London's Best Exhibitions To See Right Now

Tabish Khan
By Tabish Khan Last edited 76 months ago

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Last Updated 30 January 2018

London's Best Exhibitions To See Right Now

Looking for a dose of culture? Want to know what's hot on London's exhibition scene? Read on. We've split the list by London regions to make it easier to navigate.

These legs make quite the sight in Mayfair. Photo Jeff Moore.

Central London

GIANT LEGS: A pair of giant feet dangle outside Lazinc's new Mayfair gallery — it's the legs of a high jumper, with the head inside. This opening exhibition is by artist JR who likes to work at a massive scale. He made huge works for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and the photos in this show make it look stunning, though it's clearly not the same as seeing it in person. We love this concept and it brings a new meaning to stronger, faster, higher.
JR: Giants at Lazinc, 29 Sackville Street, W1S 3DX. Until 28 February, free. ★★★☆(Tuesday-Saturday)

Dominique, London, 29th September 1998. © Juergen Teller, All rights Reserved. Courtesy the artist and Alison Jacques Gallery, London.

YOUTH & VULNERABILITY: Photographer Juergen Teller presents a series of images of young wannabe models, their poses amateurish and lacking the confidence we'd see in professional models. This sense of the vulnerable gives these photos a sense of honesty. It's more subtle than some of the brazen works we've seen by Teller that often contain nudity, and this series is stronger for being restrained.
Juergen Teller at Alison Jacques, 16-18 Berners Street, W1T 3LN. Until 3 February, free. ★★★★☆ (Tuesday-Saturday)

SEEING SPOTS: The artist known for her stripey works has traded in her stripes for spots and triangles. You may be wondering what the big deal is, as were we. However, in person our eyes start doing strange things creating 'ghost circles' and blurring lines that follow you even once your gaze switches away from the works to the bare walls — it's an unsettling effect that can't be captured on camera. Bigger is better here as the works that spread across entire walls are the most effective and the smaller canvases just aren't immersive enough.
Bridget Riley: Recent paintings at David Zwirner, 24 Grafton Street, W1S 4EZ. Until 10 March, free. ★★★☆(Tuesday-Saturday)

Beautiful balletic otters. © Jackie Morris.

BEAUTIFUL CREATURES: Surveys have found that children more easily identify Pokémon than common UK wildlife, and that only a third of primary schoolchildren can identify a magpie. So, two artists have combined to create beautiful drawings and poetry about our local wildlife from balletic otters underwater to a kingfisher on the hunt — "the colour-giver, fire-bringer, flame-flicker, river's quiver". It's a lovely exhibition and keeping the text to a minimum allows us to meditate on these beautiful creatures in a clutter-free environment.
The Lost Words at The Foundling Museum. Until 6 May, £11 (includes general admission to the museum).  ★★★★☆ (Tuesday-Sunday)

John Bull prevents Napoleon (Boney) from entering the toy shop.

POTS WITH ATTITUDE: The British Museum has a brilliant collection of satirical prints, but this time they've been matched with pots and ceramics that are just as biting. Napoleon gets the short end of it, appearing as a ceramic monkey and as a curiosity in a menagerie. There are also pots to celebrate famous boxing matches, and a kneeling figure with broken manacles to mark the abolition of the slave trade. It's great to see satirical pots were all the rage long before Grayson Perry got in on it.
Pots with attitude: British satire on ceramics at The British Museum, Room 90a. Until 11 March, free. ★★★★☆

Copyright Jules de Balincourt, courtesy Victoria Miro.

SURREAL PORTRAITS: Small figures appear from a wood, while spectral giants appear to hover behind them. A woman appears to be transparent as we can see a river and plane through her body. These surreal works breathe new life into the often staid genre of portrait painting. Couple this with stunning colours and we're on to a winner. It's often said in art circles that painting is dead — here's proof that it isn't.
Jules de Balincourt: They cast long shadows at Victoria Miro, 14 St. George Street, W1S 1FE. Until 24 March, free. ★★★★☆ (Tuesday-Saturday)

They look even better downstairs in the dark. Image courtesy Halcyon Gallery.

GLASS MASTER: Many will recognise Dale Chihuly's work from the massive glass sculpture suspended in the V&A's atrium. He's back with new works and his writhing glass sculptures are as gorgeous as ever, featuring flowers growing on walls and tendrils extending into the air. The best is saved for downstairs where placing the works in water creates an organic environment that makes it looks as if his work is growing by itself. The paintings are nice to look at but it's the sculptures that really grab us.
Chihuly Now at Halcyon Gallery, 144-146 New Bond Street, W1S 2PF. Until 22 April, free. ★★★☆☆

South London

Stick some money in and watch them go.

A TWISTED ARCADE: The gallery floor is littered with 20p pieces. Insert one into the sculptures and they come alive, jiggling about to what we can only describe as creepy fairground music. It's surreal, and the dark humour makes for an enjoyable and unorthodox exhibition in this small Deptford gallery.
Jonathan Trayte: Schussboomer at Castor Projects, Enclave 8, 50 Resolution Way, SE8 4AL. Until 27 January, free. ★★★★☆ (Friday & Saturday).

Copyright Phil Ashcroft.

TROLLS & BROKEN CITIES: Just around the corner from the above is a group show filled with fantastic artists. Giant yetis stride across landscapes by Phil Ashcroft, while Lucinda Metcalfe sears our eyeballs with her bright beach scenes and Jane Ward's digital landscapes break apart like something out of Inception.
Winter Show at Bearspace London, 152 Deptford High Street, SE8 3PQ. Until 3 March, free. ★★★★☆ (Monday-Friday)

The creepy paintings of Michael Armitage. © Michael Armitage. Photo © White Cube (Ben Westoby). Courtesy of the Artist and White Cube

AFRICAN FOLKLORE: Snakes wrap around a person's leg while demons hover behind a boxer. Painter Michael Armitage looks at mental health and folklore in East Africa, with a painting style that reminds us of Gauguin. The works are heavily layered with plenty of mystery to them, though we do wish the exhibition gave us more information to dig into these references.
Michael Armitage: The Chapel at South London Gallery. Until 23 February, free. ★★★☆(Tuesday-Sunday).

Image © Tate (Seraphina Neville)

SEXUAL VIOLENCE: Amar Kanwar's video documents rape and sexual violence in the Indian subcontinent since 1947. He uses testimonies from witnesses and survivors, interspersed with shots of where these atrocious crimes took place to chart these horrors. This is not an easy watch, but it is an important one.
Lightning Testimonies at Tate Modern, The Tanks. Until 4 February, free. ★★★★☆

East London

Rusting cars is just one facet of life in Okinawa. Copyright Ryuichi Ishikawa.

OKINAWA UNCOVERED: Most of us will know of Japanese island Okinawa for the fierce battles in the Pacific theatre of the second world war. Photographer Ryuichi Ishikawa has documented various aspects of the island, from the LGBT community to a rather aggressive fighting cock which is made all the more threatening by the cowering dog in the background. Even though he's capturing run-down areas and the island's poverty, there is a tenderness in his images that removes any sense of judgement.
Ryuichi Ishikawa: zkop at Yamamoto Keiko Rochaix, 19 Goulston Street, E1 7TP. Until 15 March, free. ★★★☆(Wednesday-Saturday)