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Latest art reviews

Find out what our critics make of new exhibitions with the latest London art reviews

'Bjork Digital' at Somerset House

From blockbuster names to indie shows, Time Out Art cast their net far and wide in order to review the biggest and best exhibitions in the city. Check 'em out below or shortcut it to our top ten art exhibitions in London for the shows that we already know will blow your socks off. 

The latest London art reviews

Abstract Expressionism


If you don’t leave this show feeling completely overwhelmed and totally breathless, you’re either blind, dead or a bit of a dick. The RA has pulled together room after room of paintings and sculptures from probably the most important art movement of the twentieth century and it’s staggering. The abstract expressionists tore painting apart and restructured it into something bigger than it ever had been: more abstract, more passionate, bigger, bolder.

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Royal Academy of Arts , Mayfair Until Monday January 2 2017

Lygia Pape

Light’s important in art. Obviously. From the stark contrasting light and dark of Caravaggio to Monet and his shimmering naturalism, all the way through to Antony Gormley and his big cloud box, artists have always been obsessed with light and how to capture it. Then there’s Brazilian modernist Lygia Pape. In her own, perfectly abstract way, she might be one of the great unrecognised masters of light.  Walk into the back room of this show and you’ll find a criss-crossing set of spotlit glittering wires in an otherwise pitch-black space. They intersect and clash, like columns of light frozen in a moment. They make you feel like you’re looking at a real-life, giant, physical version of a great abstract painting – it’s modernism made real. It’s light, captured perfectly.  In another installation, piles of blue powder are formed into little pyramids on white sheets, with dark blue lights shining down on them. Seeing them is like looking down at the pyramids of Giza from the sky, but when you’re really, really high on psychedelics. There are early geometric drawings here too, which are so lovely you’ll want to nick the lot, but the installations are the real gold. They’re properly illuminating.

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Hauser & Wirth , Mayfair Until Saturday November 19 2016

Tacita Dean: LA Exuberance

London’s sorry excuse for a summer has finally sputtered pathetically out. But you can still find a little slice of sunshine in Tacita Dean’s show in Frith Street Gallery, Golden Square. You can tell she’s English, because this series of gentle cloud drawings was made when she went to LA and was left speechless by the big, expansive and – somehow – blue skies of Southern California.

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Frith Street Gallery , Soho Until Friday November 4 2016

Mike Kelley: Framed and Frame

Being part of a marginalised community isn’t easy. And it’s not something the majority of us can relate to, because, you know, that’s the nature of being the majority. But Mike Kelley could understand. The late American artist emerged from the same Michigan punk scene as The Stooges, making music and eventually art. He moved to LA in the 1970s and flitted between the commercial art scene and the subcultures he’d come from; he knew the collectors and the gallerists, but he was friends with the punks, the hobos and the freaks. Marginalised communities and Kelley’s relationship to them were at the heart of his work. This double installation starts with a recreation of a Chinatown gate, enclosed in steel fencing and barbed wire, with spotlights watching over the whole thing. It’s an immigrant community held prisoner, a captive animal in a zoo.  Then next door there’s a globby outcropping of grey sludge, dotted with kitsch figures of Christ and religious trinkets. It’s a sloppy concrete wishing well where cultures, hopes and aspirations have collided into a gritty mess. Under the structure there’s a mattress, a plate and some condoms. The whole thing manages to be pretty but harsh, exploring big issues such as immigration and homelessness as well as personal ones. These are recreations of sites that were important to Kelley. This is where he hung out, where he lived with his friends, where he may have slept. Personal, universal, touching and angry, we need Kelley’s art more tha

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Hauser & Wirth , Mayfair Until Saturday November 19 2016

Peter Saul: Some Terrible Problems

There’s a painting in this show called ‘Abstract Expressionist Still Life’. It’s a kind of swirling torrent of shit, ketchup and cartoonish, ’50s cars, plus some other bits and pieces. It’s not abstract, expressionist or a still life. It looks like a pisstake of pop art, maybe. And that’s Peter Saul in a nutshell. Now in his eighties, the San Francisan is one of the originators of pop, but he’s always done his own thing, to the extent that he’s almost regarded as an outsider artist.

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Michael Werner Gallery , Mayfair Until Saturday November 5 2016

Peter Wachtler

Since it’s nigh-on impossible to explain Peter Wächtler’s show at the Chisenhale, I’d better describe it. So here goes. The Brussels-based German artist has created a four-minute, hand-painted animation in which a solitary figure in a top hat and tailcoat walks towards, but never reaches, a mountaintop castle. Playing over the top is an uptempo rock ’n’ roll song written and performed by the artist himself.

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Chisenhale Gallery , Mile End Until Sunday December 11 2016

William Kentridge: Thick Time

Although William Kentridge is still best known as an animator, his new exhibition at the Whitechapel reveals a far more diverse body of work than that. A survey of his work from 2003 to the present, the show contains six installations, but it’s hard to consider them as separate entities. The same themes appear again and again – apartheid, time, revolutionary politics – as do the same motifs: bicycle wheels, conical old-school megaphones – and Kentridge himself, always in the same white shirt and black trousers.

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Whitechapel Gallery , Whitechapel Until Sunday January 15 2017

Edward Thomasson: Other People

Are you a giver or a taker? Well, Edward Thomasson thinks the line between the two might be a little blurry. In this show of five drawings and a single video, the young English artist tries to unravel the threads of how we use each other, how the barrier between abused and abuser is shaky at best. Things get messy. The five drawings are simple line-and-watercolour images of people touching in different ways.

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Southard Reid , Soho Until Saturday October 29 2016

Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme: And Yet my Mask is Powerful

By incorporating fictional elements into their multi-media projects, Palestinian collaborative duo Abbas and Abou-Rahme essentially tell stories in installation form. But with this, their biggest UK show to date, you might want to give the press release a once-over first. The premise runs like this: a Neolithic mask dug up in the West Bank has been ‘hacked’ and 3D-printed, and the replicas are circulated around the Middle Eastern territory.

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Carroll/Fletcher , Fitzrovia Until Saturday October 29 2016

Olivia Plender

The Kibbo Kift Kindred (no connection to the KKK) were a British outdoorsy social movement set up in 1920 as a non-militaristic, co-educational alternative to the Boy Scouts. It was pretty weird – they hoped that nature play would eventually lead to world peace – and it’s referenced by London-born Olivia Plender as part of her new solo show in photographic ink drawings that depict the brethren waving flags in the countryside in full regalia.

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Maureen Paley , Bethnal Green Until Saturday October 1 2016
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