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London Exhibitions Not To Miss This May

Our monthly roundup of our favourite London based exhibitions this May, as curated by the BRUSHWRK team…


BRUSHWRK's latest exhibition, 'YES!'



BRUSHWRK x The Five Points Project: A Night of Music and Art

30th May



Online platform and art marketplace BRUSHWRK will be joining forces with creative community The Five Points Project for an exciting evening of art and music. Expect DJs, live artists, an art exhibition, a bar and more. Line up to be released soon! Tickets go on sale early May. Set those reminders!


LACED WITH DUST

Studio West Gallery

Until 30th May



"Inspired by novelist Sheila Heti’s recently published book, ‘Alphabetical Diaries’ (2024), LACED WITH DUST brings together five artists whose practices centre around memory, using Heti’s experimental text as a curatorial springboard to question the structure, affect, and nuances of memorialisation. 

 

Featuring five UK-based painters, the exhibition invites viewers to consider a restructured portrait of remembrance, with images linked by the texture and assemblage of memory, rather than a linear narrative or whole truths."


Sony World Photography Exhibition

Somerset House 

Until 6th May 



"The highly anticipated Sony World Photography Awards exhibition returns to Somerset House this April, bringing extraordinary images – from luscious landscapes to impressive architecture, striking street shots to moving documentary projects – to an iconic location.


This year you will enjoy a refreshed curatorial approach, bringing awe-inspiring photographs to life. The various presentations will showcase photographs printed, projected and presented digitally to enhance your visual experience. There will also be an exclusive space dedicated to the works of Edgar Martins, the 2023 Photographer of the Year, where you will have the chance to delve into the story behind his project.


Embark on an inspiring journey to uncover award-winning images of captivating wildlife, be moved by compelling portraiture, and find yourself amazed by the world around you"



Post Photography: The Uncanny Valley 

Palmer Gallery 

Until 17th May 



“On 17th April 2023, Boris Eldagsen won the Sony World Photography Award in London. However, instead of receiving the award, he confessed that the image he had submitted to the competition had been made in collaboration with various generative Artificial Intelligence systems. The story captured the global imagination and AI generated imagery was propelled into the public consciousness: How does traditional photography differ from AI imagery? Where does the artist’s hand lay and what are the rules around intellectual property?

 

POST-PHOTOGRAPHY: THE UNCANNY VALLEY opens a year to the day since Eldagsen refused the award, pairing the artist with two emerging AI practitioners, Nouf Aljowaysir and Ben Millar Cole. Highlighting the technology’s rapid evolution, the exhibition demonstrates the collaborative process between artist and machine, exploring themes around heritage, identity and the uncanny. The exhibition also critically engages with AI generated images, which are often viewed with suspicion. ‘Uncanny valley’ is central to this - a term coined in the 1970’s to refer to a sense of unease experienced when facing technology that closely resembles humans, but isn’t convincingly realistic. Generated from traditional photographs, the images in this exhibition are at once familiar and unfamiliar. Distorted elements present themselves, creating an unsettling effect, which pushes them beyond the boundary of traditional photography, and into the realm of post-photography”


Hazel Brill: Amber 

Workplace Gallery 

Until 25th May 



A captivating exhibition of sculptures by artist Hazel Brill at Workplace. Running from April 12th to May 25th, this collection explores prometheus narratives in gothic fiction and sci-fi, blending mechanical and organic materials to blur the lines between living and non-living. Brill's sculptures, inspired by biomimicry and biotechnology, embody both warning and protection, echoing the dual nature of amber lights.


With intricate designs incorporating ancient plant fragments, fossilised insects, pine resin, and amber, each piece invites viewers into a surreal laboratory setting. Despite their modest size, these sculptures exude motion and agency, resembling hybrid creatures from otherworldly realms. Join us on a journey into Brill's mesmerising world of transformative technologies and suspended life” - The Shared Drive Newsletter.


N. Dash 

Lévy Gorvy Dayan

Until 12th June 



“Lévy Gorvy Dayan is pleased to announce a solo exhibition of new paintings by New York-based artist N. Dash, inaugurating the gallery’s new location in London’s Mayfair district. Opening on April 25, 2024, the artist’s debut exhibition with the gallery will feature multi-panel paintings that explore ecologies of resonance among disparate materials. N. Dash’s practice is grounded in and distinguished by bringing together organic substances, manufactured readymade objects, and images resulting from embodied processes. The tactile surfaces of these restrained, luminous works emphasize haptic experience, drawing attention to the subtle yet seismic effects of touch.”


Softer, Softest

Guts Gallery 

Until 21st May 



“Guts Gallery is excited to present Softer, Softest; a group exhibition which explores the condition of softness and the ways in which it can be expressed in artistic composition.

 

Softer, Softest rejects the harsh, oppressive edges of modern machinery and instead celebrates the transitory, enigmatic nature of human touch and memory. Throughout the show, spectral bodies phase in and out of view; they shift, collide and eventually coalesce into shadowy, indistinct forms. Elsewhere, everyday objects are captured in hazy impressions; enchanting them with a cryptic, almost spiritual power. In each composition, you can almost hear the hushed breath, the strained whisper or the subdued rustling of fabric that has been captured from life and housed in the sanctum of the canvas"


Fabian Ramírez: Firing of the Idols

Castor Gallery 

Until 18th May 



“Hissing snakes look on as men holding flaming torches set about burning numerous different human heads, masks, and shields. Great flames curl outwards, licking at fornicating bodies that fall through the air or hover in space above serpentine rivers of blue, red, and purple, while an enormous wide-open mouth bares teeth and gums in agony or pleasure. Looking closer, the surface of flame and river are multifaceted, molten, psychedelic even.

 

Ramirez made these paintings using a traditional encaustic process also known as hot wax painting. This method can be roughly broken down into two different activities – one constructive, the other destructive. The constructive activity is the making of the paint, which is achieved by mixing beeswax, copal, and pigments in a vessel on a hotplate. And, after layering the paint onto the plywood surface, the destructive activity of heating with a flaming torch transforms and binds the image. The heating or firing is an alchemical process which leaves space for chance or the unknown and connects with the present by transforming the past”


To supplement the fragment 

Public Gallery 

Until May 18th 



"Public Gallery is pleased to present To supplement the fragment, an exhibition dedicated to the writing and research of the late American art critic Craig Owens (1950 — 1990), curated by Nicole Estilo Kaiser. Presenting thirteen international artists working across nearly seven decades of contemporary art, this exhibition will consider the allegorical impulse and its present-day applications, positing its continued relevance in dialogue with the vestiges of the postmodern debate.

The postmodern debate emerged from a crisis of cultural authority and was staged at the problem of representation. For Owens, allegory became a model of coherence responding to the pluralism that postmodernism offered. Such pluralism is perhaps best represented in The Anti-aesthetic: Essays on Postmodern Culture, a collection of late twentieth century cultural criticism to which Owens’ contributed. In September 2023, its editor Hal Foster reflected on the merits of The Anti-aesthetic today. Its fortieth anniversary encourages the intergenerational dialogues of this exhibition. At forty, The Anti-aesthetic bears witness to what some consider the end of art criticism, a default on our commitment to criticality.


To supplement the fragment asks how we might define our contemporary moment in relation to the postmodern question. It aims for a recuperation of the aesthetic, a revision of our relationship to modernity, while simultaneously upholding the critical drives postmodernism celebrated: “appropriation, site specificity, impermanence, accumulation, discursivity, hybridization.” This exhibition considers additive practices that offer a surplus of meaning from the ruins of a prior image or concept. Together, these artists engage questions similar to those of the Pictures Generation, albeit under different conditions and with different terms, prompting us to revise the problem of representation and adapt to the acceleration of visual media"


Zineb Sedira Presents…

Whitechapel Gallery 

Until 9th June 



“To accompany her exhibition Dreams Have No Titles, British French-Algerian artist Zineb Sedira has chosen a selection of key films that have inspired and influenced her practice.

This free daily screening programme reflects Sedira’s deep personal engagement with the history of activist cinema, particularly the productions made across France, Italy and Algeria following Algerian independence in 1962.


All films are screened in their original language with English subtitles. Visitors are welcome to enter Gallery 2 at any time during the screenings”


Knees Kiss Ground 

South London Gallery 

Until 9th June 



“The South London Gallery’s 13th Postgraduate Artist in Residence, Motunrayo Akinola, presents Knees Kiss Ground, an exhibition exploring faith and belonging through everyday objects.  

The show features new work made during Akinola’s six-month residency. He draws upon his architectural background to examine ideas around space, comfort, nostalgia,  ownership and post-colonial power dynamics. 


Through installation, light and sculpture, he explores how different materials can trigger emotions and memories. Visitors can enter an immersive installation constructed entirely from corrugated cardboard to replicate the exact dimensions of a shipping container.  


Symbols and materials drawn from the Old Testament such as the hyssop plant, help to understand the work, as we try to make sense of surroundings and the cultural gaps in our knowledge” 


The World Press Photo Exhibition 

Borough Yards 

Until 27th May 



“News stories can only convey so much in words: It's the photographs that come alongside them that can often be just as, if not more, powerful. The cream of the over 60,000 photographs submitted for the World Press Photo — including the winners — are on show in Borough Yards, near London Bridge. With so much happening in the world from wars, to environmental collapse, sporting heroics and beautiful human stories, this is a collection of powerful photographs with compelling stories behind each one. This used to be an annual favourite exhibition of ours, so it's great to see it back in the capital after a seven-year absence” - Tabish Khan, Londonist 


Emma Stibbon: Melting Ice | Rising Tides 

TOWNER Eastbourne 

9th May - 15th September



“Melting Ice | Rising Tides is Emma Stibbon’s first large-scale show at a major UK institution and will create an immersive experience for the viewer, aiming to act as a stark reminder that the seemingly remote events of polar ice sheet melt is directly connected with the changes that we are witnessing in our local, more familiar UK landscape. 


The exhibition will look at the warming environment of the polar regions and the impact this is ultimately having on the changing UK coastline, focusing on the Sussex shoreline local to Towner.

For a number of years Emma Stibbon has been observing and recording the precariousness of the polar ice sheets and glaciers and the profound effect that ice melt is having on global sea level rise.  Melting Ice | Rising Tides will be a culmination of this work, making important connections between the apparent remote extremes of our planet and our local environment. 


The exhibition will feature as its centrepiece Cliff Fall, 2023, a monumental and ambitious wall drawing and installation representing the rock falls that are an increasingly common occurrence on the UK coastline. Alongside it will be shown a selection of Stibbon’s large-scale drawings and prints depicting vast ice fields and towering bergs, made in response to recent field trips to Svalbard in the High Arctic, and the Weddell Sea, Antarctica. The exhibition’s narrative around coastal movement, change and erosion, will be completed with a range of new drawings of the sea and coastline of Sussex.


Stibbon’s work is provoked by the wonder and drama of nature but underpinned by contemporary anxieties about our precarious future. Her work is grounded in research gathered ‘in the field’; recording observations through drawing, photography and film, which is then developed into larger scale works in her studio. The physical materials of site such as chalk, carbon and sea water, are often brought into her drawings or used as her drawing media, evoking the elusiveness of the subject in the material fabric of her work” 


If you enjoyed this article, make sure to check out our other blog posts including Artist Spotlight interviews and more over on https://www.brushwrk.co.uk/blog and whilst you’re there, why not have a look through all of the fantastic art we have for sale from emerging artists? Pop into the website to see what catches your eye…

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