Five exhibitions to see in Basel

The city has more to offer than the fair

Zach Blas and Jemima Wyman, im here to learn so :)))))), 2017, four-channel HD video installation. Courtesy the artists and HeK, Basel Balkrishna Doshi, Sangath Architect’s Studio, Ahmedabad, 1980 © Iwan Baan, 2018 Pablo Picasso, Garçon à la pipe (Boy with a Pipe), 1905, oil on canvas ​William Kentridge Shadow Procession (still), 1999. Courtesy the artist Pedro Wirz, An Egg for An Eye, 2019. Courtesy the artist

Entangled Realities: Life with Artificial Intelligence at Haus der elektronische Künste (HeK)

There isn’t a week that goes by of late without ArtReview receiving an email or press release about an artist who has created a ‘new’ AI robot that can draw or write or offer therapy sessions, and to be honest it also can’t understand why, when everyone else is freaking out about their jobs being taken over by AI (which, to be clear, is totally different to automated technologies that have been doing exactly that since, well, we started inventing things), anyone would want to start teaching robots to make themselves redundant. As tedious as it may find the constant bombardment of those emails, ArtReview is not a Luddite: for example, it knows how to Pokémon Sleep. To further prove its interest in emerging technologies, it recommends popping by Entangled Realities at HeK which explores AI’s effects on society. It’s all about handing over our lives, in the form of data and decision-making, to algorithms and how humans ought to be shaping the cooperation between man and machine. At the exhibition, you’ll find works by Zach Blas and Jemima Wyman, James Bridle, Ursula Damm, Trevor Paglen, Jenna Sutela, fabric | ch, and more (some of whom, we’re assured, are living flesh and blood).


Balkrishna Doshi, Sangath Architect’s Studio, Ahmedabad, 1980
Balkrishna Doshi, Sangath Architect’s Studio, Ahmedabad, 1980 © Iwan Baan, 2018

Balkrishna Doshi: Architecture for Humans at Vitra Design Museum, through 8 September

ArtReview might focus on contemporary art, but its long had an interest in design and architecture – the likes of Reyner Banham, J.G. Ballard, Nikolaus Pevsner and former FAT founder Sam Jacob can be found in the archives. So, with cap doffed to the ancestors, it will be heading to the Vitra Design Museum where the Pritzker Prize-winning architect Balkrishna Doshi is being celebrated with his first retrospective outside of Asia. Along with being credited as one of the few pioneers of modern architecture on the subcontinent, Doshi has influenced generations of younger architects through his vision of integrating principles of modern architecture with local cultural and material traditions. Doshi’s practice is known for its sustainable approach and commitment to locating architecture within its cultural, environmental and societal contexts. The exhibition promises original drawings, models and artwork from Doshi’s archive and architectural office, photos, footage and several walk-in room installations, spanning over 60 years of architectural practice and showcasing significant projects from 1958–2014, from urban planning to public facilities and private residential homes.


Pablo Picasso, Garçon à la pipe (Boy with a Pipe), 1905, oil on canvas
Pablo Picasso, Garçon à la pipe (Boy with a Pipe), 1905, oil on canvas

The Young Picasso: Blue and Rose Periods at Fondation Beyeler, through 16 June

It’s the closing weeks of Fondation Beyeler’s exhibition of Pablo Picasso’s early works, so hop on a tram to see 80 of the artist’s paintings and sculptures made between 1901 and 1907 – otherwise best known as his Blue Period, followed by the Rose Period. The paintings in each of these series are recognisable for their largely monochromatic palette, the former reflecting on themes of poverty, despair and loneliness, which began after the suicide of a close friend, while the latter is seen to depict more joyful imagery, showing the beginning of his stylistic experiments with Primitivism. He was, as it happened, happier during this time – having met Fernande Olivier, an artist who became his muse and mistress. With many of these works scattered across institutions and private collections, this is a rare coming together of works from this period.


​William Kentridge Shadow Procession (still), 1999
​William Kentridge, Shadow Procession (still), 1999. Courtesy the artist

William Kentridge at Kunstmuseum Basel, 8 June – 13 October

William Kentridge, South African visual artist, filmmaker, and stage director, will be debuting one of his latest works In Praise of Folly (2018) at Basel’s Kunstmuseum. The film borrows its title from the satirical speech that the humanist Erasmus of Rotterdam wrote in 1509, which critiques the Catholic Church. Erasmus also happens to be a major figure in the history of Basel, where he taught at the university, and following an attack of dysentery died and was buried at Basel Minster. Alongside this new work, Kentridge will be showing his major video installations such as More Sweetly Play the Dance and Shadow Procession, with selections from his graphic oeuvre including prints and drawings.


Pedro Wirz, An Egg for An Eye, 2019. Courtesy the artist
Pedro Wirz, An Egg for An Eye, 2019. Courtesy the artist

Pedro Wirz at Kunsthaus Langenthal, through 23 June

Finally, if you’re looking to get back to nature or perhaps just trying to hideout far from the madding art crowd, ArtReview suggests paying a visit to Brazilian artist Pedro Wirz’s exhibition at Kunsthaus Langenthal. Wirz does not make autobiographical work, but certainly his life story gets composted down in his sculpture and installation. That the artist is interested in the relationship between culture and nature, or rather sees little discernible boundary between the two is perhaps down to his childhood growing up in Pindamonhangaba, in the Brazilian state of São Paulo, where not just the old indigenous Tupi culture was tied to the landscape, but the crafts of the area turned to nature for their raw material too. Wirz likewise uses organic matter (his father is an agronomist, his mother a biologist, so its in the blood) to create objects and landscapes that at first seem as if he has transported little bits of Brazil to Switzerland (where the artists now live), but slowly the works reveal themselves to be something all the more unsettling.


7 June 2019