Check out The Art Newspaper's guide to London Gallery Weekend 2022 for recommendations on the best exhibitions to see during the three-day event, top trends and commentary
London Gallery Weekend opens concurrently to Photo London. Many of London’s foremost commercial galleries—including White Cube’s top two exhibition spaces—have dedicated themselves to contemporary photography. The sheer amount of photography on show across London this weekend, then, gives further credence to the idea that cameras are to artists today what paintbrushes and cheap, portable paint were to the Impressionists: always available and at hand, the natural and instinctive way to mediate on the changing world around us, and on our lives, histories and identities. From some of the most established names in the business, to reappraisals of unheralded figures from the past, to overlooked artists from marginalised cultures to the most exciting new photographic artists, here are the photography highlights at London Gallery Weekend.
13 May-11 June, Seen Fifteen, Studio DG1 The Bussey Building, Copeland Park, 133 Copeland Road, SE15 3SN
Vivienne Gamble, the founder of the independent Peckham-based photography gallery Seen Fifteen, grew up in Belfast, and this solo show of Gareth McConnell’s new photography is Gamble’s next instalment of an important and ongoing curatorial series, which she has titled The Troubles Generation. Gamble has invited artists who grew up in Northern Ireland during The Troubles to use her gallery space as a place to mediate on their youth in Belfast. Each artist reflects, in disparate visual media and aesthetic forms, on the impact of going through their most formative years in the midst of the intense sectarian conflict. For this exhibition, McConnell oscillates between raves and funeral processions, evoking a youth lived wildly, but with violence always a constant presence.
Until 20 May, James Hyman Gallery, 48 & 50 Maddox Street, London W1S 1AY
For students of photography, the British documentary scene of the mid-20th century is regarded as one of the most influential movements of the medium. Yet the names most associated with the movement rarely gained recognition early in their careers. One of the few outlets to champion the young British documentarians of the time was Picture Post magazine, which was published between 1938 and 1957 and became for a time Britain’s best-selling weekly magazine. The magazine was pioneering, revealing and exploring with stark honesty the lives of marginalised British citizens as the country rebuilt after the Second World War. Now, James Hyman Gallery has collated some of the images originally published in the magazine, using it as a jumping off point to explore the still-unfolding story of British documentary photographer. The show includes works by resonant names like Shirley Baker, Ken Grant, David Hurn, Daniel Meadows, Martin Parr and Charlie Phillips.
Until 5 June, Maureen Paley, 60 Three Colts Lane, Bethnal Green, E2 6GQ; Studio M, Rochelle School, 7 Playground Gardens, Shoreditch E2 7FA
Ten years ago, the twin sisters and artistic partners Jane and Louise Wilson made The Toxic Camera, a film installation that explored the work of Vladimir Shevchenko, a Ukrainian filmmaker who shot the interiors of the Chernobyl nuclear plant just days after it exploded. Shevchenko died of radiation poisoning a year later, but his brave documentation of the world-changing and entirely man-made disaster continues to fascinate the Turner Prize nominated duo. At Maureen Paley and Studio M, the pair present works from their latest photographic series, titled I'd Walk With You But Not With Her, a mediation on humanity’s disastrous impact on the planet’s ecosystem, with the Toxic Camera film shown alongside.
Until 25 June 2022, White Cube Mason's Yard, 25-26 Mason's Yard
The Canadian artist Jeff Wall has made photographs for half a century this year, beginning in 1972. After starting out as a painter, Wall embraced what he called “cinematographic” photographs—huge, highly detailed tableaux of staged and sometimes re-enacted dramatic scenes that Wall calls “near-documentary". The exhibition contains some of Wall’s latest images, which have never before seen before. They include Trap Set, which was taken in 2021 during the pandemic and in the midst of ‘mink season’ on a cold February day in the suburbs of Wall’s native Vancouver. Rich with metaphor, the image focuses on the disguised traps humans place in the Canadian forests to ensnare unsuspecting animals. Also on show is a new image titled A Woman with a Necklace, made in 2021. The photograph shows a woman examining a sparkling glass necklace, and is, by the artist’s own admission, an enduring visual memory of his childhood home.
Until 26 June 2022, White Cube Bermondsey, 144-152 Bermondsey Street, SE1 3TQ
In White Cube’s other London space is new work by Jeff Wall’s contemporary in monumental photography, the German photographer Andreas Gursky. Gursky’s works on show here were created over the past four years, and reflect what he calls the “essential commonality” of contemporary life. Gursky’s lens captures, in scenes both beautiful and terrifying, seemingly identical human models displaying clothes at a fashion show. He shows, ant-like, countless people skating on ice, or the endless identical cabins of a commercial cruise liner. The point is clear and inarguable; that we are trapped within the structures of global capitalism, that our life is ordained by it. There’s something Biblical about Gursky’s very contemporary images—lives driven by fate and destiny, as defined by secular commercialism.
The Art Newspaper is an official media partner of London Gallery Weekend