Hoping to signal culture’s emergence from lockdown and inject sales momentum as we head into the usually sleepy summer season, London is premiering its first ever gallery weekend this week, aiming to offer a comprehensive overview of the scene across the capital.
To tackle London’s vast geography, the weekend has been split into three broad areas. A glut of more than 100 central London galleries will take center stage on Friday, and gallery devotees will be spoiled for choice—a well-planned itinerary might include a pitstop to the street outside Pace Gallery to catch a capsule performance from Jean Dubuffet’s Coucou Bazaar. Saturday is South London’s time to shine, with some 20 galleries taking part over a more spread out area so visitors are advised to plan their map accordingly, and nearly 30 galleries in edgy East London will be the focus on Sunday.
Here are our picks of what to see on each of the days.
Friday: Central London
“Lost in Italy”
Luxembourg + Co
Through July 3, 2021
Curated by former Venice Biennale curator Francesco Bonami, “Lost in Italy” examines Italy’s unique role in the international artistic exchange of the 1950s and ’60s. The exhibition presents historical works by Alberto Burri, Marcel Duchamp, Yves Klein, Jannis Kounellis, Cy Twombly, and others, alongside a new and startling work by Maurizio Cattelan, which is visible from the street outside.
“Lost in Italy,” Luxembourg + Co., 2 Savile Row, London
“Tala Madani: Skid Mark”
Through July 10
The Iranian artist’s new show is not made for the squeamish. For “Skid Mark,” Madani has created new paintings from her ongoing “Shit Moms” series, depicting female figures that appear to be made out of excrement. An animation of one of the shit moms shows her passing through upscale interiors leaving brown stains on surfaces and furniture, and growing frustrated with the limitations of her amorphous and semi-solid form. Other new paintings include the character of a fully grown Pinocchio with a wooden penis, and series of ominous-looking ceiling fans.
“Julie Curtiss: Monads and Dyads”
White Cube Mason’s Yard
Through June 26
For her first exhibition in London, Julie Curtiss’s new show of paintings, sculptures, and works on paper continues in the veins of cartoonish, humorous, and cheeky tableaux that riff on tropes of pop culture. The show’s title is a reference to organizing principles of the monad, denoting the individual, and the dyad, referencing a pair, in association or opposition. The works on view reference the dualism of these principles with allusions to symmetry and opposition, contemporary and historic, obvious and subtle.
“Kapwani Kiwanga: Cache”
Through June 12
For her exhibition “Cache,” Kiwanga presents a new body of work that continues her research into power, society, and resistance, where she unearths the overlooked histories of materials. Take her ceramic work , which looks at how red rice was brought from West Africa to Suriname and Virginia, US, via the slave trade—the small grains were individually sewn into clothing or braided into hair in order to provide food if and when that person found the means to escape. Some 15,000 of these delicate pieces are arranged into a large sculpture.
Saturday: South London
“Jade Montserrat: In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens”
Bosse & Baum
Through July 24
For her first solo with Bosse & Baum, Jade Montserrat’s show title is drawn from text by Alice Walker, drawing a through line between nature and Black women’s bodies in her exquisitely detailed work. Montserrat undertakes extensive research that balances her personal historical experience with that of a larger group to address questions of systemic racism and other forms of discrimination.
“Tom Lovelace: Bathers”
Sid Motion Gallery
Through June 12
Lovelace will present an installation that brings together photography and performances as the latest iteration of his ongoing “Living Pictures” series. Performers will activate photographs presented as reflective pools on the floor, transforming the gallery into a contemplative environment. Performances will take place daily over London Gallery Weekend, and RSVP is essential.
“Christopher Hartmann: In and Out of Touch“
Hannah Barry Gallery
Through July 31, 2021
Christopher Hartmann paints figures caught in tenuous moments of vulnerability and internal reflection against vague backdrops. These images, primarily of men, pay special attention to the facial expressions from body shapes and capture the contemporary longing for touch and connection amid the emotional intensities of our time.
“In and Out of Touch” Hannah Barry Gallery, 4 Holly Grove, London
Sunday: East London
“Tobias Spichtig: Nothing”
Through July 17
The Berlin- and Zurich-based artist will present a series of new paintings that continue to explore his recurring interest in themes of emptiness as well as vacuous icons or symbols. It is his second show at the London gallery.
“Tosh Basco: Portraits, Still Lifes and Flowers”
Through July 3
The artist Tosh Basco (formerly known as Boychild) will present a new body of works for her second solo show with the gallery. Though best known for her performance work, the exhibition will forefront another dimension to the artist’s practice that has informed her performances: photography. The exhibition presents never-before-seen images chronicling Basco’s daily life over the past two years. The 12 photographs on view each capture a pile of hundreds of still shots that have been printed and stacked together, which Basco describes as akin to memory banks.
“Shannon Cartier Lucy: Cake on the Floor”
Through July 31
The Nashville-based artist Shannon Cartier Lucy presents 11 new paintings in the first London solo presentation of her work. Lucy’s disturbing paintings of women among the trappings of a party carry violent undertones, and add an uncomfortable dimension of objectification to her chosen medium of traditional figurative oil painting.