The best free exhibitions in London – get your culture fix and keep your money for coffee

Harmony Korine, STILTS ZOON X2, 2023 (Photo: Keith Lubow)
Harmony Korine, STILTS ZOON X2, 2023 (Photo: Keith Lubow)

Spring has finally, gloriously, sprung, and as usual, London is absolutely packed with things to do – whether that’s exhibitions, events, theatre or music.

But of course, it can all get a bit pricey. So if you want to have a great weekend seeing some of London’s best culture, but also want to save a few quid, look no further than this guide to the best art shows to see in the city, which are all absolutely free.

Chris Ofili: Requiem

 (© Chris Ofili. Courtesy the artist. Photograph: Thierry Bal)
(© Chris Ofili. Courtesy the artist. Photograph: Thierry Bal)

In this moving commission, Turner Prize-winning British artist Chris Ofili has created a giant art work across Tate Britain’s Northern Staircase to pay tribute to the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire. The dream-like, brightly-coloured mural gives a special nod to fellow artist Khadija Saye who was killed in the 2017 tragedy.

Tate Britain, ongoing; tate.org.uk

Materials and Objects

Eleven rooms of the Tate are dedicated to this visual exploration of the varied materials that artists have used over the decades. Expect to see works such as Doris Salcedos famous metal structures, Marcel Duchamp’s toilet seat and Sarah Sze’s installations.

Tate Modern, ongoing; tate.org.uk

N.Dash

N Dash (Lévy Gorvy Dayan, photo by Nick Moss)
N Dash (Lévy Gorvy Dayan, photo by Nick Moss)

Lévy Gorvy Dayan’s inaugural London show is a solo exhibition of new paintings by American visual artist N.Dash. The process-focused works are inspired by the natural world and continue her exploration of bodily intelligence, this time honing in on touch.

Lévy Gorvy Dayan, to June 12; levygorvydayan.com

Judith Bernstein: Truth And Chaos

 (Courtesy the artist , Emalin, London and Karma International, Zurich. Photo by Stephen James)
(Courtesy the artist , Emalin, London and Karma International, Zurich. Photo by Stephen James)

An outspoken feminist and anti-war activist, New Jersey-born Judith Bernstein has spent her career making provocative large-scale drawings of genitalia. Her first exhibition in London in over a decade is a retrospective of 30 years of her startling, confrontational works.

Emalin, to June 15; emalin.co.uk

Angel With a Gun: Homage to Guy Brett

Lygia Clark, Livro obra (Book work) (Courtesy of the artist and Alison Jacques)
Lygia Clark, Livro obra (Book work) (Courtesy of the artist and Alison Jacques)

These extraordinary works, selected from the private collection of legendary British critic and writer Guy Brett, are now on show as part of a special homage exhibition to their owner. Brett, a leading thinker, curator and writer, was particularly engaged in giving a platform to kinetic art and unlike most of his contemporaries, was vocal in promoting Latin American art. The exhibition therefore includes the work of 12 artists from Brazil, Chile and Venezuela including Mira Schendel, Hélio Oiticica, Lygia Clark, Jesús Rafael Soto and Regina Vater and Carlos Cruz-Diez.

Alison Jacques, to June 15; alisonjacques.com

Robert Rauschenberg: ROCI

Caryatid Cavalcade I / ROCI, Chile 1985 (Courtesy Thaddaeus Ropac gallery © Robert Rauschenberg Foundation / ARS, New York 2021)
Caryatid Cavalcade I / ROCI, Chile 1985 (Courtesy Thaddaeus Ropac gallery © Robert Rauschenberg Foundation / ARS, New York 2021)

Between 1984 and 1991 pioneering American painter and printmaker Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008), spearheaded The Rauschenberg Overseas Culture Interchange (ROCI), an organisation which hoped to boost world peace through mutual understanding. Now Thaddeaus Ropac brings together a series of work from that ambitious project. Expect illuminating canvases, metal paintings, sculptures and textile works.

Thaddeaus Ropac, to June 15; ropac.net

Amel Bashier: Ward el Juri

Named after her daughter, and translating to ‘damask rose’, Ward el Juri is a series of paintings and works on paper from Sudanese artist Amel Bashier. Reflecting on freedom, female liberation and the persistence of the natural world, particularly in the context of the ongoing war in her home country of Sudan, Bashier’s works feature guns and soldiers and almost mythical women.

Addis Fine Art, to June 15; addisfineart.com

Beyond Surrealism

Jean Arp Untitled, 1927 (Courtesy Waddington Custot)
Jean Arp Untitled, 1927 (Courtesy Waddington Custot)

This illuminating group exhibition presents Surrealist works from pioneers of the movement, such as Giorgio De Chirico, Max Ernst and Joan Miró, alongside lesser-known contemporary artists who continue Surrealist ideas or strategies in their work. Asking questions about reality, the unconscious and perception, the exhibition marks 100 years since the publication of the Surrealist Manifesto.

Waddington Custot, to June 15; waddingtoncustot.com

Uri Aran: zero point everything

Uri Aran, Interiors 2024 (Credit: © Uri Aran. Courtesy the Artist and Sadie Coles HQ, London. Photo: Dan Bradica)
Uri Aran, Interiors 2024 (Credit: © Uri Aran. Courtesy the Artist and Sadie Coles HQ, London. Photo: Dan Bradica)

Jerusalem-born, New York-based multimedia artist Uri Aran imagines his works - drawings, paintings, sculptures, collages, photographs - as a visual language or a poem, with a rhythm and repeated motifs within. By exploring how these pieces relate to each other, he raises questions about excess, information, history and lexicons.

Sadie Coles HQ, to June 15; sadiecoles.com

Georg Baselitz: A Confession of My Sins

Georg Baselitz, Oh, ach, dazwischen, 2023 (Photo © White Cube (Theo Christelis))
Georg Baselitz, Oh, ach, dazwischen, 2023 (Photo © White Cube (Theo Christelis))

86-year-old German painter and sculptor Georg Baselitz returns to White Cube Bermondsey for the first time in eight years, presenting a body of new work in which he reflects on a variety of moments from his extraordinary life, and reflects on his art practice to date.

White Cube Bermondsey, to June 16; whitecube.com

Tesfaye Urgessa

Tesfaye Urgessa, As if she's always been, 2022 (Courtesy of the artist and Saatchi Yates)
Tesfaye Urgessa, As if she's always been, 2022 (Courtesy of the artist and Saatchi Yates)

An excellent option for those who won’t be able to make it to see Tesfaye Urgessa’s presentation at Ethiopia’s first National Pavilion at Venice this year. The show spotlights 14 paintings the celebrated Ethiopian painter has created over the last two years in Addis Ababa, Nürtingen and Padua. Depicting contorted human figures, the works deal with the artist’s personal experience of prejudice.

Saatchi Yates, to June 16; saatchiyates.com

Nan Goldin

Nan Goldin, Installation view, 2024 (© Nan Goldin, Photo: Prudence Cuming Associates Ltd, Courtesy Gagosian)
Nan Goldin, Installation view, 2024 (© Nan Goldin, Photo: Prudence Cuming Associates Ltd, Courtesy Gagosian)

Pioneering photographer and activist Nan Goldin is celebrated for her intimate and provocative depictions of American subcultures, and has become best known for shining a light on the effects of the HIV/AIDS crisis and the opioid epidemic.

Here, see a series of her early black and white photographs, taken between 1972 and 1974. Her work can also be seen at the V&A in the new Fragile Beauty exhibition and at Gagosian’s Charing Cross Road branch from May 30.

Gagosian Burlington Arcade, to June 22; gagosian.com

Before Freedom Pt. 2: The Revolution Cannot Be Built on Dreams Alone

Under the Olive Trees, 2022 (Courtesy the artist and TJ Boulting)
Under the Olive Trees, 2022 (Courtesy the artist and TJ Boulting)

Prize-winning architect-curator Lobna Sana, who grew up in a Bedouin village in the Negev, curates a series of photographs by Palestinian-American photographer Adam Rouhana. The photographs, taken between 2022-2024, show a glimpse of everyday Palestinian lives.

“Images like these can help reorient us toward a just future – a Palestine where we can all live together with equality and freedom,” said Rouhana in a recent interview. “A home where I can one day sit with my granddaughter. A place where she has a past and a future.”

TJ Boulting, to June 22; tjboulting.com

Hannah Levy: Buldge

Hannah Levy, Installation View (Photo by: Robert Glowacki, Courtesy: Massimodecarlo)
Hannah Levy, Installation View (Photo by: Robert Glowacki, Courtesy: Massimodecarlo)

In New York artist Hannah Levy’s amorphous sculptures, bulbous silicon blobs push through metal claws and spindly, spiky limbs resemble spider legs. The result is a cool collection of works that look like aliens have descended on the elegant Soho gallery space.

Massimodecarlo, to June 22; massimodecarlo.com

Art Now: Zeinab Saleh

Zeinab Saleh, Early morning, 2024 (Courtesy of the artist and Tate Britain)
Zeinab Saleh, Early morning, 2024 (Courtesy of the artist and Tate Britain)

Art Now is Tate Britain’s long-running exhibition series spotlighting rising stars in the art scene; this time, it’s Kenyan-born and London-based artist Zeinab Saleh’s turn to shine. Drawing on everyday experiences and memories, Saleh uses patterns and silhouettes in soft colours to create a feeling of otherworldliness and intimacy.

Tate Britain, to June 23; tate.org.uk

Sisters, Saints, Sibyls

Nan Goldin in her Brooklyn, New York apartment, 2023 (Photo: Jason Schmidt, courtesy the artist and Gagosian)
Nan Goldin in her Brooklyn, New York apartment, 2023 (Photo: Jason Schmidt, courtesy the artist and Gagosian)

Pioneering photographer and activist Nan Goldin presents an film installation that explores the institutionalisation of her sister, Barbara, who spent six years in and out of psychiatric detention centers before taking her own life aged 18. And as with all of Goldin’s works, Sisters, Saints, Sibyls promises to be deeply moving and excoriating. Situated in a church, the exhibition is part of Gagosian’s off-site series, in which it presents artworks in unusual contexts.

Welsh chapel at 83 Charing Cross Road, to June 23; gagosian.com

Matthew Krishanu: The Bough Breaks

Boy in River, 2024, Matthew Krishanu (Courtesy of the artist and Jhaveri Contemporary, Photo: Rob Harris)
Boy in River, 2024, Matthew Krishanu (Courtesy of the artist and Jhaveri Contemporary, Photo: Rob Harris)

Bradford-born Matthew Krishanu draws on his childhood in Bangladesh raised by Christian missionary parents to create this new series of paintings and works on paper. Atmospheric and sometimes haunting, the pieces explore memory, religion and history.

Camden Art Centre, to June 23; camdenartcentre.org

Andrew Omoding: Animals To Remember Uganda

Andrew Omoding, Teddy, 2016 (Image courtesy of the Artist and ActionSpace)
Andrew Omoding, Teddy, 2016 (Image courtesy of the Artist and ActionSpace)

Ugandan-born, London-based artist Andrew Omoding presents a brand new site specific series of abstract installations that incorporate music, video and sculpture, which have been made from repurposed objects and metal. The autobiographical pieces, a continuation of his 2019 presentation at the gallery, reflect on childhood and migration.

Camden Arts Centre, to June 23; camdenartcentre.org

Leo Robinson: DREAM-BRIDGE-OMNIGLYPH

Leo Robinson: DREAM–BRIDGE–OMNIGLYPH, installation view, 2023 (Photo: Marcus Leith)
Leo Robinson: DREAM–BRIDGE–OMNIGLYPH, installation view, 2023 (Photo: Marcus Leith)

Bloomberg’s City of London basement is full of surprises. It not only consists of an art gallery, but it is home to parts of an ancient Roman temple and showcases a number of Roman artefacts too. Its next art commission is DREAM-BRIDGE-OMNIGLYPH, a collection of multimedia works from British artist Leo Robinson that explores ancient myths, personal identity, history, tradition and colonialism.

London Mithraeum Bloomberg SPACE, to June 29; londonmithraeum.com

Soufiane Ababri: Their mouths were full of bumblebees but it was me who was pollinated

 (Soufiane Ababri. Photo: Rebecca Fanuele)
(Soufiane Ababri. Photo: Rebecca Fanuele)

Moroccan artist Soufiane Ababri’s first major solo UK exhibition is a tender investigation of queerness, desire and diasporic life through drawings and set design: “This atmospheric installation won’t give up all its secrets to everyone, but it’s evocative nonetheless,” said the Standard.

Barbican, to June 30; barbican.org.uk

The Conservatory x Ranjani Shettar

Installation view of Ranjani Shettar: Cloud songs on the horizon (Courtesy Barbican Centre, KNMA, Ranjani Shettar © Max Colson, Barbican Art Gallery)
Installation view of Ranjani Shettar: Cloud songs on the horizon (Courtesy Barbican Centre, KNMA, Ranjani Shettar © Max Colson, Barbican Art Gallery)

Not that anyone really needs an excuse to visit the Barbican’s gorgeous conservatory, but the space now features five large-scale works from Indian sculptor Ranjani Shettar. The delightful sculptures, which have been inspired by nature, have been crafted by hand using materials - including wood, stainless steel, muslin - and techniques that are used in traditional Indian craftwork.

Barbican, to July 1; barbican.org.uk

Magda Stawarska: Drift

Magda Stawarska, Lina Poletti Strada, 2023 (Courtesy artist and Yamamoto Keiko Rochaix)
Magda Stawarska, Lina Poletti Strada, 2023 (Courtesy artist and Yamamoto Keiko Rochaix)

In 10 news works created using various media, Poland-born, UK-based artist Magda Stawarska continues her exploration of the way that generational trauma can be found in the architecture of a city.

Yamamoto Keiko Rochaix, to July 6; yamamotokeiko.com

Jacqueline de Jong: La petite mort

Jacqueline de Jong, Autostop Suicide, 1965 (Photo: Eva Herzog)
Jacqueline de Jong, Autostop Suicide, 1965 (Photo: Eva Herzog)

Dutch artist Jacqueline de Jong (b.1939), who began her career in Paris in the Sixties, creates vivid works about eroticism, violence and human interaction. Here, in both old and new paintings, she continues this exploration.

Pippy Houldsworth Gallery, to July 6; houldsworth.co.uk

Searching Minds

Roy Oxlade, Infanta with Black Easel, c. 1989 (Courtesy of the artist and Sid Motion Gallery)
Roy Oxlade, Infanta with Black Easel, c. 1989 (Courtesy of the artist and Sid Motion Gallery)

This group exhibition brings together pieces by Carole Gibbons, Roy Oxlade and Max Wade; artists from different generations whose abstract and figurative works all reflect on how both narratives and physical spaces change over time.

Sid Motion Gallery, to July 6; sidmotiongallery.co.uk

Andrew Pierre Hart: Bio-Data Flows and Other Rhythms – A Local Story

Installation View: Andrew Pierre Hart: Bio-Data Flows and Other Rhythms – A Local Story (Courtesy Whitechapel Gallery. Photo: Above Ground Studio)
Installation View: Andrew Pierre Hart: Bio-Data Flows and Other Rhythms – A Local Story (Courtesy Whitechapel Gallery. Photo: Above Ground Studio)

London-based music producer and interdisciplinary artist Andrew Pierre Hart has created a series of oil paintings, a soundscape, a film and a sculpture, inspired by, and responding to, Whitechapel and its place as a home for diasporic and migrant communities.

Whitechapel Gallery, to July 7; whitechapelgallery.org

Harminder Judge: A Ghost Dance

Installation view, Harminder Judge, A Ghost Dance, Matt’s Gallery, London 2024 (Photograph by Ollie Hammick)
Installation view, Harminder Judge, A Ghost Dance, Matt’s Gallery, London 2024 (Photograph by Ollie Hammick)

In this collaborative exhibition taking place at both The Sunday Painter and Matt’s Gallery, two south London spaces just 10-minutes walk from one another, Rotherham artist Harminder Judge reflects on funeral rites and rebirth, drawing parallels between the body and the cosmos.

The Sunday Painter, to July 7; thesundaypainter.co.uk

Adriano Costa: ax-d. us. t

Adriano Costa, FRANGO ASSADO (You Will Always Be My Baby I Won’t Tell Anyone), 2024 (Courtesy of the artist and Emalin, London. Photo by Stephen James)
Adriano Costa, FRANGO ASSADO (You Will Always Be My Baby I Won’t Tell Anyone), 2024 (Courtesy of the artist and Emalin, London. Photo by Stephen James)

Brazilian artist Adriano Costa uses everyday materials to create his sculpture, installation and painting works. His minimalist and modernist work is here presented in – and draws from – the historical Clerk’s House in Shoreditch High Street.

Emalin, to July 13; emalin.co.uk

Carole Gibbons: Of Silence and Slow Time

Carole Gibbons, Chinese Horse, c. 1977 (Photo by Damian Griffiths)
Carole Gibbons, Chinese Horse, c. 1977 (Photo by Damian Griffiths)

Carole Gibbons (b. 1935) now lives and works in her hometown Glasgow after years spent in Spain. She creates gorgeous, atmospheric works that depict a wide range of subjects including folkloric landscapes, portraits and still life.

Hales Gallery, to July 13; halesgallery.com

Hannah Starkey

Hannah Starkey, Untitled, November 2023 (© Hannah Starkey, courtesy Maureen Paley, London)
Hannah Starkey, Untitled, November 2023 (© Hannah Starkey, courtesy Maureen Paley, London)

Hannah Starkey often uses staged settings and actors to achieve her large-scale photos, each shot lushly cinematic. Thought-provoking, full of rich colours and often featuring women, the images work as a meditation on the female experience and on women’s representation in contemporary culture. Here, see more of her illuminating works.

Maureen Paley, to July 14; maureenpaley.com

Euan Uglow

Uglow, The Diagonal, 1971-77 (Courtesy of the artist and Hazlitt Holland-Hibbert)
Uglow, The Diagonal, 1971-77 (Courtesy of the artist and Hazlitt Holland-Hibbert)

Leading British figurative painter Euan Uglow (1932-2000) is best-known for his nude human figures and distinct still life paintings. Here, 25 of his works, brought together from both public and private collections, will be on display – all reflecting his pursuit of clarity.

Hazlitt Holland-Hibbert, to July 19; hh-h.com

Gérard Schneider

Gérard Ernest Schneider, Opus 86K, 1974 (Courtesy of the artist and Hazlitt Holland-Hibbert)
Gérard Ernest Schneider, Opus 86K, 1974 (Courtesy of the artist and Hazlitt Holland-Hibbert)

The works of Swiss-French painter Gérard Schneider (1896-1986), a leading figure in the Lyrical Abstraction art movement, are a delight for the eyes, as giant brushstrokes in bright colours twist and turn across his canvases. In this survey of works taken from 1956 and 1981, we see his style, and focus, evolve over the years.

Cardi Gallery, to July 20; cardigallery.com

The Last Caravaggio

The Martyrdom of Saint Ursula by Caravaggio, 1610 (Archivio Patrimonio Artistico Intesa Sanpaolo / Luciano Pedicini, Napoli)
The Martyrdom of Saint Ursula by Caravaggio, 1610 (Archivio Patrimonio Artistico Intesa Sanpaolo / Luciano Pedicini, Napoli)

Violent, cinematic, eternally provocative, Caravaggio’s kinetic paintings continue to inspire. Which is why a one-room show of just two of the Italian master’s paintings – The National Gallery’s Salome with the Head of John the Baptist (1609-10) and The Martyrdom of Saint Ursula (1610), seen in London for the first time in 20 years – is one of the most buzzy openings of the year.

The National Gallery, to July 21; nationalgallery.org.uk

Michaël Borremans, The Monkey, 2023 (© Michaël Borremans, Courtesy of the artist and David Zwirner)
Michaël Borremans, The Monkey, 2023 (© Michaël Borremans, Courtesy of the artist and David Zwirner)

Belgian artist Michaël Borremans, who has been described as “may be the greatest living figurative painter”, presents a series of new works that are, as usual, strange, unnerving and incredible.

David Zwirner, to July 26; davidzwirner.com

Harmony Korine: Aggressive Dr1fter Part II

Harmony Korine, Drift XI, 2023 (Photo: Sarah Muehlbauer)
Harmony Korine, Drift XI, 2023 (Photo: Sarah Muehlbauer)

The work of American artist and filmmaker Harmony Korine, who directed Spring Breakers in 2012, is a meditation on experimentation and expression. Here, a new series of hallucinatory images draw from his film Aggro Dr1ft, which premiered at 2023’s Venice Film Festival.

Hauser & Wirth, to July 27; hauserwirth.com

Isa Genzken: Wasserspeier and Angels

Installation view, ‘Isa Genzken. Wasserspeier and Angels’ at Hauser & Wirth Piccadilly, London, UK, 2004. (© Isa Genzken. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2024. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth)
Installation view, ‘Isa Genzken. Wasserspeier and Angels’ at Hauser & Wirth Piccadilly, London, UK, 2004. (© Isa Genzken. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2024. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth)

Influential German contemporary artist Isa Genzken, best known for her sculptural works, draws on the aesthetics of Minimalism and punk culture to ask questions about society, capitalism, human experience and perception. Here her 2004 installation, Wasserspeier and Angels, is revived to celebrate two decades since its London debut.

Hauser & Wirth, to July 27; hauserwirth.com

Boscoe Holder, Geoffrey Holder

Geoffrey Holder, Woman on Man's Shoulders, Late-1970s (left), Boscoe Holder, Green Background, 1996 (right) (© Geoffrey Holder, Courtesy the Geoffrey Holder Estate and James Fuentes / © Boscoe Holder, Courtesy the Boscoe Holder Estate and Victoria Miro)
Geoffrey Holder, Woman on Man's Shoulders, Late-1970s (left), Boscoe Holder, Green Background, 1996 (right) (© Geoffrey Holder, Courtesy the Geoffrey Holder Estate and James Fuentes / © Boscoe Holder, Courtesy the Boscoe Holder Estate and Victoria Miro)

Accomplished siblings Boscoe Holder (1921-2007) and Geoffrey Holder (1930-2014) were born in Trinidad and Tobago but settled in the UK and US respectively. Both enjoyed stellar careers as artists, singers, musicians and dancers. Here, some of their exquisite paintings are on show together for the first time ever.

Victoria Miro, to July 27; victoria-miro.com

Intension

Becky Beaskey, Flora, A Life, 2016 (Courtesy of the Artist and Copperfield, London)
Becky Beaskey, Flora, A Life, 2016 (Courtesy of the Artist and Copperfield, London)

“Intension is a common misspelling of intention, but a beautiful one. Google it,” says Copperfield Gallery, introducing Intension, a show about the extraordinary capabilities of our minds, and the unfortunate way only certain kinds of intelligence are celebrated by society. The artists in the show, many of whom are neurodiverse, can do remarkable things such as see numbers in colour or 3D render in their minds, but were called stupid at school – this show mulls over these kinds of misconceptions.

Copperfield Gallery, to July 27; copperfieldgallery.com

John Baldessari: Ahmedabad 1992

John Baldessari, Street Scene (With Blue Intrusion)/Single Leaf (Green), 1992 (© Courtesy Estate of John Baldessari © 2024 Courtesy John Baldessari Family Foundation, Courtesy Sprüth Magers)
John Baldessari, Street Scene (With Blue Intrusion)/Single Leaf (Green), 1992 (© Courtesy Estate of John Baldessari © 2024 Courtesy John Baldessari Family Foundation, Courtesy Sprüth Magers)

American conceptual artist John Baldessari (1931-2020) played with photography, collage, painting and texts and was inspired by a wide range of sources – from film culture to Marcel Duchamp to Ludwig Wittgenstein – to make his absurdist works. Ahmedabad 1992 is a special series, made during a residency in India.

Sprüth Magers, to July 27; spruethmagers.com

Matthew Barney: Secondary: light lens parallax

Matthew Barney, Secondary, 2023 (© Matthew Barney. Courtesy the Artist, Gladstone Gallery, Sadie Coles HQ, Regen Projects, and Galerie Max Hetzler. Photo: Julieta Cervantes)
Matthew Barney, Secondary, 2023 (© Matthew Barney. Courtesy the Artist, Gladstone Gallery, Sadie Coles HQ, Regen Projects, and Galerie Max Hetzler. Photo: Julieta Cervantes)

A show in four parts, celebrated American contemporary artist Matthew Barney’s exhibition unfolds across London, at Sadie Coles HQ, Gladstone Gallery, Regen Projects and Galerie Max Hetzler. Exploring the relationship between the body, violence, possibility and change, the four exhibitions all work as extensions of Barney’s 2023 film, Secondary.

Sadie Coles HQ, to July 27; sadiecoles.com

Kiki Kogelnik: The Dance

Kiki Kogelnik, Astronaut, 1964 (© Kiki Kogelnik Foundation)
Kiki Kogelnik, Astronaut, 1964 (© Kiki Kogelnik Foundation)

Kiki Kogelnik (1935-1997), a hugely influential artist in Austria who is often associated with the Pop Art movement, spent her career creating bright, psychedelic works in a wide range of materials. She grew up in post-war Europe and forever-after searched for joy and freedom – finding this physically in Paris and New York and spiritually in her work. This survey of her works focuses in on her interest on space and the body.

Pace Gallery, to August 3; pacegallery.com

Ibrahim Mahama: Purple Hibiscus

Ibrahim Mahama’s Purple Hibiscus during installation at the Barbican, 2024 (Courtesy Ibrahim Mahama, Red Clay Tamale, Barbican Centre, London and White Cube.  © Pete Cadman, Barbican Centre)
Ibrahim Mahama’s Purple Hibiscus during installation at the Barbican, 2024 (Courtesy Ibrahim Mahama, Red Clay Tamale, Barbican Centre, London and White Cube. © Pete Cadman, Barbican Centre)

Ibrahim Mahama has collaborated with hundreds of craftspeople from Ghana to create this delicate, uplifting installation, which sees the Barbican wrapped in 2,000 square metres of purple cloth. 100 ‘batakaris’ – royal Ghanian robes – have been hand sewn to the brightly-coloured piece that adds a shock of colour to the famous grey tones of the Brutalist space.

Barbican, to August 18; barbican.org.uk

Jodie Carey: Guard

Jodie Carey, Guard (detail), 2024. Photo: Dor Even Chen (Courtesy of the artist and Edel Assanti)
Jodie Carey, Guard (detail), 2024. Photo: Dor Even Chen (Courtesy of the artist and Edel Assanti)

Jodie Carey’s extraordinary sculptural installations often ask questions about material memory and the environment. Here, she continues her exploration of these themes in 150 sculptures, which reflect on evolution, the stubbornness of the natural world, and the way human beings imbue plants with meaning.

Edel Assanti, to August 23; edelassanti.com

Beryl Cook / Tom of Finland

Beryl Cook, Elvira’s Café, 1997 (Courtesy of the Beryl Cook Estate, John Cook 2023)
Beryl Cook, Elvira’s Café, 1997 (Courtesy of the Beryl Cook Estate, John Cook 2023)

The works of cultural icons Beryl Cook and Tom of Finland are displayed in the same space for the first time: the British artist’s comical scenes next to the Finnish artist’s homoerotic figures, the works playful and political. With the inclusion of archival materials, the survey explores their interconnected ideas concerning gender, sexuality, taste and class.

Studio Voltaire, to August 25; studiovoltaire.org

Yinka Shonibare: Suspended States

Yinka Shonibare CBE, Decolonised Structures, 2022-23. (Yinka Shonibare, Serpentine South Gallery)
Yinka Shonibare CBE, Decolonised Structures, 2022-23. (Yinka Shonibare, Serpentine South Gallery)

Described as “beautiful, alluring and disquieting” and “classic Yinka”, Suspended States, Yinka Shonibare’s first London solo exhibition in more than two decades is a series of illuminating installations made since 2017. Expect statues of Queen Victoria and Winston Churchill wrapped head to toe in bright fabrics; models of buildings that have housed the vulnerable; and his harrowing war library.

Serpentine South Gallery, to September 1; serpentinegalleries.org

Polly Braden: Leaving Ukraine

In this moving series of photographs and short films, visual artist Polly Braden documents stories of women - mothers, daughters, teenagers and babies in arms - who have been forced to leave their homes because of the war.

Founding Museum, to September 1; foundlingmuseum.org.uk

Judy Chicago: Revelations

Judy Chicago, Revelations (Judy Chicago/Serpentine Gallery)
Judy Chicago, Revelations (Judy Chicago/Serpentine Gallery)

Judy Chicago, the celebrated artist, author and feminist, returns to London with her largest-ever solo presentation in the city.

The show, which focuses on the 84-year-old’s drawings, offers a radical retelling of history: “Chicago advocates for changing the patriarchal paradigm with a vision of the world where equality is the norm, change is the goal, and working together toward this end is the purpose of life,” said the Standard.

Serpentine North Gallery, to September 1; serpentinegalleries.org

Beyond The Matrix: A Sculptural Exhibition by Jodie Carey

Beyond The Matrix: A Sculptural Exhibition by Jodie Carey (AWITA x Brookfield Properties, Beyond the Matrix)
Beyond The Matrix: A Sculptural Exhibition by Jodie Carey (AWITA x Brookfield Properties, Beyond the Matrix)

British artist Jodie Carey’s large-scale installations extend across the giant glass foyer of this east London office, inviting viewers to contemplate the anthropocene, material memory, and the relationship between objects and their environment.

100 Bishopsgate, to September 20; brookfieldproperties.com

Cedric Christie: Oblivious to Your Own Career

Installation view, Cedric Christie (Rocket Gallery)
Installation view, Cedric Christie (Rocket Gallery)

London-based artist Cedric Christie’s training as a welder is evident in his minimalist sculptures made of industrial materials, covered in car paint. In this survey exhibition, he continues his exploration of the “aesthetic of reduction”.

Rocket Gallery, to September 21; rocketgallery.com

Art Without Heroes: Mingei

 (From the collections of the Crafts Study Centre, University for the Creative Arts)
(From the collections of the Crafts Study Centre, University for the Creative Arts)

Mingei, meaning ‘the art of the people’, is an early 20th century Japanese folk-craft style which encompassed ceramics, woodwork, paper, toys, textiles, photography and film. In this wide-ranging, illuminating show, unseen pieces, museum loans and archival footage tell the story of the influential movement.

William Morris Gallery, to September 22; wmgallery.org.uk

Monumental: Tipping The Scales of Historical Design

Joaqium Tenreiro, Credenza (Photography by David Brook, courtesy of Carpenters Workshop Gallery)
Joaqium Tenreiro, Credenza (Photography by David Brook, courtesy of Carpenters Workshop Gallery)

This group exhibition presents the works of nine pioneering designers, including Le Corbusier, Serge Mouille, Charlotte Perriand, Jean Prouvé, Sergio Rodrigues and Joaquim Tenreiro, and explores questions about scale and perception.

Carpenters Workshop Gallery, to September 22; carpentersworkshopgallery.com

Flaming June

Frederic, Lord Leighton PRA, Flaming June, c. 1895. (Museo de Arte de Ponce. Luis A. Ferré Foundation, Inc.)
Frederic, Lord Leighton PRA, Flaming June, c. 1895. (Museo de Arte de Ponce. Luis A. Ferré Foundation, Inc.)

Frederic Leighton’s most famous painting, the exquisite Flaming June, was originally part of the British artist’s submission to the RA’s Summer Exhibition in 1895. Now, 128 years later, it’s on show at the institution again (on loan from the Museo de Arte de Ponce in Puerto Rico), being shown alongside work from both Leighton and his contemporaries.

Royal Academy of Arts, to January 12, 2025; royalacademy.org.uk

Alvaro Barrington: Grace

Alvaro Barrington, Wete Fete, Bathers, for Myself 2023 (© Alvaro Barrington)
Alvaro Barrington, Wete Fete, Bathers, for Myself 2023 (© Alvaro Barrington)

In this major installation, Venezuela-born, London-based painter Alvaro Barrington honours the women who shaped him: his grandmother, sister and mother. A “constant reimagining of Black culture”, the lively show consists of paintings and sculptures inspired by his memories.

Tate Britain, to January 26, 2025; tate.org.uk

Colin Davidson: Silent Testimony

Walter, Colin Davidson: Silent Testimony (Courtesy of the artist and National Portrait Gallery)
Walter, Colin Davidson: Silent Testimony (Courtesy of the artist and National Portrait Gallery)

Quiet, thought-provoking and moving, the exhibition displays 18 large-scale portraits by the Belfast-born artist Colin Davidson. He’s painted individuals who have experienced loss due to The Troubles, Ireland’s 30-year sectarian conflict.

National portrait Gallery, to February 23, 2025; npg.org.uk