Where To Find Outsider Art In London

Tabish Khan
By Tabish Khan Last edited 58 months ago
Where To Find Outsider Art In London
Per Fhager, Metal Slug 3. Image courtesy Belmacz
Per Fhager, Metal Slug 3. Image courtesy Belmacz
Susan Hiller, Channels, 2013. Installation photograph by Peter White courtesy the artist, Timothy Taylor Gallery and Matt’s Gallery, London.
Susan Hiller, Channels, 2013. Installation photograph by Peter White courtesy the artist, Timothy Taylor Gallery and Matt’s Gallery, London.
Toby Evans, B-Mart. Image courtesy Jaguar Shoes.
Toby Evans, B-Mart. Image courtesy Jaguar Shoes.
Ilya & Emilia Kabakov, The Happiest Man.
Ilya & Emilia Kabakov, The Happiest Man.
Fischli/Weiss Installation view, Rock on Top of Another Rock 2013 Serpentine Gallery, London. © Peter Fischli David Weiss Photograph: 2013 Morley von Sternberg
Fischli/Weiss Installation view, Rock on Top of Another Rock 2013 Serpentine Gallery, London. © Peter Fischli David Weiss Photograph: 2013 Morley von Sternberg

To go alongside the latest exhibition at the Wellcome Collection showcasing outsider art from Japan, we thought we'd share the best places to see other art that breaks the mould in London. Strictly speaking, outsider art refers to works created by artists with no formal training. But rather than be hamstrung by this educational criterion, we've selected the most inventive or bizarre exhibitions currently around town at the moment.

The Happiest Man @ Ambika P3
This cavernous exhibition space has been converted into a cinema that continuously plays communist propaganda films that were designed to keep the populous happy — think the most uplifting segments in The Sound of Music, but in Russian. Rather than just leave it at that, there's a room inside the cinema where you can take a seat at a kitschy dining table and watch these movies through your window, thereby becoming the 'happiest man' these films were trying to create.  We left the cinema feeling overloaded and, dare we say it, a little brainwashed. Until 21 April.

Per Fhager @ Belmacz
There's been much debate around whether video games should be considered an art form. There's also a strong crossover to street art but needlepoint and gaming don't seem to have much in common. Except, that is, in the mind of Per Fhager who has knitted screenshots of old school video games, from the start screen for Final Fantasy to an explosion heavy scene from Metal Slug 3. Until 27 April.

If you're interested in more video game art, then check out the cathartic homage to the game Shadow of Colossus by Oliver Payne at 2 Herald Street. Until 7 April.

Susan Hiller & Mike Nelson @ Matt's Gallery
These two exhibitions are in a gallery that is renowned for dodging the mainstream.  Susan Hiller has created a wall of TV screens that flit between static, a heart monitor and the recounting of near death experiences — it can be overwhelming to say the least. Mike Nelson has a touch of Duchamp about his art, making sculptures from existing objects. The creepiest is a mannequin made out of garden tools where a rake makes for a surprisingly effective head. Both on until 14 April.

Rosemarie Trockel @ Serpentine
We've reviewed this one already but it's worth another mention due to the bizarre assemblage, from a palm tree hanging off the ceiling to a stop motion movie starring insects. Until 7 April.

While you're there, you can see Fischli & Weiss' controversial Rock On Top Of Another Rock. It's exactly what the title suggests it to be. Two giant boulders on top of another — make of it what you will. Until 6 March 2014.

Pae White @ South London Gallery
Strings of yarn criss-cross the room, making for an encapsulating and mysterious experience as you wander along the length of the installation and the words on the wall become clearer, the deeper in you go. Until 12 May.

Eddie Peake @ White Cube Bermondsey
Chuck Close's adjacent exhibition may be getting all the media attention but it's not for want of trying on Eddie Peake's part. After all, his performance piece includes a man roller skating around in a skin-tight transparent onesie, and he's not wearing anything underneath — you have been warned. Until 21 April.

B-Mart @ Jaguar Shoes
This trendy Shoreditch bar usually has some interesting art on display and right now it doesn't disappoint with a fully stocked supermarket with items all bearing the name of one brand, taking a swipe at marketing and consumer culture. A previous exhibition involved transforming the walls and ceiling of the bar so that it resembled a beehive. Until 7 April.

Bernadette Corporation @ Institute of Contemporary Arts
If non-mainstream art has a home in London, then the ICA would be it. It's a gallery that gets a lot of traffic but is always looking for challenging art, and this latest exhibition is no different. The Bernadette Corporation is a collective of artists cum fashion designers cum book publishers cum anarchists.

If that sounds confusing, it's nothing compared to their history. They started off parodying the fashion industry before becoming a successful fashion label in their own right, but then they railed against globalisation while making fun of those who glamorise anarchic behaviour. They've flitted between creative industries often at a whim resulting in some surprisingly effective works.

This should give you a flavour of the edgier art exhibitions London has to offer at the moment, but if you know of any others, let us know by adding them into the comments below.

Last Updated 02 April 2013

C

I'm going to visit these places, thanks!

Rosie J

"we’ve selected the most inventive or bizarre exhibitions currently around town at the moment." This isn't outsider art. Yes the definition is tricky, but co-opting the term to describe any work which looks a bit inventive and bizarre is unhelpful and adds nothing to the debate.