The Top Exhibitions To See In London: April 2024

Looks like this article is a bit old. Be aware that information may have changed since it was published.

Last Updated 09 April 2024

The Top Exhibitions To See In London: April 2024

For more from London's art world, sign up for our new (free) newsletter and community: Londonist: Urban Palette.

Looking for an awesome London exhibition this April? Here's our roundup of must-see shows in the capital, plus an addition from outside of the capital.

1. Art that hits hard: Jerwood Survey III at Southwark Park Galleries

One of the selected artists. © Alliyah Enyo

Colonialism, climate change & healing, gender, sexuality, folklore and spirituality are some of the hot topics addressed at Southwark Park Galleries by the work of 10 early career artists in a group exhibition that includes photography, installation, sound, moving image and sculpture. Each artist has been selected by a more established one.

Jerwood Survey III at Southwark Park Galleries. 6 April - 23 June, free.  

2. Warrior king: Ranjit Singh at The Wallace Collection

© From the British Library Archive

Discover the extraordinary life and legacy of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, at the Wallace Collection. This exhibition delves into the rise of the Sikh Empire amidst tumultuous times; featuring glittering weaponry, exquisite jewellery and historic artefacts, visitors journey through Singh's reign, experiencing his military prowess, political acumen and enduring cultural impact.

Ranjit Singh: Sikh, Warrior, King at The Wallace Collection. 10 April - 20 October, £14.

3. De-colonising: Yinka Shonibare at Serpentine Galleries

© Yinka Shonibare CBE

British Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare wants us to take a critical eye to the history of trade, migration, colonialism and ecological impact. New and recent works are showcased, including installations, sculptures, and woodcut prints — all challenging Western iconography and exploring pressing global issues. Suspended States includes multiple works incorporating Shonibare's signature use of Dutch wax print, a symbol of the tangled relationship between Africa and Europe. This brightly coloured fabric was inspired by Indonesian batik designs, mass-produced by the Dutch and eventually sold to British colonies in West Africa.

Yinka Shonibare CBE: Suspended States at Serpentine South Gallery. 12 April - 1 September, free.

4. London inspired: Anne Desmet at Guildhall Art Gallery

Desmet's take on the British Museum using wood engraving, linocut & stencils. Copyright Anne Desmet.

Embark on a journey through London's history and architecture at Guildhall Art Gallery's latest exhibition. Anne Desmet offers her own unique perspective on the city through her intricate digital collages. Featuring 150 works, including London-themed prints, this exhibition is an artist's exploration of our great city and its singular architecture.

Anne Desmet: Kaleidoscope/London at Guildhall Art Gallery. 12 April - 8 September, pay what you can.

5. All the drama: The Last Caravaggio at The National Gallery

© Archivio Patrimonio Artistico Intesa Sanpaolo / foto Luciano Pedicini, Napoli

Nobody painted drama, light and violence quite like Caravaggio. The National Gallery presents a real treat by showing us his final painting, unseen in the UK for two decades. In The Martyrdom of Saint Ursula, Caravaggio chooses to depict the very moment in which the saint — having refused to marry a Hun who did not share her Christian faith — is shot by him with an arrow. The picture is shown alongside the gallery's own masterpiece, Salome receives the Head of John the Baptist — another late depiction of violence by the Old Master.

The Last Caravaggio at The National Gallery. 18 April - 21 July, free.

6. Photography aplenty: Sony World Photography Awards at Somerset House

The fight against burning oil wells, Kuwait oil fields, 1991. © Sebastião Salgado

Immerse yourself in breathtaking landscapes, vibrant street scenes and powerful documentary images, as the annual Sony World Photography Awards returns to Somerset House. It's a chance to see the full diversity of photography submitted by both professionals and amateurs. Each year one photographer receives the Outstanding Contribution to Photography award — this time it's Sebastiao Salgado (pictured) whose black and white imagery of nature and humanity from around the world has always blown us away.

Sony World Photography Awards exhibition 2024 at Somerset House. 19 April - 6 May, £15.

7. Powerful photojournalism: Tim Hetherington at IWM London

© IWM. A Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) combatant in Liberia, June 2003

Tim Hetherington was a photojournalist and filmmaker who travelled to conflict areas across the world. On the 13th anniversary of his death IWM London unveils Hetherington's images from Liberia to Afghanistan, shedding light on his approach that always focused on individuals rather than the wider conflicts they were involved in. Check out over 65 striking photographs alongside personal objects, inviting reflection on the role of photojournalists and how they can tell the stories of conflicts.

Storyteller: Photography by Tim Hetherington at IWM London. 20 April - 29 September, free.

8. Statuesque: Antony Gormley at Houghton Hall, Norfolk

Time Horizon, Parco Archeologico Di Scolacium, Roccelletta Di Borgia, Catanzaro, Italy, 2006. Photograph by Peppe Avallone. © Antony Gormley

Bodies coming out of the ground, bodies in the ground, and bodies above the ground on concrete columns. Antony Gormley's 100 life sized sculpture have been placed all around Houghton Hall in Norfolk — breaking up the landscape of the managed grounds. Gormley's work is about exploring the interaction between body and space and they always work best when outdoors — both moving and eerie.

Antony Gormley: Time Horizon at Houghton Hall, Norfolk. 21 April - 31 October, £22-£24.

9. All the colours: Expressionists at Tate Modern

Franz Marc, Tiger, 1912. Lenbachhaus Munich, Lenbachhaus Munich, Bernhard and Elly Koehler Foundation 1965

Expressionism was a movement of radical experimentation in form, colour, sound, and performance. It's time for us to get a major dose of their works at Tate Modern while learning about the movement's transatlantic presence. Spirituality, sexuality and synaesthesia all served to inspire bold works by a loosely affiliated network of artists known as The Blue Rider, which boldly proclaimed "the whole work, called art, knows no borders or nations, only humanity."

Expressionists: Kandinsky, Munter and The Blue Rider at Tate Modern. 25 April - 20 October, £22.

10. It's personal: Matthew Krishanu & Andrew Omoding at Camden Art Centre

A painting by Matthew Krishanu. Courtesy Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre, London. Photo: Peter Mallet.

Matthew Krishanu's paintings and works on paper take you on a personal journey, looking at childhood, identity, and memory against the backdrop of his growing up in Bangladesh as a child of Christian missionaries and his subsequent move to England. The works ask us to question race, religion, and societal structures. His works show alongside those of Andrew Omoding, who also reflects on his childhood — his in Uganda — as he uses found materials to make sculptures, as well as incorporating music and film into his works.  

Matthew Krishanu: The Bough Breaks & Andrew Omoding Animals to remember Uganda at Camden Art Centre. 26 April - 23 June, free.

Short run events

A previous edition of Now Play This. Photo: Ben Peter Catchpole.

Photography can be powerful and beautiful, but how can it have the same impact on the visually impaired? World Unseen Photography at Somerset House (5-7 April, free — ticketed) is a chance for us to feel a photograph and it's open to both sighted and visually impaired visitors.  

Somerset House is also playing host to Now Play This (6-14 April, £9), an always enjoyable annual festival of experimental gaming. It's a chance to get hands on with games that challenge stereotypes, try out new ideas, often operate at a low budget and show us what gaming can be. A far cry from... well, Far Cry.