London’s cultural landscape is not only immense but it’s also vastly varied, with art spaces encompassing cutting-edge contemporary art, groundbreaking photography, and traditional media all across the city. Here we take a closer look at nine of the best art galleries in Soho, from white cube exhibition spaces to those specialising in street art.
The Photographers’ Gallery has earned a spot among the best photography galleries around the globe, its exhibitions and regular events attracting undivided attention from the media and visitors for over 40 years. Housed in a beautiful converted Edwardian warehouse re-imagined by O’Donnell + Tuomey architects, this space not only hosts the annual Deutsche Börse Prize, but also organises a program of high-quality exhibitions each year. Regardless of the season, any photography enthusiast is bound to find something of interest at this London institution.
With its finger on the pulse of London’s art scene since 1985, Anthony Reynolds Gallery is an unsuspecting space with much experience and success under its belt. Its guiding premise is to collaborate with artists in the long-term, from their first shows to later, curated exhibitions at home and abroad. With exciting bi-monthly shows and a marked presence at London’s art fairs, this gallery has a fantastic intuition for talent-spotting.
Owned by the German art collector of the same name, Karsten Schubert has only been a Soho fixture since January 2014, but its links to the British art scene – and Young British Artists in particular – go back to the late 1980s. Nurturing talent from the United Kingdom, the gallery has enjoyed long-standing collaborations with a carefully selected group of established artists, from abstract artist Richard Holyhead to pop art painter Bridget Riley.
Although its actual exhibition space isn’t located in Soho, Payne Shurvell nonetheless continues to organise exhibitions in and around the area. House of St Barnabas is one of their temporary homes, as is the Canadian High Commission in Grosvernor Square (Mayfair), which will host Aidan McNeill’s Borders Between exhibition in autumn 2014. Opened in 2010 by two young gallerists, Payne Shurvell is bold and innovative in its approach to emerging artists: among their represented names are Andrew Curtis, who works with urban and suburban matter, and Paris-based installation and visual artist Marie-Jeanne Hoffner.
Located just a few steps from Soho in the Fitzrovia neighbourhood, Lazarides Gallery is the brainchild of Steve Lazarides, the patron and gallerist of London’s street artists and founder of the renowned Pictures on Walls. What he and his gallery are perhaps best known for, however, is launching Banksy’s international career and their unexpected split in 2009. However, Lazarides is still going strong and representing a carefully curated roster of urban artists, from Invader and his iconic space invader mosaics to Antony Micallef and his dark, masterful paintings. Exhibitions change on a bimonthly basis, with new artists – or surprising work by established ones – on display, which means that the shows always offer up a new perspective on the genre.
With its origins deeply rooted in the Young British Artists movement, Sadie Coles HQ is the brainchild of collector and gallerist Sadie Coles, who has been active on the UK’s art scene for decades and opened her London HQ in 1997. Her accomplished and diverse roster includes the likes of Polish painter Wilhelm Sasnal, New York-based sculptor and visual artist Urs Fischer, and German installation artist Gregor Schneider. With its finger firmly on the pulse of the international art scene, Sadie Coles HQ continues to stage several highly successful exhibitions each year. Located a few blocks away from Soho in the lush Mayfair area, it’s certainly worth the detour.
Pace is amongst the most established contemporary art galleries in the world, with branches in international art capitals such as New York, Beijing, Hong Kong, and London. Their roster of artists is both eclectic and iconic, stretching from Louise Nevelson to Soviet-born polymath Ilya Kabakov. The Lexington Street branch is an elegant space opened in 2011, presenting several museum-quality exhibitions each season.
Starting out as a space for drawing and graphic arts in 1989, Frith Street Gallery soon began to expand its enterprise. Today, the gallery is home to an exciting group of international multimedia artists, from Belgian filmmaker Chantal Akerman’s video art to Massimo Bartolini’s experimental sculptures and installations. While their roster includes highly-established names such as Marlene Dumas and Cornelia Parker, Frith Street Gallery is passionate about emerging talent, and showcasing up-and-coming artists a well; a feat made all the more effective given the gallery’s frequent collaborations with independent curators.
A tiny, dedicated art space consisting of a couple of rooms in a Soho townhouse, Southard Reid is revolutionary in its bold and interactive approach to art, with pieces by various artists co-existing in harmony under the careful curatorial watch of co-owners Phillida Reid and David Southard. Several emerging artists have found their home and haven here, including New York-based Lea Cetera, whose playful works range from performance to site-specific installation, and Celia Hempton, whose most recent paintings have explored sexuality, gender and genitalia. Visit Southard Reid for a sense of authentic, living art in a natural setting that’s both ambitious in its enterprise, and inviting towards its visitors.