Inside London Gallery Weekend

Inside London Gallery Weekend

Last weekend,

the sun was shining, the Chelsea Flower Show was in full bloom and galleries across London opened their doors and champagne bottles to the public. From performances, poetry recitals and exclusive exhibition previews and talks at leading galleries, to curated tours, brunch soirees and intimate cocktail receptions, London Gallery Weekend was THE moment for medium and small art galleries to shine.

T he world’s largest event of its kind, it draws collectors and curators from around the world to the British capital. The breadth and diversity of its participating galleries spans from Edwardian venues in Bermondsey and Fitzrovia to the eclectic bohemian streets of Shoreditch and South London.  With recommended routes across the city curated by luminaries such as the fashion photographer Nick Knight CBE, writer and curator Ekow Eshun, Harper's Bazaar Editor-in-chief Lydia Slater, and artist and cultural activist Lubaina Himid, visitors enjoyed the city's diverse cultural and creative scene. 

Participating galleries included Saatchi, Sadie Coles, White Cube, Hauser & Wirth, Lisson, David Zwirner, Pace, Gagosian, Levy Gorvy among over 130 others. Our journalist, Raegan Rubin, made the rounds to bring you the highlights from one of the leading events in the art world. 


My weekend festivities started prematurely on a Wednesday, with Cecilia Brunson Projects' opening reception of Lucía Pizzani's exhibition Rites, Seeds and Refuge. The event was a tactile affair with rooms exhibiting rippling sculptures, optical prints and immersive structures that drew from organic forms. Running until August 9th, the exhibition meandered through Pizanni's studies in conservation biology and involvement in Venezuela’s environmental movement. It brilliantly wove together natural history with the artist's own experiences of migration and cultural practices. 


The next evening, my love for avant-garde art took me to Pippy Houldsworth Gallery's debut of Jacqueline de Jong’s third solo exhibition. Situated in an enclave of restaurants neighbouring Savile Row, the gallery's modest display included several works created over the last two years and rarely seen works executed sixty years ago, when Jong began her career in Paris as a member of the avant-garde group Situationist International.

On view were the Accidental and Suicidal Paintings, (both series begun in 1964), which capture her dynamic and corporeal approach to both the personal and political. From the ‘60s to today, de Jong retained her rebellious attitude, and continued to experiment with a range of styles. From pop to realism, she absorbed the social shifts around her and translated them with a macabre twist onto the canvas. Autostop Suicide (1965) for instance, portrays her unique visual language, which melds figuration with themes of eroticism, death and violence.


On Friday, I was determined to visit as many events as possible. There was an eclectic display at Marlyebone's Rodeo gallery, an opening reception at Maureen Paley: Studio M for the artist Daniel Correa Mejía, and an in-conversation and exhibition walkthrough of Erin Manning's solo exhibition 100 Acres with Barbican Centre curator, Wells Fray-Smith at Richard Saltoun Gallery. Strewn with monks cloth that were sewn, embroidered, knotted and tufted, the entire gallery felt like a druid's grotto- which, perhaps, is what Manning was going for.

A Canadian cultural theorist, political philosopher and artist, her work advocates for ways of living that are socially and environmentally holistic. Most notably, it conceptualising the idea of the 3Ecologies Project, which aims to give the land back to itself; purchasing it, taking it out of the property market, and preserving it in perpetuity within an extended ecology of stewardship, experimentation and learning.

That evening, I ambled along to an insightful talk between Miles Thurlow and British artist Laura Lancaster on her nostalgic In Dreams exhibition at Workplace (30 May – 5 July). Imbued with a sense of loss and longing, Lancaster's paintings depict anonymous women situated within pastoral landscapes. The melancholy nature of her figuration followed me to the next display at Sadie Cole HQ’s Shop beside Carnaby Street, Soho.

A handful of semi-erotic monochrome works by Calla Henkel & Max Pitegoff, and I.W. Payne was presented and discussed over a chilled bottle of lager fished from an ice bucket. The Shop's small interior meant that only a small number of visitors could enter at a time. But the fact that conversation was resigned to the street outside was a fitting environment to discuss works inspired by urban culture, intimacy, and the interplay between public and private spaces. 


My programme on Saturday started with a mouthwatering breakfast at ZÉRUÌ Gallery. Followed by an exhibition tour with their resident artist and expert in body abstraction Isabella Benshimol Toro. The afternoon saw a gathering at Hauser & Wirth, and a quick pit-stop at No.9 Cork Street for Macabre: Edward Burra to Paula Rego (31 May - 15 June), featuring paintings, works on paper and sculpture by Edward Burra, John Minton, Graham Sutherland, Elizabeth Frink, Michael Ayrton, Grayson Perry, Damien Hirst and Paula Rego, among others. The day was rounded off by a cocktail reception at the salient Lévy Gorvy Dayan gallery in the presence of New York-based artist N.Dash, and their multi-panel paintings.


After a lie-in, Sunday began with a noon breakfast of pastries and Aisha Seriki's monochrome stills (exhibition running till 27th of July) at Doyle Wham Gallery, the UK's first and only contemporary African photography gallery. Then to LGW in Dalston for a performance of In the Land of Troubadours by 2024’s Venice Biennale Golden Lion Award-winning artist Nil Yalter. A rhythmic cavalcade of Anatolian nomadic oral traditions and aşık poetry, it was followed by a conversation with Yalter and LGW curator Övül Ö. Durmusoglu.

Finally, my gallery weekend ended in Soho's Cedric Bardawil gallery with yet more poetry thanks to a reading held on the occasion of Eddie Ruscha's exhibition Seeing Frequencies. It was a taste of Californian avant-garde verse and paintings, from Oskar Fischinger to Jordan Belson, Maya Deren to Richard Diebenkorn.

In short, an extremely productive weekend. 


Title image by Max Pitegoff