Victoria’s Top Ten London Art Shows, September 2018


I tell you, between this month and next, we’ve a flood of new art shows and exhibitions for you, and there are some crackers coming up too. But what I’m most pleased about is that, after an expensive roster of shows this spring/summer, the exhibitions I’m most thrilled about over the next few months are, more often than not, free or with entrance less than a tenner. And, frankly, we can all be thankful for that.


I Object: Ian Hislop’s Search for Dissent, British Museum

Ian Hislop’s casual sexism has been getting on my nerves recently but, this aside, there’s a lot I’m looking forward in this new exhibition where he has selected a hundred objects that challenge the official version of events and defy established narratives. With items spanning three millennia – from ancient Mesopotamia in 1300BC to the 2016 Presidential election – this show looks to demonstrate that humans have always subverted concepts of authority. And the BM itself is included in that with Banksy’s hoax piece, Peckham Rock, returning to the Museum 13 years after being placed in one of the galleries by the anonymous graffiti-artist and lying undiscovered for three days alongside its mock information label. Opens 6 September 2018. Admission from £10.

Paula Rego Drawings from the 1980s and 1990s, Marlborough Fine Art

Paula’s powerful representation of women and their lived experiences defines her as an artist. Yet fundamental to Paula’s working practice is her need to draw. It underlies her method and remains at the core of all aspects of her work: paintings, pastels and prints. Hence this show devoted to her preparatory sketches demonstrating how essential drawing is to an understanding of her work. This exhibition spans the last three decades and comprises approximately fifty to sixty pieces, giving rare insight into her draughtsmanship and inventiveness. Opens 12 September. Admission free.

Christian Marclay: The Clock, Tate Modern

Now, this is a pretty big deal as Christian Marclay’s The Clock is a bit of a phenomenon. What is it? Well, it’s a montage of thousands of film and television clips that depict clocks or reference time. Following several years of painstaking research and production, Christian edited excerpts from over 100 years of well-known and obscure films to create an immersive visual and sonic experience. The installation is synchronised to local time wherever it is on display, transforming artificial ‘cinematic time’ into a sensation of real time and, what you think could be something quite mundane, becomes a hypnotic, even gripping, journey through cinematic history. If you’re so inclined the Tate will be staying open overnight on Saturday 6 October, Saturday 3 November and Saturday 1 December to allow the 24-hour film to be experienced in full but don’t expect to see me there for those marathon sessions! Opens 14 September. Admission free.

Loie Hollowell: Dominant/Recessive, Pace Gallery

This is the first solo exhibition in the UK by the New York-based artist, Loie Hollowell, an artist whose works I really enjoy and I hope others will too. This show will feature twelve of her new paintings and twenty-two works on paper which explore themes of sexuality, conception, and being a woman in today’s world through abstractions of the human body and evocations of sacred iconography. There’s a touch of the Georgia O’Keeffe in the way she abstracts anatomy into new representations – and it’s a touch I like. Runs to 20 September. Admission free.

Magic Realism: Art in Weimar Germany 1919-1933, Tate Modern

The term ‘magic realism’ was inherited from the artist and critic Franz Roh who invented it in 1925 to describe a shift from the anxious and emotional art of the expressionist era, towards the cold veracity and unsettling imagery of this inter-war period. In the context of growing political extremism, this new realism reflected a more liberal society as well as inner worlds of emotion and magic. The profound social and political disarray after the First World War and the collapse of the Empire largely brought about this stylistic shift, and that whirl of contradictions and conflicts – moral decadence and liberation mixed with the legacy of war and political uncertainty – is captured in the seventy works on display here. Runs to 14 July 2019. Admission free.

Courtauld Impressionists: From Manet to Cezanne, National Gallery

This Autumn, the Courtauld Gallery is closing for redevelopment but rather than wrap up its glorious Impressionist collection and put them in to storage, their works from the likes Manet, Cezanne and Toulouse-Lautrec are being lent to the National Gallery, who are bringing them together with their own immense Impressionist collection to create this exhibition that traces the development of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art. Yes, it comes quick on the heels of the National’s big Monet show, and yes, perhaps there is a question mark about why the National is taking paintings off the walls from its free-to-enter permanent collection and ringfencing them inside a show with an admission charge, but the popularity of this genre of art, it seems, never wanes. Opens 17 September. Admission £7.50.

Michael Jackson: On The Wall, National Portrait Gallery

I visited this landmark exhibition last month and it was so much more than I expected, so much more diverse in its breadth, and so much more thrilling (pun not intended) than I had hoped. For I had thought this show would be more a collection of art that had got the great man’s approval whist he was alive. You know what I mean, all that god-complex stuff that had MJ in this Christ-like position as a sufferer and a redeemer. There is a bit of that but there is also some terrific work from African-American artists who use MJ’s image and reputation as a jump-off point to explore being black in the States, and systematic and institutionalised racism in the music and art industries themselves. Runs to 21 October. Admission £15.50.

DRAG: Self-portraits and Body Politics, Hayward Gallery

How could I not include this as a must-see show, the first institutional exhibition to expand on the traditional representations of drag, involving drag queens, drag kings and bio drags from different generations and backgrounds? DRAG: Self-portraits and Body Politics is presented through the collation of distinct voices rather than a linear narrative. But I warn you, it is only a small display of one room. Nevertheless, the artists included explore key cultural shifts from the past 50 years, and through drag, they address a diverse range of topics from feminism to the AIDS crisis and post-colonial theory. There’re familiar names such as Robert Mapplethorpe and Cindy Sherman alongside newer names but a nice touch is that there will be three exhibition tours led by key figures from London’s drag scene on some Saturdays during the run. Runs to 14 October. Admission free.

Shape Shifters, Hayward Gallery

I really am happy to see the Hayward back as I’m a big fan of its contemporary art shows so here with their second entry this month is the main show focusing on sculpture. Shape Shifters will feature artworks from twenty leading international artists that alter or disrupt the visitor’s sense of space and re-orient their perception of their surroundings in ways that are subtle yet dramatic. There are some big guns included – Yayoi Kusama will be lending her renowned Narcissus Garden, a landscape of hundreds of stainless steel spheres, and Anish Kapoor is bringing his Sky Mirror, Blue – but there will be plenty others on display too to focus the attention of the viewer on the act of perception whilst transforming their experience of the Gallery’s distinctive architecture. Opens 26 September. Admission £16.50.

Anthea Hamilton: The Squash, Tate Britain

It’s changeover time at Tate Britain so September isn’t just you last chance to see the beautiful Aftermath: Art in the Wake of World War One exhibition, it’s also your last opportunity to catch the magical Anthea Hamilton performance art in the Duveen Galleries space. The concept evolved from Anthea’s interest in a photograph she found in a book several years ago of a person dressed as what looks like a vegetable lying among vines. Inspired, Anthea has brought together tiles, structures, sculptures and costume, inviting a performer to explore their own interpretation of the image and how it might feel to imagine life as other, as vegetable. The performer selects their outfit for the day from a collection of seven elaborate costumes. Each one is inspired by the original image and by different kinds of squash or pumpkin and the result is a performance more moving than you might expect. Closes 8 October. Admission free.

Supernature in Two Parts, Lisson Gallery

It’s killing me that I can’t attend this one-night-only show so please go and let me live vicariously through you. For this is an evening of durational, sonic and experiential performances taking place across both Lisson Gallery spaces. Presented by Haroon Mirza and Daria Khan, the performance artists involved include Super Taus, Gaia Fugazza, Tim Burgess and Nik Colk Void. And what brings them together? The Gallery’s collaboration with Mimosa House, an independent project space dedicated to young artists working in diverse media, with a specific focus on performance, queer, female and non-binary practitioners. Expect plenty of indirect references to current concerns, including Brexit and the UK’s relationship to Europe and the wider world. Tickets are free but strictly limited. Email . Friday 14 September only.

And One That’s Out of Town…

Lee Miller and Surrealism in Britain, Hepworth Wakefield

I’m a huge fan of Lee Miller and she remains, in my opinion, a much-underrated photographer so I’m thrilled that this show explores her central role in the inter-war Surrealist movement and the astonishingly intimate and creative networks between artists in the UK in the 1930s and 40s through Lee’s lens. Her photographs of and collaborations with Surrealists working in the UK, including Eileen Agar, Leonora Carrington, Max Ernst and René Magritte are shows alongside their own paintings and sculptures. The exhibition also looks at how Lee took her experience in Surrealism and transferred her eye and skills to the worlds of fashion and journalism, revealing and reveling in the strange and extraordinary. Runs to 7 October. Admission free.

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