Summer's over folks, so pack away the beach towel and turn your mind to indoor activities instead. Autumn is peak period in the art world with the annual circus of art fairs heralding a flood of new exhibitions and opportunities to either spend, spend, spend or just look, look, look (and imagine what you'd buy if London rental prices weren't stifling your ability to be the next Peggy Guggenheim).
From the return of polka dot heroine Yayoi Kusama to London, to the pain-filled darkness of Ribera at the Dulwich Picture Gallery, there's almost too much on offer. Come now, don't drown in the sea of choices, allow us to be your artistic lighthouse heroically guiding you to the autumn exhibitions not to miss.
Lawrence Abu Hamdan 'Earshot' (2016). Installation view, Portikus, Frankfurt am Main. Commissioned by Portikus, Frankfurt am Main.
1. Lawrence Abu Hamdan: ‘Earwitness Theatre’ at Chisenhale Gallery
Lawrence Abu Hamdan’s conceptual, politically focused work uses sound and witness testimony to advocate for human rights and fight injustice. The Beirut-based artist creates overwhelming, angry, passionate art in a time when we probably need it more than ever. Sep 21-Dec 9. Free.
The queen of the polka dots is back in London. The last time Victoria Miro held a Yayoi Kusama exhibition, in 2016, the queues stretched around the block and back. Expect all the things that have made Kusama’s artwork so beloved of fans: pumpkins, flowersandendless dots. The REALLY BIG DEAL, however, is a brand new infinity mirror room involving paper lanterns. Get your selfie sticks out. Oct 3-Dec 21. Free
Albers began making woven works while at the Bauhaus school as she was prevented from becoming a painter due to her being a woman. She went on to become one of the best known textile artists in the world. Her signature style of repeated geometric patterns has been so influential that the patterns and colours she used are commonplace in interior design today. The exhibition will include Albers’s experiments with cutting-edge techniques as well as designs made for mass production. Oct 11-Jan 27 2019. £16, £15 concs.
The Hayward Gallery closes its fiftieth anniversary year with a major exhibition of sculptures large and small that will make you go: wooooaaaaaaahhhh… and then probably stumble around a bit. This isn’t the exhibition to attend after a sneaky lunchtime G&T (or maybe it is). Mirror, glass, acrylic and other materials are employed in works that distort the hell out of space, with major names to look out for including Anish Kapoor, Yayoi Kusama and Larry Bell. Sep 26-Jan 6 2019. £15, £13 concs.
The brilliant French conceptual artist Pierre Huyghe has based his new show on interlinking and evolving mental images conjured up by an artificial intelligence in Japan. Ever wanted to know what we look like to a machine? This might be your first proper chance to find out. Spoiler: we probably don’t look all that smart. Oct 3-Feb 10 2019. Free.
After cracking the ground open in her incredible Tate Turbine Hall installation back in 2007, Colombian artist Doris Salcedo is back in London with a monument to all those who have drowned in the Mediterranean and Atlantic while attempting to migrate to a new country for a better life. That powerful, moving installation is the centrepiece of this new show in Bermondsey. Sep 28-Nov 11. Free.
October is art fair season in London, but it’s not just for over-rich bozos in fur coats: there’s something for everyone. The big one is Frieze Art Fairin Regent’s Park, featuring the best galleries in the world, a free sculpture park and a top-notch public programme. Sunday Art Fair is for the hipper galleries, 1-54 at Somerset House is all about art from Africa, PAD is full of gorgeous bits of design and Moniker is the place to go for your street art needs. Get ready to be much poorer financially, but infinitely richer culturally. Various locations. Oct 4-7. PAD runs Oct 1-4.
8. Ribera: ‘Art of Violence’ at Dulwich Picture Gallery
Who knows how to shock? Spanish baroque painters, that’s who. But Dulwich Picture Gallery, while stating repeatedly just how shocking the art of Jusepe de Ribera (1591-1652) is in its violence and cruelty, also wants to ‘challenge’ the viewer to look beyond that, and to consider his artistic and religious engagement in the depiction of suffering. Which sounds pleasant. Sep 26-Jan 27 2019. £15.50-£16.50, £8 concs.
9. Elmgreen and Dragset: ‘This Is How We Bite Our Tongue’ at Whitechapel Art Gallery
Witty, surreal and enjoyably unsettling – now-iconic duo Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset have been creating discombobulating sculptures and installations since 1995. Expect to have some seriously surreal explorations of social and sexual power dynamics rammed into your eyes. Sep 27-Jan 13 2019. £TBC.
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