Victoria’s Top Ten London Art Exhibitions, July 2019

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Summer is officially here, people, but that doesn’t mean the art scene is letting up in new shows to see (that’s more August!) so this month it is ANOTHER new ten shows to tell you about – and that’s on top of the bangers that are already on display at the National Gallery (Sorolla), the V&A (Dior), Tate Britain (Frank Bowling), the Hayward (Kiss My Genders) and the Serpentine Galleries (Faith Ringgold and Luchita Hurtado).

There is so much choice to see!

I’m also happy that half of the list this month are free admission – always worth noting – especially if we are all going to be forking out rail fares to go up to Liverpool…

See you next month!


Cindy Sherman, National Portrait Gallery

A major new retrospective of works by leading contemporary artist Cindy Sherman will go on display in Summer 2019. Including the ground-breaking series, Untitled Film Stills, 1977-80, this major new exhibition will explore the development of Sherman’s work from the mid-1970s to the present day and will feature around 150 works from international public and private collections, as well as new work never before displayed in a public gallery. Focusing on the artist’s manipulation of her own appearance and her deployment of material derived from a range of cultural sources, including film, advertising and fashion, the exhibition will explore the tension between façade and identity. Runs to 15 September. Admission £18 (concessions available).


Summer Exhibition 2019, Royal Academy of Arts

Summer is here, people, so it’s time once again for the return of this annual institution. This year acclaimed British painter Jock McFadyen RA has taken the mantle from Grayson Perry as coordinator, so it’ll be interesting to see how he tackles the challenge of the world’s largest open submission art show. This is the 251st Summer Exhibition so you can expect the usual collision of colours, genres, subjects and styles on crowded walls and floors as everyday folk get their moment in sun along with new and emerging talent, working artists, household names and Royal Academicians in the world’s largest open submission art show. Runs to 12 August. Admission £16 (concessions available).


Michael Craig-Martin: Sculpture, Gagosian Britannia Street

This is the first time Michael’s sculptures have been shown indoors, and the first time – in London – that they have been exhibited. And it promises to be a surreal experience as these six powder-coated steel forms appear like line drawings in the air. Devoid of anything in the way of context, Michael looks to the viewer to attach their own personal narrative histories to the objects portrayed. Standing between three and four meters high, the installation allows us to walk under and around the structures, (which are discreetly sunk into the concrete floor of the gallery) and have a pretty good marvel at how the sculptures’ lines seem suspended in the air, and on such a grand scale. Runs to 3 August. Admission free.


Olafur Eliasson: In real life, Tate Modern

I genuinely can’t believe it’s been 15 years since Olafur took over the Tate M’s Turbine Hall with his setting sun. How time flies. But I’ve no doubt the level of crowds that flooded in to see The weather project in 2003 will be back for this – the most comprehensive solo presentation of Olafur’s work top date, and his first major survey in the UK. Olafur is loved for his commitment to consistently seeking to make his art relevant to society, engaging the public in memorable ways both inside and outside galleries. Driven by his interests in perception, movement, and the interaction of people and their environments – as well as fields as diverse as sustainability, migration, education and architecture – he creates artworks which offer experiences that can be shared by visitors of all ages. Opens 11 July. Admission £18 (concessions available).


Penny Slinger: Tantric Transformations, Richard Saltoun

I know I’m predictable, but I cannot wait to see this. I’m a huge fan of Penny’s. A self-proclaimed “Feminist Surrealist”, her work combines the mythical qualities of Surrealism with the radical feminism of the 1970s – all underpinned by her long-standing interest in erotica, pleasure and the reclamation of the female body. This exhibition at Richard Saltoun – her first with the gallery – celebrates her interest and development of Tantric art, featuring collages from the mid-1970s, Xerox body prints, vintage and new photographs created especially for the show. “Having discovered the magic of surrealism, I wanted to employ its tools and methods to create a language for the feminine psyche to express itself,” Slinger explains on her website. You’ll find me inside. Runs to 24 August. Admission free.


Get Up, Stand Up Now: Generations of Black Creative Pioneers, Somerset House

This summer, Somerset House celebrates the past 50 years of Black creativity in Britain and beyond in this major new exhibition spanning art, film, photography, music, literature, design and fashion. Beginning with radical Black film maker, Horace Ové, and his dynamic circle of Windrush generation creative peers, and extending to today’s brilliant young Black talent globally, a group of 100 interdisciplinary artists will show case work that explores Black experience and influence from the post-war era to the present day. In this multi-sensory experience, historic works and new commissions will sit alongside items from personal archives, tracing more than half a century of collective history. Runs to 15 September. Admission £12.50 (concessions available).


Jo Spence and Oreet Ashery: Misbehaving Bodies, Wellcome Collection

This exhibition is here to challenge our understanding of ‘misbehaving’ or ‘untypical’ bodies and reflect on how illness can disrupt and shape the way we think about the body, family and identity. How does it look to do this? By bringing together the work of two original and influential artists who explore the representation of chronic illness to reclaim the idea of ‘misbehaving bodies’. Hence the name of this show. And which artists are they? Well, we have photographer Jo Spence who completed a series of work on her diagnosis of breast cancer and subsequent healthcare regime throughout the 1980s. Her raw and confrontational photography will be shown alongside Oreet Ashery’s award-winning miniseries ‘Revisiting Genesis’, which explores death and dying in the digital era. Runs to 26 January. Admission free.


María Berrío, Caroline Walker, Flora Yukhnovich, Victoria Miro Wharf Road

Now this one is pretty exciting as Victoria Miro has teamed up with the influential Instagram account, @thegreatwomenartists, (make sure you follow them!) to curate this exhibition featuring three young artists who rethink traditional genres to touch upon themes of migration, the workplace, and the gendered language of painting. There’s Brooklyn-based María Berrio whose large-scale works reflect on cross-cultural connections and global migration seen through the prism of her own childhood in Columbia. There’s also the quietly luminous paintings of Scot, Caroline Walker, whose intimate portrayals of women at work in domestic and public spaces, surrounded by the luxurious goods and services that they are required to sell, mend or clean, possess an acute psychological intensity. And finally there’s London-based artist Flora Yukhnovich who brings the language of Rococo and the dynamism of eighteenth-century art into a more consciously feminine and contemporary realm. Runs to 27 July. Admission free.


Michael Rakowitz, Whitechapel Gallery

I am totally here for this debut survey of internationally renowned Iraqi-American artist Michael Rakowitz. Even if you don’t recognise the name, you’ll know the work for Michael was responsible for the recent Lamassu sculpture on the Fourth Plinth, part of his epic and ongoing attempt to recreate every cultural artefact lost or destroyed during the Iraq war. One of the best Plinth works for a while. And it’ll be more of this fantastic and fascinating examination of creation and destruction, of politics and colonialism such as, for example, life-sized recreations of mural reliefs formerly located at the Northwest Palace of Nimrud and destroyed by ISIS in 2015, and remaking destroyed archaeological artefacts from Iraq using date syrup cans. Runs to 25 August. Admission £12.95 (concessions available).


Bartolomé Bermejo: Master of the Spanish Renaissance, National Gallery

This summer, the National Gallery, as part of its Spanish season, (alongside its beautiful Sorolla exhibition in the Sainsbury Wing) is showing a select number of works by Bartolomé Bermejo, one of Spain’s most innovative and accomplished painters active in the second half of the 15th century. This exhibition brings two of his masterpieces: the triptych of the ‘Madonna of Montserrat’ from the cathedral at Acqui Terme, Alessandria (Italy) and the ‘Piedad Desplà’ from Barcelona Cathedral, to the UK for the first time. In addition, the National’s own painting by Bermejo, ‘Saint Michael Triumphs over the Devil’, returns following its recent conservation, revealing the painting’s exquisite details and the extent of Bermejo’s artistry. Runs to 29 September. Admission free.


And One That’s from Out of Town…

Keith Haring, Tate Liverpool

I am pretty sure you that most of you are aware that this gem has opened up in Liverpool as its five-star reviews have been EVERYWHERE but I wanted to add my excitement o the rest. And how could you not be excited for this is the first major exhibition in the UK of the influential American artist, Keith Haring. There’s more than 85 works on display at Tate Liverpool and, together, these large-scale drawings and paintings showcase his unique presence in 1980s New York, and the key role he played in his generation’s counterculture. As an openly gay man, Keith’s work as an AIDS activist and educator remains his most essential legacy but the man expressed himself on many political issues, including involvement in nuclear disarmament campaigns, creating a famed Crack is Wack mural, and designing anti-apartheid posters. Runs to 10 November. Admission £12.50 (concessions available).

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