London art exhibitions 2022: an ongoing guide to the must-see shows
If the last two years have taught us anything, it’s that nothing beats an in-person art encounter. And whittling down your London art exhibitions to-see list is rarely easy, even in the quieter months on the art calendar. But we’ve saved you the trouble with an ongoing guide to the art must-sees, in London and around the UK.
London art exhibitions
Ahren Warner: ‘we have a space for your every mood’
Until 13 August 2022
For his first ever solo show, multidisciplinary artist Ahren Warner is presenting two bodies of work at TJ Boulting. The first, like you’ve never lived before (2021) is a film created during the UK’s third Covid lockdown. Warner moved into a twenty-story Canary Wharf tower home to 600 ‘young professionals’ who occupy small aparthotel studios. This ‘total living solution’ was designed to remove any need to leave. Warner’s show also features a series of photographs and text-works, renew the wasteful force you spend with each hot convulsion (2022), from an ongoing series focusing on party resorts, hostels and events across the world, particularly in ‘hedonistic’ tourist hotspots that question ideas of freedom, masculinity and authenticity.
Robbie Lawrence, ‘Northern Diary’
Until 26 August 2022
Through Robbie Lawrence’s ‘Northern Diary’, now on show at London’s Webber Gallery following a successful showing at Stills, Edinburgh, a heartfelt story is told of life in Scotland in recent post-Brexit years. Across cities, the countryside and the coast, the Scottish photographer conveys a humanist connection to everyday life and landscape. While Lawrence’s signature rich tones contrast with the intense social and political environments the work draws from. Photographs from A Voice Above The Linn are included, Lawerence’s moving series on botanist and climate activist Jim Taggart.
Selfridges x Reference Studios: ‘Superfutures’
Until 16 October
Available to view online and in-store, this immersive collation of works from 13 artists will be displayed throughout Selfridges over the summer. The show, curated by Reference Festival and Agnes Gryczkowska, speculates on prospective futures and features contributions from Katja Novitskova, who considers the relationship between technology, biology and ecology, and Jakob Kudsk Steensen, whose Liminal Lands is a digital reconstruction of a landscape in southern France. A specially commissioned work by Monira Al Qadiri aligns sculptures made from Murano glass with inflatables to reflect on the impact of oil drilling. The show cleverly integrates an exhibition that reflects on our role in the planet’s future into the retail environment of Selfridges – beckoning us to question our intent, and encouraging shoppers to be wiser about the brands they choose to support.
Marc Newson Gagosian Shop Takeover
Gagosian Shop, Burlington Arcade
Until 10 September
London’s Gagosian shop, located in Burlington Arcade, will host a takeover by artist and industrial designer Marc Newson. The shop will feature Newson’s furniture series ‘Cloisonné’, which pushes the boundaries of the elaborate art of Chinese enamel, also featuring pieces of glass in various elegant forms. The takeover coincides with the designer’s recently published catalogue, which documents his manufacturing process, detailing glass rods being heated, fused together and dissected to expose exquisitely patterned cross-sections. Notable inclusions will be Newson’s ‘Magnolia’ chair (2019) and a cast glass chair from his ‘Murrina’ series. Additionally, personalised iPhone cases from Newson’s collection with cult brand Chaos will be available, along with a series of dresses by long-time collaborator, fashion house Alaïa.
‘A Thing For The Mind’
Until 19 August 2022
Titled ‘A Thing For The Mind’, Timothy Taylor’s summer exhibition features the work of 12 contemporary artists, each inspired by the work of Philip Guston. At a glance, Guston’s depiction of domestic objects, body parts and somewhat abstract cityscapes seems humorous and superficial, but these politically-charged, often-incisive works paint vivid pictures of the darker corners of American identity, and the artist’s own fears and anxieties. Guston’s work reshaped what was possible for the artists that followed, making way for a show of surreal distortions of the everyday, while upholding his philosophy of creating paintings that are ‘a thing for the mind.’
180 The Strand
Until 28 August 2022
Set in London’s most striking subterranean creative hub, ‘Future Shock’ promises a fusion of physical and virtual worlds through the works of 14 leading international artists. From holographic projections to interactive algorithms, these pieces acutely epitomise the apex of sound and vision in an increasingly digitised world. Caterina Barbieri’s Vigil creates an immersive and mesmerising transportive portal, inducing feelings of contemplation and ecstasy through perception and memory. Elsewhere, prepare to have your sensory perceptions challenged by Nonak, a collaboration between illustrator Noemi Schipfer and musician Takami Nakamoto whose art installation comes alive with the aid of electronic music and strobe lighting.
Museum of the Home
Until end of August 2022
Commissioned by Amy Foulds and Museum of the Home, Theo Deproost’s striking project aims to dust off and bring life to a variety of museum-held stored collections. His use of highly complex technical processes allows us to see the varied photographed objects with a new set of eyes and adhered attention to detail. His use of dramatic lighting, vividly coloured backgrounds and scale distortion allow the viewer to have a newfound perception of any certain mundane object, whether that be a chisel or a boot. Staged within an exhibition design by Brown Office, Deproost’s aim is for us to appreciate an object’s beauty or strangeness by analysing its shape, texture and colour, essentially making us ‘alert to the richness of the things that surround us’ (Dr. Paul Harper). Limited edition prints of Theo Deproost’s photographs for ‘Re: Collect’ are exclusively available to buy through Museum of the Home’s online store.
Damien Hirst ‘Natural History’
Gagosian, Britannia Street
‘Natural History’, spanning 30 years of Hirst’s greatest hits in formaldehyde-preserved animals, is prime-cut Hirst: unflinching and notorious. Through saggy-eyed sharks, bowel-like sausages, flayed innards, six-limbed cows, miscellaneous fish, upside-down sheep and Hunterian Museum-esque jarred organs and the most startling diorama of all: The Beheading of John the Baptist (2006), the show is a reminder of why the YBA icon pricked our ears up in the first place. With simultaneous surveys by Hirst, Francis Bacon and Louise Bourgeois, London’s air is pulsating with pungent, visceral animalism, and it’s stifling. Like it or loathe it, flayed, deformed, dissected, crucified bodies (or parts of them) seem to be de rigueur-(mortis), and Hirst’s show plays a leading role. Maybe what we need is a bit of realism to feel alive, even if it is dead, and marinating in a tank. Read the full review
Anton Alvarez, ‘The Remnants’
Until March 2023
Art exhibitions in the heart of London’s corporate ‘square mile’ are rare. Rarer still are those where you can see the work being created in real-time, in full public view. At 100 Bishopsgate, Swedish-Chilean artist Anton Alvarez is presenting the fruits of a month-long studio pop-up, commissioned by Brookfield Properties. Alvarez’s vibrant clay columns debuted a new technique of grinding down old sculptures and reusing the clay, and were produced using the artist’s self-built ceramic press, ‘The Extruder’. ‘Producing the exhibition in the same place it will be shown gave me greater artistic licence – by creating the works on-site I was able to go up in scale and create works that would have been impossible to transport had they been extruded somewhere else’, he says.
Rana Begum: ‘Dappled Light’
Until September 2022
At Pitzhanger Manor, artist Rana Begum’s captivating solo show is a theatrical dialogue between the artist’s colour-drenched installations and the iconic architecture of Sir John Soane. Staged both indoors and outdoors, ‘Dappled Light’ is a lesson in how art can toy with light, form and colour. Over on London City Island, Begum has installed ‘Catching Colour’, a vibrant, cloudlike public installation for The Line.
Yayoi Kusama: ‘Infinity Mirror Rooms’
Until 30 September 2022
On the post-lockdown London art scene, there seems to be a recurring theme: immersion. These include Ryoji Ikeda’s sensory ambush at 180 The Strand, and Es Devlin’s recent Forest for Change at Somerset House for London Design Biennale. But Tate Modern is hosting the piece of work that arguably redefined the role of immersion in contemporary art: Yayoi Kusama’s ‘Infinity Mirror Rooms’. The year-long show will comprise two of the artist’s acclaimed mirror room installations in a dizzying marriage of mirrors, light and water, which offers the illusion of limitless space. Also on view is The Universe as Seen from the Stairway to Heaven, 2021, Kusama’s brand new ’peep in’ sculpture, which has been created specifically for the show. At 92, Kusama remains a prolific force: the artist currently has simultaneous shows at Victoria Miro, London, the New York Botanical Garden, and a major retrospective at Gropius Bau in Berlin. She has also recently collaborated with brands such as Veuve Clicquot, which involved a striking sculptural intervention on the French Champagne house’s premium cuvée, La Grande Dame.
Curated by Larry Ossei-Mensah: ‘Ghosts of Empires II’
Ben Brown Fine Arts London
15 September - 22 October
The second of a two-part exhibition (the first having been held at Ben Brown Fine Arts Hong Kong earlier this year) ‘Ghosts of Empires II’ looks to present how artists from African and Asian diasporas explore the legacies of colonialism, imperialism trade, slavery and sovereignty in contemporary culture. In curating the show Larry Ossei-Mensah has brought together an array of 13 artists, related in their experience of the lingering impacts of oppression. The show features influential artists Theaster Gates and Chris Ofili amongst other key painters, photographers, sculptors and mixed media creators - all coming together in a ‘conscious act of liberation.’
Art exhibitions around the UK...
White Cube at Arley Hall
Until 29 August 2022
White Cube presents their first-ever outdoor sculpture exhibition, combining works from a range of twenty artists, from Tracey Emin to Isamu Noguchi. Set in a stately home in Cheshire, its Jacobean architecture and picturesque landscapes provide the perfect backdrop for this staggering display of contemporary sculpture. These include the work of late artist Takis, whose 4.5m kinetic sculpture Aeolian towers over a field of wildflowers. A pair of rotating hemispheres situated at the top of his work appears to protrude our vision of the idyllic scenery with a modern reminder of radars and technology. White Cube also transports Tracey Emin’s Surrounded by You from Château La Coste to Arley Hall, which offers a typically sensual addition to the exhibition landscape.
‘Robert Indiana: Sculpture 1958-2018’
Yorkshire Sculpture Park
Until 8 January 2023
Late sculptor Robert Indiana was long concerned with the American dream and all it stood for in times of political and social change. His renowned LOVE sculpture (1964) – still as contemporary as ever – welcomes YSP’s guests at the entrance of his exhibition, nodding to the underlying themes of equity and diversity in Indiana’s work. His claim that ‘numbers fill [his] life’, ‘more than love’, proves itself with his brightly coloured ONE through ZERO sculpture, additionally manifesting the repeated use of words and numbers throughout. These ten numbers additionally refer to the cyclical human stages of birth, death, and everything in between.
‘(Of) Bath, MMXXII’
Francis Gallery, Bath
Until 10 September
Contemplating the concept of home, Francis Gallery founder Rosa Park commissioned her friends, the photographer Rich Stapleton, and Hannah Plumb and James Russell of JamesPlumb for an exhibition that takes its lead from the city of Bath. The show is curated by creative director Elliott Smedley, Christopher Bailey’s former right hand at Burberry, who began his career working as a stylist for The Face, L’Uomo Vogue and Vogue Italia. Stapleton lived in Bath for a decade before relocating to LA. Smedley places his single edition photographs of the city, taken during his time living there, in accord with JamesPlumb’s new artworks, which take the form of 20 wall-hanging pieces and two sculptures, which also function as benches or tables, all formed primarily of Bath stone. To create the works that will be staged in Francis Gallery’s Grade II-listed Georgian townhouse, Plumb and Russell explored a local stone mason yard, sourcing patinated stone often reclaimed from deconstructed houses, with a process that they call ‘interviewing’ the stone. ‘We began with an intuitive stacking and unstacking, and started to discover abstract images that we then couldn’t unsee, and so we began carefully recording what we found,’ says Plumb, who says the work of Mark Rothko and Barnett Newman were an inspiration. ‘We were particularly drawn to groups of stone that had imagery across the multiples – diptychs and triptychs hidden within the stacks. The stones became very precious to us, and we worked closely with the stonemasons to bisect the stones and retain the faces,’ Russell adds. Some of the patina was quite fragile so each stone then underwent a very careful stabilisation with the aim of preserving the markings for the future.’
Sheila Hicks: ‘Off Grid’
The Hepworth Wakefield
Until 25 September 2022
American Fiber art icon Sheila Hicks’ much-anticipated show at The Hepworth Wakefield is a career-spanning celebration of voluminous form and vibrant colour. ‘Off Grid’ traces Hicks’ prolific output, from the 1950s to new site-specific commissions, spanning intimate woven images to towering installations. At 87, Hicks remains famously adamant about looking forwards and even now, her sculptural works are adapted for the space. Read Jessica Klingelfuss’ full review of the show.