums (V&A) exhibition Read More – Source