Free art exhibitions in London
Anxiety sucks. It’s pointless, debilitating and, often, very boring. This multi-artist exhibition is about the condition in all its nail-biting, bile-rising, dizzying forms.
Mona Hatoum’s world is filled with cages and concrete, charred homes and inescapable prisons. It’s not just her world that’s like that, obviously, it’s all of ours. Because written through the Palestinian artist’s work is all the conflict, oppression, violence and degradation that’s so rife in modern society.
Sex, violence and religion: Danh Vō’s new exhibition isn’t shy about getting into life’s nitty gritty. And that might kind of be the point. The Danish artist seems like he’s tired of cranking out the monumental, critically engaged sculptures he’s known for and has opted instead to try another tack and just make everyone a little uncomfortable.
Anxiety is at epidemic levels. The painful agoraphobic stress of contemporary life is everywhere, and we’re all looking for a mindful way to escape it. American video artist Shana Moulton uses a character called Cynthia as an avatar for all of that modern angst.
The worst people on earth are the ones who take the tube from Covent Garden to Leicester Square. They have no idea what they’re missing. London is a walking city. These damp, polluted streets are built for trudging down; you’re meant to slap your feet on the pavement and make the city your own. Young English artist Rhys Coren knows that.
After decades of fuzz, fug, fog and gloom, there’s some clarity peeking out of Peter Doig’s work. The Trinidad-based Scottish painter has built a massively influential career out of clouding his works in a haze of dreamlike mist. He paints visions of childhood, nature and obsession that are barely there, like half-forgotten memories.
Imagine viewing the world through a blob of transparent jelly and you’ll come close-ish to recreating what 1960s America looks like in the art of James Rosenquist. The artist isn’t an especially familiar name to British art fans, but he’s normally scooped up into the pop art bucket. His art ticks a lot of those boxes but he also has an aesthetic of his own.
Lynette Yiadom-Boakye’s paintings are stuck in the middle; caught between the past and the present, reality and fiction, freedom and constraint. The British artist captures black figures at rest and at play. A white-shirted couple reads, one in silence, the other speaking out loud. Three characters sit at tables, another lies in bed, a group moves in a line. Everything is quiet, dark, sombre, frozen in twilight.
Walking into ‘Misbehaving Bodies’, the Wellcome Collection’s free exhibition of artworks by Jo Spence (1934-1992) and Oreet Ashery (b. 1966), you first notice two giant, bright pink teddy bears with extra-long arms. The terror-inducing teds sit on the floor under draping canopies of the same intestinal colour.
You can’t call the RSPCA for crimes against toys, apparently, but one look at Jamian Juliano-Villani’s art and you’ll desperately want to. I mean, if hammering a dildo into a toy tiger’s mouth over and over again isn’t abuse, then what is?
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