Looking for an awesome London exhibition this January? Here's our roundup of must-see shows in the capital
1. Purr-fect competition: Mauro C Martinez at Unit London
Could you serve an ace in tennis if you had to use a cat instead of a tennis ball? Thankfully, this is only happening in a painting. Mauro C Martinez's comical works are a commentary of the dark side of competition that can result in people needing to win at all costs - it's a dog-eat-dog (or should that be cat-eat-cat?) world out there. His previous show tackled the convoluted gaming setups that video gamers have in their homes and now his critical painter's eye tackles professional sports.
Mauro C. Martinez: Practice Makes Purrfect at Unit London. 4 January-3 February, free.
2. Emerging artists: New Contemporaries at Camden Arts Centre
Bloomberg New Contemporaries is an annual exhibition, this year bringing together 55 of the most exciting recent graduates from the UK's art schools, and returning to Camden Art Centre after 20 years at other London venues. It includes artists who work in painting, performance, textile and video, inspired by everything from climate justice to pagan rituals. It's a broad spectrum of some of the UK's leading emerging artists in an exhibition that's being going strong for 75 years.
New Contemporaries at Camden Arts Centre. 19 January-14 April, free.
3. Colours & Gold: Alice Irwin & Sinta Tantra at Pitzhanger
Colourful abstract shapes pop up in Alice Irwin's work but there's something human about them, as if they have their own personalities and communicate with each other in a secret language. She started off making prints and it now feels like her sculptures are characters that have popped off the page and become animated in our world of three dimensions. The manor will also be displaying the vibrant blue and gold paintings and sculpture of Sinta Tantra that will change how they look over the course of the day, complementing the architecture of the manor that was designed with sunlight in mind.
Alice Irwin: Chinwag and Sinta Tantra: The Lightclub of Batavia at Pitzhanger. Opens 24 January, £9.90
4. Awww: CUTE at Somerset House
What is it that makes us find something to be cute? Whether it's a Hello Kitty plush toy or a sugary pop song, we're drawn to all things cute - and don't even get us started on cat videos. Working with artists, brands and video games Somerset House wants to give us a cuteness overload, while also interrogating our obsession with cute culture, so it'll appeal to aficionados and cynics alike.
CUTE at Somerset House. 25 January-14 April, £18.50.
5. Glass masters: The Glass Heart at Two Temple Place
A chance to appreciate the beauty and diversity of creatives who work with glass, with 100+ works spanning over 170 years from the Great Exhibition of 1851 through to contemporary artists. Whether it be about preserving endangered traditions and techniques, or tackling themes such as marine pollution and Punjabi Desi pub culture in the Midlands, this is definitely a case of a glass all full. Plus any exhibition being hosted in Two Temple Place also offers the added bonus of seeing one of our favourite staircases in London.
The Glass Heart: Art, Industry & Collaboration at Two Temple Place. 27 January-21 April, free.
6. Identity gaming: Danielle Brathwaite-Shirley at Studio Voltaire
What's the role of gaming in society? Is it merely a form of entertainment or could it become something greater? Danielle Brathwaite-Shirley uses the medium to take us deeper into the Black Trans experience and has created a virtual reality experience allowing us to be born again. We've seen previous exhibitions of this artist's work and their ability to merge gaming tech with wider socio-political issues is impressive — including an anxious experience where we had to work hard to identify and shoot the bad guys, who looked a lot like the good guys.
Danielle Brathwaite-Shirley: THE REBIRTHING ROOM at Studio Voltaire. 31 January - 28 April, free.
Short run events
The klaxon to mark the start of the art calendar, London Art Fair (17-20 January, £14+), is back for its latest edition with its usual mix of contemporary and Modern British art. With over 120 galleries showcasing established and emerging artists, and a great series of talks, it's always a pleasure to visit this art fair at the Business Design Centre in Angel.
St Martin-in-the-Fields in Trafalgar Square hosts Life by Luxmuralis (30 January-3 February, £8-£12), a colourful display celebrating the natural world by projecting images onto the outside of the building, and throughout the underground Crypt, culminating in a light show filling the whole of the church. It's a stunning transformation of the beautiful architecture and last year's light show about the universe (pictured and by the same company) was spectacular.
If you're looking for more exhibitions to see then check out our: