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This week's best art

All the art exhibitions, shows and events to hunt down in London

'Raqib Shaw: Self Portrait' at White Cube Bermondsey

Fancy checking out some art this week but don't know where to start? Have a flick through our selection of weird and wonderful shows on at the moment and take your pick. With galleries spread all over the city and an art scene as changeable as London's, we've divided it into areas to help keep track. 

William Eggleston Portraits

Legendary Memphis photographer William Eggleston has created a whole genre of psychologically ambiguous Americana, much of it centred on apparently mundane bits of his home town. I expected that isolating his portraits from the rest of his work wouldn’t work. How would they fare, without all those existential landscapes and unanswered questions to problematise them?

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National Portrait Gallery , Leicester Square Until Sunday October 23 2016

Raqib Shaw: Self Portrait

Absolutely ludicrous. That’s what Raqib Shaw’s art is. And it’s hard to express just how ludicrous it all is, really. His paintings are big, Renaissance-inspired maelstroms of death, gold, hybrid animals, gaping fanged vaginas and screaming skeletons. He’s the art world’s own Liberace, a Kashmir-born Brit with the most ridiculous taste on earth.

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White Cube Bermondsey , The Borough Until Sunday September 11 2016

Ragnar Kjartansson


The first piece in Ragnar Kjartansson’s Barbican show features ten male performers playing the guitar, singing in Icelandic and drinking beer. Playing on a screen behind them is a soft-focus sex scene, from a 1970s Icelandic movie, between a housewife and a plumber. As with all the work in this exhibition, it’s context that brings it to life.

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Barbican Centre , Barbican Until Sunday September 4 2016

Georgia O'Keeffe


Forty-four million dollars is a lot of money. That’s how much someone spent on a painting by the American artist Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986) in 2014. It set a record for a work of art by a woman. That last part there is important, because the most ever paid for a work of art by a man is around $300m. O’Keeffe doesn’t even make the top 50, not even close. In the art world, women are simply worth less. 

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Tate Modern , South Bank Until Sunday October 30 2016

Jorge Otero-Pailos: The Ethics of Dust

Seriously, ‘The Ethics of Dust’ is a terrible name for a work of art. Yes, it’s taken from something written by John Ruskin, but out of context it sounds like a philosophical treatise by Kim and Aggie (‘How morally clean is your house?’). Fortunately, Spanish preservationist and artist Jorge Otero-Pailos makes better art than his titles suggest.

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Westminster Hall , Westminster Until Thursday September 1 2016

Georgiana Houghton: Spirit Drawings

Georgiana Houghton was a nineteenth-century spiritualist and medium who made art under the alleged influence of otherworldly beings. Her work fell into obscurity, but was recently rediscovered and re-evaluated as a precursor to twentieth-century abstraction. Houghton’s ‘spirit drawings’ are small, intimate and mesmerisingly exquisite, with swirling streaks of colour that overlap to form wild, spirographic latticeworks.

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Courtauld Gallery , Temple Until Sunday September 11 2016

Sunken Cities: Egypt’s Lost Worlds

Despite ancient texts being full of references to them, the Egyptian cities of Canopus and Thonis-Heracleion remained a lost mystery for years. It wasn’t until the 1990s that an archaeological team discovered their remains – not on dry land, but a few miles off the coast, beneath the Mediterranean. This spectacular show is the first time these pieces from the drowned cities have been seen in the UK.

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British Museum , Bloomsbury Until Sunday November 27 2016

Dutch Flowers

Flowers, as anyone who has been on the giving or receiving end of a bunch will agree, are never just flowers. They speak of love, lust, celebration, sympathy, guilt… And so the bouquets of tulips, irises and roses in this scintillating display of Dutch painting from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries are not just paintings of flowers. They’re symbols of passion, wealth, fashion, empire.

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National Gallery , Trafalgar Square Until Monday August 29 2016
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Mark Wallinger: Self Reflection

We’re constantly being told how self-obsessed we are. The selfie has become the emblem of first-world shallowness; we’re all self-entitled; there’s no ‘I’ in ‘team’ etc. So here’s an opportunity to reflect on what the idea of ‘self’ even means. And where better to do it than Sigmund Freud’s house. Not only did the father of psychoanalysis theorise human consciousness, as a refugee he had a particular sensitivity to the relationship between what we are and who we are. 

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Freud Museum , Frognal Until Sunday September 25 2016

Making & Unmaking: An Exhibition Curated By Duro Olowu

This exhibition is a rarity: it breaks the rules but gets it right. Set in one of London’s loveliest local galleries, Camden Arts Centre, the show is curated not by an art-world regular, but by iconoclastic fashion designer Duro Olowu. His selection spans mediums, countries and centuries with seeming abandon. It’s totally fun. Nigerian-born, London-based Olowu, famed for his mixing-and-mismatching of African fabrics and other textiles from around the world, has brought together a whopping collection of works that have inspired him.

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Camden Arts Centre , Frognal Until Sunday September 18 2016

Samara Scott: Developer

Battersea park’s mirror pools are looking a little queasy. Young English artist Samara Scott has filled the two ponds here with swathes of swirling fabric and an almost stomach-turning array of coloured dyes for what she calls ‘liquid paintings’. One pool is filled with silver sheets and orange dye, the other with nets that drift through hues from blue to green to red. 

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Pump House Gallery , Battersea Until Sunday September 25 2016

The Neo Naturists

There was a lot of naked performance art happening in the ’70s and ’80s, but maybe none of it quite as jolly as the shows put on by the Neo Naturists. Unlike confrontational groups such as Coum Transmissions – known for the blood and discomfort in their performances – the Neo-Naturists’ approach to free-form expression was more, well, Benny Hill.

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Studio Voltaire , Clapham Saturday August 27 2016

Jeff Koons: Now

Jeff Koons is why people loathe modern art. According to the haters, the American superstar is a cynical artistic oligarch, using shock and pop culture to make his pile: he made porn-art, he ripped off comic books, he did balloon sculptures – and he’s become one of the most expensive living artists in the process. So it’s no surprise that Damien Hirst has a massive collection of Koons originals, which he is displaying here in his fancy gallery.

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Newport Street Gallery , Lambeth Until Sunday October 16 2016

Edward Barber

A foot in Jesus sandal protrudes from under a police van, while an officer looks smirkingly on. A man stands in Hyde Park: on his head is a paper bag printed with instructions on what to do in the event of a nuclear attack. One reads: ‘Kiss your loved ones goodbye.’ A demure woman sits in a folding chair beside a sign which reads ‘Hello, can you stop for a talk?’ She might be canvassing for a politician or manning a WI stall.

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Imperial War Museum , Kennington Until Sunday September 4 2016

Yuri Pattison: User, Space

Forget your home, your family, your friends, forget it all. The office is where we spend our lives, it’s where we see our days dribble past, miserably, endlessly, relentlessly.  In young London-based artist Yuri Pattison’s installation, the modern office is cast as a dystopian, derelict, steel-and-glass tomb. It’s like a future look back at how we spend our days, and it makes for grim but addictive viewing.

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Chisenhale Gallery , Mile End Until Sunday August 28 2016

Aida Silvestri: Unsterile Clinic

On the second floor of Autograph ABP is a room filled with pain: female pain – something that photographer Aida Silvestri thinks we should all be paying much more attention to. The ‘Unsterile Clinic’ project sees Silvestri interview and photograph women in London who are among the 125 million living globally with the effects of female genital mutilation.  Silvestri captures the women in silhouette to protect their identity, and each photograph is overlaid with a hand-crafted vagina constructed out of leather.

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Rivington Place , Shoreditch Until Saturday September 17 2016

Lukas Duwenhogger: You Might Become A Park

Initially, I wasn’t very impressed by Lukas Duwenhögger’s paintings. Then I was. The works of this German artist, who has lived in Istanbul since 2000, have a distinctive Ottoman sensibility, both sunlit and sinister: a superficial queer theatre of languorous fabulousness, shot through anxiety. The settings are fluid, moving from an operatic nineteenth century into a gilded 1930s and on. It always seems to be the afternoon, waiting to see what the evening will bring. Individually, the works suggest dreams; collectively, they hint at an unspoken history of persecution and betrayal.

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Raven Row , Spitalfields Until Sunday September 18 2016

Raphael Albert: Black and Beautiful

The women who feature in ‘Miss Black and Beautiful’ are all toothy smiles, sultry looks and sassy poses. Presented here are three decades of photographs taken by the late Raphael Albert, who documented west London’s black beauty pageant scene from the 1960s to the ’90s.  The archival display includes rarely seen photos and newspaper cuttings from the time, one of which begins: ‘Until a few short years ago being a “good wife and mother” was one of the only lauded positions available for women.’

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Rivington Place , Shoreditch Until Saturday September 24 2016

Alex Katz: Quick Light

If you put all clever, jargon-filled analysis to one side, paintings of any kind tend to provoke one of two basic reactions in people. The first is: ‘I could do that.’ (Or just as often: ‘My five-year-old could do that.’ I worry about the pressure being put on these kids.) The second is: ‘I wish I could do that.’ The Serpentine’s new show of American artist Alex Katz will send you on a hell of a journey from one to the other.

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Serpentine Gallery , Knightsbridge Until Sunday September 11 2016

Find upcoming art shows in London


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IIP Foundation

The Indian Institute of Photography wishes you a happy & Colourful Holi !