2017 will see the first British exhibition dedicated to Basquiat’s decade-defining art, the V&A’s celebration of Pink Floyd’s visual and sonic imagery and the first comprehensive retrospective of British Queer Art. To kick off the year, January’s art scene is by no means short on glamour. For those still recovering from excessive socialising during the Christmas season, or in search of motivation to brave the temperamental weather, the vibrancy of London’s cultural scene this January does not disappoint. From well-established favorites such as Rauschenberg to Lucian Freud, the possibilities are endless. To make your life easier, here are our top picks:
Bacon and Freud: Graphic Works
Marlborough Graphics (18 Jan 2017 – 24 Feb 2017)
Lucian Freud ‘Woman with Arm Tattoo’ 1996, etching, 70.0 x 92.0 cm
An intimate look at one of the most iconic and artistically prolific friendships of the twentieth century. Expect luscious paint and glorious colours.
Group Show: “EVERYTHING EXISTS NOW”
Where: Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery (8 Jan 2017 – 18 Feb 2017)
This group show brings together 13 artists who each reflect on their mood through personal, political and historical viewpoints. Hailing from different backgrounds and artistic practices, the final offering is a nod to the concept of Eternalism, a space in which each moment exists in and of itself, an endless loop in which all these points exist at once.
Terrains of the Body: Photography from the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Whitechapel Gallery
Where: Whitechapel Gallery (18 Jan 2017 – 16 Apr 2017)
A shift from a voyeuristic perspective of the feminine form, Terrains of the Body salutes the female body in its status as a narrative testament of experience. Filtering these photographs through a feminine lens acts as a recognition of the female body as a canvas for self-expression, an ultimate example in the debate of performance of identities. Expect plenty of nipples at this show.
Sigmar Polke: Pour Paintings on Paper
Where: Michael Werner Gallery (13 Jan 2017 – 4 Mar 2017)
Previously called “Dusseldorf’s answer to Roy Lichtenstein”, Sigmar Polke’s difficult categoriation has become representative of his artistic lure. This tendency to resist categorisation and stretch conventional boundaries in an attempt to maximise the capacity of expression in his works is the driving force of Pour Paintings on Paper. Michael Warner’s collection of paintings is a visualisation of the flux behind his artistic philosophy, challenging notions of abstraction and banality in this aerial view of Polke’s signature work.
Feminist Avant-Garde of the 1970s
Where: The Photographer’s Gallery (7 Oct 2016 – 29 Jan 2017)
Throwing us back to the era when ‘feminist’ was still somewhat of a dirty word, these women have an approach to their gender that is both visually and morally inspiring. This work rekindles hope ahead of the terrifying times under President Trump. The union of feminism and avant-garde in this extensive view of a generation of artists with a distinctly female political agenda is, retrospectively speaking, one of the most culturally articulate decisions.
The Vulgar: Fashion Redefined
Where: Barbican (13 Oct 2016 – 5 Feb 2017)
Approaching the end of a very successful season, this exhibition is a cacophony of colours and styles, contrasting a magnetic juxtaposition of new, old and ‘failed’ trends. This vibrant display is a refreshing break from the contemporary appetite for monochrome simplicity.
Where: Rich Mix (06 Jan 2017 – 29 Jan 2017)
The cheap cardboard masks that have become almost synonymous with rudimentary souvenir stores are deconstructed and shifted into monstrous depictions. This exhibition looks at the intersection of ignorance with the proportions of modern-day notoriety.