Guildhall Art Gallery Celebrates Black British Art

Tabish Khan
By Tabish Khan Last edited 33 months ago
Guildhall Art Gallery Celebrates Black British Art ★★★☆☆ 3
This work by Chila Kumari Burman is one of the most striking on display.
This work by Chila Kumari Burman is one of the most striking on display.
Denzil Forrester's bright large scale paintings were among our highlights. Copyright the artist.
Denzil Forrester's bright large scale paintings were among our highlights. Copyright the artist.
A powerful political work rallying against apartheid. Image courtesy of Museums Sheffield.
A powerful political work rallying against apartheid. Image courtesy of Museums Sheffield.
A sculpture of a Nigerian woman shopping.
A sculpture of a Nigerian woman shopping.
Photograph of a bookshop after a racist attack. Courtesy London Metropolitan Archives.
Photograph of a bookshop after a racist attack. Courtesy London Metropolitan Archives.

Londonist Rating:

★★★☆☆

What makes London's cultural scene so diverse is the various influences that arrive here via immigration, so it's good to see this new exhibition at the Guildhall Art Gallery celebrating art created by the black community.

The focal point of the show is the story of Jessica and Eric Huntley who arrived from the Caribbean to set up a bookshop in West London. The shop has been re-created in the gallery and visitors will also be able to explore book covers and interactive installations.

The most eye-catching aspects on show are the artworks up on the wall, yet they are also the most inconsistent in quality, ranging from the excellent to the merely ordinary. We love the colourful paintings by Denzil Forrester, plus a vibrant depiction of dancing at Reading town hall — though many of the other works are not at the same level. As would be expected there are plenty of politically charged works here covering racism experienced in Britain, the US and referencing apartheid in South Africa.

It's not made clear that some of the exhibition is displayed within the gallery's excellent permanent collection so visitors should explore these areas too. One piece of placement we love involves the busts of symbolic African women by Fowokan George Kelly facing off against the more traditional bust of Edward VII.

There are some great works on show here and Guildhall Art Gallery with it's fantastic collection of British painting is the perfect setting for this inconsistent yet culturally important exhibition.

No Colour Bar: Black British Art in Action 1960-1990 is on at Guildhall Art Gallery until 24 January 2016. Entrance is free. Nearby is this year's selection of Sculpture in the City, the excellent mini-festival that is Station to Station at Barbican.

This exhibition is one of our top openings for July. Others include a so-so Hepburn exhibition, the weird and wonderful Joseph Cornell and the ambitious but ultimately disappointing Soundscapes.

Last Updated 03 October 2015