The Most Talked About Art Exhibitions In London Right Now

Tabish Khan
By Tabish Khan Last edited 24 months ago

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The Most Talked About Art Exhibitions In London Right Now

Which of London's most talked-about exhibitions should you visit? We've been to see them all, so you know which ones are actually worth seeing. The majority are free to visit.

The final scene of this Bill Viola piece is moving, but the journey is a little muddled. Photo courtesy Blain|Southern.

Bill Viola: Mary at St. Paul's
There are now two Viola pieces in St. Paul's, and the latest addition focuses on Mary. The first, named Martyrs, was beautiful in its simplicity with four modern martyrs to fire, wind, water and earth. The newer work is all about motherhood covering a journey across countries, and from birth to death. The finale sees a version of Mary holding the body of Christ in her lap. The message is clear but the fact that the video bounces around a lot means that it doesn't have the impact of its sister piece. Ongoing, £18 for adults and free for worshippers.

Londonist Rating: ★★★☆☆

IK Prize: Recognition at Tate Britain
Last year's prize brought us the fantastic Sensorium, and this year is an equally ambitious project. An Artificial Intelligence (AI) program will sample images from Reuters and pair them with the artworks in the Tate and its archives. Visitors both at the gallery and online can help train the AI. But though this is a clever experiment we're not convinced by its artistic merit. Until 27 November, free.

Londonist Rating: ★★★☆☆

The effects of farming on the land. Both devastating and beautiful at the same time. Copyright Edward Burtynsky and courtesy Flowers.

Wilfredo Lam at Tate Modern
He has been nicknamed the Cuban Picasso for his constant experimentation in style and his Primitivist paintings. Lam definitely stands out as having a unique style and while this is no blockbuster exhibition, it's still the work of a very impressive painter who merits a major exhibition at Tate. Until 8 January, £14.50.

Londonist Rating: ★★★★☆

Edward Burtynsky: Salt Pans/Essential Elements at Flowers East
We love this Burtnysky, who takes massive photographs of man's effect on the land. His past projects have included mining, oil and water. This time he tackles the salt pans of Gujarat, India. We particularly like how he doesn't draw conclusions around whether industrialisation is bad for the land, simply that it happens — and these sweeping images are both distressing and beautiful at the same time. Upstairs is a range of his previous works and the gallery is on a roll right now with Tim Lewis in the Mayfair space. Until 29 October, free.

Londonist Rating: ★★★★☆

Take note of notes at the Bank of England. Photo: James Beard.

Maggi Hambling - Touch at The British Museum
We like Hambling's paintings but her latest exhibition is of her drawings. While some, like that of a rhinoceros, do stand out, most of the portraits feel like they lack the colour that brings her paintings to life. Until 29 January, free.

Londonist Rating: ★★★☆☆

Enso at Tristan Hoare
A new gallery has opened up in a period house in Fitzrovia. The inaugural exhibition features political works with a beautiful minimalist aesthetic. Ursula Schulz-Dornburg photographs Mount Ararat in Turkey from Armenia, the two country's history ensuring the pieces are loaded with history. Meanwhile, Taizo Kuroda's perfect yet caved-in pots have a touch of Lucio Fontana about them. Until 21 October, free.

Londonist Rating: ★★★★☆

Dinh Q. Le: The Colony at 133 Rye Lane
Artangel has put on some spectacular projects in the past and this is another great addition. The site of the old electric cinema in Peckham is a brilliant setting for drone shot videos of the Chincha islands off the coast of Peru. The history of guano and how it's still harvested today make for a fascinating story, told through this multi-screen exhibition. Until 9 October, free.

Londonist Rating: ★★★★☆

Thousands of birds produce tonnes of guano, which is then harvested. Photo courtesy Dinh Q. Lê

William Kentridge: Thick Time at Whitechapel Gallery
This multi-disciplinary artist creates books, video, tapestries and sound works — though we're most impressed by his moving contraptions and even the stairs have been redecorated for this show in a nice touch. Kentridge's work is loaded with ideas around politics today, colonialism, philosophy and literature. However, the minimal use of labels does make this hard to grasp for anybody new to Kentridge's work. The big disappointment is that our favourite work of his, the multi-screen parade we saw at Marian Goodman last year, is not on display. Until 15 January, £11.95.

Londonist Rating: ★★★☆☆

Tom Ellis: The Middle at Wallace Collection
The Wallace Collection has a no touching rule for its precious artefacts and paintings, and for good reason. Tom Ellis has placed his work throughout the museum and flipped this convention on its head. Paintings are on runners, and tables can be flipped so they become chairs. It's a great mix of the playful, and the works themselves are a nice nod to the Wallace's own collection. Until 27 November, free.

Londonist Rating: ★★★★☆

Banknote gallery at Bank of England Museum
The new waterproof, tear-resistant £5 note has been launched. To tie in with this, the Bank of England Museum has refurbished their gallery dedicated to the history of banknotes. This includes how counterfeiting was carried out and how it was counteracted. It's not the most fascinating part of the museum, but it's a good addition to this museum which many Londoners won't have visited. Ongoing, free.

Londonist Rating: ★★★☆☆

Last Updated 21 September 2016