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Looking at Ed Rusha at Frieze Masters 2016 | Photo: Mark Blower. Courtesy of Mark Blower/Frieze.

The Best Exhibitions to See in London This Week

Picture of Freire Barnes
Freire Barnes
Art & Design Editor
Updated: 9 October 2017

We’ve rounded up some of the amazing free exhibitions that are happening around the city, from pop-up, week-long exhibitions to extended commercial gallery shows, here’s the art exhibitions you have to see.

Bob Parks at Gallery of Everything

Bob Parks | Courtesy Gallery of Everything

When Bob Parks moved to Los Angeles in the 1970s, he soon immersed himself in the West Coast performance scene and began to make work that sought out a pseudo-fictional version of himself. Although staying on the periphery of the commercial art world, today he’s known for his provocative durational performances, that explore close family relationships through the lens of his spiritual enlightenment. This, his first commercial show in the UK, will include paintings, drawings, sculptures and film screenings from his 40-year career and on Tuesday October 3 he’ll be staging an open-air gospel choir sing-song performance between 5 and 7pm.

The Bob Parks Life-Story Show’ is at Gallery of Everything, 4 Chiltern Street, London W1 until November 11, 2017.

Arthur Jafa at 180 The Strand

Installation view of Arthur Jafa, Love is the Message, the Message is Death, 2016 at Store Studios, London, co-presented by the Serpentine Galleries and The Vinyl Factory, 2017 | Courtesy of the artist and Gavin Brown’s enterprise, New York/ Rome. Photo: Hugo Glendinning

After the huge success of his show at the Serpentine Sackler Gallery this summer, you can now experience the American artist’s absorbing and culturally important film at the Vinyl Factory’s unique space on The Strand. Shown in a bespoke tent installation the 7-minute film, set to Kanye West’s gospel-inspired hip-hop track ‘Ultralight Beam’, melds together found footage, creating a haunting narrative of contemporary African-American identity.

Love is the Message, the Message is Death is at Store Studios, 180 The Strand, London WC2R 1EA until December 10, 2017.

Jake & Dinos Chapman at Blain|Southern

Jake & Dinos Chapman, The Disasters of War on Terror, 2017 | Courtesy the artists and BlainSouthern. Photo: Prudence Cuming

Fascinated by Francisco Goya’s famous etching series, The Disasters of War, Jake & Dinos Chapman have reworked three full sets of the prints to form a back drop to their new body of sculptural work for their first exhibition, The Disasters of Everyday Life, at Blain|Southern. Concerned by exploring the turmoil of contemporary existence and the current preoccupation with violence, the duo align themselves with artists such as Goya and Otto Dix who visually criticised their respective blood thirsty societies.

The Disasters of Everyday Life’ is at Blain|Southern, 4 Hanover Square, London W1S 1BP until November 11, 2017.

Launch of König Archive & Souvenir

Julian Rosefeldt, Deep Gold, 2013/2014 | Courtesy the Artist and KÖNIG GALERIE

During Frieze Week German gallerist Johann König will open his first permanent London gallery, König Archive & Souvenir. In a former underground car park in Marylebone that was previously occupied by PM/AM gallery, the space will launch with Julian Rosefeldt’s film Deep Gold (2013/2014), which critically investigates Germany’s history. Known for showcasing interdisciplinary artists who create site-specific work, König’s experimental gallery will not run a normal gallery programme, instead it will host ongoing presentations while incorporating a shop element offering editions, books and objects.

Julian Rosefeldt is at König Archiv & Souvenir, 259-269 Old Marylebone Road, London NW1 5RA from October 5, 2017.

Michael Dean at Herald St | Museum St

Installation view of Michael Dean | Courtesy Herald St

To launch their second London space near the British Museum, Herald St are presenting new sculptures by 2016 Turner Prize nominee, Michael Dean. In the former interior design store, the works draw on Dean’s recent presentation at Skulptur Projekte Münster and allude to how we encounter text on the streets of an urban landscape creating four poetic, distorted monuments – hence the exhibition’s title: Four Fucksakes.

Four Fucksakes’ is at Herald St | Museum St, 43 Museum St, London WC1A 1LY until November 12, 2017.

History is a Nightclub at Peter Harrington

Ben Buchanan, David Hockney and KEith Haring at Mr Chow, NYC, 1985 | Courtesy the artist

Never-before-seen candid photographs by Ben Buchanan are to be exhibited in Mayfair. The in-house photographer of the famed New York venue, AREA, Buchanan was ideally positioned to capture the explosion of downtown scene. From musicians to artists including Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol attending one of the many themed parties, the black-and-white images reveal a pivotal moment in cultural history.

‘History is a Nightclub: Downtown AREA, NYC, 1983-87’ is at Peter Harrington, Dover Street, until October 31, 2017.

Jean Dubuffet at Pace Gallery

Jean Dubuffet, Scène et Site, 1979 | © Fondation Dubuffet, ADAGP, Paris/DACS, London, 2017

This show is the first-ever exhibition dedicated to Dubuffet’s series Théâtres de mémoire in London and the first presentation in over three decades, making it a unique opportunity to see some of the artist’s most important works. Dubuffet started the series at the ripe age of 74, naming the collection after Frances Yates’ book The Art of Memory. Working on a monumental scale, the French artist collaged figures, abstractions and landscapes from various works he had around his studio, ultimately creating multiple works that were all interconnected and referred to numerous time periods.

‘Théâtres de mémoire’ is at Pace Gallery, 6 Burlington Gardens, London W1S 3ET until October 21, 2017.

Gary Hume at Sprüth Magers

Gary Hume, Mum in Bed, 2017 | © the artist, courtesy Sprüth Magers

To launch the reopening of their Mayfair space, Monika Sprüth and Philomene Magers are presenting new paintings by British artist Gary Hume. Taking over the newly expanded exhibition space that now occupies three floors of the Georgian house, Hume’s minimal pastel-hued paintings on paper, which were inspired by events from the artist’s recollection of his childhood, reflect on the inconsistency of memory.

Mum’ is at Sprüth Magers, 7a Grafton Street, London W1S 4EJ until December 23, 2017.

Catherine Opie at Thomas Dane Gallery

Catherine Opie, Portrait of David Hockney, 2017 | Courtesy the artist and Thomas Dane Gallery

Catherine Opie, Portrait of David Hockney, 2017 | Courtesy the artist and Thomas Dane Gallery

Inspired by Old Master European portraiture, the American photographer Catherine Opie will present stunning studio portraits of famous artists for her inaugural exhibition at Thomas Dane Gallery. Taken from Opie’s ongoing series Portraits and Landscapes, the works illustrate the photographer’s adept social-documentary eye that creates exquisite, real visual records.

Portraits and Landscapes’ is at Thomas Dane Gallery, No 3 Duke St, St James’s, London until November 18, 2017.

Tim Rollins and K.O.S at Maureen Paley

ANIMAL FARM – KIM JONG-UN (after Orwell) 2017 | © Tim Rollins and K.O.S., courtesy Maureen Paley

Choosing texts or musical scores that relate to our current ‘political and social conditions’, the activist and teacher Tim Rollins has collaborated with members of Kids of Survival (K.O.S) to create various works from drawings to sculptural objects.

The moonlight was behind them…’ is at Maureen Paley, 21 Herald Street, London E2 6JT until November 12, 2017.

Sherrie Levine at David Zwirner

Sherrie Levine, After Russell Lee: 1-60, 2016 (detail) | © the artist, courtesy David Zwirner

The American artist’s latest works continue her ongoing practice of exploring the idea of authenticity and originality, often through photographing reproductions of artworks. Exhibited for the first time, After Russell Lee: 1-60 (2016) takes the work of Lee (a contemporary of Walker Evans) and a specific project he did for the Farm Security Administration – an American government initiative set up in 1935 to combat poverty in rural locales in the wake of the Great Depression – on documenting Pie Town, New Mexico.

‘Pie Town’ is at David Zwirner, 24 Grafton Street, London W1S 4EZ until November 18, 2017.

Idris Khan at Victoria Miro

Idris Khan in his London studio, 2017 | Courtesy Victoria Miro

Like many of the other exhibitions, this is another one of firsts as the British artist presents new bronze works alongside monumental abstract paintings and installations. As an artist who plays with sensory perception and the layering of imagery, Khan’s most comprehensive exhibition to date invites you to look beyond the surface.

Absorbing Light’ is at Victoria Miro, 16 Wharf Road, London N1 7RW until December 21, 2017.

Gilbert & George at Lévy Gorvy

Installation view of Gilbert & George: The General Jungle or Carrying on Sculpting, Lévy Gorvy, 2017 | Photo: Stephen White. © 2017 Gilbert & George

One of Gilbert & George’s first examples of their ‘Art for All’ philosophy, the early charcoal-on-paper ‘sculptures’ illustrate a day in the life of the artists. First shown in New York in 1971, this is the first exhibition in the UK to present the seminal works.

‘The General Jungle or Carrying on Sculpting’ is at Lévy Gorvy until November 18, 2017.

Lungiswa Gqunta at KELDER

Lungiswa Gqunta, Lawn 1 (detail), 2016 | Courtesy the artist

Confronting the legacy of colonialism in South Africa, Lungiswa Gqunta’s first solo presentation in London, Poolside Conversations will make us see the suburban garden in new light as a place ‘reserved for leisure activities as experienced by the privileged’. Recently included in the 15th Istanbul Biennial, the young South African artist has already made a lasting impression with her work that pointedly highlights the inequalities born out of the existing structures of colonialism in South Africa.

Poolside Conversations’ is at KELDER, C/O Mercer & Co 26A Chapel Market Islington, London N1 9PX until December 12, 2017.

Want to see more art in London? London Art Fairs Not to be Missed this Autumn