As a huge survey of contemporary painting opens at the Hayward Gallery in London, we ask: is the time-honoured medium of painting the art form best suited to exploring the complexity of our age?
We look at the thriving and diverse contemporary painting scene in the UK and explore the Hayward director Ralph Rugoff’s suggestion that this ancient medium “seems like the best technology there could possibly be for reflecting on what it's like to live in a culture where image is the primary currency it is”. We talk to two emerging artists in that show: Baghdad-born Mohammed Sami and Beijing-born Vivien Zhang, who are both based in London. We meet Doron Langberg, the Brooklyn-based painter, and discuss his latest work reflecting on queer desire and identity and landscape as a space of mourning. And we ask art advisor Lisa Schiff, founder of SFA advisory, about paintings and collectors.
And in this episode’s Work of the Week, we explore a newly restored canvas by one of the greatest of all painters, Johannes Vermeer—Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window (around 1657-59) has just been unveiled in its full glory for the first time in centuries at Dresden’s Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, fully revealing a hidden image of Cupid, painted by Vermeer but painted over by someone else. And we hear about new research on the painting. Plus, the latest big stories in the world of art and heritage.