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10 art exhibitions to see in June

Published 1 June 2017

From the Turkish painter Fahrelnissa Zeid’s first UK retrospective to a show marking the 60th anniversary of the death of Wyndham Lewis, here are some of the unmissable exhibitions opening this month.

  • Fahrelnissa Zeid

    Tate Modern, London, 13 June – 8 October

    Turkish artist Fahrelnissa Zeid lived a life as bold and colourful as her paintings. This Tate Modern exhibition – the artist’s first UK retrospective – traces the development of her practice as she travelled from Istanbul to Paris, from Paris to London, and finally to Jordan. Zeid was one of the first women in Istanbul to formally train as an artist and went on to study in Paris – leading her to develop a style of painting that blended European traditions with “Oriental” themes. In 1945 she and her husband, Prince Zeid Al-Hussein, moved to the UK, where he had been posted as Iraqi Ambassador. During this period, Zeid turned away from figuration and towards abstraction: creating works such as Triton Octopus (1953), a brightly-coloured, mosaic-like painting that looked towards op and kinetic art, while displaying Islamic and Persian influences. Don’t miss the chance to discover this pioneering artist.

  • Fahrelnissa Zeid, Triton Octopus

    Fahrelnissa Zeid , Triton Octopus , 1953 .

    Istanbul Museum of Modern Art Collection, Eczacibasi Group Donation (Istanbul, Turkey) © Raad bin Zeid © Istanbul Museum of Modern Art.

  • Grayson Perry: The Most Popular Art Exhibition Ever!

    Serpentine Gallery, London, 8 June – 10 September

    It’s been more than a decade since Grayson Perry RA won the Turner Prize for a series of brightly coloured, darkly themed ceramic vases decorated with images inspired by eccentricities and archetypes found in contemporary British society. Back then, he was a relatively unknown artist who caused a stir both for working with a (then unfashionable) traditional craft medium, and for accepting his award dressed as Claire, his gregarious transvestite alter ego. Today, he’s somewhat of a “national treasure”, having adopted the role of cultural commentator on art and class, masculinity, and the current socio-political climate. In The Most Popular Art Exhibition Ever! expect new ceramics, tapestries, drawings and prints tackling topics from populism and elitism to Brexit. Don’t be surprised if the show (almost) lives up to its title.

  • Grayson Perry, The Digmoor Tapestry

    Grayson Perry , The Digmoor Tapestry , 2016 .

    Photography: Stephen White © Grayson Perry.

  • Into the Unknown: A Journey Through Science Fiction

    Barbican, London, 3 June – 1 September

    Taking over the entire Barbican Centre, this exhibition is a celebration of all things sci-fi: from Charlotte Perkin Gilman’s feminist utopian novel Herland (1915), through to a video work exploring cosmic Jazz musician Sun Ra’s theories of Afrofuturism, to a new installation by Conrad Shawcross RA, encompassing light, movement and sound. Spanning literature, art, film, music, comic books and video games, this science fiction extravaganza will appeal to both the uninitiated and die-hard fans of the genre.

  • Andrey Sokolov, An electronic brain of a distant world

    Andrey Sokolov , An electronic brain of a distant world , 1968 .

    Moscow Design Museum.

  • Raphael: The Drawings

    Ashmolean, Oxford, until 3 September

    Billed as a “once in a lifetime exhibition”, this Ashmolean show offers the chance to see 120 drawings by the great Renaissance artist, brought together from collections all over the world. The drawings span Raphael’s brilliant but tragically short career (he died of a fever aged only 37): from his early days in Umbria, through his time in Florence, to the period when he reached the pinnacle of his creative achievements, in Rome, working on major commissions such as the Vatican frescoes. Raphael’s legacy is built on his immaculate painting, but this show aims to reveal the more intimate, expressive side of his art.

  • Raphael, Studies of heads and hands, and sketches after Leonardo

    Raphael , Studies of heads and hands, and sketches after Leonardo , c. 1505–7 .

    © Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford.

  • Rashid Johnson: Stranger

    Hauser & Wirth, Somerset, until 10 September

    Rashid Johnson was born in Chicago and lives in New York. Known for producing conceptual post-black art (a term coined by curator Thelma Golden and artist Glen Ligon in the 1990s) – pieces that explore the complexities of being African American in contemporary US society – Johnson is used to working within a distinctly American context. But for two months this summer, the artist and his family relocated to sleepy Somerset, for a residency at the Hauser and Wirth gallery. In this intriguing solo show, Johnson presents the work he produced during this period. Inspired by James Baldwin’s essay Stranger in the Village, which describes the author’s experiences as a young African American man living in a small village in Switzerland during the 1950s, Johnson explores the themes of escape, and of being a “stranger”, through a variety of materials and mediums. There are black steel structures with “foreign” tropical plants and giant lumps of yellow shea butter from Africa lodged inside them, followed by a series of Anxious drawings scrawled in black oil, and a neon sign shouting at you to “Run”. A series of large-scale Beach collages concludes the show. Made up of layers of vinyl depicting tropical beach scenes, smeared black soap and dribbled oil, they are inspired by the artist’s childhood daydreams of success and escape.

  • Rashid Johnson, Untitled Mask Collage

    Rashid Johnson , Untitled Mask Collage , 2017 .

    © The artist Courtesy Hauser & Wirth.

  • Ravilious & Co: The Pattern of Friendship

    Towner Art Gallery, Eastbourne, until 17 September

    Eric Ravilious (1903–1942) was an English painter, designer, illustrator and wood engraver known for capturing the “Englishness” of England between the wars, in works depicting London and the surrounding countryside. This exhibition explores the personal and professional relationships the artist had with Paul Nash, John Nash, Enid Marx, Barnett Freedman, Tirzah Garwood, Edward Bawden, Thomas Hennell, Douglas Percy Bliss, Peggy Angus, Helen Binyon and Diana Low. In doing so, it shines a spotlight on a hugely influential yet undervalued artist-designer network.

  • Edward Bawden, Scenes from The Tempest, Morley Murals

    Edward Bawden , Scenes from The Tempest, Morley Murals , 1930 .

    © Estate of Edward Bawden.

  • Sheela Gowda

    Ikon, Birmingham, 16 June – 3 September

    Bangalore-based artist Sheela Gowda creates expansive installations using local craft techniques and everyday materials such as incense and cow dung. For this solo show at Ikon Gallery, Gowda has recycled metal drums – used for transporting tree resin or oil – into “Bandis” – metal bowls used in the Indian construction industry. For the artist, the Bandi is “the needle’s eye through which the substance of even high-rise buildings of Bengaluru has passed.”

  • Sheela Gowda, Behold (Installation view Abteigberg Museum)

    Sheela Gowda , Behold (Installation view Abteigberg Museum) , 2009 .

    Photograph courtesy: Peter Cox and Abteigberg Museum, Moenchengladbach Col: Tate Modern.

  • The Place is Here

    Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art and South London Gallery, Middlesbrough and London, 18 June – 8 October

    With discussions about immigration growing ever more heated, and groups such as Black Lives Matter UK are raising awareness around issues such as police brutality and racism in Britain, this unmissable exhibition feels timely. The Place is Here revisits Thatcher’s Britain during the 1980s, a period marked by civil unrest and divisive political rhetoric. Against this backdrop, a new generation of black and Asian artists, writers and curators began to respond to the political, social and sexual issues of the day, getting together to create exhibitions and develop subversive strategies, and to produce art, film and literature that reflected their diverse identities and experiences. The exhibition includes work by artists including: John Akomfrah, Rasheed Araeen, Sonia Boyce RA, Eddie Chambers, Mona Hatoum, Lubaina Himid, Isaac Julien and Donald Rodney among many others.

  • Donald Rodney, The House That Jack Built (Exhibition view at Nottingham Contemporary)

    Donald Rodney , The House That Jack Built (Exhibition view at Nottingham Contemporary) , 1987 .

    Photo: Andy Keate.

  • Artists’ Film International

    Whitechapel Gallery, London, until 30 July

    Whitechapel Gallery has been running the Artists’ Film International programme since 2008, working with 16 partner organisations from around the world to present a selection of new moving image works each season. This June and July, the gallery is screening works by the artists Adrian Paci, Cengiz Tekin, Laura Horelli, Nina Lassila, Agnese Luse, Angela Melitopoulos, Eléonore de Montesquiou, Tanja Ostoji?, Meggie Schneider, Isabell Spengler and Gitte Villesen. Highlights include The Column (2013), a film by Albanian artist Adrian Paci, which follows a block of marble as it travels over the sea from a quarry in China to Paris; and Just Before Paradise by Turkish artist Cengiz Tekin, which explores human cargo and the migrant crisis.

  • Adrian Paci, The Column (still)

    Adrian Paci , The Column (still) , 2013 .

    Courtesy of artist and Kaufmann Repetto, Milan.

  • Wyndham Lewis: Life, Art, War

    Imperial War Museum North, Manchester, 23 June – 1 January 2018

    Was he an avant-garde visionary or a “lonely old volcano of the right” (Auden’s words)? The reputation of Wyndham Lewis has always been hotly contested. Marking 100 years since he was commissioned as an official War artist in 1917, and 60 years since his death in 1957, this is the largest UK retrospective of the controversial artist and writer’s work to date. The exhibition covers Lewis’s involvement in the creation of the avant-garde movement, Vorticism, his “underground” period after the First World War, when his career as a writer began, and his self-imposed exile in America in the 1940s.

  • Wyndham Lewis, A Battery Shelled

    Wyndham Lewis , A Battery Shelled , 1919 .