Hello eager art friend, want to do some planning ahead? Well, you've come to the right place with our one-stop shop for all the art exhibitions, big or small, coming to London in 2019 over the next couple of months. From exciting new gallery openings to upcoming London photography shows, keep your eyes peeled and your paintbrush poised for as much art as your diary can handle. Or, if you can’t wait that long, here's the best new art in London this week to satisfy those creative cravings sooner.
Art Opening This Month
Colonialism didn’t just come for the minerals, spices and priceless artefacts, colonialism came for the art too. As the East India Company tightened its grip on the Indian subcontinent in the nineteenth century, it also grabbed at the arts of the places it was occupying. This gorgeous show brings together botanical, portrait and everyday scene paintings commissioned by wealthy European patrons.
Each year, Bloomberg New Contemporaries shows a bumper selection of the artistic newbies just emerging from their art education chrysalis. And each year you'll discover some real treats in a mass of different styles, materials and subject matter. The 2019 show includes photographs taken on the Israel/Syria border, animations about male identity and a re-imagining of post-Soviet era Bulgaria.
Bristol-based artist Sarah Selby grapples with surveillance culture and the rampant collection of data in this new series of work. Inspired by Shoshana Zuboff's book ‘The Age of Surveillance Capitalism’, and created in collaboration with a data scientist and an anti-disciplinary artist, the artworks draw attention to how the 'usefulness' of data is prioritized over the individual needs and safety of humans. Basically, if someone can make money from your data, they're probably doing so.
Art Opening Next Month
Until birth control became widely available, women in Britain and Northern Europe often spent most of their adult lives pregnant and/or nursing a young infant (*shudders*). You'd expect, then, to see lots of preggers women in art of a certain age. Only you don't. Historic pictures of pregnancy are surprisingly rare and even modern ones (like that stunning photo of a heavily-pregnant Beyoncé) still cause shock and awe in equal measure. This fascinating exhibition at the Foundling Museum brings together historic and contemporary artworks, some showing pregnancy in all its bountiful glory and others that magicked out the prominent bumps of their wealthy sitters.
With the dark and depressing days of the new year upon us, head to the Camden Arts Centre for Vivian Suter's lushly coloured paintings inspired by the Guatemalan rainforest. The London exhibition overlaps with the artist's major solo show at Tate Liverpool and features a series of works created especially for the CAC's lovely garden, bringing a little bit of tropical paradise to wintry London. Indoors, the unstretched canvases will hang together in a group, creating a gently immersive experience.
Ruth Asawa's feather-light, wire sculptures combine a delicate beauty with a complex structural patterning, a bit like the sculptural equivalent of handmade lacework. The Californian-born artist also produced a substantial amount of works on paper which continued the same theme of gently meandering lines bending into repeating patterns. See both at David Zwirner at the start of 2020.
'The Destructors' is a new film by Imran Perretta inspired by the artist's own experiences as a young British Muslim. The work is shot on location in Tower Hamlets at the Shadwell Community Centre and it pulls on several interlinking threads: the state surveillance of Muslims in Britain as part of the so-called 'War on Terror', the effect of austerity politics on working class communities of colour and the concept of 'coming of age' for young Muslim men. The film, which premiered at Bristol's Spike Island in 2019, borrows its title from a Graham Green story from 1954 about a gang planning to knock down an old man's house.
In 2018 - 19, Athanasios Argianas completed a residency at the Camden Arts Centre. This solo show builds on the work created during that period, presenting a sculptural and film installation with an acoustic soundtrack in one gallery, and a new film work in another. The Greek artist is interested in how Modernism appears in unexpected places and draws inspiration from his training in classical music.
Blending together Indian artistic traditions and Western Modernism, Benode Behari Mukherjee produced a remarkable variety of drawings, collages, wall frescoes and more. Eschewing the mythological subject matter of a lot of the art produced in his native country, the artist focused on nature and the fast-changing world around him. This exhibition, the first solo show in Europe for Mukherjee, shows the collages he made in the 50s and 60s after losing his sight.
In 2019, Tate Modern held a major retrospective of the career of Dorothea Tanning. This much more intimate show at Alison Jacques concentrates on a series of works on paper made by the artist after she returned to living in New York following many years in France. Many of the images feature bicycles, a recurrent object in the artist's work after she witnessed an accident near her studio.
Following on from their excellent 'Matrescence' exhibition at the tail end of 2019, Richard Saltoun stages another group exhibition dedicated to all things motherhood-related. The title of this one draws attention to how closely related 'maternity' is to 'matter' or 'materiality'. The show features a video work based on fertility apps and other pieces of technology that monitor the female body, as well as art that focuses attention on the body of the mother rather than the baby.
Following shortly after her 2019 solo exhibition at Tate Britain, as part of the gallery's 'Art Now' series, France-Lise McGurn presents more of her colourful, playful paintings of imaginary people. Previously, the Glaswegian artist has painted straight onto gallery walls, the imagery of the paintings bleeding out into the surrounding area. The works in this show are inspired by the McGurn's own studio, bedroom and psyche.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single year in the London art calendar cannot pass by without a solo exhibition of Pablo Picasso. This one, at the Royal Academy, is dedicated to the Spanish artist's use of paper. Unlike other artists who saw paper as a preliminary or draft material, Picasso made use of it in many ways including in collages and sculptures. He also used different types of paper such as newspaper cuttings and table cloths.
Future Art Exhibitions
Maria Baruszová was a Slovakian artist who lived and worked in Košice, the second-largest city in her home country. This major retrospective concentrates on her output from 1960s onwards, when she first started making plaster sculptures by pouring the liquid into rubber balloons. She would then shape plaster either by hand or by submerging it in water. This resulted in a series of beautifully delicate sculptures that often look like egg shells, spiders’ webs or birds’ nests. Others look like sexy, undressed body parts or folds of skin. The artist also liked to photograph her creations in natural settings, highlighting their connection to the rural landscape. Summary: gorgeous, one-of-a-kind art by an artist deserving greater recognition.
Andy Warhol once declared that, 'In the future everybody will be world famous for fifteen minutes'. The American artist has, of course, had rather more than fifteen minutes himself and his popularity is as strong as ever, as this major retrospective proves. In between the soup cans and the slebs, visitors will be able to see his lesser-known portraits of black and latinx drag queens and trans women. You can also get hair inspo (or jealously) from the display of Warhol's amazing wigs.
In 2018, the British Museum staged a fascinating exhibition placing the sculptures of Auguste Rodin alongside the Ancient Greek masterpieces that inspired them. This major exhibition at Tate Modern takes a different approach, emphasizing just how radical Rodin was. In a sort-of ‘behind the scenes’ approach, the show draws attention to the artist’s use of clay and plaster in producing his best-known marble and bronze creations. For fans of Rodin (and really, who isn’t one?) this is a great opportunity to see a lot of material from France’s Musee Rodin without getting on the Eurostar.
From 'fragile' to 'toxic' and everything in between, 'masculinity' is a bit of a fraught topic. The Barbican gives it a thorough re-evaluation with this major exhibition of film and photography looking at what the term has meant to different people from the 1960s until today, and how these documentary and artistic practices have actually played a part in shaping the popular understanding of it. There'll be a whopping 300 works by 50 artists on display, including several by a new generation of artists just starting to make waves.
Drawing, for Toyin Ojih Odutola, is a form of storytelling. These new works, exhibited around the 90-metre sweep of the Barbican Curve, form part of an epic series relaying an imagined ancient myth. The artist uses pencil, pastel, ballpoint pen and charcoal to create the mega-sized portraits that are as delicate as they are beautiful.
Eavesdrop the 17th century Dutch way via 35 drawings and paintings by Nicolaes Maes. The artist, who was a student of Rembrandt, specialised in domestic settings, portraits and religious stories. He's also known for his fourth wall-breaking perspective, letting the viewer poke their nose into private, domestic areas. This free show contains artworks from across his whole career.
Cao Fei's multimedia artworks crystalise the dissociative weirdness of the pumped-up urban environment in her native China. There is, however, plenty that people from all over the globe will relate to, including her take on virtual, online worlds vs 'real life'. This immersive, site-specific installation at the Serpentine is made up of new and existing works by the artist.
One of two female founding members of the RA (Mary Moser was the other), Angelica Kauffman was a portraitist and history painter who established a celebrated career in 18th-century London despite, you know, being a woman and all that. A close friend and contemporary of Sir Joshua Reynolds, Kauffman’s art is lushly-coloured with lots of soft-focus females looking like they’ve just come indoors after a hearty walk through a Capability Brown landscape. They’re also crammed with mythological and Grecian references, and on the whole well worth going to take a look at.
Denmark's Ordrupgaard Collection is the result of an art-loving nineteenth-century couple who were not afraid to splash the cash on a bit of French Impressionism, even before others got the memo describing its genius. The highlights of their collection, which runs from the pre-impressionism of Gustav Courbet all the way through to the post-impressionisn of Paul Gauguin, travel to London's Royal Academy for a springtime exhibition in 2020.
Consider the tree. Stately dependable oak, spindly flamboyant acer, rampantly multiplying sycamore, even the oft-overlooked London plane: trees are just damn beautiful. Dedicate even more time to musing on their exceptional qualities with this group exhibition at the Hayward. Spanning painting, drawing, photography, sculpture and video installation, the show looks at how leaves, twigs, branches and canopies have been inspiring artsy types since they first sprouted happily from the earth, right up to the contemporary artists practicing today. Artists include Robert Adams, Aija-Liisa Ahtila, Tacita Dean, Peter Doig, Anya Gallaccio, Giuseppe Penone, Robert Smithson and Pascale Marthine Tayou.
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