Planing a trip to London? Do not miss the best exhibitions right now in London. Design Gallerist, picked the best for you!
Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs
At the Tate Modern Until Sun Sep 7
In later life Henri Matisse became a warrior in a wheelchair. Armed with long-bladed scissors and sheets of paper painted in dazzling hues by a team of doting assistants, in the late 1930s he waged war on old age and illness the only way he knew how – with art. The exuberance of Matisse’s cut-outs hits you from the off in this spellbinding show (OK, perhaps not in the first room, which sets the scene with a transitional cut paper version of ‘Still Life with Shell’, 1940, but from the second, where his dancers start to leap into your consciousness). But, in case the faintly disparaging terms ‘sweet’ or ‘decorative’ start to creep into your mind, the Tate is quick to banish any sense of an artist indulging himself – or being indulged – in his dotage. Instead, the curators have done a sterling job in bringing into focus the complexity – both visual and emotional – of these late, great works.
As the afterglow of the exhibition starts to fade you might find yourself wondering why colour, light and love, all those qualities we find so vital in Matisse, are rarely considered virtues in contemporary art today. You could argue that we need them now more than ever.
Under the Influence: John Deakin and the Lure of Soho
At the Photographers’ Gallery Until Sun Jul 13
Soho is a permissive ghetto to which its inhabitants consign themselves. During the 1950s and ’60s, the photographer John Deakin was intimate with the area’s legendary drinking culture revolving around the Colony Room members’ bar, and his images formed the basis of important paintings by fellow habitué Francis Bacon. Like Bacon, Deakin was notoriously difficult: an alcoholic from the Wirral and about as far from the cool Swinging ’60s photographer figure as you could imagine. He edges into the picture in this show of some of his finest work. A shot of him in Vogue’s studios is stiffly formal. Pockmarked and drab, he seems an unlikely fashion snapper. The magazine sacked him twice. A photo from two years later finds him halfway down a glass in the York Minster pub (aka the French House).
David Robilliard: The Yes No Quality Of Dreams
At ICA Until Sun Jun 15
David Robilliard was a quintessential London artist – back when the city was less about big money and glitzy galleries and more about subcultures and underground creativity. If you haven’t come across his work, it’s partly because he died so prematurely (in 1988, due to Aids, aged just 36), but also because his output falls between the cracks of different cultural spheres: besides being an artist he was also a poet, as well as a prominent figure on the capital’s queer scene.
The obvious modern-day comparison is the offbeat drawing of David Shrigley – yet Robilliard’s work has less of a pay-off or punchline. It feels more open-ended, more diaristic and intimate. You get the sense of Robilliard sifting through daily experience and then recording the most vital, most subtly affecting moments.
The Great War in Portraits
At the National Portrait Gallery Until Sun Jun 15
Wars are remembered in numbers. Soldiers and civilians become figures and statistics. One hundred years after the Great War, it’s easy to lose sight of the reasons for conflict, to forget what started it all and how we justified sacrificing so many lives.
You don’t leave with any sense of the glory of war, but you do feel closer to the story. These soldiers become more human. And in the process, you do too.
Veronese: Magnificence in Renaissance Venice
At the National Gallery Until Sun Jun 15
As one of the leading lights of the Venetian renaissance, Paolo Veronese crafted subtle, beautiful works that dealt with a wide breadth of topics and shined a light on the opulence of Venetian life in the sixteenth century. This will be the first show dedicated entirely to the artist in this country with loans coming in from the Louvre and the Prado, giving us a rare and all-encompassing glimpse into the monumental works of a master.
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