Free art exhibitions in London
London’s streets are haunted by vile ghosts. Everywhere you walk, there are statues of Britons who conquered the world and pillaged its nations looming over you. And in front of Buckingham Palace stands the Victoria Memorial, an ornate, lavish celebration of Queen Vic and her imperial achievements. Now a version of it haunts the Turbine Hall.
At one point in their show, United Visual Artists make your stomach turn. The walls of the room collapse around you, or split wide open, or spin sickeningly. But it’s not real. It’s a trick of perspective that reaches through your eyes and tickles your brain. The laser installation, inspired by the perspective tricks of the Renaissance, is a good example of what this collective (led by Matt Clark) does.
‘This is how we find Angel after use,’ explains the nice lady on ‘Maintainancer’, Sidsel Meineche Hansen’s German brothel documentary. The camera turns to the bed –where a plastic doll lies in a tangle of cheap lace, bouncy balloon boobs and cream sheets. And then, the woman starts to clean her.
You can tell a tree’s age by counting its rings. But there are more stories hidden in wood than just the passing of time, and whole histories are spilling out of the timber in Vietnamese-born Danish artist Danh Vo’s central London exhibition.
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.
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