. . .
As the long hot summer grows longer and hotter, we asked a range of artists to share an artist, an art form, artwork or arts space in another country – that they love and want more people to know about.
As ever, the responses held many beautiful surprises – and together, it’s a creative collage of arts around the world.
. . .
If you’d like to share your favorite arts
from another country, you can email
and we’ll keep updating this feature.
Afrori Books – “Books of Black Origin” – is a bookstore in Brighton, England that I only discovered at the end of my holiday time there last September ‘22. They were doing a children’s storytelling event when I went inside, so I didn’t get the chance to spend much time there — however we’re revisiting Brighton this year (same time) and I plan to go back.
“We are so much more than a bookshop. We are a social enterprise meeting the needs of the community. We also deliver anti-racism training to adults, run anti-racist clubs in schools across Sussex, Hair workshops, author events, women of colour yoga sessions, writers workshops, a book festival and so much more.” – Winner of British Bookseller of the Year
– Stephanie Roberts
I would call attention to the Tove Jansson Gallery at the Helsinki Art Museum. Not only did Jansson create the goofy and wonderful Moomins, she left a trove of works depicting the artist’s life in mid-century Finland.
A rich and dynamic biopic about Jansson, Tove, came out in 2020, one the most successful Swedish-language films to come out of Finland to date.
– Susana Darwin
I fell in love with origami the moment I saw Above the Fold at the MFA in the summer of 2019. The traveling exhibition, organized by International Arts & Artists, featured origami by nine international artists — Erik Demaine and Martin Demaine (Canada/US), Vincent Floderer (France), Miri Golan (Israel), Paul Jackson (UK/Israel), Dr. Robert J. Lang (USA), Yuko Nishimura (Japan), Richard Sweeney (UK) and Jiangmei Wu (China/US).
Much of their work is best described as sculptures that happen to be made out of paper. The artwork in Above the Fold went so far beyond the leaping paper frogs of my youth that it forever changed my idea of origami.
Four years later, I received a double lung transplant. In that first year post-transplant, I wasn’t allowed to keep flowers or plants in the house I shared with my parents. So, when Mother’s Day rolled around, I decided to make paper flowers for my Mother. I purchased a copy of Michael La’Fosse and Richard Alexander’s Origami Flowers Kit online, and I got to work.
The modular lily, at 26 steps, looked like the simplest design. But for me, who had no idea what a blintz-fold, squash-fold or petal fold was… Well, I remember it taking me two hours to make this thing. Thankfully, I got better at reading the diagrams with time.
When my friend moved into a new apartment, I made an entire orchid — the whole plant — out of paper, wire and floral tape. I found an old Paul Jackson model of origami daffodils and assembled a trio of these as well.
When the holidays arrived, I learned to make origami stars and snowflakes, which I sent to my friends and family in holiday cards.
I came to treasure origami as a way to show appreciation for the people who got me through some of the most difficult years of my life. As I recovered and started writing again, I made less and less origami – but the art form still holds a special place in my heart.
– Jennifer Ring
I have a very long-time favorite international artist I am happy to expose to others – Bruno Bruni! His story is on the website bruno-bruni.de. He was born in Italy but has lived in Germany for decades.
I saw his piece, Leda and the Swan, in the late 1970s and was totally captivated by it. I didn’t have the money to buy it then, though.
In the early 1990s my partner asked if there was something I had always wanted but couldn’t have. I named Leda and the Swan. The sculpture is from a folk tale about a woman who fell in love with a swan. She tracked it down and gave it to me for my birthday.
Although the relationship has ended, I will always have Leda. She sits on my bathroom vanity where I see her first thing each morning and last thing each night. She always makes me smile.
– Susan Gore
LGBTQ Resource Center at the Gulfport Library
It is one of his later paintings (some claimed, in error, that it was his last painting).
While it was described as dark and lonely, foreshadowing the tragic end of his life, Van Gogh said the painting was an expression of what was “healthy and fortifying about the countryside.”
For me, it is an image that, appearing toward the end of the museum’s collection, remained in my mind long after I left Amsterdam.
I recommend the Van Gogh Museum – a wonderful collection with a terrific audio guide available.
– Roxanne Fay
I love it. . . I wish to visit it one day.
– Shane Hoffman
I have had the privilege of living in Lima, Peru (in my 20s and again in my 40s) totaling about 4 years, with visits in between. The culture and art of Peru have had a tremendous influence on me – particularly as an artist with a strong and primary foundation in ceramics.
I also met my son’s Peruvian father there, so I carry a direct familial connection to Peru as well. It is close to my heart!
Lima also happens to be where my favorite museum I’ve ever visited exists, the Museo Larco (Larco Museum) in Lima.
Aside from housing 5000 years of stunning pre-Columbian artifacts and an incredible inventory of ceramics (including an entire gallery of ancient erotic art), the outstanding curation, the building itself and the breathtaking grounds are all remarkable. I can’t recommend it enough.
– Amy Wolf
After the Chinese civil war by the end of 1949, half of my family stayed in Shanghai to maintain the family business, and the other half went to Taiwan, led by my first uncle who was an air force officer for the Nationalists. Years passed with my father’s generation gradually passing – but I still have an aunty, an uncle and many cousins in Taiwan. No matter what the politicians on both sides are bickering about, Taiwan is always in my heart and concerns.
In these few years, tension in the Taiwan Strait has been escalating. The threat of war is looming upon horizon, which would be a disaster for families on both sides.
Before it’s too late, this summer my wife and I went to Taipei, Taiwan.
One of the measures of the current development of a society is what’s showing in its contemporary art museums, besides the classics. Taipei Fine Arts Museum was on our must-see list.
I’ve known this museum for a long time, and I was particularly impressed by the museum’s presentation on behalf of Taiwan for the 2019 Venice Biennale. Despite Taiwan’s pavilion being located outside a main venue, the depth and thoughtfulness of the presentation by the museum was as profound, if not more so, as China pavilion at the Arsenal venue, in my opinion. . .
– Kirk Ke Wang
Last year, my husband Rusty and I planned our trip to Denmark around seeing the many giant troll sculptures made from scrap wood by artist Thomas Dambo and his team. These sculptures are all over Denmark, at least 26 of them – and even some in Florida!.
Finding the trolls took a lot of advance research because Dambo’s map contains no detail.
Often we walked around parks, woods, roads and trails asking people “Where is the Troll?” They almost always knew, and were happy to direct us to the location.
One Troll was on a farm on an island, and after taking a ferry and walking a mile or two to the other side of the island (it was worth it), we were so tired that a sympathetic Troll fan gave us a ride in his car back to the ferry landing.
Our Danish friend, an artist and retired art teacher, Helle Freja Hansen accompanied us on many of our Troll quests. We thank her for the photo of us with a Troll near her home town of Holstebro.
On earlier visits, Helle Freja guided us around town to see all the art, including sculptures on top of buildings. On some of our visits, she taught us the art of collage, one of her favorite mediums.
Denmark is a great country for an art tour. Here’s a list of our “don’t miss” museums:
SMK – Statens Museum for Kunst, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek and The Cisternerne Museum (a former underground water reservoir) in Copenhagen. . . ARKEN Museum of Modern Art southwest of Copenhagen. . . AroS Aarhus Art Museum and Kunsthaus Aarhus. . . Kunsten Museum of Modern Art Aalborg. . . Kirsten Kjærs Museum in Frøstrup. . . Troldemuseet (Troll Museum – the original small trolls) in Gjol. . . HEART Museum and Carl-Henning Pedersen and Else Alfelt Museum in Herning. . . Kunstcentret Silkeborg Bad and Asger Jorn Museum in Silkeborg. . . the Kunstmuseum and Bomhuset in Holstebro. . . Esbjerg Art Museum. . . Jens Sondergaard Museum in Lemvig. . . Skagen Museum. . . Randers Art Museum. . . Vegen Art Museum of Danish Symbolism. . . and Vejle Kunstmuseum. Plus Denmark is a beautiful country to drive around, with much more art everywhere. And of course there are those Giant Trolls.
You can see why we keep going back.
This question inadvertently pokes a finger on a very sensitive spot for Marie and I. There have been so many artistic places visited, so many artists discovered, so many artistic experiences, how do we choose just one to share?
The pleasure came in remembering all those adventures. The frustration came with making a decision, because Art has become the driving force behind our travels.
Perhaps the reason it made such an impact on me is because I knew little to nothing about Art when I began. So after I discovered that the former home of Cubist painter Fernand Léger was right next to the campground where we were staying in Biot, France, for example, I was blown away when I saw his Art. (Click here to see what I mean.)
Marie especially (because she is a real artist) has participated in lots of artistic situations, but even I have left my mark overseas. Now you have given me the opportunity to share an underexposed artist, and while many are deserving, I have chosen the sculptor Ossip Zadkine. I’ve pulled together a bio for Ossip online.
Our story began in a stone cottage deep in France’s Dordogne, right on the Camino de Compostela! We had rented the place but before the owners put their little dog into the RV and relocated while we were in their house, our hostess mentioned something to us after learning of our interest in Art. She said there was a small village in the south of the Dordogne where there was little else other than a well-known restaurant. But she remembered that there was an art gallery there as well. . .
– Rusty Hammer
About 25 years ago or so, I was assigned by a Detroit newspaper to review Netherlands Dance Theater performing at Lincoln Center in New York. And even today that experience remains remarkably and joyfully vivid.
They took my breath away. I was transfixed.
In two days I was immersed in 12 modern ballets created by Choreographer/Artistic Director Jiří Kylián and performed by a company of exquisitely gifted dance artists. Each program was visually stunning – taking the audience on a journey through dances with heartbreaking lyricism to works filled with with wildly imaginative choreography and stage decor. No halfway measures here.
This was a seminal point in my dance career in terms of expanding my views of how dance should, can and does communicate with so many voices.
– Paula Kramer
In a trip to Australia last September, I visited the Queensland Art Gallery/Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA) located on the edge of Brisbane River across from downtown Brisbane. They present changing exhibitions of Australian contemporary and historical art, as well as artists from beyond its shores.
A flagship event of QAGOMA is their Asia Pacific Triennial, offering a window to the region’s contemporary art scene and providing cross-cultural insights. Inaugurated in 1993, its tenth iteration, ATP10 from December 2021-April 2022 during the COVID-19 pandemic and the challenges that it presented – featured 150 artists and collectives from 30 countries.
There were nine distinct exhibitions throughout their two buildings when I visited. Here’re two artists among the many wide-ranging displays –
Japanese artist Chiharu Shiota in a massive solo exhibition titled The Soul Trembles, including several immersive installations, sculptures, drawings, paintings, video and photo-based works.
One of the installations, Uncertain Journey, is a sea of red, created with miles of red wool threads strung like a spiderweb on acid. The artist explains, “Threads become tangled, intertwined, broken off, unraveled. They constantly reflect a part of my mental state, as if they were expressing the state of human relationships.”
His collection focuses on “. . . exceptional works of art – especially those that demonstrate artists’ courage in the face of inequality, or those that elicit a sense of beauty in the viewer.”
Richard Bell is of aboriginal descent, of the Kamilaroi/Kooma/Jiman/Gurang Gurang people.
His “. . . politically motivated art challenges stereotypes of Aboriginal art, artists and peoples.”
Bell elaborates – “[Western] religion is inescapable for indigenous people around the world. And it is, and was, played out in almost every colonized country and it’s been disastrous. Those residential schools in North America that were run by the Church. Disastrous. Here, in Australia, we have the stolen generation and the Church took a front row seat to that. Colonialism and the Church go hand-in-hand.”
Bible for dummies is one of 203 pieces Sourris has gifted to QAGOMA, adding to their global collection of over 20,000 artworks.
– Tony Wong Palms
Lisbon is now considered the capital of cool, but its most famous resident is a nerdy poet born there in 1888.
Much of the work he penned, in fact, was attributed not to Fernando Pessoa, but to writers and poets he “channeled.” He dubbed them “heteronyms,” creating at least 72 of these alter egos over his short lifetime.
Mind you, these were not pseudonyms but full-blown personalities with histories and styles of their own. Many even had their own horoscopes.
The spirit of Pessoa (whose name, appropriately means person or everyman in Portuguese) is everywhere in his native city. From the building where he was born in Largo de São Carlos to his tomb in the Monastery of Jerónimos, walking in Pessoa’s footsteps is the perfect way to tour Lisbon. . .
– Margo Hammond
I would like to recommend an artist in one of our recent fiber arts exhibitions at the Dunedin Fine Art Center – Stitched & Dyed, which highlighted innovative techniques of contemporary fiber artists.
The artist is Lydia Needle from Somerset, UK. Her delicate felted bee embroideries seated in a variety of containers, ranging from ring boxes to vintage compacts, tins made for pills and assorted hardware – are so intimate and captivating.
Lydia is the Lead Artist and Curator of the ongoing collaborative creative project called FIFTY BEES: The Interconnectedness of All Things, devised in 2017 as a multi-disciplinary art project to raise awareness about the diversity and plight of British bees.
Each year, Lydia creates 50 small bee sculptures based on 50 of the 275 British species of bee.
Then, another 50 artists are invited to research and create new companion works inspired by the ecology of one of those bee species.
– Catherine Bergmann
Most of what we watch these days has subtitles – wonderfully different and familiar – everything from Korean epic Dickensian storytelling to Israeli absurdist comedy (with the best title sequence ever).
But a true highlight is the recent OVNI(s) show from France – a beautifully absurdist slow-burn story of a 1970s rocket scientist demoted to a department dedicated to disproving UFOs.
It’s a tough job for an impassioned scientist – especially since it’s clear that someone from another planet’s making contact through car radios that suddenly play salsa, inexplicable flamingos and huge piles of cotton candy (sparking deadpan scientific discourse on the delightful French term for that, “barbe-à-papa”).
The writing and the acting are magnificent, plus a visual wit that echoes Jacques Tati. It’s a gloriously goofy premise played in utter earnest – rooted in scientific passion, family and the on-again-off-again romance of two astrophysicists struggling with how well they work together. Every single character grows and becomes lovable, as you root for a ragtag team of oddball specialists who keep trying to find the truth – and do.
– Sheila Cowley
I suspect a great many of you already know Michelangelo’s statue of David resides in Florence Italy. And that perhaps the Accademia Gallery of Florence houses the most startling beautiful example of western sculpture you and I are ever likely to see.
David stands over 14 feet tall, with a contemplative countenance, a hush of murderous Old Testament resolve that fuels the debate whether or not David has already slain GOLIATH, or is about to.
The sheer magnitude of the statue vanquished me. It took my breath away and any language I possessed. There is a life force that emanates from all that alabaster marble. And a human (mortal) did it!
I am truly humbled by the angel effort of the artist and grateful I stood before it. So I pledge with no fear of contradiction that should I win the Mega Millions Lottery, 500/900 million, 1/5 of the pay out will establish a “Get Thee to Italy, and Quickly Too’ fund – allowing anyone (with a quest) to fly to Florence, to visit the Accademia and Uffizi Galleries, with timed entranced tickets.
– Bob Devin Jones