MORE THAN A DOZEN EXHIBITIONS, most in and around London, are showcasing the work of black female artists this summer. Presented at museums, nonprofits, and commercial galleries, many of the shows are breaking new ground for the artists, who span generations. Faith Ringgold at Serpentine Galleries is making her European institutional solo debut and Deborah Roberts at Stephen Friedman Gallery is presenting her first-ever European solo exhibition. At Victoria Miro Mayfair, Howardena Pindell is showing for the first time in the UK. Claudette Johnson has her first solo institutional show in nearly three decades at Modern Art Oxford (about two hours from London). 2017 Turner Prize winner Lubaina Himid is featured at Hollybush Gardens and Helen Cammock, who is shortlisted for the 2019 Turner Prize, is presenting her Max Mara Prize exhibition at Whitechapel Gallery. Autograph has exhibitions dedicated to photographers Lola Flash and Maxine Walker. Meanwhile, Liz Johnson Artur’s photographs are on view at South London Gallery. Current exhibitions include the following:


Installation view of “Artist Rooms: Ellen Gallagher.” | Image via Tate Modern

Artist Rooms: Ellen Gallagher @ Tate Modern, London | Nov. 19, 2018-Nov. 17, 2019

This focused monographic exhibition reflects Ellen Gallagher‘s “complex engagement with history, identity, story-telling, society, race and gender by embedding politically-charged symbols in delicate Minimalist forms.” An American artist, Gallagher splits her time between New York City and Rotterdam, The Netherlands. She also has an exhibition on view in Paris, her first solo show in the French capital. (Find more about Artists Rooms here.)


Portraits from the series [sur]passing by Lola Flash. | via Autograph

“Lola Flash: [Sur]Passing” @ Autograph, Rivington Place, London | April 26-Aug. 17, 2019

For three decades, American photographer Lola Flash has been challenging stereotypes. Her practice “is firmly rooted in social justice advocacy, inviting an open-ended, intersectional conversation around sexual, racial and cultural difference.” Following “Lola Flash: 1986-Present,” her 30-year retrospective at Pen and Brush in New York City last year, this exhibition showcases several bodies of work. Centered around [sur]passing, a series of portraits that emphasize skin color to raise issues about identity, perception and consciousness, the show also features works from Cross Colours, Gay to Z, and LEGENDS, which focuses on significant members of the queer and non-gender conforming communities, with portraits of several London figures displayed for the first time. Curated by Renée Mussai and Bindi Vora, this is New York City-based Flash’s first major solo exhibition in London.


Installation view “Maxine Walker: Untitled” at Autograph. | via Autograph

“Maxine Walker: Untitled” @ Autograph, Rivington Place, London | April 26-Aug. 17, 2019

Active between 1985 and 1997, Walker’s work explores black womanhood through the lens of identity, representation, and blackness. She was a co-founder of organizations such as Monocrone Women’s Photography Collective, Women + Photography and Polareyes aimed at providing a platform for black female photographers. “Maxine Walker: Untitled” presents a series of self-portraits the British Jamaican photographer made in 1997. The 10 photographs “consider complex notions of beauty, masquerade, and vulnerability.” Curated by Renée Mussai and Bindi Vora, the exhibition is described as Walker’s first in 22 years and serves as a survey of sorts, featuring contact sheets from her 1995 photo-booth self portraits, prints from Black Beauty (1991) and The Bride (1989) series, and archival material and ephemera from previous UK exhibitions. Walker lives in Handsworth, Birmingham.


EMMA AMOS, “Blindfolds,” 1993 (acrylic on canvas, photo transfer, African fabric, 201 x 283.5 cm / 79 x 111.5 inches). | Courtesy Pippy Houldsworth Gallery

“Chemu Ng’ok, Emma Amos, Vivian Browne: My Kind of Protest” @ Pippy Houldsworth Gallery, London | May 23-Aug. 2, 2019

This exhibition brings together paintings by Emma Amos, Vivian Browne (1929-1993), and Chemu Ng’ok. Works from Browne’s 1960s series Little Men, portray powerful white men as tantrum throwers. In the 1980s and 90s, Amos was responding to historic representations of the black body and contemporary challenges faced by female artists. Ng’ok’s work reflects the political tensions and violent turmoil surrounding the 2017 elections in Kenya. American artists Amos and Browne were peers in New York City. Kenyan-born Ng’ok is based in South Africa and barely 30. Working across continents, generations, and decades, the artists share a common desire to examine struggles and challenges experienced by black women in the face of patriarchal power. Originally slated to close July 6, the exhibition has been extended to Aug. 2.


IFEOMA U. ANYAEJI, Installation view of “Eze fuo eze anochie (When a king leaves another replaces him – no condition is permanent),” 2013, edited 2019, BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead. | Photo by Colin Davison. © 2019 BALTIC

“Ifeoma U. Anyaeji: Ezuhu ezu – In(complete)” @ Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead | May 24-Sept. 22, 2019

For her first solo exhibition in the UK, Nigerian artist Ifeoma U. Anyaeji is presenting a selection of recent work that speaks to preserving West African culture. Anyaeji uses unconventional materials—such as discarded bottles and non-biodegradable plastic bags—to make sculptures and installations that reflect on the loss of West African craft traditions and the impact of human activity on Nigeria’s environment. She is pursuing a Ph.D., in studio art at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada.


CLAUDETTE JOHNSON, “Standing Figure with African Masks,” 2018 (pastel, gouache paint and ground on paper). | Image courtesy of the artist and Hollybush Gardens. Photo by Andy Keate. Tate, purchased using funds provided by the 2018 Frieze Tate Fund supported by Endeavor to benefit the Tate collection 2019

“Claudette Johnson: I Came to Dance” @ Modern Art Oxford, UK | June 1-Sept. 8, 2019

London-based, British artist Claudette Johnson‘s commanding figurative work centers black men and women in creative compositions that often defy surface constraints. This is her first institutional solo show since 1990 and it surveys her work from the 1980s to present. “I do believe that the fiction of ‘blackness’ that is the legacy of colonialism, can be interrupted by an encounter with the stories that we have to tell about ourselves,“ the artist has said. “I’m interested in our humanity, our feelings and our politics; some things which have been neglected.”


HOWARDENA PINDELL, “Untitled,” 1972 (acrylic on canvas, 174.3 x 267.3 cm / 68 5/8 x 105 1/4 inches. | © Howardena Pindell, Courtesy the artist, Garth Greenan Gallery, New York and Victoria Miro, London/Venice

Howardena Pindell @ Victoria Miro Mayfair, London | June 5-July 27, 2019

After joining Victoria Miro in January, Howardena Pindell is having her first UK solo exhibition at the gallery, which describes her as “a leading contributor to contemporary dialogues around the social and political urgency of process-driven art.” The New York City-based American artist is showing large-scale spray painted canvases from the early 1970s and newer three-dimensional works made since 2007 that are composed of her signature circular chads.


FAITH RINGGOLD, “The Flag is Bleeding #2 (American Collection #6),” 1997 (acrylic on canvas, painted and pieced border, 193 x 200.7 cm). | Private collection, Courtesy Pippy Houldsworth Gallery, London. © 2018 Faith Ringgold / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Faith Ringgold @ Serpentine Galleries, London | June 6-Sept. 8, 2019

Serpentine Galleries is presenting Faith Ringgold‘s first solo exhibition at a European institution. A pioneering figure in American art, Englewood, N.J.-based Ringgold’s groundbreaking work confronts racial tensions, social inequality, and gender issues and celebrates African American narratives and cultural figures. This five-decade survey presents paintings, political posters, and story quilts.


Installation view of “Deborah Roberts: If they come,” Stephen Friedman Gallery, London (June 7-July 20, 2019). Shown, from left, “When you see me,” “Hip bone,” “Man[ly],” and “Mixed hues,” all mixed-media and collage on canvas, 2019. | Courtesy Deborah Roberts and Stephen Friedman Gallery, London. Photo by Mark Blower

“Deborah Roberts: If they come” @ Stephen Friedman Gallery, London | June 7-July 26, 2019

For her first solo exhibition in Europe, Deborah Roberts is presenting a new body of mixed-media and collage on canvas works featuring black boys and black girls. In her latest works, the Austin, Texas-based artist continues her consideration of identity and representation, childhood and blackness, strength and vulnerability, and beauty and belonging. All made in 2019, 20 figurative works are on view and a new publication accompanies the show. Originally slated to close July 20, the show has been extended to July 26.


Installation view of works (2) by LUBAINA HIMID at Hollybush Gardens. | via Hollybush Gardens

Lubaina Himid @ Hollybush Gardens, Clerkenwell, London | June 7–Aug. 15, 2019

A self-described painter and activist, Lubaina Himid is a pioneer in the UK Black Arts Movement. Active since the 1980s, she won the Turner Prize in 2017. For this exhibition, the Preston-based British artist is presenting a selection of drawings displayed for the first time. The works are studies for what became “Tailor, Striker, Singer, Dandy,” a suite of five portraits of black men inspired by the West African textiles Himid discovered in the historic fashion and clothing collection at the Manchester City Galleries. “Lubaina Himid: Work From Underneath,” her first solo museum exhibition in the United States, is currently on view at the New Museum in New York City through Oct. 6.


LIZ JOHNSON ARTUR, “Nigerian Party,” 1995. | © Liz Johnson Artur. Courtesy the artist, via South London Gallery

“Liz Johnson Artur: If You Know the Beginning, the End is No Trouble” @ South London Gallery | June 14-Sept. 1, 2019

This is the first UK solo exhibition of Russian-Ghanaian artist Liz Johnson Artur. For more than three decades, London-based Artur has been photographing black people wherever she finds them, in Europe, America, Africa and the Caribbean. These candid and documentary-style images are part of her ongoing Black Balloon Archive. She initially picked up a camera in 1986, when she was visiting Brooklyn, N.Y. This presentation coincides with her first-ever museum show, “Liz Johnson Artur: Dusha” at the Brooklyn Museum.


British artist Helen Cammock discusses her practice when she was shortlisted for the Max Mara Art Prize for Women. | Video by Whitechapel Gallery

“Helen Cammock: Che si può fare (What can be done)” @ Whitechapel Gallery, London | June 25-Sept. 1, 2019

Helen Cammock made the shortlist for the 2019 Turner Prize. This exhibition is a result of the London-based, British artist winning the 2018 Max Mara Art Prize for Women. During a six-month residency, Cammock traveled across Italy “exploring the idea of lament in women’s lives across histories and geographies.” A new body of work combines their stories with 17th century Baroque music by female composers. A fully illustrated publication accompanies the exhibition.


Installation view of Ima-Abasi Okon at Chisenhale Gallery in London. | via Chisenhale Gallery

Ima-Abasi Okon @ Chisenhale Gallery, London | June 28-Sept. 1, 2019

The practice of British artist Ima-Abasi Okon focuses on sculpture, sound, video. For this new commission she explores sound, scale, and light. A series of industrial air conditioners both cools the exhibition space and serves as vehicle for a multi-channel sound work. The ceiling has been lowered and fitted with custom-glass light fixtures containing palm oil and Courvoisier VS Cognac, intended to cast a golden glow on the room. The gallery describes the installation as bringing together “a vocabulary of symbols embedded in both hand-made and mass-produced materials to explore representations of the body and the formation of taste, value and excess.” In a conversation with curator Ellen Greig, Okan explains the concepts behind the commission. The artist splits her time between London and Amsterdam. CT


Recently published, “Lubaina Himid: Workshop Manuel” is the first full monograph to document the work of British painter Lubaina Himid. The fully illustrated volume features her visual art and writings from the 1990s to the present. “Lubaina Himid: Work from Underneath” accompanies her exhibition at the New Museum, where the catalog is currently available and can be purchased more widely next month. “Inside the invisible: Memorialising Slavery and Freedom in the Life and Works of Lubaina Himid” is forthcoming in October. An incredible, full-color catalog, “Howardena Pindell: What Remains to Be Seen,” accompanied the artist’s recent retrospective exhibition. Curator Naomi Beckwith and Valerie Cassel Oliver edited the volume and contributors include Lowery Stokes Sims and artist Charles Gaines, among others. A new book from the Museum of Modern Art, “Faith Ringgold: Die (One on One),” considers Ringgold’s painting “American People Series #20: Die” (1967). “American People, Black Light: Faith Ringgold’s Paintings of the 1960s” coincided with her traveling exhibition. Stephen Friedman Gallery and Spelman College Museum of Fine Art have published catalogs complementing their presentations of Deborah Roberts’s work.


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