The Best of London: Contemporary Art in Spring

12 Mar 2019

By ArtRabbit

This month, while patio season has officially been postponed, we vow to inject a little more culture into our weekends by filling our agendas with art. Enjoy the longer days and marginally warmer weather with us and hop to amazing exhibitions happening throughout London this spring.

Is it just us, or did we not have a winter in London this year? While it’s not even officially spring yet, we’ve been sipping drinks on patios every other weekend last month. So this month, while patio season has officially been postponed, we vow to inject a little more culture into our weekends by filling our agendas with art. Enjoy the longer days and marginally warmer weather with us and hop to these exhibitions happening throughout London this spring.

Magic Realism: Art In Weimar Germany 1919-33 at Tate Modern

Now in its last months, this free exhibition courtesy of the George Economou Collection offers significant insight into the uncanny and often unsettling images that is contextualised within a world of growing political extremism.

English as a Second Language at Somerset House

A joint exhibition by fashion photographers Hanna Moon & Joyce Ng, English as a Second Language employs playful and otherworldly approaches, incorporating cultural signifiers and set design to bring Asian perspectives to the fashion world.

Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams at V&A - Victoria & Albert Museum

Spanning 1947 to the present day, this exhibition at Victoria and Albert explores the relationship between haute couture master Christian Dior and Britain. With over 200 rare Haute Couture garments from the V&A’s own couture collection and the Dior Archives, along with countless other artefacts, illustrations, personal possessions and more. While this show was originally to go on only until the 14th of July, after being sold out for weeks, the V&A has decided to extend the show until 1 September. Be sure to grab some tickets to this seasonal must-see before it sells out again!

Kader Attia: The Museum of Emotion at Hayward Gallery

In Kader Attia’s first UK survey exhibition, works from his expansive practice span the past two decades. His work often explores the ways in which colonialism continues to shape how Western societies represent and engage with non-Western cultures. Deeply philosophical and urgent, key works touch on the parallel between physical and symbolic repair, encompassing objects, videos and large-scale installations, focusing on both individual and collective trauma.

Franz West at Tate Modern

Franz West brought a punk aesthetic to the traditionally pristine spaces of art galleries and broke down the barriers between art and audience by creating artworks meant to be handled. See his works that are at once crude and striking at Tate Modern this spring.

Only Human: Martin Parr at National Portrait Gallery

Martin Parr is one of Britain’s most widely celebrated photographers. His new exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery takes on one of his most engaging subjects: people. Featuring subjects from around the world along with a wry exploration of Britishness, the exhibition explores his take on the social climate in Britain following the EU referendum.

Art Now: Joanna Piotrowska. All Our False Devices at Tate Britain

This presentation of Poland-born London-based photographic artist Joanna Piotrowska includes black and white photographs of the makeshift shelters she asked people to create in their homes and gardens from 4 different cities around the world. Other works include photographs of gestures and movements from self-defence manuals, exploring both women’s empowerment and violence against women.

Christian Marclay at White Cube Mason's Yard

A reconsideration of the relationship between image and text, this solo exhibition by acclaimed artist Christian Marclay features two new video works including stop-motion animation combined with street photography and video collage techniques with thousands of photographs of the “Look” street sign.

The Ey Commission: Van Gogh And Britain at Tate Britain

Yet another Tate exhibition (we swear we’re not under their payroll; they just happen to be killing it this spring!) Van Gogh and Britain brings together the largest collection of his paintings in the UK for nearly a decade. The show explores his time in Britain as a young man, including the influence British culture had on his art, and in turn how his work influenced the beginnings of Modern art.

Jerwood/Film & Video Umbrella Awards 2019: Going, Gone at Jerwood Arts

With two new moving-image works commissioned through the Jerwood/FVU awards, artist duo Webb-Ellis and artist Richard Whitby respond to this edition’s theme of Britain’s declared exit from the European Union. Each film takes this as a starting point in order to reflect on experiences of transition and loss, confronting the “weaponised bureaucracy” of our political epoch through experimental film-making.

Mary Quant at V&A - Victoria & Albert Museum

One of the most iconic fashion designers of the 1960s who is credited with the introduction of miniskirts and hot pants to the British high street, Mary Quant’s extraordinary collection from the height of her fame will be exhibited at Victoria & Albert Museum, including unseen pieces from the designer’s personal archive.

Motions Of This Kind: Propositions & Problems of Belatedness at Brunei Gallery, SOAS

With newly commissioned works as well as ongoing projects by 11 artists working in and on the Philippines, this exhibition is inspired by a passage in Sir Isaac Newton’s famous treatise of 1687. The passage describes an indeterminacy of motion in the tidal currents between the largest island in the Philippines and the continent, one that speaks to a certain “historical ebb and flow of ideas” and informs the exhibition in its examination of power relations and time.

The Waldorf Project: Chapter Four / BARZAKH

Rarely has art been described as “extreme” without an implication of adolescent edginess that fails to deliver on its promise of broken boundaries. The Waldorf Project is one such rarity, where its designation as “the world’s most extreme art performance” is justified. Following two years of intense research, the fourth chapter of the performance will be its most ambitious yet. Barzakh is purgatory or a state between this life and the afterlife, and the immersive performance is meant to move participants to a state of bliss and divinity. Not for the faint at heart, but not a performance soon to be forgotten. Tickets are now on sale with reduced prices for previews from April 9th until April 17th.

Stanley Kubrick at Design Museum

The Design Museum offers a unique insight into Stanley Kubrick's vast archive through original props and costumes, set models and rare photographs, while tracing the design story behind Kubrick’s body of work. Visitors will be able to relive iconic scenes from The Shining (1980), Eyes Wide Shut (1999) and A Clockwork Orange (1971) and explore the unique relation Kubrick had with Britain.

Tender Touches at Amp Gallery

This exhibition programme aims to blur the lines between audience and art as well as gallery and dining room by exploring multi-sensory avenues of artistic practice, turning the gallery space into an artist-run restaurant where everything from utensils to dining tables is an artistic construct. Drawing on the food-based practice of artist and co-curator Inês Neto dos Santos, the programme includes talks, supper clubs and performances with newly commissioned works by international and emerging artists.

What you missed: BMW Tate Live
Anne Imhof: Sex

While this event has now passed, there’s nothing like a little manufactured FOMO to instil the urge to attend every upcoming event within your reach. In March, award-winning German artist Anne Imhof took over the Tanks at Tate Modern with an exhibition by day and a series of live works staged at night. The live performances were a combination of entrancing yet startling movements coupled with a deep and heavy soundscape, featuring several dancers whose proximity to viewers tiptoed the edge of discomfort. Yet close proximity is better than none, with audiences following closely to the trails of the dancers, but often not close enough as they swung from one room to the next. The intimate space of the Tanks at Tate Modern created further (sexual? dramatic?) tension, amplified by the continual push-pull movements of performers. The title “Sex” is implied in both the power dynamics between dancers and the fluidity of their movements, of sex as both act and biology. Imhof’s own partner Eliza Douglas (artist and now evidently runway model) takes stage in the performance, her carefully dictated movements serving as a continuation of the themes of sexual communication and control. Intricately choreographed and as spectacular as it was moving (think bouquets on fire and strobe lights mixed with delicate, tender motion), this work made a triumph of a difficult space.
For a peek at what you missed, check out our highlights of the performance on our Instagram story.

Update: 2 April 2019
This feature now contains a review of Anne Imhof's performance Sex shown at Tate Modern.

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