Oliver Basciano

Journalist, Critic

Editor-at-large at ArtReview, contributing to Guardian, Telegraph, The National, BBC Radio 4, Times Literary Supplement, Private Eye, Calvert Journal, Spike Art Quarterly

Portfolio
BBC Radio 4
02/22/2020
From Our Own Correspondent

Carnival in Brazil is one of the world's biggest, brashest parties. But under Brazil’s far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, there has been increase in police raids in poor neighbourhoods adding, Oliver Basciano finds, a tinge of bitterness to the party spirit.

BBC Radio 4
03/09/2019
From Our Own Correspondent

Oliver Basciano finds out about living with leprosy in a quiet corner of Romania

BBC Radio 4
09/10/2019
Art of Now - Brazilian Art under Bolsonaro

What is like to be an artist in a country led by a far-right president? Brazilian artists and thinkers explore the cultural life of their country in the era of Bolsonaro.

ArtReview
03/01/2020
Vaivém, reviewed by Oliver Basciano / ArtReview

In Duhigó's Nepũ Arquepũ, a 2019 acrylic-on-wood painting, a woman starts a month of postpartum recovery in a hammock strung across the beams of a straw-roofed, mud-floored maloca. The naked young mother cradles her newborn as the local shaman of the Tukano tribe, an indigenous people of the Northwest Amazon, sits close by, administering blessings and medicine.

The National
03/11/2020
Artist Edmund de Waal opens library to 'give respect back to people who had it taken from them'

Stacked on a table in Edmund de Waal's studio in south London is today's post - a dozen or so packages from various book shops. They will be unwrapped and added to the artist's Library of Exile, a collection of more than 2,000 titles written by people forced to leave their countries of origin for political reasons, from the Roman poet Ovid to children's author Judith Kerr.

Private Eye
20/09/2019
State of the Art

As Trevor Paglen's exhibition on AI bias opens, the Barbican Centre won planning consent to install 56 new high-definition CCTV cameras, some with facial recognition.

ArtReview
12/01/2019
Vivian Suter: Forces of Nature

When the storm came after lunch at Vivian Suter's home in Panajachel, I assumed that, though heavy, it was standard for the dog days of Guatemala's rainy season. Perhaps the deluge would stop in an hour: a short, sharp downpour, leaving the air refreshed.

the Guardian
02/14/2020
Beverly Pepper obituary

In 1962, when Beverly Pepper was invited to take part in an artist residency at a metalworking factory in the Italian town of Piombino, they asked if she could weld. "Of course," she lied, quickly seeking out a local handyman to teach her the basics.

the Guardian
01/06/2020
John Baldessari: the giant prankster who torched artworld pretension

John Baldessari was a towering figure in conceptual art. I mean, literally he was a towering figure: 6ft 7in to be precise. He was also incredibly important. His own work spread across painting, photography, film, video, artists' books, billboards and public sculpture.

the Guardian
12/10/2019
Artists assemble! How collectives took over the art world

Last week, the four artists shortlisted for the Turner prize turned themselves into a four-strong collective in order to win as a group - a move that caused controversy in the press, consternation over social media and a bust-up on Radio 4 between the Guardian's art critic Adrian Searle and his Sunday Times counterpart, Waldemar Januszczak.

ArtReview
Videobrasil, reviewed by Oliver Basciano / ArtReview

Imagined Communities, the 21st edition of Videobrasil, takes its title from a 1983 book by Irish political scientist Benedict Anderson that describes nationality, 'nation-ness' and nationalism as 'cultural artefacts of a particular kind'. For the curators of this film-festival-turned-art-biennial, with its admirable and longstanding focus on artists from the 'global south', they are artefacts long-past their sell-by date.

the Guardian
10/15/2019
John Giorno - the New York radical who broke art and poetry's boundaries

'What do telephones, poetry and the Museum of Modern Art have in common?" read a press release issued by the New York institution on 21 July 1970. A question to which they might have added gay liberation, Aids activism, the aesthetics of advertising, Tibetan Buddhism and sleeping for Andy Warhol, and still received the answer of John Giorno.

the Guardian
11/01/2019
Ed Clark obituary

In 1957 the artist Ed Clark, who has died aged 93, was in his New York studio making a painting for a forthcoming show when he decided to introduce an element of collage, a stretch of paper that hung over the side of the canvas.

The National
08/08/2019
How artist Saba Innab is using collective memories to remap a broken city

In 2009, Saba Innab joined the reconstruction team of the Nahr Al Bared refugee camp. Home to more than 27,000 displaced Palestinians in northern Lebanon, 95 per cent of the settlement was destroyed during fierce fighting between the Lebanese army and militants two years prior.

the Guardian
08/16/2019
Takis obituary

In February 1955 the Greek artist Takis stood bored on the platform at Calais train station. He was travelling back to Paris from London, where he had had his first solo exhibition, but his train was delayed. His eyes fell on a trackside signal, a metal upright pole with flashing lights at the top.

the Guardian
07/26/2019
Marisa Merz obituary

Marisa Merz, who has died aged 93, was the only female artist associated with arte povera, the late-1960s Italian movement that favoured everyday, throwaway materials over traditional media such as oil paint and marble.

the Guardian
08/04/2019
Carlos Cruz-Diez obituary

Carlos Cruz-Diez, who has died aged 95, harboured a seven-decade obsession that the common understanding of colour was wrong. "Colour," the Venezuelan-born artist believed, "evolves continuously in time and space." "I want people to realise that colour is not a certainty, but a circumstance," he said in 2014. "Red is maybe red.

ArtReview
06/01/2019
Michael Rakowitz

The Iraqi-American couldn't stand showing at a museum that has an arms dealer on its board; Oliver Basciano spoke to the artist on the Whitney problem, Leonard Cohen and Palestine, and buying Saddam Hussein's dinner plates.

the Guardian
02/11/2019
Robert Ryman obituary

American artist known for his white paintings who was regarded as the link between abstract expressionism and minimalism

the Guardian
02/01/2019
Susan Hiller obituary

Conceptual artist who explored alternative belief systems and cosmologies

the Guardian
01/12/2018
Tim Rollins obituary

Artist whose collaboration with young New Yorkers the Kids of Survival pioneered socially engaged conceptual art

the Guardian
07/10/2018
Dennis Creffield obituary

Artist described as 'a radical in the vein of Blake and Turner' who was commissioned to draw every cathedral in England

ArtReview
09/01/2018
On the eve of the Bienal

Oliver Basciano reports on the stricken state of Brazilian politics as the 33rd Bienal de São Paulo opens

the Guardian
08/30/2018
Krishna Reddy obituary

Pupil of Krishnamurti who became a world-leading printmaker and art teacher

the Guardian
06/08/2018
Malcolm Morley obituary

Painter hailed as the best of his generation, who won the inaugural Turner prize

the Guardian
05/17/2018
Per Kirkeby obituary

Danish artist whose paintings oscillate between abstraction and landscape

ArtReview
05/01/2018
The Shape of Protest

From police ‘kettling’ tactics to hashtags, Oliver Basciano traces the way revolt has changed

the Guardian
12/19/2017
Enrico Castellani obituary

Enrico Castellani, who has died aged 87, was a quiet man who made quiet art. Yet he was regarded not only as one of the great Italian artists of the 20th century, but the "father of minimalism". It was the American artist Donald Judd who dubbed him thus, but Castellani's art was rooted in the avant-garde milieu of mid-20th century Europe.

The Calvert Journal
How one Bulgarian writer created a global community of radical artists

I’m sat, wrapped up, outside a café in Plovdiv, Bulgaria’s second city. Spread out amongst the cups and saucers are the only four issues of Svep, a visual poetry magazine founded by the late Vesselin Sariev in 1990, which I am leafing through with the poet’s widow, Katrin, and daughter Vesselina

The Telegraph
10/24/2017
Virginia Surtees, scholar of Pre-Raphaelite art - obituary

Virginia Surtees, who has died aged 100, was a fervent champion of the Pre-Raphaelite art movement and the leading scholar of one of its key protagonists, Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Her research into figures such as John Ruskin, George Price Boyce and Ford Madox Brown occurred while such artists were deemed deeply unfashionable.

ArtReview
09/01/2017
Adrián Villar Rojas

In March 2015 I walked through the lanes of Büyükada, an island that lies an hour's slow ferry ride from Istanbul, eventually coming to the track that leads down to the ruins of the villa in which Leon Trotsky lived between 1929 and 33.

the Guardian
05/05/2017
AR Penck obituary

German artist whose primitive-style imagery, recalling cave art, reflected the harsh realities of the cold war

ArtReview
04/01/2017
Pravdoliub Ivanov

"It was like an American robot had landed." It is dusk in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, and Pravdoliub Ivanov is pointing out the site of the city's first Coke machine, installed in 1989 as the country transitioned from communism to capitalism.

ArtReview
11/01/2016
Trevor Paglen

Incorporating his academic background as a geographer, and the skills of an investigative reporter, Trevor Paglen is an American artist whose work has sought to expose the often hidden physical apparatus and architecture that governments and, increasingly, private companies employ to monitor and control the public.

ArtReview
10/01/2016
Shadi Habib Allah

Oliver Basciano records the Palestinian artist's adventures on the Sinai Peninsula

Spike Art Magazine
01/26/2016
Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster

The emotional, sensual experience of encountering a work by Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster work is hard to describe. I remember feeling a shiver in the Brazilian summer heat amid the gardens of Inhotim...

ArtReview
03/01/2016
Akram Zaatari

The personal stories that tell Lebanon's fraught politics

ArtReview
10/01/2015
Abbas Akhavan

The Tehran-born, Toronto-based artist memorialises the impact of geopolitics and urbanisation on the natural world

Building Design
28/08/2009
Reviews 2009–2011

Reviews of Looking Under the Skin at the South London Gallery; Francis Alÿs: A Story of Deception at Tate Modern; Design Research Unit: 1942-72 at Cubitt; The Slice: Cutting to See at the Architectural Association; Public Reading Rooms at the Architectural Association; Modern British Sculpture at the Royal Academy; The Natural Order of Things: Marcelo Cidade and Andre Komatsu at Max Wigram Gallery; Chelsea Flower Show 2011; and Laura Oldfield Ford: documenting the urban flux

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