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10 art exhibitions to see in July

Published 1 July 2019

From Bridget Riley and the dazzling canvases of the Op-Art movement, to the culinary artefacts of the ancient world, here 10 shows across the UK that we recommend this month.

    • Bridget Riley, Over

      Bridget Riley, Over, 1966.

      Emulsion on board. 101.50 x 101.30 cm. Collection: National Galleries of Scotland, purchased 1974 © Bridget Riley 2019. All rights reserved.

      1. Bridget Riley

      Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh, 15 June – 22 September 2019
      Reminiscent of television static, Bridget Riley’s dizzying paintings disturb our perception. Her geometric shapes and bold blocks of colour seem to move by themselves, creating a connection between the viewer and canvas. The Scottish National Gallery now traces pivotal moments in her celebrated career, from the monochromatic early years to her continuing exploration of colour and the abstract language of her zigzags, lines and curves.

    • 2. Olafur Eliasson: In Real Life

      Tate Modern, London, 11 July 2019 – 5 January 2020
      Entering us into a world of kaleidoscopic shadows and a thick orange mist, Olafur Eliasson’s immersive installations bring fantasy to the scientific in a way that heightens our perceptions and reminds us of what it is to be human. Tate Modern presents the most comprehensive British solo show of the Danish-Icelandic artist’s work – whose The Weather Project you might remember from Tate’s Turbine Hall in 2003 – demonstrating his deep concern with society and the environment, with the majority of the works never seen in the UK before.

      Olafur Eliasson, Your Uncertain Shadow (colour)

      Olafur Eliasson, Your Uncertain Shadow (colour), 2010.

      HMI lamps (green, orange, blue, magenta), glass, aluminium, transformers. Photo: María del Pilar García Ayensa/ Studio Olafur Eliasson © 2010 Olafur Eliasson.

    • John Akomfrah RA Elect, Still from Precarity

      John Akomfrah RA Elect, Still from Precarity, 2017.

      Three channel HD colour video installation, 46 minutes 3 seconds, 7.1 sound. © Smoking Dogs Films; Courtesy Lisson Gallery.

      3. John Akomfrah: Ballasts of Memory

      Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, 6 July – 27 October 2019
      Recently elected Royal Academician John Akomfrah showcases three of his moving image works at Baltic this summer. The exhibition includes the European premiere of Akomfrah’s film, Precarity (2017), a visual exploration of the Black diaspora and the beginnings of jazz in New Orleans at the turn of the 20th century.

    • 4. Issy Wood: All the Rage

      Goldsmith’s Centre for Contemporary Art, London, 29 June - 11 August 2019
      The paintings of RA Schools alumna, Issy Wood, have a haunting ambiguity. In a surreal play on scale and surface, the US-born, London-based artist combines flesh and leather with china and jewellery in the same visual plane, giving a seductive yet nightmarish quality to everyday objects. The Underdose (2019), one of the works on display in her exhibition at Goldsmith’s, depicts two elongated and swollen nude women whose mottled flesh contrasts the white and intricately detailed porcelain of the teapot they are caressing.

      Issy Wood, The Underdose

      Issy Wood, The Underdose, 2019.

      Courtesy of the artist and Carlos/Ishikawa, London.

    • Deborah Roberts, The Inbetween

      Deborah Roberts, The Inbetween, 2019.

      Mixed media and collage on paper. 111.8 x 81.3cm. © Deborah Roberts. Courtesy the artist and Stephen Friedman Gallery, London.

      5. Deborah Roberts: If They Come

      Stephen Friedman Gallery, London, 7 June - 20 July 2019
      American artist Deborah Roberts fashions found photographic images and invented bright patterns, to create an array of children aged between nine and 12, exploring the complexity of Black subjecthood. The exuberance of the collaged figures’ clothes are juxtaposed with faces that are an unnerving hybrid of cut-and-paste features. Her subjects seem to be wrestling with the identities pasted on to them as they enter adulthood after the naïve strength of youth.

    • 6. Lucy Jones: Landscape and Inscape / Lucy Jones: Awkward Beauty

      Flowers Gallery, London, 23 May – 6 July 2019 / Attenborough Arts Centre, Leicester, 27 July – 6 October 2019
      Through the similar treatment of paint across landscape and portrait works – a spectrum of colour applied gesturally to collapse space – Lucy Jones creates a dialogue between the two genres, raising questions surrounding the nature of the environment and the nature of humanity. The British painter was born with cerebral palsy, and her portraits and self-portraits often explore disability and gender, revealing both the vulnerability and vigour of her subjects – including Grayson Perry RA, in a commissioned portrait for the Attenborough Arts Centre – with overwhelming directness.

      Lucy Jones, The Seeing, Orator

      Lucy Jones, The Seeing, Orator, 2018.

      Oil on canvas. 120 x 120cm. © Lucy Jones c/o Flowers Gallery.

    • Penny Slinger, At the Feet of Kali

      Penny Slinger, At the Feet of Kali, 1976/77.

      Photo collage on board. 41.9 x 58.4 cm. © the Artist; Courtesy Richard Saltoun Gallery.

      7. Penny Slinger: Tantric Transformations

      Richard Saltoun, London, 29 June – 24 August 2019
      With desire and the repossession of the female body as her focus, Penny Slinger’s photographic and collage work respond to the Chakra Man motif in classical Tantric art. The Californian artist’s sensual yet esoteric works remain as relevant now as they were to the feminist movement of the 1970s from which she became known. Richard Saltoun’s show of the self-proclaimed “Feminist Surrealist” artist includes At the Feet of Kali (1976/77), a photo-collage where the artist reconstructs symbolism associated with female sexuality, in a depiction of the Hindu goddess known to destroy evil forces and bestow liberation.

    • 8. Manchester International Festival

      Greater Manchester, 4 - 21 July 2019
      The biennial Manchester International Festival returns this year with new works from internationally acclaimed artists across the performing arts, visual arts and popular culture spectrum. Highlights include the UK’s largest ever exhibition of work by cult American director, David Lynch, Yoko Ono’s mass-participatory artwork Bells for Peace, which invites thousands of people to join her in ringing and singing out for peace, and the combined effort of actor Idris Elba and director Kwame Kwei-Armah on their production Tree, an exploration of South Africa through music, drama and dance.

      Matthew Placek, Yoko Ono

      Matthew Placek, Yoko Ono.

      Photogaph. Photo Matthew Placek, © Yoko Ono.

    • Artist unknown, Still life wall panel fresco showing a cockerel pecking at figs, pears and pomegranates

      Artist unknown, Still life wall panel fresco showing a cockerel pecking at figs, pears and pomegranates, AD 45–79.

      Wall panel. 52 x 55cm. © Parco Archeologico di Pompeii.

      9. Last Supper in Pompeii

      Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, 25 July 2019 – 12 January 2020
      We forget that Pompeii was once a typical Southern Italian town with sun-bathed kitchens and air scented with olive oil, fruit and wine. It was laden with produce drawn from the vineyards, fertile orchards and munificent waters of nearby regions, and since the town’s unearthing from the ash of Mount Vesuvius, scholars have studied its visceral, sacred relationship to food. A show at the Ashmolean includes an array of food-shaped terracotta offerings as well as furniture used in dining rituals, revealing Pompeii’s culinary legacy – one that was emblematic of the wider Roman Empire.

    • 10. Criminal Ornamentation

      Southampton Art Gallery, Southampton, 28 June – 28 September 2019
      Yinka Shonibare MBE RA’s Line Painting (2003) flaunts a series of small canvases, made up of clashing Dutch wax fabric prints against a rich pink backdrop, to trace the transnational history of the batik technique. This unashamed use of colour and pattern has been the basis of a touring exhibition he has curated for the Arts Council Collection, with its last stop at the Southampton Art Gallery this summer. Named after modernist architect Adolf Loos’ famous essay, Ornament and Crime (1908), the show presents a host of artists, including British fashion designer Alexander McQueen and Palestinian painter Bashir Makhoul, whose practices challenge the disavowal of decoration in art.

      Yinka Shonibare RA, Line Painting

      Yinka Shonibare RA, Line Painting, 2003.

      Emulsion and acrylic on textile. diameter: 312cm. © Yinka Shonibare MBE. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2018.

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