Spring has clearly sprung in Manchester – and we’re not just on about the daffodils and buds a-blooming but the number of contemporary art shows on the cusp of opening
First up is what promises to be a phenomenal show: Contemporary Art Iraq at Cornerhouse, an exhibition that ably demonstrates Cornerhouse’s renewed role on the international art circuit. The UK’s first Iraqi exhibition of its kind since the original Gulf War, the show features 19 Iraqi-based artists and includes photography, sculpture, video, painting and performance. What’s most interesting, and perhaps surprising for a UK audience used to hearing only about the country’s political instability, is the fact that this is a show that is first and foremost about the real Iraq. Expect thought-provoking, contentious, witty and beautiful work that addresses the realities of everyday life in a country whose politics have for so long obscured its art, culture and beliefs. And don’t take our word for it: read Daniel Miller’s excellent preview here. Contemporary Art Iraq, Cornerhouse. Opens Friday 16 April (until 20 June). Free.
Not far behind is a new exhibition at Castlefield Gallery (which also opens on Friday – in fact, all of them do bar one). Out of Time is a new solo show by Matt’s Gallery favourite David Osbaldeston, an artist who goes all out to explode the myth that the news we consume is anything other than subjective. Oh, and he’s wrapping Castlefield Gallery up in posters, bathing the place in red light and exhorting visitors to treat the gallery ‘like a stage set. The gallery is a book and the viewer walks into the pages of it’. The artwork is backed up by some fascinatingly complex ideas – our interview with the artist will be online on Thursday. Out of Time (The Light of the Day/ The Action of the Play), Castlefield Gallery. Opens Friday 16 April (until 6 June). Free.
Chinese Arts Centre, meanwhile, presents a photographic series from anothermountainman (AKA Stanley Wong). Wong’s large-scale images focus on the impact of the 1990s Asian property boom – a period that saw an explosion of building projects swiftly followed by the utter collapse of the market. The result was thousands of half-built apartment and office blocks, hotels and shopping centres, whose concrete husks still litter China, Taiwan, Thailand, Cambodia, Turkey and Singapore. Kate Feld will be speaking to the artist later this week. Lan Wei/Decaying End, Chinese Arts Centre. Opens Friday 16 April (until 12 June). Free.
And finally we come to Rogue, a studio and gallery space that is becoming an increasingly important part of the contemporary art scene in Manchester. The artists’ studios at Rogue have been running for a decade or so but, two years ago, Rogue took over an extra floor of the mill it occupies and turned it into a project space. It is this space that has been host to a series of short (two week-long) exhibitions. The latest, by artist Tom Hobson, opens on Thursday – according to the blurb it promises ‘a device for talking to the sky and turning mountains upside down’. Rogue’s next show is by Punk favourite John Hyatt (on 30 April), which handily coincides with a parallel exhibition at MMU’s Holden Gallery. In the blessed abyss of the eternal ether, Rogue Artists’ Studios & Project Space. Previews Thursday 15 April, 5-8pm (all welcome) and runs until 24 April (by appointment only). Free.
Image: David Osbaldeston: Out of Time (The Light of Day / The Action of the Play), Courtesy of the artist and Matt’s Gallery.