YEAR AFTER YEAR, serious art aficionados descend on various locales around the world for art fairs, biennials, and major exhibition opening. The rolling schedule unfolds in New York, Basel, Paris, Venice, Berlin, Chicago, Miami, Johannesburg, Lagos, Los Angeles, and beyond.

Each fall brings buyers and lookers to London for the 1-54 Contemporary Art Fair, Frieze London, Frieze Masters, the Affordable Art Fair (Oct. 18-21), and many other opportunities to view the latest in modern and contemporary art.

Perennially, Autograph at Rivington Place is a reliable space for seeing work by artists who employ photography and film to explore issues of identity, representation, human rights and social justice. Senegalese artist Omar Victor Diop‘s first solo exhibition in the UK is at Autograph through Nov 3.

Elsewhere in London, there are a number of must-see exhibitions featuring work by artists of African descent this season. Among them, several American artists are showing work, including, Kerry James Marshall, Adam Pendleton and Gary Simmons. Two public artworks by Njideka Akunyili Crosby are installed in the city. Meanwhile, about three hours outside London, Senga Nengudi, is presenting her first-ever solo institutional exhibition outside of the United States at the Henry Moore Institute in Leeds. A selection of fall presentations follows:


NJIDEKA AKUNYILI CROSBY, “Dwell: Aso Ebi,” 2017 (acrylic, transfers, colored pencil, collage and commemorative fabric on paper, 10.33 ft. × 8 ft.). | via Victoria Miro

Njideka Akunyili Crosby: Dwell: Aso Abi @ Hayward Gallery, London @ | April 2018-February 2019

Part of its 50th anniversary celebration, the Hayward Gallery Billboard features “Dwell: Aso Ebi” (2017) by Los Angeles-based, Nigerian-born artist Njideka Akunyili Crosby. The work is reproduced as a digital print on vinyl. The billboard is installed on the side of London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall, which faces the gallery.


KEHINDE WILEY, “Equestrian Portrait of King Philip II (Michael Jackson),” 2010 (oil on canvas, 128 x 112 inches). | Olbricht Collection, Berlin. Courtesy of Stephen Friedman Gallery, London and Sean Kelly Gallery, New York © Kehinde Wiley

Michael Jackson: On The Wall @ National Portrait Gallery, London | June 28-Oct. 21, 2018

A cultural icon and world-renowned performer, Michael Jackson’s influence on music, choreography, fashion, and the evolving sophistication of videos is well documented. Under-explored is how visual artists have responded to the King of Pop. This exhibition considers how more than 40 contemporary artists spanning mediums and generations have interpreted Jackson. Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Emma Amos, Appau Jnr Boakye-Yiadom, Todd Gray, David Hammons, Lyle Ashton Harris, Rashid Johnson, Isaac Julien, Glenn Ligon, Rodney McMillian, Lorraine O’Grady, Faith Ringgold, Hank Willis Thomas, and Kehinde Wiley, are among the artists featured.


Installation view of “Omar Victor Diop: Liberty/Diaspora,” Autograph (July 30-Nov. 3, 2018). | via Autograph

Omar Victor Diop: Liberty/Diaspora @ Autograph, Rivington Place, London | July 30-Nov. 3, 2018

Through photographic self-portraits Senegalese artist Omar Victor Diop explores historic narratives and contemporary issues throughout the Diaspora. In his first solo exhibition in the UK, he presents two bodies of work Project Diaspora and Liberty: A Universal Chronology of Black Protest in which he casts himself as a variety of historic figures and considers the politics of black resistance—from the anti-colonialism Women’s War in southeastern Nigeria (1929) to the civil rights marches in Selma, Ala. (1965) and the Million Hoodie March in New York (2012), prompted by the murder of Trayvon Martin.


Installation view of Zina Saro-Wiwa: The Turquoise Meat Inside at Tiwani Contemporary (Sept. 13-Oct. 27, 2018). | via Tiwani Contemporary

Zina Saro-Wiwa: The Turquoise Meat Inside @ Tiwani Contemporary, London | Sept. 13-Oct. 27, 2018

After two solo shows in the United States, Zina Saro-Wiwa‘s first solo exhibition in Europe is informed by her extensive research focused on the Delta region of South-eastern Nigeria, where she was born. For more than half a century, the multibillion petroleum industry has sewn violence and corruption in the region. In its wake, Saro-Wiwa examines the emotional and and environmental conditions that have sprouted alongside unwavering folklore and cultural traditions. The exhibition includes a five-channel installation, light box works, and “Table Manners,” a ongoing video work that explores the intersection of politics, the spiritual realm and local food consumption. A British-Nigerian artist, Saro-Wiwa is based in Brooklyn, N.Y.


Installation view of “Gary Simmons: Green Past Gold,” Simon Lee Gallery, London (Sept. 13-Oct. 20, 2018). | via Simon Lee

Gary Simmons: Green Past Gold @ Simon Lee Gallery, London | Sept. 13-Oct. 20, 2018

Since the 1980s, Gary Simmons has been making works with images and text that look like smudged chalk drawings, a distinct style loaded with cultural symbolism. The Los Angeles-based artist says “the act of erasure is a reflection on black social and cultural narratives, providing a means by which to retrace, reclaim and reconstruct African American histories.” His latest exhibition presents 13 new “erasure” paintings, text works that feature the names of African American actors who starred in silent films and early “talking pictures” from the 1930s and 40s.

“The chalkboard is a surface for learning and unlearning, teaching and unteaching, and thus a great object to work with because it plays such a powerful role in the way our formative memories are constructed.”
— Gary Simmons

NJIDEKA AKUNYILI CROSBY, “Remain, Thriving,” 2018. | Photo by GG Archard. Commissioned by Art on the Underground. © Njideka Akunyili Crosby Courtesy the Artist and Victoria Miro, London/Venice

Njideka Akunyili Crosby: Remain, Thriving @ Brixton Underground Station, London | Sept. 20, 2018-April 2019

Njideka Akunyili Crosby has created a mural for the Brixton Underground Station. The image draws on her signature narrative approach and visual style, which often centers around domestic scenes. She depicts a multigenerational family in a Brixton home. Referencing the Windrush generation—Caribbean immigrants invited by the British government between 1948 and 1971 when the UK was facing a labor shortage—the work is particularly relevant to the politics and culture of the contemporary moment. Many children who arrived with their parents during that period were never formally documented. Now elderly, they face challenges to their immigration status in the wake of hardline policies.


SENGA NENGUDI, “Performance Piece,” 1978. | Courtesy the artist, Lévy Gorvy, New York, London, and Thomas Erben Gallery, New York

Senga Nengui @ Henry Moore Gallery, Leeds, UK | Sept. 21-Feb. 17, 2019

This career-spanning exhibition is described as the most comprehensive to date of Senga Nengudi. Her first solo institutional show beyond the United States, features a half-century of work, dating from 1969 to the present. A prominent figure in the African American avant-garde scenes in Los Angeles and New York in the 1960s and 70s, Nengudi is known for her sculpture and performance works. Nylon pantyhose are a signature medium. Drawing on abstraction and Post-minimalism, she considers gender, race, and body representation through a human, philosophical and spiritual lens. Born in Chicago, she lives and works in Colorado Springs, Colo.


JULIE MEHRETU, “Sun Ship (J.C.),” 2018 (ink and acrylic on canvas, 274.3 x 304.8 cm / 108 x 120 inches). | © Julie Mehretu, Photo by Tom Powel Imaging, Inc., White Cube Mason’s Yard Courtesy the artist, White Cube, and Marian Goodman Gallery, New York

Julie Mehretu: Sextant @ White Cube Gallery, Masons Yard, London | Sept. 21-Nov. 3, 2018

This exhibition of new large-scale paintings and etchings showcases Julie Mehretu‘s signature gestural approach to abstraction “a conduit for evocative and charged emotion and intellectual enquiry.” Ethiopian-born Mehretu, grew up in Michigan and currently lives and works in New York.


Installation view of “Adam Pendleton: Our Ideas” at Pace Gallery, London (Oct. 2-Nov. 9, 2018). | via Pace Gallery

Adam Pendleton: Our Ideas @ Pace Gallery, London | Oct. 2-Nov. 9, 2018

Adam Pendleton‘s latest exhibition continues his articulation of what he calls “Black Dada,” exploring blackness, abstraction and the avant-garde. Featuring recent work and examples from earlier bodies of work dating back a decade, a range of mediums are on view, from painting and drawing, to video, collage, and works on mylar. A new catalog accompanies the show. Born in Richmond, Va., Pendleton lives and works in New York.

“‘Black’ as a kind of open-ended signifier, anti-representational rather than representational. And then ‘Dada’—sort of nonsense. A sound, but also referencing a moment in art. So this language became a productive means to think about how the art object can function, and does function, in the world. What can art do?…Not ‘what is it?’ It’s whatever you want it to be, but what can it do?” — Adam Pendleton

KERRY JAMES MARSHALL, “Untitled (Underpainting),” 2018 (acrylic and collage on PVC in artist’s frame, 215.2 x 305.5 x 10.2 cm). | © Kerry James Marshall, Courtesy the artist and David Zwirner

Kerry James Marshall: History of Painting @ David Zwirner Gallery, London | Oct. 3-Nov. 10, 2018

For the first time since “Mastry,” his traveling 30-year retrospective, Kerry James Marshall is presenting an exhibition of new work. His latest paintings consider the possibilities of the medium and the context within which the viewer understands the work both in terms of the historic canon and the contemporary interpretation and intellectual upending Marshall brings to his images. A fully illustrated catalog with an essay by Teju Cole is being published to document the exhibition. CT

“In a way, the title of the show is kind of a challenge to myself, a way back into the work in the studio after the public obligations associated with following the retrospective… With ‘History of Painting,’ I want to at least take a stab at examining not only the origins of painting as a practice, but also the endpoint of what paintings end up being after their original use has been exhausted.” — Kerry James Marshall

“Michael Jackson: On the Wall” documents the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in London, featuring more than 40 artists whose work takes the “King of Pop” Michael Jackson as their subject or inspiration. Recently released by Phaidon, “Kerry James Marshall” is a fully illustrated documentation of the artist’s career and includes a conversation with fellow artist Charles Gaines. “Kerry James Marshall: Mastry,” a comprehensive, cloth-covered catalog was published to accompany the artist’s 30-year survey. “I Refuse to be Invisible” was published to coincide with Njideka Akunyili Crosby’s exhibition at the Norton Museum of Art. The show was her first survey and the book is the first to document her practice and includes a lengthy interview with the artist. Published in 2012, “Gary Simmons: Paradise” documents the two-decade career of Gary Simmons and features about 150 image plates and an interview with the artist conducted by Okwui Enwezor.


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