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Gilbert & George, THE BEARD PICTURES AND THEIR FUCKOSOPHY at White Cube Bermondsey, 2017 | Courtesy the gallery
Gilbert & George, THE BEARD PICTURES AND THEIR FUCKOSOPHY at White Cube Bermondsey, 2017 | Courtesy the gallery

The Best Exhibitions to See in London This Week

Picture of Freire Barnes
Art & Design Editor
Updated: 13 December 2017

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

John Akomfrah at Barbican Curve

For his most ambitious project to date, winner of the Artes Mundi 7 prize, John Akomfrah tackles the cycle of human existence and its impact on climate change in Purple. This truly epic work will have an indelible affect that lasts far longer than its run in the Barbican’s unusually curved gallery. Be prepared to spend a good hour – if not longer – in the engrossing immersive six-channel video installation that traverses between black-and-white archival footage and filmed scenes by Akomfrah that is accompanied by a mesmerising musical score.

John Akomfrah: Purple is at The Curve, Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London, EC2Y 8DS until January 7, 2018.

John Akomfrah: Purple

Installation View of John Akomfrah: Purple at The Curve, Barbican Centre | Photo: Anthony Harvey / Getty Images 

Rose Wylie at Serpentine Gallery

For an artist who returned to painting after her children left home, Rose Wylie has been making up for lost time, gaining wide acclaim – just don’t mention her age. The octogenarian might have come to fame late in life – and with it she retains an air of intrigue, curiously captured on film by artist Ben Rivers for his Camden Arts Centre show back in 2015 – but she wants the paintings to do the talking. And boy do they. For her Serpentine survey, previously unseen pieces dating from the 1990s will be shown alongside a recent series inspired by Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens. Mixing a cacophony of inspiration, from her childhood spent in Bayswater to eating chocolate biscuits, Wylie’s paintings are a riotous exploration of collective and individual memory.

Rose Wylie: Quack Quack at Serpentine Sackler Gallery, W Carriage Dr, London W2 2AR is on until February 11, 2018.

pink_skater_will_i_win_will_i_win_2015_oil_on_canvas_208_x_329_cm_rose_wylie copy

Rose Wylie, Pink Skater, (Will I Win, Will I Win), 2015 | © Rose Wylie, Courtesy the artist and David Zwirner. Photo: Soon-Hak Kwon 

Gilbert & George at White Cube

This partnership has stood to the test of time and celebrates 50 glorious years of art hanky panky. The tweed-suited duo, as to be expected on their half centenary anniversary, do not shy away from provocative themes and present maybe their most pointed and dramatic ‘Anti-Art’ yet. Prompted by a warning that the exhibition contains multiple swear words, you’ll encounter a directory of expletives along with The Beard Pictures in which Gilbert & George fashion themselves re-imagining hipster facial hair in numerous guises.

Gilbert & George: The Beard Pictures and Their Fuckosophy is at White Cube, 144-152 Bermondsey St, London SE1 3TQ until January 28, 2018.

Gilbert & George

Gilbert & George, BEARDOUT, 2016 | © Gilbert & George, Courtesy White Cube

Karl Horst Hödicke at König London

During Frieze Week German gallerist Johann König opened his first permanent gallery in the city, König London. Known for showcasing interdisciplinary artists who create site-specific work, König’s experimental gallery – located in a former underground car park in Marylebone that was previously occupied by PM/AM gallery – will not run a normal gallery programme, instead it will host ongoing presentations while incorporating a shop element offering editions, books and objects. The space launched with Julian Rosefeldt’s film Deep Gold (2013/2014), which critically investigates Germany’s history. For their second show, the gallery presents paintings and videos by Karl Horst Hödicke. Coinciding with the influential German artist’s 80th birthday, the presentation brings together Hödicke’s reflective portraits of Berlin and considers the ongoing discussions around painting.

Karl Horst Hödicke is at König London, 259-269 Old Marylebone Road, London NW1 5RA until December 23, 2017.


Installation view of Karl Horst Hödicke | Courtesy König London

Gary Hume at 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.

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

Idris Khan at Victoria Miro

Like many of the other exhibitions, this is another one of firsts as the British artist – recently awarded an OBE – 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.

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

Want to see more art in London? Here are the blockbuster exhibitions not to miss in London