Art is known to cost a fortune. With the value of the Mona Lisa encroaching on a billion dollars, it is easy to see why anyone would shy away from art exhibitions. But London hosts a myriad of exhibitions yearly, many of which are free, displaying some of the simplest and most bizarre artworks in the world.
If you are in the historic city and love art, here are ten free art exhibitions you can attend.
1. The Tate Britain Commission 2016: Pablo Bronstein
Three classically trained dancers gliding and mincing in lofty performance space marked by large manipulative drawings, pearl necklaces dangling from their necks, their graceful hands swaying, this thought-provoking display by the Argentine artist Pablo Bronstein at the Tate Britain Commission gnaws at and sustains the attention of both kids and adults.
2. Donna Huanca
This show by American Artist Donna Huanca is no child’s play and definitely no place for the immature. Nylon stockings and body paint is all models in the exhibition are wearing as they slink around the space trails of smears in their wakes. There are also amazing paintings, photos, and sculptures in the backroom at Zabludowicz Collection, and Huanca’s deft use of paint, latex, and hair will daze you.
3. Mike Kelley: Framed and Frame
If you want to feel closer to the marginalised groups in the UK or the world, then Mike Kelley’s Framed and Frame at Hauser & Wirth in London is a free art exhibition you must grace with your presence before November 19. His representation of a prison-like Chinatown gate and a miniature ‘Chinatown Wishing Well’ mostly explores problems with immigration and homelessness and opens a door into the lives of the affected.
4. Antony Gormley
Everybody knows Antony Gormley. Well, maybe not everybody. But if you have seen the ‘Angel of the North’ in Gateshead and ‘Another Place’ on Crosby Beach near Liverpool, then you definitely know or have heard of him. He has brought an exhibition to White Cube Bermondsey in London. For free, you can navigate the maze of rooms that subdivides the gallery space and wander into a self-portrait sculpture in each room as you do so.
5. Ed Ruscha: Extremes and In-Betweens
Big canvases adorned with medleys of natural scenes and words in scale is what you expect to see from Extremes and In-Betweens by Ed Ruscha, whose artworks are often described as seamless and simple. His command of scale is otherworldly and, should you visit Gagosian Gallery before October 29, it will get you contemplating your place in the world or even in the universe.
6. Guerrilla Girls
The Guerrilla Girls is an exhibition geared towards exposing the poor representation of female artists and artists of colour in some 400 art institutions in Europe. If you would love to scan questionnaires on the gender differences signed by about 100 gallery directors across Europe, then you might want to visit the Whitechapel building in London. The Guerrilla Girls are whiners and they do it with flair.
7. Lygia Pape
With pitch-black space crisscrossed by light, the Brazilian modernist Lygia Pape brings geometric abstraction to life in her exhibition at Hauser & Wirth in London. Many artists have played with light before, but she is the wielder of light, and her works exude that fact. This exhibition can simply be described as a display of pristine illusions.
8. The Infinite Mix
Video art is an irredeemable bore, they say. The Infinite Mix, Hayward’s recent show on the Strand, repels that, saying with ten enchanting video artworks that can best be described as a colossal blast. It is intoxicating and evocative, featuring a fleeting video projection from Martin Creed to walks across roads, sometimes with upbeat rock music.
Seventeen artists take protesting to the next level with works that question power structures and engender debates. Think of all the socio-political stuff going on in the world today. The Protest believes words can make a difference. Taking place in Victoria Miro in London, the exhibition features works like ‘Nazis Murder Jews’, a 1936 painting by Alice Neel, and ‘Prison Breaking/Powerless Structures’, a realistic representation of a cell breaking apart by Elmgreen & Dragset.
10. Jeff Koons: Now
Jeff Koons has destroyed what it means to hit it big with arts. Apparently talent is not a major part of it, especially when it comes to modern art. From balloon sculptures to torn comic books, from sensitive ideas to artworks that wrongfully portrays their creator as a dick, Jeff Koons’ sensational collection found a place in Damien Hirst’s heart and in Newport Street Gallery, London, until 16 October.
If art has a soul, it must reside in these ten exhibits in London, and you can attend them for free.