The Best (And Worst) Exhibitions In London Right Now

Tabish Khan
By Tabish Khan Last edited 61 months ago

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The Best (And Worst) Exhibitions In London Right Now
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Black life

Arthur Jafa explores representations of Black culture in the West through video games, music and photography in this fascinating exploration. All eyes will be on the Grayson Perry show in the Serpentine, but there’s just as much to get your teeth into at the nearby Serpentine Sackler. Arthur Jafa: A Series Of Utterly Improbably, Yet Extraordinary Renditions at Serpentine Sackler. Until 10 September, free.  ★★★☆☆ (Tuesday-Sunday)

Female cartoonists

Mrs. Bull and John Bull at Franchise Villa, 1913 by The Suffrage Atelier © Museum of London

This exhibition highlights fantastic cartoons, that just happen to have been created by women. Politics, social commentary, gender roles and religion are all made fun of. There are also works covering heavier subjects as abuse and horror stories. There's so much packed into a small space, in another triumph for this small museum. The Inking Woman at The Cartoon Museum, 35 Little Russell Street, WC1A 2HH. Until 23 July, £7. ★★★★☆ (Tuesday-Sunday)

See Giacometti for free

© Peter Lindbergh © Succession Alberto Giacometti (Fondation Giacometti +ADAGP) Paris 2017 Courtesy Gagosian

If you’ve not been to the Tate Modern blockbuster yet and fancy seeing some of Giacometti’s spindly sculptures for free, plus photographs of these works by Peter Lindbergh, head to the Gagosian Gallery. It’s much smaller than the Tate show but contains many of Giacometti’s signature works. Sculpture and Shadow at Gagosian, 6-24 Britannia Street, WC1X 9JD. Until 22 July, free. ★★★☆☆  (Tuesday-Saturday)

Bland is the new black

An evening dress from the show. Courtesy V&A

Ultra-chic fashion brand Balenciaga is the focus of the new exhibition at the V&A. Looking back at the history of founder Cristobal Balenciaga and the process of making these clothes will only appeal to the most hardcore of fashionistas. Some fashion exhibitions can transcend their genre and have wider appeal, but this one just feels like a Sloane Street showroom rather than an exhibition worth paying for. The end result is bland and boring. Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion at V&A. Until 18 February 2018, £12. ★☆☆☆☆

Satyr, meet virtual reality

Copyright Hynek Martinec

At first these beautifully executed paintings look like tributes to Old Masters. But wait - that Satyr is wearing a virtual reality headset, and there’s an ultrasound of a baby. Painter Hynek Martinec perfectly merges classical and contemporary culture to reflect how the world has evolved, while simultaneously questioning how this has impacted on spirituality. Hynek Martinec: The birth of tragedies at Parafin, 18 Woodstock Street, W1C 2AL. Until 15 July, free. ★★★☆☆ (Tuesday-Saturday)

The beauty of Rodin

The beautiful curves of a Rodin sculpture. Image courtesy Bowman Sculpture

Rodin’s sculptures are simply breathtaking — The Kiss and The Thinker are two of his most important works and there are versions of both here. It's also an opportunity to see more works from the master sculptor, which draw you into their beautiful curves. Rodin: The Birth of Modern Sculpture at Bowman Sculpture, 6 Duke Street, St. James’s, SW1Y 6BN. Until 27 July, free. ★★★★☆ (Monday-Friday)

Tricky Dicky

Satirical cartoons that have lost their bite. © The Estate of Philip Guston Courtesy the Estate and Hauser & Wirth Photo: Genevieve Hanson

Cartoonist Philip Guston shares his drawings of Richard Nixon and the politics of the time. However, the drawings have not dated well, and lack relevance in today’s world even if the political situation in the US right now has strong similarities to what happened in Nixon’s time. Philip Guston, Laughter in the Dark at Hauser & Wirth, 23 Savile Row, W1S 2ET. Until 29 July, free. ★★☆☆☆  (Tuesday-Saturday)

History of homosexuality

An installation shot of this small but important show. (c) Samantha Lane Photography

A literary look back at the 50 years since the decriminalisation of homosexual acts, covering texts from literary greats like Oscar Wilde and Virginia Woolf, to recent tragedies such as the backlash when footballer Justin Fashanu came out. This is a densely packed and important exhibition, that gave us greater appreciation of the struggle for equality. Gay UK: Love, Law and Liberty at The British Library. Until 19 September, free. ★★★★☆

Trippy visuals

It's getting weird in Whitechapel. Photo: John Phillips

Artist Benedict Drew can be best described as weird for weird’s sake. This is no bad thing as his bright colours, trippy visuals and chaotic installations are fun to explore, even if we don’t get much more than a optical treat from them. Benedict Drew: The Trickle-Down Syndrome at Whitechapel Gallery. Until 10 September, free. ★★★☆☆ (Tuesday-Sunday)

Dust to dust

The irony of photographing the demolition of a Kodak factory. Image courtesy Robert Burley and Musée Nicéphore Niépce

This photography show is nothing but dust, quite literally. All the photographs use dust as the medium. We see some innovative uses such as virtual dust cloud, an image of a factory collapse and a heartbreaking view of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But most of the images are simply dusty landscapes, resulting in a rather dry show. A Handful of Dust: Photography after Man Ray and Marcel Duchamp at Whitechapel Gallery. Until 3 September, free. ★★☆☆☆ (Tuesday-Sunday)

Saintly gold

Beautiful detail in gold. © Image courtesy of the Ministerio dei Beni e delle Attività Culturali e del Turismo, Gallerie Nazionale di Arte Antica di Roma, Palazzo Barberini e Galleria Corsini

The Virgin, saints, angels and Christ all delicately painted surrounded by gold. These are a series of small panels by 14th century Italian painter Giovanni da Rimini. They are impressive works, even if the pre-Renaissance period wasn’t as groundbreaking as what was to follow. Giovanni da Rimini: A 14th-Century Masterpiece Unveiled at Room 1, The National Gallery. Until 8 October, free. ★★★☆☆

Last Updated 15 June 2017