From Yayoi Kusama’s spotted paradise, to the streets of Peckam’s ‘Little Lagos’, we round up some of the most captivating exhibitions to see this month
LAGOS, PECKHAM, REPEAT: PILGRIMAGE TO THE LAKES, SOUTH LONDO
Dubbed ‘Little Lagos’, one of the largest Nigerian diaspora communities in the UK resides in Peckham, South East London. A new exhibition celebrates this deep connection, looking at the parallel between these two places. Thematically, expect to explore transnational exchange, a sense of place, and the contemporary metropolis, and features 13 Nigerian and British-NIgerian artists working across film, sound, photography, and sculpture. An incredible programme of talks and film screenings included!
Lagos, Peckham, Repeat: Pilgrame to the Lakes is running at South London Gallery until 29 October 2023
PABLO-MATIC, BROOKLYN MUSEUM, NEW YORK CITY, USA
Much has been said of Picasso’s reputation in past years, especially regarding whether we can separate the art from the artist. But when one’s art is so intrinsic to one’s personal life, it’s seemingly impossible – at least, that is the stance that the Brooklyn Museum’s current exhibition Pablo-Matic is grappling with. Curated by the Australian comedian Hannah Gadsby, who studied art history and curatorship, Pablo-Matic places several of Picasso’s works alongside 30 feminist artists such as Ana Mendieta, Marilyn Minter, Renee Cox, Mickalene Thomas, and more and asks us to think critically on Picasso’s oeuvre while pondering who we call a ‘genius’ and who we don’t, and why. While it’s an incredibly divisive approach that has sent many an art critic into a frenzy, Pablo-Matic offers a glimpse at how we might finally begin to reckon with the many figures of the art world who we hold up so high but whose behaviour has let us down.
Pablo-Matic is running at Brooklyn Museum until 24 September 2023
WOMEN DEFINING WOMEN IN CONTEMPORARY ART OF THE MIDDLE EAST
For years, the media has inaccurately depicted women from Islamic societies as voiceless and disempowered. But LACMA’s powerful group exhibition, Women Defining Women in Contemporary Art of the Middle East and Beyond, refutesthese vile stereotypes by showcasing 75 works by women who “were born or living in what can broadly be termed Islamic societies”. Traversing self-expression alongside redefining what it means to be a woman from or living in these regions, the show is generous in its breadth and depth of generations, ideas, media, and location, featuring artists such as Hayv Kahraman, Laila Shawa, Huda Lufti, and many more brilliant visionaries. From Africa to Western and Central Asia, as well as the diasporic communities dotted globally.
Women Defining Women in Contemporary Art of the Middle East and Beyond is running at LACMA until 24 September 2023
I’VE KNOWN RIVERS, HANK WILLIS THOMAS, PACE GALLERY, LOS ANG
Hank Willis Thomas is an artist who seamlessly weaves social practice into art to galvanise action. In his first show with Pace’s Los Angeles post, Willis debuts a series of new retroreflective artworks that explore hiding in plain sight by detailing two scenes revealed through a flash of light. Thematically, Willis blends art history with globalisation, colonisation, and appropriation, referencing Romare Bearden, Malick Sidibé, Roy Lichtenstein, Matisse, and more. The title borrows from a poem by Langston Hughes, which speaks of a journey that is neither linear nor easily traced, much like the ideas Willis explores in his work.
I've Known Rivers is running at PACE from 15 July to 26 August 2023
MID-MORNING IN THE SCRIPTORIUM, KATE DUNN, TJ BOULTING, LOND
British artist Kate Dunn returns to London’s TJ Boulting for her second solo show with mid-morning in the scriptorium. Its title is taken from a poem by the artist that acts as a parable for working slowly and in detail. It’s also an analogy for transforming her practice from large-scale paintings to small ones and back again. A journey that has left her with a freedom that the show also seeks out, “not through singularity but through multiplicity”. Visually, she pulls inspiration from Renaissance-era Florence, with clashes of pop culture and a soundscape by Fred M-G.
Mid-Morning in the Scriptorium is running at TJ Boulting until 5 August 2023
A STORIED GROUND, JERMAINE FRANCIS, CENTRE FOR BRITISH PHOTO
The English landscape, as depicted historically and in pop culture, has typically excluded Black figuring. Having debuted earlier this year in Paris, artist Jermaine Francis’ A Storied Ground remedies this by exploring a Black presence in nature through photography. A series of images draws parallels from this historical absence to nationalism and colonialism and considers how these have impacted the perception of the Black figure, as well as who, as writer Song Tae Chong ponders, is “a natural inhabitant of the British landscape”.
A Storied Ground is running at Centre for British Photography until 24 September 2023
NZULU YEMFIHLAKALO, CINGA SAMSON, THE WHITE CUBE, LONDON, UK
South African artist Cinga Samson is notable for his figurative oil paintings, often depicting pupil-less figures amongst ceremonial scenes in dark tones. His latest show Nzulu yemfihlakalo – loosely translating to ‘the depth of mystery’ – presents a new body of works in South Africa. Described as “dream-like, large-scale tableaux and portraits”, his canvases bear witness to human forms, animal innards, skulls, and white lace as Samson draws on inspiration from his environment and metaphysical realms.
Nzulu Yemfihlakalo is running at The White Cube from 7 July to 26 August 2023
A WORLD IN COMMON: CONTEMPORARY AFRICAN PHOTOGRAPHY, TATE MO
A cross-generational exhibition of photography, film, audio, and more, featuring artists using their art to “reimagine Africa’s diverse cultures and historical narratives” opens this month at London’s Tate Modern. From James Barnor to Atong Atem, Hassan Hajjaj, Lebohang Kganye, Khadija Saye, Ruth Ossai, and more, expect a rich tapestry of artists shaping a vision of contemporary photography representative of Africa and its diasporas.
A World in Common: Contemporary African Photography is running at The Tate from 6 July to 14 January 2023
YOU, ME AND THE BALLOONS, YAYOI KUSAMA, FACTORY, MANCHESTER,
Yayoi Kusama keeps getting bigger and bigger – both in name and in the size of her installations. In fact, an immersive experience in Manchester is the Japanese artist’s largest-ever showcasing of her inflatables, brought together for the first time, with many measuring over 10 metres tall. Expect larger-than-life dolls, tendrils, polka dots, and, of course, pumpkins.
You, Me and the Balloons is running at Factory until 28 August 2023
A STYLE CALLED A DEAD FISH, IIU SUSIRAJA, MOMA PS1, NEW YORK
Almost a decade ago, I stumbled on a photograph of a woman looking deadpan down the camera lens, a broom wedged under her boobs. I affectionately came to refer to that wonderful self-portrait of Finnish artist Ilu Susiraja, the first I’d had the pleasure of witnessing, as “broom boobs”. I loved the humour steeped in a rejection of domesticity. As I dived deep into her as an artist, I found that this wasn’t simply a silly selfie but a practice that has now spanned 15 years. In her first solo museum exhibition, MoMA PS1 has brought together selections of photographs and videos that explore her absurd yet brilliant work from 2007 to today.
A style called a dead fish is running at MOMA until 4 September 2023
LIFE IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN ART, THE WHITECHAPEL GALLERY, LO
Throughout the summer, Life Is More Important at London’s Whitechapel Gallery examines James Baldwin’s proposal ‘that life is more important than art … and yet that is why art is important’ as its jump-off point. A multidisciplinary programme of exhibitions and events, the show delves into art’s role in everyday life – particularly what the art institution means in difficult times. Tracing histories amid migration and difference, particularly in London and the East End, the show questions: “What importance can we attach to art alongside more pressing concerns?”
Life is More Important Than Art is running at The Whitechapel Gallery until 17 September 2023
SOMALI MUSEUM: ANY-SPACE-WHATEVER, THE WHITECHAPEL GALLERY,
While at The Whitechapel, make time for the Somali Museum, a physical and digital space for the stories of Somalia and Somali people in the diaspora. At once, it’s an art gallery, library, archive, museum, dance, and music studio, to “radically imagine what a ‘museum’ is and what it can do”. This inaugural exhibition, Somali Museum: Any-Space-Whatever, presents an array of film, photography, music, and sound media from artists Elmi Original, Rahma Hassan, Ahmed Abokar, Fuad Abdulaziz, and Amaal Alhaag with Nadine Stijns of The Anarchist Citizenship.
Somali Museum: Any-Space-Whatever is running at The Whitechapel Gallery until 10 September 2023
HEMISPHERES, ALICE BLACK, LONDON, UK
Off the back of a stellar series of recent shows, including the group show Double Knowledge, Alice Black invites guest curator and contributing artist Daniel Valentine to execute his vision for its next offering. Described as “a laboratory space for the study of drawing within contemporary art practice”, the show, titled Hemispheres, brings together a series of artists at varying stages of their careers whose central tenant is drawing. The intent is to elevate drawing beyond its reputation as a mere “stepping stone to a more ‘valuable’ outcome”.
Hemispheres is runningat Alice Black Gallery until 27 July 2023
BLACK VENUS, SOMERSET HOUSE, LONDON, UK
For time immemorial, a Black woman’s body has had unjust and harmful stereotypes placed on it by society. But artists such as Sonia Boyce, Renee Cox, and Carrie Mae Weems, alongside a younger generation, including Amber Pinkerton and Shawanda Corbett, have dedicated their art to reclaiming their bodies. Now, curator Aindrea Emelife’s group exhibition BLACK VENUS examines these “representation and legacies of Black women in visual culture” by offering “a radical affront to a centuries-long dynamic of objectification, showcasing all that Black womanhood can be and has always been.” With over 40 works, BLACK VENUS reveals itself across three pillars of archival depictions of Black women: the Hottentot Venus, the Sable Venus, and the Jezebel. Originally debuting in NYC, its UK iteration opens at London’s Somerset House, adding 19 works and six British artists to the show.
Black Venus is running at Somerset House from 20 July to 24 September 2023
A TABLE: SERPENTINE PAVILION 2023, LINA GHOTMEH, SERPENTINE,
With the start of summer also comes the unveiling of the Serpentine Pavilion – this year designed by renowned Lebanese architect Lina Ghotmeh. Inspired by her Mediterranean heritage and the conversations around a dinner table, the Pavilion is titled A table, and acts as a call to action to break bread together. Employing mostly bio-sourced and low-carbon materials, the space was designed with its environment in mind and responds to the shape of the park’s tree canopies, an inviting vessel that encourages visitors to pause, enjoy company, dialogue, and a soundscape created by artist and composer Tarek Atoui.
A Table: Serpentine Pavilion 2023 is running at the Serpentine until 29 October 2023
THIRD WORLD: THE BOTTOM DIMENSION, GABRIEL MASSAN & COLLABOR
A mere few minutes from the Serpentine Pavilion, digital artist and Dazed 100 alumni Gabriel Massan has installed a game made in collaboration with a community of his contemporaries, including artists Castiel Vitorino Brasileiro, Novíssimo Edgar, and vocalist and music producer LYZZA. Titled Third World: The Bottom Dimension, the “consciousness-raising” game “explores the Black Brazilian experience as it intersects with the ramifications of colonialism across physical and digital realities.” Describing his intention to “reveal, rather than replicate”, the game unravels across several levels, each designed by the aforementioned artists in partnership with Massan. By using gaming to bring forth empathy from players, Massan allows us to step into another’s shoes to navigate a real reality that continues once the game stops.
Third World: The Bottom Dimension is running at the Serpentine until 22 October 2023
REFLECTIONS FOR NOW, CARRIE MAE WEEMS, BARBICAN, LONDON, UK
Few people have dedicated their work to exploring identity, power, desire, and social justice quite like Carrie Mae Weems. Her dedication to examining how Black representation has suffered from racism, systematic oppression and inequality in the US is searing in its efforts. Now, in the UK’s largest survey of her work, the Barbican is hosting a retrospective bursting with her seminal photography, film, and installation works – from the well-known Kitchen Table Series (1990) to the incredible film installation The Shape of Things (2021), and everything in between.
Reflections for Now is running at the Barbican until 3 September 2023