Back to school: top six gallery shows in London this week

William Kentridge's marching refugees, Luc Tuymans's abstract friends and possibly the capital's tiniest show

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The smell of Frieze is in the air in London this week as the city’s institutions and galleries open the exhibitions that will continue during the intense October art season. At least 30 shows open in the coming fortnight, mostly dedicated to living artists who reflect the city’s status as the multicultural capital of the world. The Art Newspaper’s London team has sel ected some highlights.

William Kentridge at Marian Goodman Gallery

Londoners will finally be able to immerse themselves in the work of the South African artist William Kentridge whose first major show in their city opens at Marian Goodman Gallery on 11 September (until 24 October). Two multi-screen film installations will dominate: More Sweetly Play the Dance (2015), a life-size, eight-screen procession of refugees continually marching and Notes Towards a Model Opera (2014-15), a three-screen installation that was recently at the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA) in Beijing. A new series of paintings that draw on Chinese culture and two groups of painted bronze heads also feature. Kentridge will be in London for talks with Iwona Blazwick, director of the Whitechapel Gallery (10 September at Marian Goodman) and with Tim Marlow, director of artistic progammes at the Royal Academy (at the RA on 12 September). Philip Tinari, the director of UCCA, will co-host an event at Marian Goodman gallery on 15 October.

Luc Tuymans at Parasol Unit

Luc Tuymans's latest curatorial venture at Parasol Unit (9 September-6 December) seems apparently niche: a gathering of 16 Belgian artists across two generations working with abstraction. More than 40 works are included, by celebrated artists such as Francis Alÿs and Raoul de Keyser, as well as less widely known painters. But can abstraction in Belgium be distinguished from non-representational work elsewhere? Tuymans thinks so. "It’s clearly coming out of my country,” he says, "in the sense that it is not American abstraction, it is not Abstract Expressionism, it is also not [French abstractionists] Supports/Surfaces, it’s clearly not just Concret. So it is Belgian. Which means it has to do with the real: if one -ism could be applied to us as a people it would be realism, right the way from Van Eyck to now."

Aboudia at Jack Bell Gallery

Works by the Ivorian artist Aboudia, who is known for his visceral and expressive painting style, are starting to find their way into prominent European collections including the Pigozzi Collection, the Frank Cohen Collection, and the Saatchi Gallery, where his work is currently also on view in “Pangea II: New Art from Africa and Latin America” (until 15 October). Jack Bell Gallery is presenting a new series of works that draws its inspiration from the social inequalities and hardships that are still the order of the day in certain parts of Aboudia’s hometown of Abidjan (Aboudia: Sossoroh Urbain, 9 September-2 October).

Eduardo Terrazas at Timothy Taylor Gallery

Timothy Taylor Gallery presents the first solo exhibition of the Mexican abstract artist Eduardo Terrazas in the UK (until 3 October). Born in 1936, Terrazas co-designed the logo for the Olympic games in Mexico City in 1968 and has spent years experimenting with geometric forms across architecture, design and visual art. The show features several yarn works and drawings from the 1970s, exploring man’s relationship with the universe. Terrazas’s ongoing project, the Possibilities of a Structure, uses a traditional Huichol folk technique of drawing in wax with wool. This is best demonstrated in the Tablas series, the result of a collaboration with a Mexican craftsman, Santos Motoaaopohua de la Torre de Santiago.

Barthélémy Toguo at Pippy Houldsworth Gallery

Blink and you’ll miss Barthélémy Toguo’s new installation at Pippy Houldsworth Gallery (until 3 October). The Cameroonian artist is presenting Migrant (2014) in what must be London’s smallest exhibition space, a floating 40cm white cube. The wooden block relates to Toguo’s project for the 2015 Venice Biennale, Urban Requiem, which features 105 abstract human busts carved with political slogans and coated with ink, like giant passport stamps. Here, in the place of phrases such as “Je suis Charlie” and “Ferguson is everywhere” is “Migrant”, a reference both to Toguo’s personal experience of border control and the dehumanising language that surrounds an increasingly universal phenomenon.

Oliver Eales, Timur Novikov and Marie Jacotey

Drawings and textiles are the media of choice this Wednesday (9 September) at Hannah Barry Gallery in Peckham—south London’s trendiest enclave. In the main gallery, the British artist Oliver Eales will show 70 pen and watercolour drawings alongside new embroidery works. The childlike loose lines and dabbed paint are undercut by a dark humour in the scrawled accompanying phrases, such as “I can sleep with women in exchange / for sex* / *conditions apply”. His works will be complemented by a selection of simple, colourful landscape tapestries by the late Russian artist Timur Novikov. Upstairs, the recent Royal College of Art graduate Marie Jacotey will present a new series of illustrations in coloured pencil. Like singular frames pulled from a film noir narrative, the quotidian scenes are charged with an underlying, often sexual, tension (until 18 October). 

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