Black Art & Design Spring 2023 London Art Guide

Spring is a season of rejuvenation and renewal, and what better way to celebrate it than by exploring London’s vibrant art scene. The city is home to some of the most renowned museums and galleries in the world, and this spring, they are showcasing some of the best emerging and established black contemporary artists. From the Tate Modern to Gagosian, you can take your pick of exhibitions and installations that are sure to inspire and captivate you.

Whether you prefer to travel by tube or bus or bike, gallery hopping is a great way to explore the city and see some of the best art it has to offer. So grab your friends or go solo and immerse yourself in the beauty and creativity of London’s art scene this spring.

Rites of Passage

Rites of Passage brings together 19 contemporary artists who share a history of migration to examine postcolonial Black identity, specifically the “triple consciousness” experienced by members of the African diaspora when encountering counterparts who identify with local majority populations.

6–24 Britannia Street, London wc1x 9jd
Through 29 April

Salah Elmur: Central Electricity and Water Administration

Salah Elmur, the Cairo-based Sudanese artist, has a unique perspective on the structures that house water and electricity. As a child, he was filled with wonder and excitement when the Central Electricity and Water Administration came to his village. Today, he sees stories, shapes, and feelings within these structures. His art is a reflection of the Sudanese life, filled with symbolism and vibrant colors. Elmur’s portraits are described as nostalgic and surreal, capturing the essence of communal celebration, sustenance, and anthropomorphic visions. He delves into the themes of fear and hope, money and power, fantasy, and folklore. As a painter, filmmaker, and author, Elmur’s creative expressions have earned him recognition in the art world.

Vigo Gallery
1 Hyde Park Gate, London, SW1Y 6BU
Until 10 May 

Dr. Esther Mahlangu: Where Two Rivers Meet

Dr Esther Mahlangu is globally acclaimed for her bright and bold abstract paintings with vivid, geometric patterns that are rooted in Ndebele artistic tradition, a South African community.
She was a disruptor from an early age, becoming the first person to reimagine Ndebele visual artistic tradition, historically used for decorating houses, on painting media like canvas.

Almine Rech
Grosvenor Hill, Broadbent House,London, W1K 3JH
20 April – 20 May

Tewodros Hagos: Fragile

Ethiopian artist Tewodros Hagos’ latest body of work takes a different approach than his previous series, which explored the hardships of migrants crossing seas and borders. This time, the artist zooms in on the internal displacement that occurs within countries or continents. The focus is on the communities in East Africa who are forced to leave their homes due to severe droughts or internal conflicts. These people embark on long and perilous journeys to find a safe place to settle within the country. While the journeys are no less difficult, the artist chooses to shift the focus away from the physical aspect and delve deeper into the psychological and emotional aspects of displacement. Hagos’ work sheds light on a complex and often overlooked issue, bringing much-needed attention to the struggles of those who are forced to uproot their lives within their own countries.

Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery
2 Melior Place, London SE1 3SZ
20 April – 20 May

Bob Thompson: So Let Us All Be Citizens Too

David Zwirner
24 Grafton St, London W1S 4EZ
20 April to 26 May

Lubaina Himid: Alla Prima/Cross Hatch

Marking her first major print project , artist and curator Lubaina Himid has made twenty-four hand-painted screenprints, working with master printer Magda Stawarska. Each work on paper, characterised by Himid’s distinctive bold patterns and vibrant colours, features enlarged details from engravings by the eighteenth-century British satirical artist, William Hogarth.

Cristea Roberts Gallery
43 Pall Mall, London SW1Y 5JG
Through 22 April

Isaac Julien: What Freedom Is To Me

London born filmmaker and installation artist, Isaac Julien work breaks down the barriers between different artistic disciplines, uniting film, dance, photography, music, theatre, painting, and sculpture to construct powerful visual narratives. In his first solo exhibition in the UK, Tate Britain highlights Julien’s critical thinking in a presentation of work spanning 40 years.  

Tate Britain
Millbank, London SW1P 4RG
26 April – 20 August 2023

Ajamu: The Patron Saint of Darkrooms

Ajamu is a celebrated artist who has been pushing the boundaries of gender and sexuality in the United Kingdom for over three decades. His work is centered around the celebration of black queer bodies and the erotic sense as activism. Ajamu’s photography challenges the dominant ideas around masculinity, gender, and representation of black LGBTQ people. His evocative photographs capture the lives and experiences of himself and those around him, from charged self-portraits to tender depictions of lovers. The Patron Saint of Darkrooms, one of his recent and highly acclaimed art exhibitions in London, is a testament to his talent and vision. The exhibition showcases spirited images of friends, objects that his sitters use, and foregrounds the community that has fostered his creativity. Ajamu’s work is a powerful reminder of the importance of representation and visibility in art, and how it can challenge and reshape cultural norms.

Rivington Pl, London EC2A 3
28 Apr – 2 Sep 2023

Eric Gyamfi: Fixing Shadows – Julius and I

Rivington Pl, London EC2A 3
28 Apr – 2 Sep 2023

Gabriel Moses: Regina

180 Studios
180 The Strand, London, WC2R 1EA, United Kingdom
Until 30 April

Todd Gray: On Point

Todd Gray’s photo-based work aims to destabilise long-accepted beliefs about the medium of photography. Working between Los Angeles and Akwidaa, Ghana, Gray’s first exhibition in London transports viewers through time, fusing historical imagery with pictures of the present reminding us that the realities of our contemporary world are shaped by those of our collective past. 

 Lehmann Maupin
1 Cromwell Place, South Kensington, SW7 2JE London
Through 6 May

Steve Mcqueen: Grenfell

Serpentine South Gallery
Kensington Gardens, London W2 3XA
Until 10 May

Sokari Douglas Camp: Europe Supported by Africa and America

Victoria & Albert Museum
Cromwell Rd, London SW7 2RL
Until 14 May

Samuel Ross: LAND

British artist and designer Samuel Ross has made a name for himself as the founder of the highly successful menswear fashion label A-COLD-WALL*. However, his talents reach far beyond the world of fashion, as evidenced by his latest exhibition ‘LAND’. This series of abstract works explores the Black experience through powerful imagery of collapsed landscapes and supine bodies. Ross examines the relationship between industrial materials like utility cloth, metal, and masonry paint, drawing on his background as both an artist and a designer. The result is a thought-provoking exhibition that engages the viewer on multiple levels.

White Cube
2 Lincoln Square, New York, Upper West Side, Manhattan
5 April – 14 May 2023

Frida Orupabo: Things I Saw At Night

Frida Orupabo is a talented artist who was born in Norway and raised with dual Norwegian and Nigerian heritage. Her unique background has played a significant role in shaping her artistic vision, which revolves around exploring the complex relationship between home and identity. Orupabo began making collages in her early twenties, using this art form as a means to work through her own personal struggles and emotions. ‘Things I Saw At Night’ features several new and recent wall-based collages, as well as video work and sculpture, which showcases the multiple facets of her practice.

Modern Art 
4-8 Helmet Row, London ECIV, 3QJ
Through 20 May

Heather Agyepong: Wish You Were Here

Heather Agyepong responds to early twentieth century postcard imagery reflecting the dance craze in America & Europe in the early 1900’s, The Cake Walk. Aida Overton Walker, the celebrated African American vaudeville performer who challenged the rigid and problematic narratives of black performers. was known as the Queen of the Cake-Walk which was a dance originally performed by enslaved people who mocked and mimicked the slaveholders and high society. craze that swept America & Europe in the early 1900s.

Center For British Photography
49 Jermyn Street, London, SW1Y 6LX
Through 28 May

Darryl Daley:What You See Here / What You Hear Here

Filmmaker Darryl Daley, winner of The Young Artist commission 2023 transforms NOW Gallery into memory and imagination with 4 filmic works that looks at the concept of home in response to physical transition from one location to another. In an ode to his Grandmother, the artist explores the idea of identity as memory and the act of archive and imagination colliding to create a space of existence somewhere between the past and present.

NOW Gallery 
Peninsula Square, Greenwich Peninsula, London SE10 0SQ
Through 11 June

Souls Grown Deep Like The Rivers: Black Artists From The American South

For generations, Black artists from the American South have forged a unique art tradition. Working in near isolation from established practices, they have created masterpieces that articulate America’s painful past. Souls Grown Deep like the Rivers brings together sculpture, paintings, reliefs, drawings, and quilts, most of which will be seen in the UK and Europe for the first time. It will also feature the celebrated quiltmakers of Gee’s Bend, Alabama

Royal Academy Of Arts
6 Burlington Gardens, W1S 3ET
Through 18 June

Yinka Illori: The Design Museum

The Design Museum
224-238 Kensington High St, London W8 6AG
Until 18 June

Atta Kwami: Maria Lassing Prize Mural

Serpentine North Garden
West Carriage Drive, London W2 2AR
Until 3 September