This week's best art

All the best current art exhibitions and shows to hunt down in London
Alex Hartley, 'A Gentle Collapsing II', courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro.
Alex Hartley, 'A Gentle Collapsing II', courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro.
By Time Out London Art
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Fancy checking out some art in London but don't know where to start? Have a flick through our selection of the best shows on at the moment and take your pick. Or, if you'd prefer photography to portraiture, check out our list of the top ten photography exhibitions on right now. 

Art, Contemporary art

Flo Brooks: Scrubbers

icon-location-pin Project Native Informant, Smithfield
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Every cloud might have a silver lining, but every clean, gleaming surface in Flo Brooks’s work has a thick sheen of filth and grime. Across a handful of twisted, oddly shaped paintings, Brooks creates a universe full of double meanings, scum, hygiene issues and gender that’s so fluid it’s flowing through sewage pipes. 

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© The Estate of Ilse D’Hollander. Image courtesy of The Estate of Ilse D’Hollander and Victoria Miro
Art

Ilse D’Hollander

icon-location-pin Victoria Miro Mayfair, Mayfair
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When Flemish artist Ilse D’Hollander committed suicide in 1997, at 28 years old, there had only been one solo show of her works. As with any significant biographical detail of an artist, it’s tempting to view D’Hollander’s output through the lens of that tragedy. But the canvas- and cardboard-based paintings on display at Victoria Miro’s Mayfair space are far from melancholic or suggestive of distress. 

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Courtesy the artist and Marian Goodman Gallery New York, Paris and London
Art

Dara Birnbaum

icon-location-pin Marian Goodman Gallery, Soho
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Gunshots scream and scatter through the gallery, politicians bellow and protesters chant as you stand in the shadow of a steel transmission tower. There’s war in Dara Birnbaum’s show at the Marian Goodman Gallery, but it’s not a physical one: this is a war of information. 

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© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
Art

Russia: Royalty & The Romanovs

icon-location-pin The Queen's Gallery, St James's Park
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There’s an episode in Matthew Weiner’s series, ‘The Romanoffs’, where descendants of Russia’s last royal family get together on a cruise ship and re-enact the glory days of grand balls and staged entertainment. Those with Romanov DNA lap it up, while two married-in relations find the entire event slightly perplexing. Russia, Royalty and the Romanovs, a new exhibition at The Queen’s Gallery, has the potential to inspire a similar division of response. 

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© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
Art

Shadows of War: Roger Fenton's Photographs of the Crimea 1855

icon-location-pin The Queen's Gallery, St James's Park
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In 1855, Roger Fenton arrived in the Crimea on a commission from publisher Thomas Agnew & Sons to photograph scenes and figures from the ongoing Crimean War. After he returned to London, the images were exhibited at four venues in the capital and… that was it. There hasn’t been a London show of Fenton’s creations since 1856. 

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© Alex Katz/DACS, London/VAGA, New York. Image courtesy of Timothy Taylor, London/New York
Art

Alex Katz: Coca-Cola Girls

icon-location-pin Timothy Taylor, London
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Everything was good once. Not like today. Back in the 1950s, America was booming. Money was flowing, business was good, the war had been won and the sun was always shining. It was the halcyon days of modern capitalism. Nonagenarian übermensch of achingly cool pop art Alex Katz is feeling nostalgic for those days. 

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Night of the Long Knives I (2013) © Athi-Patra Ruga and WHATIFTHEWORLD Photography: Hayden Phipps
Art

Athi-Patra Ruga: Of Gods, Rainbows and Omissions

icon-location-pin Somerset House, Temple
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Athi-Patra Ruga’s exhibition at Somerset House certainly justifies the reference in its title to rainbows. Each of the gallery’s Terrace Rooms is a kaleidoscopic mass of saturated colour. Ruby, fuchsia, turquoise, periwinkle, sunshine-happy yellow, this show of tapestries is the perfect inoculation against the growing greyness of London’s November sky. 

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Egon Schiele, 'Seated Female Nude, Elbows Resting on Right Knee'. Courtesy the Albertina Museum, Vienna.
Art, Painting

Klimt/Schiele

icon-location-pin Royal Academy of Arts, Mayfair
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The history of art is just the history of men with paintbrushes and erections, and no one had more boners than Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele. There must have been something in the air in turn-of-the-century Vienna, because think of these two and you think of non-stop, boobs-out, full-frontal erotic action. And this show of rarely seen and truly stunning drawings that have been dug out from the attic of Vienna’s Albertina Museum isn’t going to prove any of that wrong.

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© Peanuts
Art

Good Grief, Charlie Brown!

icon-location-pin Somerset House, Temple
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Anxiety, despair, dread, depression, fear, misery, alienation: a pretty standard Friday night, but an unusual recipe for a kids’ comic strip. ‘Peanuts’ is special, though. Over his tens of thousands of strips – syndicated the world over and read by millions of adoring fans – Charles M Schulz combined simple line drawings and emotional non-sequiturs into little bundles of pure, heart-wrenching modern truth. 

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Art

Edward Burtynsky: The Human Signature

icon-location-pin Flowers Central, Mayfair
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Edward Burtynsky’s new show is dominated by a six-metre-long photograph of a quarry. A massive orange digger sits in the middle, but it looks like a toy in its surroundings. Burtynsky fans’ spidey senses go on high alert: EB is showing us the rape of the earth by man. 

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Cnut Gospels Royal MS © British Library Board
Museums

Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms

icon-location-pin British Library, Euston
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There’s a part of you that wonders if the British Library has designed an entire exhibition as an ‘up yours’ to Brexit. Because the first thing you see, as you walk around this heady exploration of Anglo-Saxon treasures and literature, is an explanation of a worryingly continental fact: we’re all bloody German. Or Danish. 

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Giovanni Bellini, 'The Dead Christ'. Copyright Gemäldegalerie der Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz. Photo: Jörg P. Anders.
Art, Painting

Mantegna and Bellini

icon-location-pin National Gallery, Trafalgar Square
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Usually when you say an art show is ‘challenging’, you mean it’s got a stuff in it you don’t want to look at. And, yeah, ‘Mantegna and Bellini’ contains scenes of torture, execution, religious fanaticism, totalitarian regimes, disturbing hybrid animals and child nudity. That’s the Bible for you. But this survey of the work and relationship of two giants of the Italian Renaissance is challenging in another way.

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Ed Atkins, Happy Birthday!!. Courtesy the artist and Cabinet, London
Art

Strange Days: Memories of the Future

icon-location-pin 180 the Strand, Temple
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Deep in the bowels of an abandoned brutalist office block on the Strand, a pair of Arab men are dancing in a bank vault, a nude silver-skinned woman is prancing around some sculptures, some bloke is stroking a fish as it slowly dies and a glittery android is singing on a stage. Nah, it’s not London’s newest and most terrifyingly awful sex club, it’s a show of video art curated by New York’s New Museum.

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Luke Willis Thompson, 'autoportrait' (2017) Installation view, Chisenhale Gallery, Commissioned by Chisenhale Gallery and produced in partnership with Create. Image courtesy of the artist. Photo: Andy Keate
Art

Turner Prize 2018

icon-location-pin Tate Britain, Westminster
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It’s staggering that after all these years the Turner Prize can still induce such apoplectic, tumescent, viscous rage in the general public and red-top media. It’s a contemporary art prize you absolute weenies, why is it shocking to you that it’s not just a room full of copies of ‘The Hay Wain’? 

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; © Vb 7525; Museum der Kulturen Basel; photo: Derek Li Wan Po; 2013; all rights reserved
Art

Oceania

icon-location-pin Royal Academy of Arts, Mayfair
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Oceania is vast. Hundreds of islands spread out across thousands of square miles of ocean, each filled with countless cultures that lap and overlap. Trying to sum up the whole artistic production of a single culture, let alone multiple, is a stupid, insurmountable task. But here we are, doing just that at the Royal Academy. 

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© The Samuel Courtauld Trust, The Courtauld Gallery, London
Art

Courtauld Impressionists: From Manet to CĂ©zanne

icon-location-pin National Gallery, Trafalgar Square
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Short of Banksy reinterpreting ‘Guernica’ accompanied by bottomless prosecco, it’s hard to think of a more solid banker of a show than this. The Courtauld Gallery is being refurbed for two years, but the decorators have hardly had time to stick the radio on, than its greatest impressionist hits are back on display, with support from iconic works from the National Gallery. 

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Renzo Piano Building Workshop, Centro Botín, 2017 Photo © Enrico Cano
Art, Architecture

Renzo Piano: The Art of Making Buildings

icon-location-pin Royal Academy of Arts, Mayfair
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What you see is what you get with Renzo Piano. Literally. His buildings are all about guts-on-the-outside, glass-for-days clarity. And the Italian architect is a behemoth of his art form. From the eviscerated shock and awe of the Centre Pompidou to the shimmering, looming blade of The Shard, Piano’s buildings have a habit of defining a city. 

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Copyright Jenny Holzer and Tate
Art, Contemporary art

Artist Rooms: Jenny Holzer

icon-location-pin Tate Modern, South Bank
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American artist Jenny Holzer’s work is decades’ worth of statements, aphorisms, quotes and poetry. She takes words and sentences and plasters them over the streets, prints them on cups and condoms, engraves them into marble, and sends them stuttering at lightspeed along LED columns. 

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McDermott & McGough (2017), 'The Oscar Wilde Temple', Church of the Village, New York . Image courtesy of the artists
Art

McDermott & McGough: The Oscar Wilde Temple

icon-location-pin Studio Voltaire, Clapham
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‘The Oscar Wilde Temple’ by McDermott & McGough is one of those artworks that’s difficult to ‘review’. Not because it isn’t beautiful, wonderfully detailed, clever in its use of art history or politically poignant. It is all of those things. But because this entirely immersive installation isn’t really intended to just be art. 

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Anni Albers © 2018 The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/DACS, London
Art

Anni Albers

icon-location-pin Tate Modern, South Bank
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Despite its name, modernism sure had some old school failings. When Anni Albers got through her first year at experimental German art school the Bauhaus in 1923, she was kept away from disciplines like painting and sculpture and was shoved roughly towards something more suitable for a woman: weaving. But Albers took her shitty stick and ran with it.

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Jusepe de Ribera, 'St Sebastian Tended by the Holy Women'. Copyright Bilboko Arte Ederren Museoa-Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao. Photo: The Bilbao Fine Arts Museum.
Art

Ribera: Art of Violence

icon-location-pin Dulwich Picture Gallery, Dulwich Village
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Flayed skin and dislocated shoulders are two recurring themes of Jusepe de Ribera’s art. The first, normally inflicted on Christian saints as part of their martyrdoms, and the second, the result of a foul seventeenth-century torture device known as the ‘strappado’. 

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02 Installation view of Richard Wilson_ 20_50, (1987) at Space Shifters, Hayward Gallery 2018. Photo_ Mark Blower
Art

Space Shifters

icon-location-pin Hayward Gallery, South Bank
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If I had a penny for every time I heard about the importance of light in art I’d have a shitload of pennies. From Caravaggio’s dramatic chiaroscuro to Turner’s swirling dusky seascapes and Monet’s shimmering waterlilies, light has been a necessary obsession in art for centuries. This show of art that teases and toys with light and space is an eye-bending journey into the brightest recesses of minimalism.

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Courtesy Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo/Singapore/Shanghai and Victoria Miro, London/Venice. © YAYOI KUSAMA
Art

Yayoi Kusama

icon-location-pin Victoria Miro, Hoxton
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At this point, no one really needs another Yayoi Kusama review. Her art is so distinctive, so clearly defined, so ubiquitous and so over-written about that no one really has anything to add that’s going to change your mind. She’s the world’s biggest art superstar. If you like her pumpkins and mirrors shtick, you’re going to like this show. If you don’t, you won’t. Easy. 

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Elmgreen & Dragset The Whitechapel Pool (2018) © Whitechapel Gallery / Jack Hems
Art

Elmgreen & Dragset: This Is How We Bite Our Tongue

icon-location-pin Whitechapel Gallery, Whitechapel
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The Whitechapel Gallery is being turned into a luxury hotel. Sorry about that. Its galleries will be turned into suites for the moneyed hipster elite to huff designer drugs in, and its pool will become an opulent spa. You probably didn’t know the Whitechapel had a pool, but it does. 

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Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Andy Keate.
Art, Contemporary art

Lawrence Abu Hamdan

icon-location-pin Chisenhale Gallery, Mile End
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There’s crap everywhere in this show. There’s a bin full of plastic tubing and a cricket bat, a stepladder, metal shelves covered with popcorn, teacups and trainers, watermelons on the floor, big bottles of fizzy drink, a paddling pool. Just a bunch of junk hastily and messily laid out. Feeling dismissive is a legit reaction – until it dawns on you what this all means. 

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Heidi Bucher 'Kleines Glasportal, Bellevue Kreuzlingen' (1988) © Estate of Heidi Bucher . Installation views at Art Basel Unlimited, 2016. Photography by Robert Glowacki, image courtesy of The Approach, London
Art

Heidi Bucher

icon-location-pin Parasol Unit, Hoxton
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Like an expert butcher, Swiss artist Heidi Bucher (who died in 1993) was a master of flaying skin. But it wasn’t animals that she peeled with intricate precision, it was whole lives. 

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Maisie Cousins. Image from 'Dipping Sauce' (2018) © Maisie Cousins
Art

Maisie Cousins: Dipping Sauce

icon-location-pin Elephant West, White City
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Food porn gets everyone’s engines revving: images of pristine plates of immaculate profiteroles, steaming piles of mash and unctuous bowls of caviar, that throaty M&S voice uttering sweet nothings into your ear, etc. Well, young British artist Maisie Cousins is sort of the opposite. 

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© Burne-Jones 'The Rose Bower'. Image courtesy of The Faringdon Collection Trust
Art

Edward Burne-Jones

icon-location-pin Tate Britain, Westminster
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I like the Pre-Raphaelites the same way I like pumpkin spice lattes despite 85% of people telling me they’re repulsive. Because these medieval-loving Victorians are the pumpkin spice lattes of British art. They’re syrupy sweet gloop often tinted a strange orange colour and always topped with unnecessary frothy swirls. 

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Copyright Ola Rindal. Courtesy of the artist and Serpentine Galleries
Art

Pierre Huyghe

icon-location-pin Serpentine Gallery, Knightsbridge
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The Serpentine Gallery stinks. There’s something in the air, some intensely chemical stench, half way between bleach and rotting meat. Flies buzz around or lie dead on the ground, the paint on the walls has been sanded back, the floor is caked in dust. Dotted throughout the space, screens spin through ceaselessly strobing and mutating images that your eyes just can’t grasp. 

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