The best free exhibitions in London right now – fix your culture and save money for coffee

Kamala Ibrahim Ishag (Blues for Martyrs, 2022. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Mohamed Noureldin Abdallah Ahmed. © Kamala Ibrahim Ishag.)

Kamala Ibrahim Ishag (Blues for Martyrs, 2022. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Mohamed Noureldin Abdallah Ahmed. © Kamala Ibrahim Ishag.)

Granted, the holiday season is over, but that means it’s time to spend evenings at bars, tons of stews, and weekends doing cultural stuff indoors. And London, as always, is absolutely packed with things to do – exhibitions, people, events and music.

But of course, it can all be a little pricey. So if you’re looking to spend a great weekend seeing some of London’s best culture and save a few quid at the same time, look no further than this absolutely free guide to the best art shows in the city.

Art Now: Hannah Quinlan and Rosie Hastings at Tate Britain

    (Courtesy of the artists and Arcadia Missa, London. Photo: Josef Konczak)

(Courtesy of the artists and Arcadia Missa, London. Photo: Josef Konczak)

Art Now is a long-running exhibition series featuring the rising stars of Tate Britain’s art scene. Past performances have included choreographer SERAFINE1369, Daniel Fernández Pascual and Alon Schwabe aka Cooking Sections, Scottish artist France-Lise McGurn and Polish-born Joanna Piotrowska. Now it’s Hannah Quinlan and Rosie Hastings’ turn to shine.

Quinlan and Hastings’ work uses traditional fresco painting to depict scenes of people and explores themes of power dynamics and authority in relation to public spaces, architecture, and different forms of identity.

Tate Britain, Millbank, September 24 – May 7, 2023, tate.org.uk

Soheila Sokhanvari: Rebel Rebel at Barbican Art Gallery

Soheila Sokhanvari, Rebel (Portrait of Zinat Moadab), 2021, Elizabeth and Jeff Louis Private Collection (© Soheila Sokhanvari, courtesy of Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery)

Soheila Sokhanvari, Rebel (Portrait of Zinat Moadab), 2021, Elizabeth and Jeff Louis Private Collection (© Soheila Sokhanvari, courtesy of Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery)

This exciting upcoming exhibition will be the first major UK commission for Iranian artist Soheila Sokhanvari. Here she paints miniature portraits of both feminist icons and important cultural figures from 1925 to the 1979 revolution.

Celebratory portraits will be housed in the Barbican’s Curve building, which has been transformed into an immersive space with hand-painted geometric shapes from floor to ceiling. There will be a soundtrack composed by Marios Aristopoulos and projection mirrored sculptures from the 2019 film Filmfarsi.

Barbican, 7 October – 26 February 2023, barbican.org.uk

Kamala Ibrahim Ishag at Serpentine South

    (Blues for Martyrs, 2022. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Mohamed Noureldin Abdallah Ahmed. © Kamala Ibrahim Ishag.)

(Blues for Martyrs, 2022. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Mohamed Noureldin Abdallah Ahmed. © Kamala Ibrahim Ishag.)

Sudanese modernist artist Kamala Ibrahim Ishag was part of the influential Khartoum School and co-founder of the Crystallists, a 70s modernist conceptual group dedicated to innovation and invention. His famous paintings, in which human and plant forms are intertwined, will be exhibited within the scope of this comprehensive work of the artist.

Serpentine South Gallery, Kamala Ibrahim Ishag, 7 October – 29 January 2023, serpentinegalleries.org

Outside the Margins in the Whitechapel Gallery

    (Courtesy of the Whitechapel Gallery Archive. Photo: Manuel Vason)

(Courtesy of the Whitechapel Gallery Archive. Photo: Manuel Vason)

Beyond Borders: Performance at institutions in London 1990s – 2010s explores how institutions have dealt with live art over the years. The show focuses on key moments during a twenty-year period in London and introduces viewers to the city’s electric modern art scene in a way you’ve never seen before: think underground parties at ICA, startup Live Art Development Agency, startup The Roberts Institute of Art and Whitechapel Gallery’s major 2002 exhibition, A Short History of Performance (I, II, III, IV).

Whitechapel Gallery, Out of the Margins open until January 15, 2023, whitechapelgallery.org

LuYang NetiNeti at Zabludowicz Collection

    (Courtesy of the artist and Société, Berlin)

(Courtesy of the artist and Société, Berlin)

For those who enjoy multimedia exhibits, this large order from the Zabludowicz Collection might be for you.

Chinese artist LuYang’s first solo exhibition in the UK will focus on LuYang’s digital avatar, DOKU, as he explores contrasts such as life and death, man and machine, past and present, through moving images, installations, interactive games and videos. The artist’s work is described as “black humor” and “all-consuming with its visual and sound intensity”.

There will be half a dozen mind-blowing videos spread throughout the gallery: a choreographed dance video, a video showing at this year’s Venice Biennale, a video about the gods, motion pictures and animations. Expect a ton of exciting visuals.

This big show comes as the Zabludowicz Collection celebrates its 15th anniversary at its Prince of Wales Road location.

Zabludowicz Collection, September 22 – February 12, 2023, zabludowiczcollection.com

Yinka Ilori: Parables for Happiness at the Design Museum

    (Photographed by Creative Courts, Yinka Ilori, Matt Alexander)

(Photographed by Creative Courts, Yinka Ilori, Matt Alexander)

Yinka Ilori draws on her Anglo-Nigerian heritage to create her accessibility-focused art and design work. He re-imagines spaces in cities by creating murals, constructing open-air gallery paths, placing structures in pavilions and transforming crosswalks, often using brightly colored patterns and geometric shapes.

Now, at the Design Museum, the artist will showcase a variety of Ilori’s work and inspirations, including billboard graphics, Nigerian textiles, photographs, furniture and books.

Visitors can look forward to up to 100 objects, all of which epitomize Ilori’s design inspiration.

Design Museum, 15 September – 25 June 2023, design museum.org

Outernet London presents The Summer Palace: Agustín Vidal Saavedra at The Now Building

    (Distribute / Outernet London)

(Distribute / Outernet London)

The work of Dublin-based visual artist Agustín Vidal Saavedra fills this new immersive exhibition space boasting 23,000 square feet, 360 degrees and four floors of 8k displays. Inspired by the Sistine Chapel, eye-to-eye viewers can expect Renaissance paintings, 3D visuals and animations created using new technologies such as particle simulations and artificial intelligence.

The Now Building, starting January 12, 2023 foreignnetglobal.com

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