2017 Frieze Spotlight curator Toby Kamps on exhibitions around London [Published 2017/10/16]

“I love a good title.”


“Jasper Johns: Something Resembling Truth”
through Dec. 10, 2017
Royal Academy of Arts

“Jean-Michel Basquiat: Boom for Real”
through Jan. 28, 2018

“Thomas Ruff: Photographs 1979—2017”
through Jan. 21, 2018
Whitechapel Gallery

“Jessi Reaves: Android Stroll”
through Nov. 12, 2017
Herald Street

“11 Artists Through Time”
through Nov. 11, 2017
Lisson Gallery, 67 Lisson Street

“Everything at Once”
through Dec. 10, 2017
Store Studios, 180 The Strand

“Melancholia. A Sebald Variation”
through Dec. 10, 2017
Inigo Rooms, King’s College London, Somerset House East Wing

“Katharina Grosse: This Drove My Mother Up the Wall”
through Dec. 3, 2017
South London Gallery

“Putti’s Pudding”
through Nov. 12, 2017
Studio Voltaire

“Gianfranco Baruchello”
through Dec. 3, 2017
Raven Row

“Nathalie Du Pasquier: Other Rooms” and “Christian Nyampeta: Words after the World”
through Jan. 14, 2017
Camden Arts Center

Vittorio Scarpati, Untitled, 1989. Courtesy of Max Mueller. Photo Credit Andy Keate.

I would encourage anyone reading this to check out an amazing blog called Spitalfields Life, all about London’s East End. My mother turned me on to it—she’s an anglophile from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It’s got everything from stories of yesteryear to a visit to Polish artist Goshka Macuga’s Shoreditch studio. The blog’s creator, the Gentle Author, also publishes wonderful books—most recently a compendium of vernacular paintings of London.

Beyond the obvious current exhibitions—Jasper Johns at the Royal Academy, Jean-Michel Basquiat at the Barbican, and Thomas Ruff at Whitechapel Gallery—I’d recommend Jessi Reaves at Herald Street; both “Eleven Artists through Time” at Lisson and the gallery’s big 50th-anniversary show at the Vinyl Factory; “Melancholia” at King’s College; and Katharina Grosse’s new, site-specific painting at the South London Gallery. Grosse’s piece is called This Drove My Mother Up the Wall, which is one of the best titles I’ve heard in a long time. I love a good title.

My great discovery when I was in London this summer was Studio Voltaire, in Clapham in South London, which organizes great shows. This past August they invited the artist collective They Are Here to turn the space into a Precarity Center, which offered, among other things, self-defense classes, movement workshops for seniors, and a Repair Café where artists and craftspeople mended bicycles and raincoats and such that visitors brought in. I think the ways in which British institutions connect with their communities is really extraordinary. They think of them as concentric circles; the innermost circle encompasses their neighbors, who they try to pull in. At the moment Studio Voltaire has a show of drawings by Vittorio Scarpati and texts by Cookie Mueller from 1989, the year the couple died of complications from AIDS. Next fall they’ll be showing McDermott & McGough’s Temple of Oscar Wilde. They’re hoping it can be a marriage chapel. It’s a terrific space.

Raven Row is another great not-for-profit art center in London. At the moment they have an exhibition of the work of Italian artist Gianfranco Baruchello. They also put on really smart, thoughtful group shows. It’s definitely a place to keep your eye on. Camden Arts Center is also always worth the trip. At the moment they are showing work by Nathalie Du Pasquier, a founding member of the Italian Memphis design group, and Rwandan-born Dutch artist Christian Nyampeta.

Finally, I’d like to give a shout-out to Clara Kim and Mike Wellen, curators of international art at Tate, who have been going out and finding new work while also overseeing installations of the permanent collection that make the best of the museum’s extraordinary holdings. Check out Tate’s Instagram account to learn about the new things that are going up as part of their rotations of the collection.

Toby Kamps is director and chief curator of the Blaffer Art Museum, University of Houston. 

Jasper Johns, Watchman, 1964, oil on canvas with objects (two panels), 85 x 60 1/4 inches. The Eli and Edythe L. Broad Collection. Copyright © Jasper Johns / VAGA, New York / DACS, London 2017.
Jean-Michel Basquiat, Glenn, 1985, acrylic, oilstick and xerox collage on canvas, 100 x 114 inches. Private collection. Copyright © The Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Licensed by Artestar, New York.
Thomas Ruff, Porträt (P Stadtbäumer), 1988, c-print, 82 1/2 x 65 inches. Copyright © Thomas Ruff.
Installation view of “Jessi Reaves: Android Stroll,” Herald Street, London, September 30–November 12, 2017. Courtesy of the artist and Herald Street, London.
Stanley Whitney Highsummer, Prussian Blue, May Day, and Bertacca (2017), installation view of “Everything at Once,” Store Studios, 180 The Strand, London, October 5–December 10, 2017. Copyright © Stanley Whitney; Courtesy Lisson Gallery. Photo: Jack Hems.
Royal Air Force Official Photographer, No 106 Squadron RAF, 30/31, An Avro Lancaster of No 1 Group, Bomber Command, silhouetted against flares, smoke and explosions during the attack on Hamburg, Germany, January, 1943, black-and-white photograph. Courtesy of the Imperial War Museum, London.
Katharina Grosse, This Drove my Mother Up the Wall, acrylic on wall and floor, South London Gallery, 2017. Photo: Andy Keate.
Gianfranco Baruchello, La piena dei sentimenti sembra indicare la prossima fine dei sentimenti in piena (The flood of emotion seems to indicate the approaching end of emotion in flood), 1972, mixed media on aluminium, 16 1/4 x 16 1/4 inches. Courtesy Fondazione Baruchello,
“Nathalie Du Pasquier: Other Rooms” (installation detail), Camden Arts Centre, London, September 29, 2017–January 14, 2018. Courtesy of the artist.