Just like buses, you wait ages for an exhibition and then 100 come along at once. London Gallery Weekend is launching its inaugural edition on 4-6 June with a slew of spaces in central, south and east London opening their doors to art-starved visitors for late-night events, studio visits, children’s activities and exhibitions, of course. From a former flower shop in Camberwell to a five-storey townhouse in Mayfair, the weekend spans the full breadth of London’s artistic landscape. Wondering where to start? That’s where we come in. Whether you plan to hit up every show to maximise your step count on Strava or simply want to pop in to see your favourite artist on your lunch break, we’ve put together a guide for every level of gallery-hopping. Sign up to our mailing list to receive alerts about the top shows, latest trends and insider tips.
We'll be updating the guide every week until the big event, so sit back, and enjoy the show(s).
It is a perilous time for galleries in London—and beyond. So, to coincide with the inaugural edition of London Gallery Weekend, we set out to explore the real impact of the pandemic on London’s galleries and the steps they are taking to survive.
When do artistic juxtapositions work? And when are they pointless? Four new paintings by the American artist Carroll Dunham are on display at Galerie Max Hetzler in Dover Street alongside four works by the German painter Albert Oehlen in an exhibition which suggests that the two near contemporaries share similar artistic obsessions.
The Dunham canvases depict giant standing men having sex with giant women laid out in front of them; the Oehlen ones, dating from 2014 to 2017, are abstract, but the paintings of both artists share certain compositional traits, such as intersecting diagonal lines. “All I see are two x-things,” Dunham says when I show him the press release for the exhibition which places an image of one of Dunham’s canvases side by side with one of Oehlen’s.
The Ugandan artist Leilah Babirye began carving wooden masks just over a decade ago after attending a concert with a group of LGBTQ art students in Kampala. Upon entering the venue, Babirye was surprised to observe that during the event many of her peers wore traditional West African masks to conceal their identities. “This art form suddenly took on a new meaning,” says Babirye. “I was deeply saddened to see this was the reality we lived in.”
That reality would eventually prove life-threatening once Babirye was outed as a lesbian by a local newspaper in 2015 after collaborating with a queer activist group. Forced to flee Uganda’s severe anti-LGBTQ legislation, she was granted asylum in the US, receiving support from human rights organisations and artists including Kehinde Wiley who paid for her plane ticket. Settling in Brooklyn in 2018 she soon met the dealer Sam Gordon, owner of Gordon Robichaux in Manhattan.
In December 2017, the artist Jade Montserrat posted a picture on her Instagram account, a selfie sent to her by her former patron Anthony d’Offay, one of the most high-profile figures in the British art world. Nearly ten years earlier, d’Offay had part-sold and part-gifted an extraordinary collection of contemporary art to Tate in London and the National Galleries of Scotland.
For this largesse, d’Offay was hailed as an extraordinarily generous benefactor. But the image posted by Monsterrat, which showed the retired dealer and collector peering into a mirror while holding a golliwog, led to allegations that there was another side to his character.
We’ve pored over the abundant exhibition list and found something for everyone, from the art history buff to the art influencer, so you can focus on enjoying the art, with us by your side.
Zoom in on these exhibitions by some of today's most revered artists, underrated historical figures and chroniclers of contemporary culture
Tear yourself away from museums and libraries for one weekend to catch a rare revival of Jean Dubuffet’s “living painting” performance and Takis’s first European show since his death in 2019
From gabber-inspired altarpieces to slutty elves covered in urethane gloss—here are five of the best emerging artists showing during London Gallery Weekend
London Gallery Weekend could prove to be a tipping point for art created using artificial intelligence (AI) software. On the back of a growing fascination with machine learning, interest in this technological phenomenon peaked in 2018 when the AI work Portrait of Edmond de Belamy by the French collective Obvious fetched $423,500 (with fees) at Christie’s New York.
The market has since petered out, squeezed by the arrival of NFT art (non-fungible tokens); the last notable sale of AI art was Mario Klingemann’s Memories of Passersby I, which sold at Sotheby’s in 2019 for £40,000 (est £30,000-£40,000).Generative art—created with the use of an autonomous system—is nothing new; indeed machine-automated art has fascinated artists since at least the 1970s, though it has struggled to receive market recognition. Nonetheless, “tech-y collectors love AI art, they like the geeky aspect,” says Kate Searles, the director of 3812 gallery in St James’s, which is showing works during London Gallery Weekend by the Hong Kong-based artist Victor Wong, who created A.I. Gemini, the first artificial intelligence ink artist.
The days when London cab drivers would not venture south of the river are well and truly over. Peckham boasts the capital’s finest Campari bar, Brixton is a foodie heaven and Deptford is fast becoming a hotbed for galleries.
Among the new kids on the block are Xxijra Hii, South Parade and VSSL studio, which all opened on Resolution Way alongside nine existing galleries collectively known as the Enclave. Several, including Castor and indigo+madder, are taking part in the inaugural London Gallery Weekend (LGW), which has a different geographic focus every day; 5 June is dedicated to South London.