Free art exhibitions in London
The female gaze is a funny thing. Three little words used to describe everything from lesbian erotic fiction to the abstract expressionism of Lee Krasner. What’s missing from all this talk about ‘the gaze’ is any sense of a physical human being doing the looking. Enter: Luchita Hurtado.
Wandering bushes, two-faced hedges, burbling baths of purple water and spinning tornadoes of hair: Sarah Cockings and Harriet Fleuriot’s mesmerising show is a heady, trippy nightmare, a weird voyage into the surreal depths of the countryside.
There’s stuff happening in Nevine Mahmoud’s first European solo show. Sensual, tactile stuff; sexual, bodily stuff. You feel like you’re walking in on a seriously private moment, bodies caught midway through something you maybe shouldn’t be seeing. There are just five sculptures here – all tits, butts and tongues made of marble and glass – but they are totally lovely.
Your body is a battleground. Capitalism wants to own it, society wants to control it. In Kate Cooper’s three-screen installation, female bodies are constrained and manipulated, abused and deformed; they are the sites of war.
Denzil Forrester’s paintings don’t look like the kind of art you normally find in contemporary galleries. They aren’t full of nods to art history, they’re not drenched in conceptual theorising and they don’t fit neatly into the canon of Western art history. Basically, they don’t look exactly like everything else. And thank fuck for that, because that’s what makes them great.
Some art screams and shouts its existence, but other art stakes its claim a little more quietly. Prabhavathi Meppayil’s art is of the silent type. The Indian artist creates ultra-minimal white canvases, totally monochrome but highly textured works that are so subtle they’re barely there.
The writer Kathy Acker (1947-1997) meant a lot of things to a lot of people. And she still does, as this sensory-overload of an exhibition at the ICA makes clear. Split across two floors, the show swirls together chunks of Acker’s own prolific output (mainly large segments of text or video footage of the writer talking or performing) with artworks, poems and films by an extra-long list of artists she’s inspired.
It’s always nice when art comes along and rips you out of your comfort zone, drags you out of your knowledge bubble and tears you from the established canon. You get so used to your idea art coming from books and museums, and being so proscriptive as a result, that it can all get a little staid sometimes. But then something like this Mohamed Melehi exhibition shows up and gives you a bit of a jolt.
There’s some serious information overload in Mandy El-Sayegh’s art. News, magazines, the internet, pornography, advertising and poetry are all splashed across the gallery walls, glued and smudged in place. At the root of El-Sayegh's work is a particularly modern condition: how do we navigate a world so inundated with information.
Maps: they’re lush. And the British Library has lots of them. In 2013, it extracted maps from its newly digitised collection of nineteenth-century books and put the results on Flickr. Artist Michael Takeo Magruder has now used these 1 million historical images as the basis for four new artworks.
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