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Art Guide

Contemporary art exhibitions, news and editorial from London.

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City Guide: London and its Contemporary Art Spaces and Exhibitions

London's most anticipated commercial art event is, arguably, the annual Frieze Art Fair. Featuring curated sections, talks programmes, and more than 160 of the world's most outstanding galleries, the week-long fair in October is the Frieze brand's prized flagship, even with editions in New York and Los Angeles. Over at Somerset House, 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair takes place over five days. Recent editions have included a series of special projects, a forum, and a talks programme.

But, of course, London is more than a pit stop for mega-collectors and star curators: it is home to countless artist-run initiatives and not-for-profits that have long formed the beating heart of the city's arts ecology. In South London, 198 Contemporary Arts & Learning focuses on supporting BAMER (Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic, and Refugee) artists and curators in breaking through the art-world's racial and socio-economic barriers. For over 30 years, their aim has been to foster sustainability and an enduring sense of community. Turf Projects, the first contemporary art space run by artists in Croydon, has a similarly communal ethos behind its dynamic programme of exhibitions and public events. Founded in 2013 and located in two former retail units, Turf showcases the work of emerging and established, as well as local and international, artists.

Meanwhile, the itinerant b.Dewitt Gallery—a self-described 'entry point to the international art scene for U.K. based artists'—combines the responsiveness of an artist-run initiative with the ambition of a bricks and mortar gallery. In Islington, Cubitt fosters critical, peer-led activity including a locally-focused art education programme, while South London Gallery's collection and history, dating as far back as the 19th century, has proved no impediment to staying as relevant as its non-collecting counterparts.

In East London, Chisenhale Gallery has made its name over the years as a bellwether of contemporary art, commissioning new works by the likes of Rosalind Nashashibi, Ed Atkins, Amalia Pica, Park McArthur, and Hannah Black, during the formative stages of their careers. Similarly, Gasworks in Vauxhall is best-known for its solo exhibitions and public events—but its residency and studio programmes are just as worthy of acclaim. A half-hour away from Gasworks, you can experience Auto Italia's commissioned collaborations with emerging artists, many of whom go on to exhibit all over Europe. And across the city, in northwest London's Waterlow Park, LUX—Europe's largest distributor of artists' film and video—showcases the best in moving-image, including the work of several Turner Prize winners and nominees. Check out their latest offering before strolling through Waterlow Park en route to the nearby Highgate cemetery, where you will find the tombs of Karl Marx, George Eliot, and Malcolm McLaren.

For those in London from January through February, the international gallery exchange CONDO—where host galleries share their spaces with visiting galleries—brings together some of the world's most talked about artists. Founded in 2016 by Vanessa Carlos of Carlos/Ishikawa in Whitechapel, whose own roster of artists includes art stars Oscar Murillo and Korakrit Arunanondchai, CONDO has expanded to include Mexico City, New York, Shanghai, Athens, and São Paolo. Its list of participants—all worth visiting at any time of the year—reads like a veritable roll call of London's most exciting small- to mid-scale private galleries: Southard Reid, Arcadia Missa, Rodeo, Pilar Corrias (all in West London); Project Native Informant, Hollybush Gardens, Kate MacGarry, Emalin, Union Pacific, Modern Art, The Approach, Maureen Paley (all in East London); Green Grassi and The Sunday Painter (both in South London).

The annual Serpentine pavilion commission is possibly the trademark London art event, for which the gallery invites renowned architects to design temporary structures in Hyde Park. With collaborators like Herzog de Meuron, Zaha Hadid, Rem Koolhaas, and SANAA, it is no surprise that the pavilion attracts as much international attention.

London's larger galleries and museums exert their own force with a revolving programme that ranges from early career to blue-chip. Head to The Photographers' Gallery to see the best in lens-based art, the Royal Academy for its crowd-pleasing exhibitions and annual summer show, or stop by The Barbican and experience the surrounding brutalist complex that is one of London's great architectural marvels. At Southbank Centre's Hayward Gallery, give yourself several hours to see one of its large-scale exhibitions before heading to the Institute of Contemporary Art, which has recently emerged as London's home of cutting edge film programming.

An experience of London's art world would be incomplete without a trip to Tate Britain or, the most popular modern art museum in the world, Tate Modern. For smaller crowds but no less stimulating shows, visit Camden Arts Centre, Serpentine Gallery, Whitechapel Gallery, or the recently inaugurated Goldsmiths Centre for Contemporary Art (designed by Turner Prize-winning architects, Assemble). Finish with a trip to see the National Portrait Gallery's storied collection and Victoria & Albert Museum—home of epoch-making blockbusters such as Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty and David Bowie Is.

Image: London street scene. Photo: Pedro Szekely (CC BY-SA 2.0).

Featured Current Exhibitions In London

London In Ocula Magazine

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Current Exhibitions In London

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Contemporary art exhibition, Sam McKinniss, Country Western at Almine Rech, London
15 April–22 May 2021 Sam McKinniss Country Western Almine RechLondon
Contemporary art exhibition, Frank Walter, Frank Walter at David Zwirner, London
15 April–22 May 2021 Frank Walter David ZwirnerLondon
Contemporary art exhibition, Luc Tuymans, Monkey Business at David Zwirner, London
15 April–22 May 2021 Luc Tuymans Monkey Business David ZwirnerLondon
Contemporary art exhibition, Matt Stokes, This Liberty at WORKPLACE, London
15 April–28 May 2021 Matt Stokes This Liberty WORKPLACELondon
Contemporary art exhibition, Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Lawrence Abu Hamdan at Maureen Paley, London
14 April–9 May 2021 Lawrence Abu Hamdan Maureen PaleyLondon
Contemporary art exhibition, Robin Rhode, The Backyard is My World at Lehmann Maupin, London
14 April–6 June 2021 Robin Rhode The Backyard is My World Lehmann MaupinLondon

Ocula Member Galleries In London

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Almine Rech contemporary art gallery in London, United Kingdom Almine Rech Aspen, Paris, Brussels, London, New York, Shanghai
Campoli Presti contemporary art gallery in London, United Kingdom Campoli Presti London, Paris
Cardi Gallery contemporary art gallery in London, United Kingdom Cardi Gallery London, Milan
David Zwirner contemporary art gallery in London, United Kingdom David Zwirner New York, London, Paris, Hong Kong
Gagosian contemporary art gallery in Grosvenor Hill, London, United Kingdom Gagosian New York, Athens, Beverly Hills, London, Paris, Le Bourget, Geneva, Basel, Rome, Hong Kong
Gagosian contemporary art gallery in Britannia Street, London, United Kingdom Gagosian New York, Athens, Beverly Hills, London, Paris, Le Bourget, Geneva, Basel, Rome, Hong Kong
Gagosian contemporary art gallery in Davies Street, London, United Kingdom Gagosian New York, Athens, Beverly Hills, London, Paris, Le Bourget, Geneva, Basel, Rome, Hong Kong
Gazelli Art House contemporary art gallery in London, United Kingdom Gazelli Art House Baku, London
Goodman Gallery contemporary art gallery in London, United Kingdom Goodman Gallery Johannesburg, Cape Town, London
Hauser & Wirth contemporary art gallery in London, United Kingdom Hauser & Wirth New York, Hong Kong, Zurich, London, Los Angeles, Somerset, Gstaad, St. Moritz
HdM GALLERY contemporary art gallery in London, United Kingdom HdM GALLERY London, Hangzhou, Beijing
Kate MacGarry contemporary art gallery in London, United Kingdom Kate MacGarry London
KÖNIG GALERIE contemporary art gallery in London, United Kingdom KÖNIG GALERIE Berlin, London, Seoul
Lehmann Maupin contemporary art gallery in London, United Kingdom Lehmann Maupin New York, Hong Kong, London, Seoul
Lévy Gorvy contemporary art gallery in London, United Kingdom Lévy Gorvy New York, Palm Beach, London, Hong Kong, Paris
Lisson Gallery contemporary art gallery in Lisson Street, London, United Kingdom Lisson Gallery London, East Hampton, New York, Shanghai
Lisson Gallery contemporary art gallery in Bell Street, London, United Kingdom Lisson Gallery London, East Hampton, New York, Shanghai
Lisson Gallery contemporary art gallery in Cork Street, London, United Kingdom Lisson Gallery London, East Hampton, New York, Shanghai
Maddox Gallery contemporary art gallery in Maddox Street, London, United Kingdom Maddox Gallery Gstaad, Los Angeles, London
Maddox Gallery contemporary art gallery in Westbourne Grove, London, United Kingdom Maddox Gallery Gstaad, Los Angeles, London
Maddox Gallery contemporary art gallery in Shepherd Market, London, United Kingdom Maddox Gallery Gstaad, Los Angeles, London
Marian Goodman Gallery contemporary art gallery in London, United Kingdom Marian Goodman Gallery New York, Paris, London
Maureen Paley contemporary art gallery in London, United Kingdom Maureen Paley London, Hove
Mazzoleni contemporary art gallery in London, United Kingdom Mazzoleni London, Turin
Pace Gallery contemporary art gallery in London, United Kingdom Pace Gallery Seoul, New York, London, Geneva, Palo Alto, Hong Kong, Beijing
Paragon contemporary art gallery in London, United Kingdom Paragon London
Pilar Corrias contemporary art gallery in London, United Kingdom Pilar Corrias London
Robilant+Voena contemporary art gallery in London, United Kingdom Robilant+Voena London, Paris, New York, Milan
rosenfeld contemporary art gallery in London, United Kingdom rosenfeld London
Simon Lee Gallery contemporary art gallery in London, United Kingdom Simon Lee Gallery Hong Kong, London
Sprüth Magers contemporary art gallery in London, United Kingdom Sprüth Magers Berlin, London, Los Angeles
Victoria Miro contemporary art gallery in Mayfair, London, United Kingdom Victoria Miro London, Venice
Victoria Miro contemporary art gallery in Wharf Road, London, United Kingdom Victoria Miro London, Venice
WORKPLACE contemporary art gallery in London, United Kingdom WORKPLACE Gateshead, London

Contemporary Institutions In London

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Recent Events In London

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Contemporary art exhibition, Art Basel OVR: Pioneers at Ocula Advisory, London
24–27 March 2021 Art Basel OVR: Pioneers
Contemporary art exhibition, Art Basel OVR:20c at Ocula Advisory, London
28–31 October 2020 Art Basel OVR:20c

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