Anne-Marie Schneider, Museo Reina Sofia, through 20 March
There’s a lot to see at the huge Museo Reina Sofia, and the solo presentation of not-enough-seen French artist Anne-Marie Schneider is good place to start. Schneider’s low-fi aesthetic – cartooning in ink, paint and DIY animation – conjures a darkly comic world of everyday anxieties and obsessions. A kind of visual diarist of her own life, Schnieder offers a humble, ironic vision of relationships, sexuality, growing up, and the petty preoccupations of urban life, fringed with neurosis and existential apprehension.
Art et Liberté: Rupture, War and Surrealism in Egypt (1938-1948), Museo Reina Sofia, through 28 May
It’s worth lingering a little longer at the Reina Sofia for this outstanding historical show, which excavates the unfamiliar history of surrealist art as it took shape in Egypt in the decade around the Second World War. Curated by Til Felrath and Sam Bardaouil, it mixes a remarkable gathering of paintings and works on paper with documents and publications from the period, charting the activities of the Cairo group Art et Liberté, and its creative opposition to conservative, traditionalist and nationalist culture of art of the time.
Julian Rosefeldt: Deep Gold, Helga De Alvear, through 29 April
The historical legacies of Surrealism also pop up in Berlin-based Julian Rosefeldt’s black and white film Deep Gold, which takes its cue from the great Spanish surrealist Luis Buñuel’s 1930 film L’Age d’Or. Rosefeldt’s update on Buñuel’s satire of sexual repression sees his protagonist lost in a world that while harking back to the 1930s, presents the political battle lines today drawn through sex, pornography and gender politics.
Fritzia Irizar: The History of Smoke, NF/Nieves Fernandes, through 14 April
Like Rosefeldt’s take on the 1930s, the fraught political times we’re in provoke frequent searches for historical parallels. Mexican artist Fritzia Irizar takes her cue from Picasso’s legendary 1937 painting Guernica (on permanent display at the Reina Sofia), drawing parallels between the Fascists’ bombing of the Spanish town and more recent carnage, from the virtual civil war on Mexico’s drug borders to the Russian bombing of Allepo. Behind it all, for Irizar, is neoliberalism’s indifference to conflict, as long as some still stand to make a profit.
Cristina Lucas: Informal Colors, Juana de Aizpuru, through 18 March
The politics of consumer culture turn up in a more coded fashion in the work of Spanish artist Cristina Lucas. Lucas’s Monochrome works play on the idea of ‘pure’ colour, by bringing together hundreds of corporate logos in densely overprinted layered transparencies. Sumptuous and intense, they’re nevertheless fraught with ambiguity about consumerism’s own aesthetic seduction.
Material Life, The GOMA, through 12 March
After such explicit and implicit political concerns, a show preoccupied with the nature of painterly representation might seem a little introspective and detached. Yet it’s probably a good thing that there are artists who still care that painting is a complex, idiosyncratic space for reflection on what makes an image come into being. Curator Davide Ferri brings together an intimate gathering of works by Riccardo Baruzzi, Michael Bauer and Merlin James, among others.
Philippe Decrauzat: Tenir pendant que le balancement se meurt, Parra & Romero, through 15 April
The nature of representation and materiality isn’t an exclusively painterly concern, as evidenced by Philippe Decrauzat’s show at Parra & Romero. The Swiss artist has long been interested in conceptual and quasi-scientific approaches to visual and spatial form, drawing on experimental cinema, Op art and other traditions. This new show balances projections of blinking eyes onto rotating mirrors against a black-mirrored platform filling a room full of the artist’s signature stripe paintings. Weighty and giddying at once.
Daniel Canogar: Echo, Max Estrella, through 25 March
If Decrauzat is all about rooting the spectator’s attention to the space they’re in, Spanish artist Daniel Canogar uses contemporary media to connect the gallery back to the outside word. Hanging and wall-mounted flexible LED display tiles are plugged into meteorological, seismological and other environmental data feeds, changing colour and pattern with the shifts in information. Abstract and decorative, for sure, Canogar’s illuminations are nevertheless representations of reality on a scale that is perhaps impossible to picture.
Engel Leonardo: Ansapit, Formatocomodo, through 31 March
If there’s a theme running here, it’s that things in galleries are always representing real life, whether we like it or not. Dominican artist Engel Leonardo elegant, simple forms might be seen as minimalist retro, and while they’re self-consciously referencing a bygone modernist taste for geometry, they’re born out of Leonardo’s interest in the artisan and craft traditions of the Caribbean. Where these intersect offers a reflection on the status of craft manufacture and art’s implication in a global economy of high and low production values.
Fernanda Fragateiro: forget me (not), Galeria Elba Benitez; through March
On a similar trajectory one might find the Portuguese Fernanda Fragateiro, an artist for whom the history of geometric art is intimately tied into the social, political and political histories of modernist art. Forget me (not) takes as its starting point the work of the little-known Bauhaus textile designer and artist Otti Berger, who died in Auschwitz in 1944. Here, Fragateiro presents handmade notebooks as wall-mounted configurations, clothbound in colours reminiscent of Berger’s textile designs. Quiet memorials to a person vanished, except in the traces of her art.