The oracle that is me has spoken; here are the London art happenings that will brighten up this gloomy month of October.
Björk Digital at Somerset House. This is, simply put, a great show. Why? Because you get to experience virtual reality Björk. She will sing in your ear, dance right before your eyeballs and descend upon your retina in a cascade of the most awe-inspiring of images. Sure, the VR is a bit subpar sometimes, as any new technology exposed to an endless stream of exhibition visitors would be. This spectacle is still well worth the money; you will leave the exhibition feeling invigorated and grateful to live in the same universe as this Icelandic force of nature.
Frieze Art Fair. Frieze is Frieze. This extravagant circus comes to town every year and it always features an impressive bunch of amazing artists. Essentially, this is the fashion week of art shows. Why does it happen? To enable buyers in their buying of things, so if you are looking to buy things, this is the obvious place to start. A cheeky Picasso for the hallway? £1000000? Say “do you take Amex, darling?” as you whack your extra platinum black card on the till like your name is Mark Francis Vandelli.
Everything currently on at Tate Modern. Tate Modern is killing it right now. On at the same time we have a beautiful Georgia O’Keeffe retrospect, a Bhupen Khakhar display of colourful greatness as well as a soon-to-open exhibition of the Cuban symbolist Wifredo Lam. Three artists, all excellent and ground-breaking in their own right; one of them soaring through the glass ceiling, one investigating and dismantling cultural norms and sexuality in post-colonial India and one transatlantic artist exploring social justice through his Afro-Cuban heritage expressed in equal measures of surrealism, cubism and modernism. Notably, you can go to all three exhibitions for less than a single day ticket to Frieze.
Picasso on Paper at the Omer Tiroche Gallery. Speaking of hanging a Picasso in the hallway, the Omer Tiroche Gallery in Mayfair is putting on an exhibition of Picasso’s sketches and drawings, from his early years to his late working life. With a bizarrely (yet appropriately) high number of Facebook attendees for the private view on the 4th of October, it might prove hard to get into the actual gallery, but for the brave art enthusiast with elbows fresh out of the sharpener, it will most likely be well worth the effort.
Njideka Akunyili Crosby at the Victoria Miro Gallery. This is Akunyili Crosby’s first European solo show which is obviously very exciting. The LA-based artist works in figurative portraiture with close ties to her Nigerian heritage and cultural standing, and through her expressive portraiture she communicates a strong personal message.
Guerrilla Girls – Is It Even Worse in Europe? at the Whitechapel Gallery. With this project, the Guerrilla Girls want to investigate the representation of female, non-male, gender non-conforming, African, Asian and South American artists in European museums, much like they originally did in their home continent. By gathering data from art institutions across Europe, the Guerrilla Girls paint a vivid image of our current cultural climate. Continuously relevant.
Leonora Carrington at the Last Tuesday Society & Victor Wynd Museum of Curiosities, Fine Art & Natural History. Gloriously twisted, surrealist and perhaps pre-psychedelic illustrations by Anglo-Mexican novelist and artist Leonora Carrington. Also notable in this magical place is an exhibition of Paul Hazelton’s work. His ghostlike sculptures made out of dust, human hair and other intimate debris will haunt you for forever if you let them.
Everything currently on at Doomed Gallery Dalston. Doomed is always worth keeping an eye on. This “post-apocalyptical art bunker” as Wonderland Magazine recently dubbed them, is showcasing the works of Bans Illustrations community exploring London youth culture, aptly named “Wavey Things”, amongst other interesting documentary screenings, book releases and art projects.
Bedlam – the Asylum and Beyond at the Wellcome Collection. The Wellcome collection is one of my favourite places in London and their current show about the rise and fall of mental asylums in the UK is extremely interesting. Make sure to check out the events that are running in connection with the exhibition as well.
Paula Rego’s Dancing Ostriches at Marlborough Fine Art. Striking paintings of ballerinas, inspired by Fantasia, potentially Disney’s best film ever. Some of her work will also be on display at Frieze, but it is this set of paintings that deserves particular attention.
Jannis Kounellis at the White Cube Gallery Mason’s Yard. The ‘Alfabeto’ series, from the late 1950s and early 1960s, that is filling the lower ground floor of the White Cube in Central London is particularly interesting. The series marks the start of Kounellis prolific career as a painter and is here shown in its entirety.
Bonus feature: Samuel Beckett’s No Knife at the Old Vic. Not art in the traditional meaning of the word perhaps, but Lisa Dawn’s interpretation and self-direction (in collaboration with Joe Murphy) in this piece transforms traditional theatre into performance art of the highest order.
Strand / London WC2R 1LA
Bankside / London SE1 9TG
Picasso on Paper
Galerie Omer Tiroche
21 Conduit Street / London W1S 2XP
The Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities, Fine Art & Natural History
11 Mare Street / Hackney E84RP
Bedlam – the Asylum and Beyond
183 Euston Road / London NW1 2BE
White Cube Mason’s Yard
25 – 26 Mason’s Yard / London SW1Y 6BU
1 Montclare Street / London E2 7EU
Njideka Akunyili Crosby
Victoria Miro Gallery
16 Wharf Road / London N1 7RW
77-82 Whitechapel High St / London E1 7QX
Doomed Gallery Dalston
65 Ridley Rd / London E8 2NP
Paula Rego: Dancing Ostriches
Marlborough Fine Art
6 Albemarle Street / London W1S 4BY
Samuel Beckett – “No knife”
The Old Vic
The Cut / London SE1 8NB
Image courtesy of Victoria Miro Gallery and the artist.