9 Gallery Shows to See Now in London, From a Spotlight on Young French Painters to Rachel Whiteread at Gagosian

Apr 14, 2021

The UK’s long winter lockdown is finally being eased.

From April 12, galleries and other businesses deemed “non-essential” (huff!) have been permitted to reopen their doors. By now, London is well-versed in the art of reopening. Most galleries require visitors to book ahead, and social distancing, mandatory mask-wearing, and crowd-control measures will be in place to keep the public safe.

Alas, visitors will have to wait until May 19 to return to museums. In the meantime, here are nine gallery shows we are looking forward to seeing.


Charles Gaines’s show at Hauser & Wirth in London. Photo by Alex Delfanne. ©Charles Gaines Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth.

For his first solo exhibition in the UK, conceptual artist Charles Gaines (who we spoke to earlier this year) is presenting two new bodies of Plexiglas gridworks at Hauser & Wirth. His “Numbers and Trees” works continue a series Gaines began in 1986, and “Numbers and Faces,” a set of new pictures, plot and overlay gridded portraits of people who identify as multiracial.

“Charles Gaines: Multiples of Nature, Trees, and Faces,” Hauser & Wirth, 23 Savile Row, London


Ryan Driscoll, Uranus(2020). Courtesy the artist and Soft Opening, London. Photography Theo Christelis.

Ryan Driscoll has created a series of oil-on-wood paintings responding to the English composer Gustav Holst’s early 20th-century seven-movement orchestral suite, “The Planets.” Each movement of the suite is named after a planet of the solar system and its corresponding astrological character. Rendered as enigmatic and romantic characters or landscapes, Driscoll’s interpretations are infused with queer sensuality and androgyny, giving a refreshing injection of queer energy into classical subjects.

“Ryan Driscoll: Holst,” Soft Opening, 6 Minerva Street, London


Sam McKinniss, Dolly Parton with kitten (2021). © Sam McKinniss. Courtesy of the Artist and Almine Rech. Photo: Dan Bradica.

The US artist Sam McKinniss is showing new paintings of celebrity subjects, honing in on the world of popular country music. Included are portraits of Shania Twain, Tammy Wynette, and a picture of Dolly Parton cuddling a kitten. “It seems like the entire planet loves Parton, which terrifies me,” the artist writes. “What scares me is the enormous task of entertaining so many people, while also taking on the unilateral scrutiny of worldwide love or obsession.”

“Sam McKinniss: Country Western,” Almine Rech, Broadbent House, London


An image from Ed Fornieles’s show, “Associations.” Courtesy Carlos/ Ishikawa.

Ed Fornieles used internet search tools to create this new series, which knits together images based on formal and conceptual associations. The artist likens the trance-like mental state required for his process to the “flow state” social media companies aim to create to keep users hooked and suggestible. The presentation probes the mysteries of the psyche and individual and collective subjectivities, and will probably resonate with you if you’ve accidentally spent untold hours buried in TikTok scroll holes during lockdown.

“Ed Fornieles: Associations,” Carlos/Ishikawa, Unit 4, 88 Mile End Road, London


Hermann Hendrich, The Will o’ the Wisp and the Snake (1823).

While visiting Japan a few years ago, Sanya Kantarovsky developed an edition of traditional Ukiyo-e woodblock prints together with the Adachi Hanga Institute of Printmaking, and Camille Blatrix has created Corian frames embedded with handcrafted wood marquetry pieces responding to the prints they encase.

“Sanya Kantarovsky & Camille Blatrix: Will-o’-the-wisp,” Modern Art, 7 Bury Street, London


Paintings by Mathieu Julien, Jin Angdoo, Kevin Pinsembert and Hams Klemens at Saatchi Yates Gallery. Image courtesy of Saatchi Yates © Justin Piperger, 2021.

A collective of emerging French artists has come together for “Allez La France!” the second exhibition at the new Cork Street space run by Phoebe Saatchi Yates and her husband Arthur Yates. The show brings together Hams Klemens, Jin Angdoo, Mathieu Julien, and Kevin Pinsembert, who are used to creating work in the streets of Paris and Marseille, rather than on large-scale canvases at a tony Mayfair gallery. The gallerists say they wanted to highlight the work’s resonance with Abstract Expressionism, and its departure from typical French street art.

“Allez la France!” Saatchi Yates, 6 Cork Street, London


Jenna Gribbon, You want me to pose nude (2021). Courtesy Sim Smith.

The US painter Jenna Gribbon has taken inspiration from the late French artist and director Agnès Varda’s 1988 portrait of Jane Birkin (Jane B. par Agnès V) for her latest solo outing at Sim Smith. The artist has played on Varda’s habits of inserting documentary moments into fictional films, and has made a series of figurative paintings of her friends gathered together to watch Varda’s films projected onto the wall.

“Agnès V. par Jenna G,” Sim Smith, 30 Old Burlington Street, London


“An Infinity of Traces” at Lisson Gallery, London. © The artists, courtesy Lisson Gallery.

This group exhibition curated by Ekow Eshun spotlights 11 Black artists based in the UK whose work probes questions of race, history, being, and belonging. Featuring artists Ayo Akingbade, Ufuoma Essi, Liz Gre, and others, the show reflects on the Black Lives Matter protests and their relation to the nation’s imperial history. The show also includes an online component developed by the participating artists.

“Infinity of Traces,” Lisson Gallery, 27 Bell Street, London.


“Rachel Whiteread: Internal Objects,” installation view, 2021. © Rachel Whiteread. Photo by Prudence Cuming Associates, courtesy Gagosian.

In her latest show, Whiteread presents new works created during lockdown, including two halting sculptures that revisit her early plaster cast rooms. Called Poltergeist and Doppelgänger, the haunting cabin-like structures have been constructed from found wood and metal painted ghostly white (rather than cast in her usual process) and evoke catastrophic events like natural disasters, or perhaps the frustrations of a lockdown that went on a little too long.

“Rachel Whiteread: Internal Objects,” Gagosian, 20 Grosvenor Hill, London