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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

Current Exhibition | London
25 January–27 February 2021
Liv Fontaine

Liv FONTAINE: HURT AGONY PAIN LOVE IT

Richard Saltoun Gallery View Exhibition
Liv Fontaine, A Gloomy Masturbation and A Fucking Long Year (2020). Pen and pencil on paper. 21 x 29.7 cm. © Liv Fontaine. Courtesy the artist and Richard Saltoun Gallery.
Liv FONTAINE: HURT AGONY PAIN LOVE IT
Current Exhibition | London
21 January–26 February 2021
Matt Stokes

This Liberty

WORKPLACE View Exhibition
Courtesy WORKPLACE, London. 
This Liberty
Current Exhibition | London
20 January–27 March 2021
Jonathan Monk

Not Me, Me

Lisson Gallery View Exhibition
Jonathan Monk, Exhibit Model Detail with Additional Information IX (2020). Inkjet print on aludibond in grey shadowbox frame with objects. 138.6 x 182.8 x 10 cm. Courtesy Lisson Gallery.
Not Me, Me
Current Exhibition | London
15 January–8 April 2021
Enrico Castellani

Castellani | Sculpture

Lévy Gorvy View Exhibition
Enrico Castellani, Superficie argento (2006). Enamel with pulverised aluminium on cast aluminium. 174.5 x 174.5 cm. Edition of 4 (2 white, 2 silver). © Enrico Castellani / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / SIAE, Rome. Photo: Stephen White & Co.
Castellani | Sculpture
Current Exhibition | London
13 January–20 February 2021
Group Exhibition

Different strokes Curated by Marcus Jahmal

Almine Rech View Exhibition
Different strokes Curated by Marcus Jahmal
Current Exhibition | London
11 January–13 February 2021
Group Exhibition

On Hannah Arendt: The Modern Age

Richard Saltoun Gallery View Exhibition
Vivienne Koorland 
TEREZIN PAINTING: Josef (1991
). Oil on linen set into wood mantel
. 139.7 x 152.4 x 20.3 cm.
On Hannah Arendt: The Modern Age

London In Ocula Magazine

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Current Exhibitions In London

View All Exhibitions (724)
Contemporary art exhibition, Liv Fontaine, Liv FONTAINE: HURT AGONY PAIN LOVE IT at Richard Saltoun Gallery, London
25 January–27 February 2021 Liv Fontaine Liv FONTAINE: HURT AGONY PAIN LOVE IT Richard Saltoun GalleryLondon
Contemporary art exhibition, Matt Stokes, This Liberty at WORKPLACE, London
21 January–26 February 2021 Matt Stokes This Liberty WORKPLACELondon
Contemporary art exhibition, Jonathan Monk, Not Me, Me at Lisson Gallery, Cork Street, London
20 January–27 March 2021 Jonathan Monk Not Me, Me Lisson GalleryCork Street, London
Contemporary art exhibition, Enrico Castellani, Castellani | Sculpture at Lévy Gorvy, London
15 January–8 April 2021 Enrico Castellani Castellani | Sculpture Lévy GorvyLondon
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Different strokes Curated by Marcus Jahmal at Almine Rech, London
13 January–20 February 2021 Group Exhibition Different strokes Curated by Marcus Jahmal Almine RechLondon
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, On Hannah Arendt: The Modern Age at Richard Saltoun Gallery, London
11 January–13 February 2021 Group Exhibition On Hannah Arendt: The Modern Age Richard Saltoun GalleryLondon

Ocula Member Galleries In London

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Almine Rech contemporary art gallery in London, United Kingdom Almine Rech 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 Hong Kong, Zurich, London, New York, 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
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, London, Hong Kong, Paris, Zurich
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
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 New York, London, Geneva, Palo Alto, Hong Kong, Seoul, Beijing
Paragon contemporary art gallery in London, United Kingdom Paragon London
Pilar Corrias contemporary art gallery in London, United Kingdom Pilar Corrias London
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
Timothy Taylor contemporary art gallery in London, United Kingdom Timothy Taylor London, New York
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:20c at Ocula Advisory, London
28–31 October 2020 Art Basel OVR:20c
Contemporary art exhibition, Art Basel Online at Ocula Advisory, London
19–26 June 2020 Art Basel Online

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