Looking for a dose of culture? Want to know what’s hot on London’s exhibition scene? To make it easier to navigate and group together we’ve roughly split it into parts of London. Read on.
BLOODY ALTARS: A blood and paint splattered altars greet us, and it only gets more shocking as we venture downstairs where a video of a mock crucifixion uses actual animal blood. Nudity, carcasses and buckets of blood make for one powerful and grisly exhibition… if you can stomach it.
Hermann Nitsch at Massimo de Carlo, Mayfair. Until 25 May, free.
★★★★☆ (Tuesday – Saturday)
ABSTRACT SISTERHOOD: Art history has always been dominated by men, but now there are a lot of exhibitions trying to redress this balance, and rightly so. Step forward Victoria Miro, a gallery run by a woman, showcasing an international spread of female abstract artists. A slash cuts through a tiled canvas exposing a red cavern akin to a woman’s genitalia — a feminine take on Lucio Fontana’s masculine slash. Unfortunately the rest of the work just doesn’t measure up and there’s a lot of filler here. Given what this show stands for, we really wanted to like it, but it just doesn’t deliver.
Surface Work at Victoria Miro, Mayfair & Wharf Road. Until 16 June & 19 May respectively, free.
★★☆☆☆ (Tuesday – Saturday)
WHALES & A FLICKERING MAZE: The smell of grass fills our nostrils as bells jangle on screen. We cross the veiled corridor to find a similar view in white. A maze of flickering lights later, we venture upstairs to hear a lament that sounds like whale song, as we look upon a skeleton of a whale. This stunning exhibition transports us into a surreal world where we experience sadness and wonder.
Christian Boltanski: Ephemeres at Marian Goodman Gallery, Soho. Until 12 May, free.
★★★★★ (Tuesday – Saturday)
LUXURY REDEFINED: Step through a circular concrete door round the side of Selfridge’s into the grand settings of the Old Selfridge’s Hotel. It’s been converted into a set of linked interactive sets where we can play around with taking photographs, have a cocktail designed based on our personality and stand entranced in the middle of a time lapse sundial. Yes, this exhibition is designed to show off luxury brands and the Google Pixel 2’s camera but it’s impressively designed and a memorable experience.
The Flipside at Old Selfridge’s Hotel. Until 20 May, free but ticketed.
★★★★☆ (Tuesday – Sunday)
JESUS IN GOAL: Would you want to play table football with Jesus in goal? Maybe he could perform the miracle of helping us win. A kingfisher becomes the needle for a record player and a painting of Adam and Eve is given a make over so it’s now two Eves. Nancy Fouts’ work is filled with deliciously dark humour and we absolutely love it.
Nancy Fouts: Down the Rabbit Hole at Flowers, Cork Street, Mayfair. Until 12 May, free.
★★★★★ (Tuesday – Saturday)
BROKEN FACES: Heads and architecture are beautifully crafted from broken bricks, combining a narrative of destroyed lives constructed from buildings that have also been destroyed. It’s a poignant and subtle exhibition with more emotional weight than the bricks within it.
Girjesh Kumar Singh: An endless journey at Rosenfeld Porcini, Fitzrovia. Until 1 June, free.
★★★★☆ (Monday – Saturday)
FAT LOT OF NONSENSE: Joseph Beuys is considered by many as one the most influential contemporary artists. He spent time locked up in a cell with a coyote and he claimed his hat covered scars from a plane crash in the war, where he was rescued by Tatar nomads and swathed in fat and felt to help him recover. It’s unclear how much of that latter story is true but it forms the basis of this exhibition. However, if you know nothing about Beuys then there is no enlightenment here and those familiar with the story only get a small taster of it.
Joseph Beuys: Utopia at the Stag Monuments at Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Mayfair. Until 16 June, free.
★☆☆☆☆ (Tuesday – Saturday)
OPTICAL ILLUSIONS: Perspective is an important part of architecture, but in this show it’s been given a playful edge. The walls have architectural drawings on them but the real fun is in the exhibition design. Squares which reduce in size are cut into the walls, mirrors surround us and we can look down the middle of the seats for the illusion of infinity. We like it when this amount of creativity is unleashed and it gives us some … perspective.
Disappear Here at RIBA. Until 7 October, free.
WALKING LONDON: Artist Luke Walker is inspired by London’s architecture as he explores the city, integrating London’s skyline, recognisable buildings and data from his walks into his landscapes. His walk from the Shard to Hampstead tube station, from the highest to the deepest points in London, maps the cityscape alongside his height above ground level as it decreases.
The Transient City: Luke M Walker at D-contemporary, Mayfair. Until 17 May, free.
★★★☆☆ (Monday – Saturday)
MAPPING THE PACIFIC: Captain Cook’s journeys are often thought of as voyages of British colonisation but the story isn’t so black and white. This exhibition tries to unravel the thorny past in terms of where he took advantage of some islanders and sided with others. As with any British Library exhibition, it’s meticulously researched, contains some gorgeous maps and is beautifully designed. It’s informative but in our view didn’t spend enough time exploring the controversies and how they should be addressed today.
James Cook: The Voyages at The British Library. Until 28 August, £14.
ITALIAN GLAMOUR: When it comes to glamour, nobody does it better than the Italians. Throw in the glamorous times of the 1930s and we’re on to a modernist fan’s heaven. Set designs from Italian cinema look chic even now, nearly ninety years on. We’ll admit that Italian Cinema of the 1930s may be a niche topic but it’s a classy little exhibition, and reminds us we owe the art deco Eltham Palace another visit.
Rationalism on Set at Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art, Islington. Until 24 June, £6.50.
★★★☆☆ (Wednesday – Sunday)
ELECTRIC PHOTOGRAPHY: This Tate show is all about showing off abstract photography. It starts bumpy by showing early examples next to abstract painting that’s superior to the photographs — not a great choice to hang these side by side. As the show unfurls it gets stronger as we explore the subtleties of simple forms and repeating motifs. A collection of pipes close up looks like it’s going to impale us, the lights of New York spark across an image like electricity and Maya Rochat brings a whole wall to colourful life using paintings and projections. It takes its time to get going but it pays off in the end.
Shape of Light: 100 years of Photography and Abstract Art at Tate Modern. Until 14 October, £16.
INSTAGRAMMABLE INSTALLATIONS: Bold, bright lines of objects hang from the ceiling, and a massive tapestry takes up an entire world. These are beautiful works that have some Western influences such as Matisse, but the artist’s Brazilian background also features. With dance performances during the show, this is a visually stimulating exhibition and you’ll probably see it first on Instagram.
Beatriz Milhazes: Rio Azul at White Cube, Bermondsey. Until 1 July, free.
★★★☆☆ (Tuesday – Sunday)
LOUNGING IN THE SUN: With the weather hotting up, it’s the perfect time to catch the searing bright colours of Lucinda Metcalfe’s paintings. Deep reds burn into these views that could be from holiday brochures, but the colours and textures feel surreal. There are no people present and it makes us wonder whether the escape is real or just a fantasy.
Lucinda Metcalfe: Enjoy at Bearspace, Deptford. Until 26 May, free.
★★★★☆ (Wednesday – Saturday)