Suicide Vests And A Chinese Supermarket: The Biggest Exhibitions On Right Now Reviewed

Tabish Khan
By Tabish Khan Last edited 71 months ago

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Suicide Vests And A Chinese Supermarket: The Biggest Exhibitions On Right Now Reviewed

Looking for a dose of culture? Want to know what's hot on London's exhibition scene? Read on.

Image courtesy Tim Bowditch.

LIGHTS, MUSIC & SILENCE: This gallery space looks like a club, lights on the walls pulse to an electronic score and if it wasn't for some videos it wouldn't feel like an art exhibition at all. The lights and sound are brilliant and immersive, though the video works never quite gel with them and the show would have been stronger without them. The added bonus is an anechoic chamber upstairs where all external noise is drowned out and you can sit alone in the dark silence and hear your own heart beat and joints creak — it's not for claustrophobes but if you're fine with small spaces it's a meditative experience. Haroon Mirza / HRM 199: For a Partnership Society is on at Zabludowicz Collection, 176 Prince of Wales Road, NW5 3PT. Until 17 December, free. ★★★☆☆ (Thursday-Sunday)

The large scale political photography of Robert Longo. Courtesy Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac London · Paris · Salzburg. Photos: Artist Studio

A BROKEN CHANDELIER & DRONES: This mega Mayfair gallery has two shows — one powerful and one fun. Robert Longo creates massive charcoals of drone explosions, riot police and the x-rays of masterpieces by Manet and Turner. The Kabakovs, who currently have a show at Tate Modern, is a less sombre affair with a broken chandelier looking like it’s fallen from a ceiling and a toilet made to look nasty — all with little birds suspended from the ceiling and on the walls. Two great shows inside a building with fantastic architecture. Robert Longo and Ilya & Emilia Kabakov at Galerie Thaddeus Ropac, 37 Dover Street, W1S 4NJ. Until 11 November, free. ★★★★☆ (Tuesday-Saturday)

IMMIGRATION POST-BREXIT: An exhibition looking at seven historical turning points in Britain’s history of immigration from the expulsion of Jews, to the latest census showing an increase in mixed race persons living in the UK. It’s a powerful exhibition that tells these eras through human stories. It highlights how Britain has always been a land of immigrants, while consistently retaining anti-immigration sentiments. Another great exhibition from this important museum. No Turning Back: Seven migration moments that changed Britain at The Migration Museum, The Workshop, 26 Lambeth High Street, SE1 7AG. Until 25 February, free. ★★★★☆ (Wednesday-Sunday)

Just one scene from the brilliant film tribute to Chopin. Copyright Guido van der Werve,

A TRIATHLON FOR A COMPOSER: The King’s Institute explores the theme of melancholia in this exhibition and starts with the fantastic Albrecht Durer print of the same name, depicting a rather glum winged figure. At the other end of the scale we have a 54 minute video of an artist swimming, cycling and running between where Chopin’s heart and body are buried — over 1,000 miles apart. There aren’t many works in this show but they really make an impact. Melancholia: A Sebald Variation at King’s Cultural Institute, Strand (entrance through Somerset House). Until 10 December, free. ★★★★☆ (Tuesday-Sunday)

A CHINESE SUPERMARKET IN SOHO: Step into this supermarket and something's not right. All the products are authentic but it's just empty packaging. The drinks and snacks aren't within the packets — it's fun to see the confused looks of passers-by. This art project is by Xu Zhen and it's a commentary about the constant need for consumption and the power of branding, and how both have an emptiness to them. It's also great to see people treating it like a normal shop and asking for change — plus you can purchase an artwork for a couple of quid. Xu Zhen: Supermarket is at Sadie Coles, 62 Kingly Street, W1B 5QN. Until 4 November, free. ★★★☆☆ (Tuesday-Saturday)

Copyright the artists.

SUICIDE VESTS & CREEPY CARTOONS: The Chapman Brothers return with yet more controversial works — this time casting suicide vests in bronze. It feels like the artists are aware this could be deemed bad taste, therefore these are not based on actual ones used by terrorists and one has even been cast from a prop for the film Rush Hour. On the wall the Chapman’s obsessions with Goya continues as reproductions of etchings are transformed to be either cartoony, creepy or collaged in a work that’s a little understated by the artist’s standards, though can often be just as disturbing as the Goya originals. Jake & Dinos Chapman: The Disasters of Everyday Life at Blain|Southern, 4 Hanover Square, W1S 1BP. Until 11 November, free. ★★★★☆ (Monday-Saturday)

Step into a painting in Camberwell. Photo Andy Keate.

A COLOUR EXPLOSION: The South London Gallery has been emptied and then slathered with paint all over the walls, ceiling and doors. However, a giant stencil was used so the finished product is rich colours in some areas and bright white in the centre. It’s visually stunning and we feel like we’ve ventured inside a painting — it works to beautiful effect. Katharina Grosse: This drove my mother up the wall at South London Gallery. Until 3 December, free. ★★★★☆ (Tuesday-Sunday)

Image courtesy The British Library

LISTEN UP: Did you know The British Library holds over 6.5 million records of speech, music and environmental sounds? Now it’s the time for some of these sounds to get their airing from some of the very first recordings right on an historic journey that takes us to MP3 players via the Walkman, CD and Minidisc player. Quiet booths are set up so we can listen to a vast array of sounds and it’s truly a remarkable to listen to birdsong recorded over 100 years ago. A small but highly engaging display. Listen: 140 years of recorded sound is on at The British Library. Until 13 May, free. ★★★★☆

Just look at the lovely detail on this. © William Morris Gallery, London Borough of Waltham Forest

EXCELLENT EMBROIDERY: William Morris may rightfully take a lot of the limelight, but his daughter May was also a talented artist. This small exhibition contains intricate tapestries and the needlework and level of detail is very impressive. You'll learn how her work fits in with that of her father's and the other Pre-Raphaelites. We didn't know much about May Morris and her work and this enlightening exhibition filled that void. May Morris: Art and Life at William Morris Gallery, Walthamstow. Until 28 January, free. ★★★☆☆ (Wednesday-Sunday)

A meditative film. © Smoking Dogs Films; Courtesy Lisson Gallery

AN ENVIRONMENTAL EPIC: A video runs across seven screens as a stream trickles over memorabilia, a woman stands under pylons and pollution pours into a river. This hour long epic film by John Akomfrah tackles global climate change using beautifully shot sweeping scenes across lakes and mountains to a team of huskies. It’s a follow up to his water-focussed masterpiece Vertigo Sea and while it’s a little more repetitive and not as moving, it’s still a beautifully shot epic poem to environmentalism. John Akomfrah: Purple at Barbican Curve. Until 7 January, free. ★★★★☆

Copyright Marcus Peel

THE EYES HAVE IT: A glowing neon eye stares at us, other eyes look at us from books, as sculpture and paintings. We're surrounded. Distorted eyes on a Picasso and a surreal eye on a column by Rene Magritte interact with other eyes coming at us from contemporary works. This is an unsettling eyeful of an exhibition studying the phenomenon of art that looks back at the viewer. Laurent Grosso: The Panoptes Project at Olivier Malingue, 143 New Bond st (1st floor), W1S 2TP. Until 9 December, free. ★★★★☆ (Monday-Saturday)

Lots of uncomfortable photographs. Copyright Torbjørn Rødland

WATERFALLS & THE INTERNET: The latest double bill at Serpentine galleries contains the Internet influenced art of Torbjorn Rodland featuring a snappy video of fish, waterfalls and a high tempo workout. Surreal photographs are all a little disconcerting as orange slices are covered with hair and a woman bites into an apple that's been penetrated by coins. Over at the other gallery Wade Guyton has created a more impenetrable affair, as camera phone images are distorted and taken off-centre. The exhibition does a terrible job of explaining what the artist is trying to say here so we're left with a conceptual exhibition that thinks it's far more intelligent than it is. Torbjorn Rodland: The touch that made you & Wade Guyton: Das New Yorker atelier are on at the Serpentine Galleries. Until 19 November, free. ★★★☆☆ / ★☆☆☆☆ (Tuesday-Sunday)

A fabulously designed exhibition. Copyright Francis Ware.

QUIRKY ARCHITECTURE: Artist Pablo Bronstein has created 50 drawings in a Georgian style to complement the archival drawings held by the Royal Institute of British Architects. Bronstein knows how to ensure his drawings remain consistent with the theme of the exhibition, so much so that even a house on top of the backs of winged creatures is a natural fit next to a drawing of a Georgian house. The exhibition design also gets in on the act with the striped wallpaper and architecture keeping with the Georgian theme so we get a central atrium that splinters off into different rooms, as it we're genuinely inside a home. We love it when all aspects of an exhibition come together this seamlessly. Pablo Bronstein: Conservatism at RIBA, 66 Portland Place, W1. Until 11 February, free. ★★★★☆

The four allied powers pull apart a swastika in a powerful poster. Image courtesy of the Henrion Estate

JEWISH DESIGN: The impact of Jewish designers on British design is substantial and this exhibition brings forth some of the highlights — from the design of bus stop and Westminster road signs to the hypnotic helter skelter children's toy, who doesn't want to send a marble down an elaborate set of connecting pieces? The real strength in this show relies on the poster designs: from an art poster in the style of the underground map to mark the opening of Tate modern to a powerful vision of the four allied powers pulling apart a swastika. Designs on Britain at Jewish Museum, Camden. Until 15 April, £8.50. ★★★☆☆

Last Updated 24 October 2017