London exhibitions to visit when galleries reopen next week

It’s been a while since we’ve been able to get a cultural pick-me-up in the form of an exhibition – but the good news is that the wait is finally over.

Galleries are throwing open their doors again next week to welcome back visitors after what feels like forever.

There are so many brilliant shows to check out over the coming weeks.

As expected, demand has been high – but all of the ones we’ve rounded up do have availability over the next few months. 

So our advice is book ahead – just like you would with a restaurant reservation – to avoid disappointment.

David Hockney, Royal Academy

During the pandemic, lots of us turned to creating and crafting to fill the time – and David Hockney was no different.

This latest exhibition at the RA showcases the works he made on his iPad – capturing spring 2020 at his home in Normandy. With more than 116 works in total, you’ll be spoiled for choice with exhibits – and each one has been blown up so you can see every mark and stroke.

Availability late June/July

Brutal Beauty, Barbican

This show celebrates French artist Jean Dubuffet – who is widely considered to be one of the most provocative voices in postwar modern art.

It’s a pretty special one, too, being the first major survey of his work in the UK for over 50 years. Expect pieces from the four decades of his career with early portraits and statues, to butterfly assemblages and huge colourful canvases.

Availability in May and beyond,

Tracey Emin and Edvard Munch, Royal Academy

This exhibition is made up of 25 Tracey Emin works, including paintings, neons and sculpture. Many explore loneliness of the soul and have been chosen by Emin to sit alongside carefully considered oils and watercolours from artist Edvard Munch. This helps to see the parallels between the two creators and how they both embrace painful experiences to make art.

Availability in early June and beyond,

Wildlife Photographer of the Year, Natural History Museum

Travel may not have been an option this year, but venture to warmer climes and arctic blizzards with pieces in this show.

This exhibition guarantees to fully immerse you in the natural world, with incredible shots of wildlife in action. The quality is there too as each image has been selected by a panel of international experts in order to showcase some of the best wildlife photography in the world.

Availability from late May,

The Making of Rodin, Tate Modern

Although Rodin is best-known for his bronze and marble sculptures, this show explores the importance of plaster in his work. Plaster cast exhibits demonstrate how he experimented with fragmentation and repetition in unconventional ways and how he broke the rules of classical sculpture.

Availability from May 18,

Ryoji Ikeda, 180 The Strand

This huge show includes never-before-seen works and encourages viewers to fully immerse themselves in Ikeda’s digital universe. Based around sound and light, the works on display include ‘no return’ – an audio-visualisation that creates a virtual experience similar to entering a black hole – and ‘spectra III’, a tunnel of strobe lighting. 

Availability from early June,

Jennifer Packer: The Eye Is Not Satisfied With Seeing, Serpentine Galleries

This show is the artist’s first outside of the US and features 34 works from 2011 to 2020. Visitors will find portraits from Packer’s New York circle of family and family members, alongside interior and flower still lifes.

There’s also her work ‘Say Her Name’, painted in response to the suspicious death of Sandra Bland – a Black American woman who is largely believed to have been murdered while in police custody in 2015.

Some availability in May and onwards,

Out of Home, St-Martins-in-the-Fields

Brought about by Dan Barker and Lucy Wood, Out of Home is a free open-air show that explores what it’s like to be homeless during the pandemic.

Photographs that feature in the show were taken by six individuals – Carly, Darren, Kelly, Craig, Joe, and Andre – who were homeless during the first national lockdown. They capture daily life during a time when the nation was told to ‘stay home.’ A book of the show can also be purchased with proceeds going towards the photographers.

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