17 Exhibitions Not To Miss In London This February 2020

Tabish Khan
By Tabish Khan Last edited 27 months ago

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17 Exhibitions Not To Miss In London This February 2020

We look ahead to London's art and exhibition openings in February 2020 and select the must-see shows to round out the year:

The heart of the Profumo Affair: Dear Christine at Arthouse1

Photo courtesy of James Birch.

A recent BBC series depicted Christine Keeler and the Profumo affair in a new light, and this selection of artists wants to do the same. As the curator of the show states: "Christine Keeler is a significant figure in British history yet there is little recent artistic reference to her." 20 female artists reclaim and reframe the life of this influential figure in British politics, alongside rare personal photographs of Keeler.

Dear Christine: a tribute to Christine Keeler at Arthouse1. 2-29 February, free (due to unforeseen circumstances this exhibition has now closed early).

Baroque and roll: British Baroque at Tate Britain

Antonio Verrio: The Sea Triumph of Charles II c.1674 The Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2019

Travel back to a time when it was acceptable for a Royal to have themselves depicted surrounded by pudgy winged putti and prone mermaids. Tate Britain is transporting us to the Baroque era full of overblown paintings filled with symbolic scenes and grand visions. There's no holding back in this blockbuster — our preview has more details.

British Baroque: Power and Illusion at Tate Britain. 4 February-19 April, £16.

Step inside a rainbow: Emmanuelle Moureaux at NOW Gallery

A previous installation by Emmanuelle Moureaux. Copyright the artist.

Want to bathe in colour? Then we've got just the thing for you. Greenwich Peninsula's NOW Gallery is getting an impressive reputation for immersive installations and this one allows you to walk through a replica of the Earth made up of 100 shades of colours. There's no better place to lose yourself and forget all about the world outside. Plus we all get to contribute our own shade of colour by adding a date that has particular meaning to us - try and think of something other than the obvious birthday.

Emmanuelle Moureaux: Slices of time at NOW Gallery. 5 February-17 April, free.

Modern painting: Radical Figures at Whitechapel Gallery

Copyright Michael Armitage.

With the art world embracing video and newer technology, what does painting still have to offer? Whitechapel Gallery tackles this question head on with a selection of painters who look at major social concerns. They range from Michael Armitage's brilliantly executed paintings that depict violence in East Africa to Tala Madani's works, which depict horrific acts being committed on caricatured figures.

Radical Figures: Painting in the New Millennium at Whitechapel Gallery. 6 February-10 May, £9.50.

Get to know one of the greats: Meet Vincent at 99 Upper Ground

Art fans are invited to step into Vincent Van Gogh's most famous paintings, at an immersive exhibition. Meet Vincent Van Gogh is an interactive funhouse dedicated to the Dutch painter, in which you can pull up a seat at the Potato Eaters' table, and snap yourself perched on Van Gogh's bed, from his iconic Bedroom in Arles. Our preview has the details.

Meet Vincent Van Gogh at 99 Upper Ground, South Bank. 7 February-21 May 2020, £12.50-18.50.

Kew in bloom: Orchids at Kew Gardens

One of London's prettiest festivals returns, and this time the focus is on Indonesia. Orchids from the archipelago go on display on Kew Gardens' Princess of Wales Conservatory, with tigers, rhinos and other wildlife made from flowers, and an erupting volcano as the centrepiece. Read our full preview here.

Kew Gardens Orchid Festival 2020 at Kew Gardens. 8 February-8 March, £16.50.

Lost in light: James Turrell at Pace London

© James Turrell, Courtesy Kayne Griffin Corcoran

Works of light that destroy your sense of depth so that recesses appear flat. Anyone who has ever experienced a work by James Turrell will never forget the mind blowing sensation of having their eyes completely fooled. Prepare to be dazzled.

James Turrell at Pace London. 11 February-27 March, free.

Sex, desire and hormones: Genders at Science Gallery

Copyright Adam Faramawy.

Science Gallery tackles the current issue of Gender in its latest exhibition. Both art and science will tackle what gender means to individuals and how are brains are shaped by both internal and external factors in line with our identity and how others see us. While this is a serious hot topic there's also plenty of playful elements including a chance to try out some non-binary Instagram filters.

Genders: shaping and breaking barriers at Science Gallery. 13 February-28 June, free.

25 years an artist: Steve McQueen at Tate Modern

© Steve McQueen. Courtesy the artist, Thomas Dane Gallery and Marian Goodman Gallery

Politics, identity and representation are three key themes in the work of artist Steve McQueen. He's the man behind the recent billboards featuring schoolchildren and excellent accompanying exhibition — and Oscar-winning film 12 Years A Slave. Tate takes us through his 25-year career as an artist and filmmaker, in which he's covered drug-related murders, the civil rights movement and the labour conditions of gold mine workers.

Steve McQueen at Tate Modern. 13 February-11 May, £13.

Faces and treasures: Face of a Queen & Woburn Treasures at Queen's House

From the Woburn Abbey Collection

Some of the finest paintings normally held in Woburn Abbey are making the trip down to London to be displayed at Queen's House in Greenwich. As well as paintings by Rubens and Van Dyck, it also sees the three iconic Armada portraits of Elizabeth I have been united — something that hasn't happened previously in their 430 year history. Royalty coming together, now there's a nice change.

Faces of a Queen & Woburn Treasures at Queen's House, Greenwich. 13 February-17 January 2021, free.

Life before Dippy: Permian Monsters at Horniman Museum

A Titanophoneus. Courtesy Gondwana.

Dinosaurs are cool. Fact. But what about pre-dinosaurs? Long before Dippy and co were stomping all over the earth, Permian Monsters ruled the planet. Find out all about them in Horniman Museum's new family-friendly exhibition which includes fossil skeletons and full-sized animatronic creatures.

Permian Monsters: Life Before the Dinosaurs at Horniman Museum. 15 February-1 November, £8 (£4.50 children).

Fragile or toxic?: Masculinities at Barbican

Courtesy Sunil Gupta and Hales Gallery.

We're often told that masculinity is in crisis, that it's fragile or toxic — but what does that mean and what actually is masculinity? This Barbican exhibition features 50 artists and over 300 works as photographers and film makers capture different elements of what it means to be a man and how diverse masculinity can be. Taliban fighters, American fraternities, cowboys and men-only private members' clubs take us inside the male psyche for a look at masculine ideals and insecurities.

Masculinities: Liberation through Photography at Barbican Art Gallery. 20 February-17 May, £15-£17.

Cosmic art: Mars and beyond at Oxo bargehouse

A futuristic city made of recycled material. Copyright Oskar Krajewski.

Should we leave Earth and aim to colonise Mars, or should we first focus on the mess we've made here? After all, if we don't learn some lessons surely we're just doomed to repeat our mistakes on a new world. A collective of artists uses art, film, music, virtual reality and augmented reality to imagine the future of our world and other planets in an immersive experience.

Mars & Beyond at Oxo Bargehouse. 20 February-15 March, £15-£20.

Floral females: Kehinde Wiley at William Morris Gallery

Naomi and her daughters. Copyright Kehinde Wiley. Courtesy Stephen Friedman

If the name Kehinde Wiley sounds familiar, it's because he famously painted Barack Obama's portrait. It makes sense for his first show at a UK public institution to be at William Morris Gallery, given his floral backdrops are inspired by Morris's designs. For this exhibition, Wiley has exclusively painted female figures he met on the streets of Dalston.

Kehinde Wiley at William Morris Gallery. 22 February-25 May, free.

Are you surreal?: British Surrealism at Dulwich Picture Gallery

Image courtesy Manchester Art Gallery / Bridgeman Images

We do love a good dose of Surrealism, but there's an unfortunate lack of well-known British practitioners. Dulwich Picture Gallery wants to correct that, with 70 works covering themes of war, dreams, the unconscious, the uncanny, radical politics, sex and desire. Given the likes of William Blake and Lewis Carroll were experimenting with the surreal before the movement even got started, it's about time we got trippy with some Brits.

British Surrealism at Dulwich Picture Gallery. 26 February-17 May, £16.50.

A Hockney horde: David Hockney at National Portrait Gallery

Copyright David Hockney.

National Portrait Gallery opens a new David Hockney exhibition, to see it up to its three-year closure in the summer. This is his first major exhibition dedicated to his drawings in two decades, and features 150 works from the 1950s to the present.

David Hockney: Drawing from Life at National Portrait Gallery. 27 February-28 June, £17-£20.

Japanophiles rejoice: Kimono at V&A

A Christian Dior kimono. Image copyright Getty Images.

V&A's long-awaited exhibition dedicated to kimonos opens. The Japanese clothing garment takes centre stage at the show, which covers its history and social significance through paintings, prints, films and accessories. Read our full preview for the details.

Kimono: Kyoto to catwalk at V&A. 29 February-21 June, £16-£18.

Shorter exhibitions and events

The work of Chistoph Jones relates to the refugee crisis. Copyright the artist.

EMERGING ART: Free Range organises lots of graduate shows over the summer to bring the best of young artists from across the country to London. Based on those shows they have selected artists who deal with prescient issues such as pollution and immigration to award them with an exhibition at Old Truman Brewery (7-11 February, free).

Copyright Peter Layton

CRAFTY: Some of the best craft and design is on show at Somerset House in Collect, an art fair that specialises in modern craft and design. Expect beautiful objects aplenty as over 40 galleries take over the wings of Somerset House. (27 February-1 March, £23).

Last Updated 19 February 2020