Looking to soak up some culture in the capital? The search ends here; read our round-up of the best current art exhibitions in London. So whether it’s contemporary classics, abstract showcases or breathtaking photography that you crave, you’ll find it here.
Best Current Art Exhibitions in London
Echoes by Qu Leilei at 3812 Gallery
3812 Gallery, who specialise in contemporary Chinese art, has settled into its first international gallery space in London St. James’. Introducing itself to the public and making its mark on Ryder Street, the gallery’s debut exhibition is ‘Echoes’ by artist Qu Leilei, one of the founding members of the Beijing-based group Stars who fought for artistic freedom between 1979-1983. The exhibition and gallery as a whole will introduce the London public to contemporary Chinese art, with a specific interest in the contrast between modern ideas and traditional Chinese techniques such as the use of water and ink. 28th January – 9th March 2019.
Electric – Lauren Baker at Tate Modern
Bonnard’s dreamy views of everyday life see beauty in the ordinary; they are nostalgic for the fleeting moment. His vibrant use of colour creates a bridge to abstraction and reportedly influenced Rothko’s palette; now it illuminates the 21st century – fresh, and yet familiar. Expect to crave golden hour in Provence afterwards. 23 Jan to 6 May.
Polaroid Photos by Andy, 1971-1986 at Bastian Gallery
Berlin-based Bastian Gallery is coming to W1. Its launch exhibition shows Andy Warhol was an Instagram addict before it became A Thing. ‘My idea of a good picture is one that’s in focus and of a famous person,’ he once quipped. Luckily, he hung out in 70s and 80s New York. Going out every night, he photographed David Bowie, Giorgio Armani, Robert Rauschenberg and Muhammad Ali – sometimes using the resulting prints as the impetus for painted portraits. These intimate shots show stars as their true selves – adventurous and hopeful in a changing metropolis. Lovely. 2 Feb to 13 April.
Roman Vishniac Rediscovered at The Photographer’s Gallery and Jewish Museum
Vishniac captured the plight of the Jewish community, from pre-war poverty in the 30s to their arrival in New York in the 40s, and became famous for his 1983 book A Vanished World. This duo of exhibitions reconsiders his career, finding it vastly more diverse than the scope of that series alone. When the war ended, he re-discovered a childhood interest in photographic microscopy, and invented a method of using polarised light to penetrate cell structures and improve the detail of an image. Haunting and beautiful pictures, well worth honouring. Until 24 Feb. ;
‘Patrick Hughes: A New Look At Perspective’ at Alon Zakaim Fine Art
British pop artist and surrealist Patrick Hughes brings a new exhibit to the Alon Zakaim Fine Art gallery this February, showcasing colourful surrealist paintings spread over 2 floors of the gallery. The exhibition will take viewers on a journey through the canals of Venice graffiti-filled streets, pressing them to look twice and look closely, as what first appears as two-dimensional isn’t so… 4 February – 29 March 2019,
James Mortimer at James Freeman Gallery
In his upcoming exhibition, British painter James Freeman will be showcasing some of his beautiful new works. Exploring themes of nature and humanity, the exhibition will feature oil paintings and ink drawings that may seem to feature surreal and idyllic landscapes on the surface, but look deeper and you’ll see the denotion of dark undertones and macabre scenes. 8 February to 2 March.
Tower Bridge – Fluid Statics
Imogen Piper is Tower Bridge’s second Artist in Residence. Driven by multidisciplinary research, Imogen has spent the past months working with and delving deep into the huge amount of data that is accumulated at Tower Bridge, ultimately working towards this showcase centring on a vast sculpture made up of the pipes, tubes and containers that go into making the fluidic systems at the heart of Tower Bridge. 9 November 2018 – 31 January 2019.
Sea Nomads, Horniman Museum and Gardens
Photography exhibition ‘Sea Nomads’ opens this month in Forest Hill’s Horniman Museum and Gardens. In the exhibition, the public will be introduced to The Bajau Laut, part of the Malay origin, who are some of the last true marine nomads, by photographer James Morgan. A unique and intimate look into the lives of those we might never have known about otherwise…26 January – Sunday 23 June.
Rinse, Repeat by Richard Malone
“I don’t think there is much to clothes, until people are in them.” Richard Malone.
Start a conversation around fashion, music and art at fashion designer Richard Malone’s exhibition at Now Gallery on Greenwich Peninsula. Richard Malone is the gallery’s winter collaborator, and visitors of the exhibition will be able to get an insight into the designer’s processes when it comes to his craft. 28 November 2018 – 27 January 2019, free entry,
The Showroom: Women on Aeroplanes
Women on Aeroplanes will present new work by artists Lungiswa Gqunta, Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum and Emma Wolukau-Wanambwa, observing the largely unrecognised role of women in struggles for liberation, their participation in transatlantic networks and key voices in revolutionary socio-political movements that helped to achieve postcolonial nation-states in Africa. What makes it possible for certain individuals’ stories to prevail, while others remain invisible or disappear into oblivion? What are the intricacies of institutional or structural erasure? And how does the unveiling of such silenced narratives contribute to collective thinking? Until 26 January.
Censored! Stage, Screen, Society at 50
Exploring theatre, film and music, this display examines the regulation of theatre in the 17th century through to the time of Kubrick’s provocative A Clockwork Orange and the Sex Pistols’ God Save the Queen, as well as censorship’s role today. Until 27 January 2019,
Modern Couples at The Barbican
Explore modern art and modern love at the Barbican’s new exhibition, Modern Couples. Featuring over 40 artist couples such as Lee Miller and Man Ray, the exhibition showcases creative relationships across photography, sculpture, architecture, poetry, music and dance. Until 27 January, Shangri-La Hotel At The Shard are offering a Modern Couples experience to pair with the exhibition, which involves a one-night stay in one of their luxurious rooms, two tickets to the exhibition and cocktails in their romantic GONG Bar. 10 October-27 Jan. For more information visit
Staging Jackson Pollock
The revolutionary painting of American Abstract Expressionist Jackson Pollock (1912–1956) was premiered in the UK in 1958 at the Whitechapel Gallery. Travelling to Europe from New York’s Museum of Modern Art after Pollock’s untimely death, the show provoked bewilderment and excitement. Six decades on, Pollock’s masterpiece Summertime 9A (1948) returns to the Whitechapel. Until 24 March 2019.
Michael Lau: Oh…My Toy!
Hong Kong-born artist Michael Lau will host his first solo exhibition at Duddell’s London from October 2018. As part of the restaurant’s ongoing arts programme, Lau has been commissioned to create new works. Expect large scale sculptures and wall-mounted pieces inspired by the position of art, toys and religion in western pop culture. October 1 2018 – April 14 2019,
Seen & Heard: Victorian Children in the Frame
Seen & Heard, held at Guildhall Art Gallery, will feature 50 Victorian paintings that explore the role of children in Victorian Britain. For an intriguing insight into a crucial time in British history, visit the exhibition and be taken on an emotive journey… 23 November 2018 – 28 April 2019, admission is £8/£6, kids under 12 go free.
Magic Realism: Art in Weimar Germany 191-33
Tate Modern explores the art of the Weimar Republic (1919-33) in a year-long, free display, drawing upon the rich holdings of The George Economou Collection. This presentation of around seventy paintings and works on paper addresses the complex paradoxes of the Weimar era, in which liberalisation and anti-militarism flourished in tandem with political and economic uncertainty. 30 July 2018 – 14 July 2019
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