London is renowned for being one of the world’s best cities when it comes to art and culture. London’s contemporary art scene is constantly thriving with new artists, art lovers and students travelling from all over the world to study the subject. It’s truly a city that seems to have a never-ending supply of art schools, galleries and fairs. In 2015, there were around 500+ galleries, 60+ art museums and institutions and 10+ art fairs. £260 million had been invested into the Tate and amongst all this creative noise, smaller spaces seem to get lost in the hustle of this thriving city.
Listed below are 5 of London’s smaller galleries that exhibit a mix of modern and contemporary artists, with work ranging from sculpture to printmaking and digital art.
Alan Cristea Gallery
The Alan Cristea Gallery, first opening in 1995, displays a variety of work by contemporary and emerging artists, and Estates. Worldly recognised for its contemporary prints and editions, and with their underlying ethos having always been artist-led, the gallery really works with and for its artist. The space is small which creates a feeling of intimacy when viewing the works. This and the gallery’s bright lighting and white walls are undeniably inviting. The exhibition currently showing here is ‘Ian Davenport: Melismatic’ – a large collection of mono-prints and etchings. His work is inspired by the relationship between colours in the paintings of Holbein, van Gogh and Klimt. Davenport works with rich tones, vertical lines and splatters of colour in his screen prints to create pieces that are loud and eye-catching. For fans of printmaking, vibrant colours and large scale pieces, this exhibition is a must see and is showing from 8th June 2017 – 31st July 2017.
This gallery was founded in January 2000 and heavily focuses on conceptual and non-figurative art. It’s the smallest of all 5 listed galleries but this does little to diminish the experience of viewing art in this space. The curators are careful to make sure that every exhibition isn’t too crowded, giving each work a space to breathe and be fully appreciated by the viewer. This deliberate way of utilising the space ensures an ease in the way the viewer moves through it.
Alan Johnson’s work is currently being shown at the gallery. The exhibition is made up of two parts: the first taking place at the Cologne Art-fair (April 2017) and the second at the Bartha Contemporary. In this exhibition are works made using multiple materials like acrylic, charcoal, plywood and linen. His use of an earthy palette and natural materials create a naturalistic feel to his pieces. For an exhibition that complies simple shapes, compositions and a mix of sculpture, painting and mixed media, Johnson’s work is a perfect fit. The exhibition is running until 8th July so there’s still plenty of time to see it for yourself.
PACE London is one of a collective of galleries located in places around the world including New York, Hong Kong and Palo Alto. With white walls, wooden flooring and a wall of floor to ceiling windows, the space feels bright and open (it’s in fact one of the larger gallery spaces listed).
Joel Shapiro’s wooden sculptures are currently showing at PACE London. The exhibition comprises seven sculptures, some of which are suspended and others standing. There’s a strong focus on geometry and colour in his pieces; Shapiro sees colour as a kind of tool one can use to create meaning. There are also small gouache paintings featuring in the exhibition and this contrast in medium plays with 2D and 3D. The exhibition is on until 17th June 2017 and will attract those interested in bold colours, sharp forms and abstraction.
FOLD Gallery has been open since 2012 and is well known for supporting the emergence of new artists who deviate from traditional conventions. Featuring art such as painting and sculpture, they focus on bringing together international and UK artists to attract a broad range of visitors. As the space is a type of basement there’s no natural lighting. However, to compensate for this there is bright artificial lighting and white walls which creates a more spacious feel.
Showing from 8th June to 15th July is Nathaniel Rackowe’s ‘Threshold’ made up of a larger installation piece and some smaller, more intimate works. The installation uses performance to encourage the audience to join in and explore the space. This, and his use of many materials including glass, steel and fluorescent tubing, creates a visceral experience that experiments with ideas of intimacy and isolation. Those drawn towards multimedia, performance and a more sculptural approach to art will enjoy Rackowe’s artwork.
The Redfern Gallery
Founded in September 1923, The Redfern Gallery is well established as one of the longest Modern British and Contemporary art dealers in London. They now represent more than 30 contemporary artists and artists’ estate’s housing modern and contemporary painting, drawings, watercolours, prints and sculpture. Despite being small, The Redfern Gallery is reminiscent of a larger, traditional gallery space with its multiple rooms and corridors. The gallery’s curation has the space feeling like it’s brimming with art. As a viewer, you are both surrounded and consumed by the art. This choice makes the space feel almost cozy, while discovering a hidden nook of precious pieces.
Since 8th March 2017, the gallery has been exhibiting Modern British Art including painting, drawing and sculpture by artists such as Henry Moore and Jean Spencer. With a large diversity of subject matter and style in this exhibition there’s a little something for everyone. It’s the perfect visit for just about any art lover, no matter how big or small your interest is.
So the next time you crave a taste of London’s art and culture, I would advise you to refrain from visiting the mainstream galleries and look a little deeper into London’s treasure chest of hidden galleries. But don’t just take my word for it, why not visit them for yourself? Be sure to let me know what you think!