London has reopened with a big creative bang after a five – months closure and that includes a multitude of major art shows in museums and other large venues. The much appreciated multi – sensory assault includes astonishing digital art by a legendary Japanese sound artist and a stunning two – hour film from Bjork’s ex – husband, a virtual reality at the Royal Opera House, the first major painting shows in many years from an influential French artist and a British artist who deserves greater recognition, a group shows in a former historic town hall and an exhibition based on Lewist Carroll’s Alice in the Woderland.
1.Ryoji Ikeda At 180 Studios. Until 1 August 2021
This largest exhibition sound artist’s work ever staged, includes dramatic pieces that are world premieres. A subterranean exploration of sound and light, the show takes viewers on a sensory journey through 180 Studios’ labyrinthine spaces. Ryoji Ikeda invites viewers to immerse themselves in his dynamic digital universe with huge screens, giant speakers with huge screens, giant speakers, flashingimages, a corridor of almost blinding, hot light and of course blasting sound. The exhibition is intentionally disorientating. Six gigantic Meyer SB-1 speakers hum away in one next room, becoming progressively louder as you proceed down the corridor of hot light. There are twelve of these large scale multi – media workers, which explore sound and light, using mathematics, digital technology and frequencies beyond the human ear.
2.Current Rising At The Royal Opera House, Until 10 June 2021
To celebrate the reopening of the ROH, an all female team have created a gripping 15 – minute hyper reality opera experience, combining virtual reality with a multi – sensory set, blending historic stagercraft with cutting – edge technology. The work invites audience to step into an immersive, atmospheric virtual world, and experience a dream – like journey carried musically by a poem layered in song. Inspired by the liberation of Ariel at the end of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Current, Rising takes just four people at a time into the astonishing experience. Each visitors wears a VR headset and backpack and is guided onto a virtual stage to experience the dramatic performance. Directed by video pioneer Netia Jones, designed by award – winning designer Joanna Scotcher and with music is by composer Samantha Fernando, the libretto is by the celebrated performance maker Melanie Wilson and the singing voice is acclaimed Baroque and contemportary music soprano Anna Dennis.
3. Jean Dubuffet, Brutal Beauty, At The Barbican, Until 22 Aug 2021
This is the first major survey of the French artist’s work in the UK for over 50 years, showcasing four decades of Jean Dubuffet’s career, from early portraits and fantastical statues, to butterfly assemblages and giant colorful canavases. Dubuffet endlessly experimented because he felt that ‘art should always makey you laugh a little and fear a little. Anything but bore.’ Alongside his own work, the exhibition features works from Dubuffet’s personal collection of Art Brut (a phrase he coined, which translates literally as ‘raw art’). Eated them, profoundly impacted his approach to the making and meaning of art. Spanning four decades in the studio, Brutal Beauty highlights Dubuffet’s endless experimentation with tools and materials, as he blended paint with shards of glass, coal dust, pebbles, slithers of string and gravel.
4.Eileen Agar, Angel Of Anarchy At Whitechapel, Until 29 August 2021
Whether dancing on the rooftops in Paris, sharing ideas with Pablo Picasso, or gathering starfish on the beaches of Cornwall, Eileen Agar (b.1899 Buenos Aires – d.1991 London) transformed the everyday into the extraordinary. Her unique style nimbly spanned painting, collage, photography and sculpture. This definitive retrospective charts her ground – breaking career from the 1920s to the 1990s. From early works influenced by her teachings at The Slade, through ther experiments with Cubism and her inclusion in the 1936 International Surrealist Exhibition, to her later composition of lyrical abstraction, Eileen Agar: Angel of Anarchy features over 150 works. Pieces from important public and private collections as well as newly discovered archival material reveal Agar as one of the most dynamic, bold and prolific artists of her generation, which included her better known friends Andre Breton, Dora Maar, Lee Miller, Paul Nash and Man Ray.
5.Matthew Barney, Redoubt At Hayward Gallery, Until 25 July 2021
Matthew Barney: Redoubt, the two hour film at the heart of this new exhibition, reveals a major new direction in the work of a renowned artist and film – maker and has been described as ‘breathtakingly beautiful’ by the New York Times and as ‘the most beautiful film Barney has made’, by the Washington Post. Matthew Barney, famous for his ‘Cremaster Cycle’, here shows a dialogue – free film that explores the eternal themes of humanity and how we fit into nature. The film follows a sharp – shooter in her pursuit of wolves across the spectacular winter wilderness of Idaho’s Sawtooth Montains. She is accompanied by two dancers moving in dialogue. The narrative is based around Ovid’s Diana and Acteon, with the woman playing Diana being a real – life sharpshooter and member of the NRA and Barney himself playing Acteon, as an artist named ‘Engraver’. The etchings Barney made in the film are shown elsewhere in the gallery, along with a series of imposing and intricate sculptures cast from fallen trees in the region. Outside the upper gallery is Barney’s first outdoor sculpture, an imposing giant tree.
6. Alice: Curiouser And Curiouser At The V & A, Until 31 December 2021
Exploring its origins, adaptations and reinventions over 157 years, this immersive and theatrical show chars the evolution of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland from manuscript to a global phenomenon beloved by all ages. Highlights include the first published edition of Lewis Carroll’s classic, illustrated by John Tenniel in 1866, a virtual reality croquet game, clips from ‘Alice’ films and fashion from well known designers influenced by the book.
7. Art In The Age Of Now, Fulham Town Hall, Until 6 June
After being left derelict for a decade, Fulham Town Hall has opened its doors as a temporary art and exhibition space before being made into luxury flats. The Grade II Listed building, built in 1888, served as the local seat of government and still has many of its beautiful architectural features, making it a fascinating place to explore. The elegant architecture and decorative features include green marble columns, stained – glass windows, wrought iron balustrades and art deco lighting. The current exhibition, Art In The Age Of Now, offers a rare opportunity to explore a building not usually open to the public. It is spread throughout the building with work in most rooms, including in the grand ballroom and inside a courtroom in the round that features original stained – glass windows and tired seating and in the basement’s former prison cells. The current exhibition is a free event (with pre – booked tickets) featuring a wide range of works all for sale, by over 100 emerging and established London artists.