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Art Guide

London art galleries, exhibitions, news and editorial.

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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.

More than a Pit Stop for Mega Art Collectors

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.

East London Art Scene and more

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.

In the last couple of years, a handful of new art organisations have also popped up around London offering first-of-their-kind collaborative art exhibition spaces and curated programmes to facilitate galleries and artists moving away from permanent bricks-and-mortar premises. Established in 2018 as a space for nurturing emerging and underrepresented artists, V.O Curations opened their second space in Mayfair in 2021, complimenting their successful East London spot. While a stone's throw from South Kensington's Victoria & Albert Museum, the newly established Cromwell Place is host to temporary studio and art exhibition space for member galleries including Lehmann Maupin and Alexander Gray Associates, to name a few.

CONDO in London

For those in London from January through February, the international gallery exchange CONDO—where host London 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); greengrassi and The Sunday Painter (both in South London).

The Serpentine Gallery and Pavilion

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.

London's Art Museums and Institutions

An experience of London's art world would be incomplete without a trip to London's 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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Ocula Member Galleries In London

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Almine Rech contemporary art gallery in London, United Kingdom
Almine Rech Aspen, Brussels, London, New York, Paris +1
Cadogan contemporary art gallery in London, United Kingdom
Cadogan London
Cardi Gallery contemporary art gallery in London, United Kingdom
Cardi Gallery London, Milan
David Zwirner contemporary art gallery in London, United Kingdom
David Zwirner Hong Kong, London, New York, Paris
Gagosian contemporary art gallery in Grosvenor Hill, London, United Kingdom
Gagosian Athens, Basel, Beverly Hills, Geneva, Gstaad +6
Gagosian contemporary art gallery in Britannia Street, London, United Kingdom
Gagosian Athens, Basel, Beverly Hills, Geneva, Gstaad +6
Gagosian contemporary art gallery in Davies Street, London, United Kingdom
Gagosian Athens, Basel, Beverly Hills, Geneva, Gstaad +6
Galerie Max Hetzler contemporary art gallery in London, United Kingdom
Galerie Max Hetzler Berlin, London, Marfa, Paris
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 Cape Town, East Hampton, Johannesburg, London
Hauser & Wirth contemporary art gallery in London, United Kingdom
Hauser & Wirth Gstaad, Hong Kong, London, Los Angeles, Menorca +6
HdM GALLERY contemporary art gallery in London, United Kingdom
HdM GALLERY Beijing, Hangzhou, London
Lehmann Maupin contemporary art gallery in London, United Kingdom
Lehmann Maupin Hong Kong, London, New York, Seoul
LGDR contemporary art gallery in London, United Kingdom
LGDR Hong Kong, London, New York, Paris
Lisson Gallery contemporary art gallery in Cork Street, London, United Kingdom
Lisson Gallery East Hampton, London, New York, Shanghai
Lisson Gallery contemporary art gallery in Lisson Street, London, United Kingdom
Lisson Gallery East Hampton, London, New York, Shanghai
Lisson Gallery contemporary art gallery in Bell Street, London, United Kingdom
Lisson Gallery East Hampton, London, New York, Shanghai
Maddox Gallery contemporary art gallery in Maddox Street, London, United Kingdom
Maddox Gallery Gstaad, London, Los Angeles
Maddox Gallery contemporary art gallery in Westbourne Grove, London, United Kingdom
Maddox Gallery Gstaad, London, Los Angeles
Maddox Gallery contemporary art gallery in Shepherd Market, London, United Kingdom
Maddox Gallery Gstaad, London, Los Angeles
MAMOTH contemporary art gallery in London, United Kingdom
MAMOTH London
Marian Goodman Gallery contemporary art gallery in London, United Kingdom
Marian Goodman Gallery London, New York, Paris
Maureen Paley contemporary art gallery in London, United Kingdom
Maureen Paley Hove, London
Maureen Paley contemporary art gallery in Studio M, London, United Kingdom
Maureen Paley Hove, London
Mazzoleni contemporary art gallery in London, United Kingdom
Mazzoleni London, Turin
Pace Gallery contemporary art gallery in London, United Kingdom
Pace Gallery East Hampton, Geneva, Hong Kong, London, Los Angeles +4
Paragon contemporary art gallery in London, United Kingdom
Paragon London
Pi Artworks contemporary art gallery in London, United Kingdom
Pi Artworks Istanbul, London
Robilant+Voena contemporary art gallery in London, United Kingdom
Robilant+Voena London, Milan, New York, Paris
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, New York
Tabula Rasa Gallery contemporary art gallery in London, United Kingdom
Tabula Rasa Gallery Beijing, London
Unit London contemporary art gallery in London, United Kingdom
Unit London London
Victoria Miro contemporary art gallery in Wharf Road, London, United Kingdom
Victoria Miro London, New York, Venice
Victoria Miro contemporary art gallery in Mayfair, London, United Kingdom
Victoria Miro London, New York, Venice
White Cube contemporary art gallery in Bermondsey, London, United Kingdom
White Cube Hong Kong, London, New York, Paris, West Palm Beach
White Cube contemporary art gallery in Mason's Yard, London, United Kingdom
White Cube Hong Kong, London, New York, Paris, West Palm Beach
WORKPLACE contemporary art gallery in London, United Kingdom
WORKPLACE London

Contemporary Institutions In London

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Recent Events In London

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12–16 October Frieze London 2022
13–17 October Frieze London 2021
13–17 October Frieze Masters 2021