This Month's Must-See (And Must-Avoid) Art

Tabish Khan
By Tabish Khan Last edited 18 months ago

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This Month's Must-See (And Must-Avoid) Art

Which of London's most talked-about exhibitions live up to the hype? We've been to see them all so you know which ones are actually worth a visit.

The contentious issue of oil sponsorship of art is tackled head on by Zevs. Image copyright the artist and Lazarides

Zevs: The Big Oil Splash at Lazarides
David Hockney's Bigger Splash painting has been co-opted to become a swimming pool with an oil slick. It's an obvious commentary on big oil sponsorship of art. but it's a strange choice to pick on Hockney. Ultraviolet art lit up with an operating sun bed can only be viewed while wearing sunglasses, and a hot tub is filled with crude oil. The political views in the works may be very obvious, but it's a fun exhibition nonetheless. Until 1 September, free.

Londonist Rating: ★★★☆☆

The Neo Naturists at Studio Voltaire
Nudity assaults us both visually and aurally as we enter this cacophonous space. Lots of video content attempts to capture the spirit of the Neo Naturist movement from the 1970s and 1980s, but the movement was so loosely defined that this archival exhibition was always going to struggle to present a coherent narrative. It's an interesting aside in art history, but nothing more than that. Until 28 August, free.

Londonist Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Across the Divide at Rosenfeld Porcini
The traditional summer show at a commercial gallery is usually a mix of their artists with no clear theme and can often be quite tedious. This exhibition, however, is a breath of fresh air; the gallery has chosen works that are largely black and white, which makes for a subtle and coherent show. Until 24 September, free.

Londonist Rating: ★★★★☆

William Eggleston was a pioneer but his works look dated today. Copyright: Eggleston Artistic Trust

William Eggleston: Portraits at National Portrait Gallery
Eggleston was a pioneer of colour photography and his portraits here sit uneasily between appearing posed and yet somehow natural. These are subtle works and the images of unknowns are the strongest here — most of the celebrity photographs feel unnecessary. Eggleston may have been a pioneer, but now that photography as an art form and technology has moved on, his works feel terribly dated, having failed the test of time. Until 23 October, £8

Londonist Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Portrait 16 at Degree Art
This exhibition displays a great breadth of painting styles, including the beautifully ethereal works of Jean-Luc Almond and Sophie Derrick, who combines painting her own face with photography to great effect. The BP Portrait Award could learn something from this. Until 8 September, free.

Londonist Rating: ★★★★☆

Self-Reflection: Mark Wallinger at Freud Museum
If you're going to have an exhibition titled Self-Reflection, then a museum dedicated to Sigmund Freud is the place to have it. A giant letter 'I' questions the nature of self, and a mirror above Sigmund Freud's study makes it a space for examining ourselves physically as well as psychologically. It may only be a few works, and similar to Wallinger's earlier show at Hauser & Wirth, but it's the perfect setting for these psycho-analytical works. Until 25 September, £4.

Londonist Rating: ★★★☆☆

Samara Scott's works make these Battersea Park ponds shimmer.

Samara Scott: Developer @ Pleasure Garden Fountains, Battersea Park
Two Battersea Park ponds look unexpectedly beautiful filled with detritus, but there's much more to the works than simply aesthetics — it also references the history of the area. It's just a shame there's nothing obviously visible to explain the works. Until 25 September, free.

Londonist Rating: ★★★★☆

Edmund Clark: War of Terror at Imperial War Museum
Guantanamo Bay. Just the name brings up strong images in most people's minds. Edmund Clark explores the everyday aspects of life at the facility, without showing us any people. He does this with photographs of a spartan dining area and inmates' rooms. The photography here is great, seemingly normal but filled with latent threat. What brings the show down is the text heavy elements that detract from the subtle images. Until 28 August 2017, free.

Londonist Rating: ★★★☆☆

Yuri Pattison: User, Space at Chisenhale Gallery
The gallery has been turned into a live work space with wires and networked computers. Pattison is attempting to convey ideas about how work and life are overlapping and the history of how live work spaces have evolved. It's a great idea but unfortunately none of that comes across successfully in this show. Until 28 August, free.

Londonist Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

You may also be interested in our top picks for August and the best performance art we've seen.

Last Updated 16 August 2016