London, one of the world’s most important art cities comes alive for Frieze, one of the world’s most important art fairs. Frieze director, Victoria Siddall, optimistically noted that pre-post-Brexit the exchange rate will now make it cheaper for overseas buyers. In the end, the fair is about frenzied buying, except Londoners have a unique kind of refined connoisseurship that is anything but fanatic. Out comes our well-tailored Savile Row suit jacket and jeans and of course high fashion sneakers but never flaunting, mixing modesty with outrageousness.
It is for that reason of absolute fabulousness paired with cultivated sophistication that we are proud to add London to our growing roster of big art-hubs and hot emerging art scenes. Nowhere is the quality of gallery exhibition so high from historical institutions, like the Royal Academy and legendary galleries, like Lisson Gallery to contemporary hot spots, like Arcadia Missa and Project Native Informant. And nowhere is an insider guide to the art scene so needed. We are proud to provide with Exhibitionary our very best expert intelligence. You can download it here. It's free.
During the week Christie’s will present a major auction of “The Collection of Leslie Waddington,” the grande dame of the British art market. It is a landmark moment to say a female artist has a high estimate, the much deserved Agnes Martin, whose 1985 Praise is estimated at £ 2-3 million. The oeuvre of Martin brings forward one important truth for us; her paintings must be seen in person. There is no better way to experience the art of the moment than in the laboratory of space that we call the gallery.
Here are ten exhibitions we won’t miss in London and we hope you won’t miss either.
Jamian Juliano-Villani at Studio Voltaire
Juliano-Villani’s paintings are addictive. She creates complex compositions that are so-called “arranged marriages” with appropriated images, which are then laboriously painted by what she calls “the poor man's photoshop.” The images come from extremely different sources: stock photos, unidentifiable cartoons (Tony the Tiger? Flipper?), personal photographs and love toys, a reversal or direct dialog to the violence and objectification of the female body.
Studio Voltaire, 1A Nelson's Row, South London / Peckham
Roman Ondak at South London Gallery
History is an impossible subject for an artist to tackle, it is precisely because of this that Ondak presents an ever-evolving exhibition in 100 days that metaphorically unfolds 100 years. He takes with him the history of living in the former Czechoslovakia under an oppressive communist regime. Ondak’s work is full of wit, play, chance, and he actively engages ideas of duality such as inclusion or exclusion, presentation, and representation, location, and relocation in ways that heighten our awareness to everyday moments. Each day a segment of oak tree is taken off the top of the stack. Revealing both an inked line of one of the 100 tree rings and a stamp in ink of a key historical event, which occurred in that year. The meaning of the exhibition unfolds through space and time.
South London Gallery, 65-67 Peckham Road, South London
Streams of Warm Impermanence at DRAF David Roberts Art Foundation
DRAF is one of our favorite spaces in London, under the direction of the incomparable editor, writer, public intellectual and chief curator Vincent Honoré. Although the exhibition “Streams of Warm Impermanence” seems now more safe than fresh; it works to reify that many modes of emerging artists who have stood the test of time. The group exhibition explores embodiment of ‘flesh’ in a networked era featuring the wonderful Dora Budor among others. Accompanying the show is the not to be missed Evening of Performances on Thursday, 6 September, 7 PM, part of the now incredibly popular series of the same name. We recommend coming early. With some of our top artists of the moment: Olof Dreijer, Mary Hurrell, Goshka Macuga, Roman Ondak, Amalia Ulman and Mark Wallinger.
David Roberts Art Foundation, Symes Mews, North London
Mike Kelley at Hauser & Wirth
We would travel the earth to see a Mike Kelley exhibition (and we do). No single artist has had such a profound impact on the emerging art movements and the booming LA scene as Kelley. His now legendary work in the 1980’s was pure dark poetry that directly tackled (American) class, pop culture, the broken dream of ‘family values,’ punk music, and (sonic) youth. This exhibition is mostly a single monumental installation from 1999, “Framed and Frame.” It is a sprawling sculpture 'wishing well' that is like an Antoni Gaudí married a sand castle, but built out of concrete and peppered with bright spray painted spots, and stuffed with kitsch religious statuary. As usual, Kelley collides religion and lovemaking so that taking the sculpture from the back there is an entrance leading to a secret crawl space with a mattress, candles, and contraceptives.
Hauser & Wirth, 23 Savile Row, Central London / Mayfair
Marc Camille Chaimowicz at Serpentine Gallery
Marc Camille Chaimowicz is an artist's artist; his shows increase in our personal imagining long after we have seen them. His exhibition at Galerie Neu in Berlin is among the most memorable exhibitions we have ever seen. Chaimowicz explores borders and boundaries of spaces between public and private, art and not-art. He said beautifully “We should resist the tyranny of linear time for one which is much more elusive, labyrinthian, gracious and once understood, perhaps even kindly.” Using everyday materials such as wallpaper, carpets and curtains, pictures, mirrors, flowers and drawing from literature, art history, theater, Chaimowicz was a forerunner of the growingly important medium of mise en scène.
Serpentine Gallery, Kensington Gardens, West London / Marylebone
Donna Huanca at the Zabludowicz Collection
This is the first UK solo exhibition of Donna Huanca, Scar Cymbals, curated by the wonderful Maitreyi Maheshwari. It is also the first ‘performance-led’ commission at the Zabludowicz Collection, with daily performances from painted models ‘activating’ the art/architecture complex. Huanca’s work focuses on the skin, and the naked body but not necessarily its objectification. Covered with paint, the bodies make imprints on surfaces, it is what is beneath the surface that is revealed, but unlike Yves Klein or Eddie Peake it is a very non-male non-hetero-normative gesture.
Zabludowicz Collection, 176 Prince of Wales Road, North London
Josh Bitelli at UNION Gallery
Bitelli covers the floor with 600 photographs that he appropriated by photographing them from the records of the Department of Health. As usual, his work comes from deep research and even deeper thinking. He transfigures the near endless archive of plastic protected pamphlets, posters, stickers, envelopes, beer mats, post-cards, and stamps. Stoptober takes as its title the campaign against smoking which acted as a “public service announcement.” No battleground of public/private politics is more urgent than medical care. Nowhere are our personal anxieties so high as trusting our doctors with our bodies and health. Bitelli transforms his personal experience into an exhibition nothing short of the illustrious Le musée imaginaire of André Malraux, but instead of dancing on postcards of art history he is standing on the annals of public health.
UNION Gallery, 94 Teesdale Street, East London
Piotr Lakomy at The Sunday Painter
Lacomy casts fragments of body, made of honeycomb core, covered and naturalized with white paint. He references Joseph Beuys gray felt suit but brings the human in context with construction, architecture, monuments and yet, juxtaposing the space that surrounds us with the lightness of what covers us. Lakomy is an artist of profound weight, but his materials are always light. He is referred to as a post-minimalist, but unlike Eva Hesse his materials not only reference the body in shape and size, they transmogrify the body.
The Sunday Painter, 12-16 Blenheim Grove, 1st Floor, South London / Peckham
James Richards and Leslie Thornton at Rodeo
James Richards is one of the most under-visible but truly deserving artists working today. His two simultaneous shows at Rodeo and ICA London bring to light his brilliant working process. The entire exhibition Crossing consists of one 20 minute projected video and one poster which attempt to capture the whole world (a theme similar to Hito Steyerl or Camille Henrot). The collaborative video between Richards and Thornton, a type of ‘exquisite cinema’ in which they traded clips often working over what the other had sent. The work comes out of both of their separate commissions one year apart from each other at The Walker Art Center. Richards admiration for the older artist comes in this cross Atlantic dialogue from Thornton in New York to Richards in Berlin. As is usual in Richard’s work he takes images extensively from archives to purpose and repurpose collective memory. Thornton brings to the project memories specific to wartime, including footage of the atomic bomb taken from Bruce Conners iconic work Crossing, from which the exhibition takes its title.
Rodeo, 123 Charing Cross Road, Central London / Mayfair
Marcel Dzama and Raymond Pettibon at David Zwirner
These two highly visible artists have had so many critically acclaimed shows it is hard to write anything new about them. But it is one practice in particular that has stood out in their bodies of work, and that is illustration (often for books or cartoons) which has gone against the grain of ‘high art’ and kicked open the door to new possibilities. To call a work of art an illustration was once a bad word that meant it was more applied art than fine art, but through the practice of Pettibon and Dzama, illustration takes on a whole new meaning. Similar to the ‘exquisite corpse’ game of the surrealists, the two artists exchange drawings working over and into each other’s work. The collaborative exploration also moves into a Zine published by Zwirner books, spearheaded in large part by the young, 20 something maestro Lucas Zwirner (son of David) who is the It-Wunderkind of the moment.
David Zwirner, 24 Grafton Street, Central London / Mayfair
London mounts such high-quality exhibitions that the galleries and museums are the gold standards of the world. With the dual news of Sir Nicholas Serota stepping down as director of the Tate and Stefan Kalmár appointed as new director of the ICA, there is change in the air. Gregor Muir will move onto Tate which is an incredible gain for the institution, but we are left taking bets for who the next director will be. In any case, while ‘Sir Nick’ is still in charge of things, we will see you in London having cocktails outside Scott's in Mayfair.
– Justin Polera