© Courtesy of the Artist and Guts Gallery, Sophie Vallance Cantor, Study for Diablo Culito, 2022

Arty Fundraisers for Ukraine, Eddy Frankel’s ‘Blob’ & Lots of Sculptures at Unit London: The Best Exhibitions to Visit in April

This month, Isabella Bonner-Evans rounds up the art projects, exhibitions & galleries worth visiting this bank holiday and beyond.

WORDS Isabella Bonner-Evans

The London Art World has banded together to support charities offering vital aid and lifesaving services to individuals displaced, at risk, and in danger after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Through print sales, auctions, original artworks, and more, the capital’s artists are challenging oppression with creativity. Alongside usually scheduled programming – a selection of exhibitions worth seeing in April – we are spotlighting just some of these wonderful and worthwhile initiatives for Ukrainian.

If you would like to directly donate to charity in aid of Ukraine you can visit sites such as CHOOSE LOVE, The British Red Cross, UNICEF, Save The Children, and The Disaster Emergency Committee Appeal. Of course, we are not all in a position to give money but we can still help by signing petitions – including this on Change.org currently with over 180,000 signatories, which calls for the UK government to provide assistance to Ukrainian Refugees. The Ukrainian Institute has pulled together a further list of petitions worth signing. 

Art For Ukraine | Until 22 April 2022 | theauctioncollective.com

A major auction of 75 artworks by over 70 international artists runs throughout April, organised by Asia Éléonore Feliks and co-curated by Sarah Emily Green. Their auction has such a great selection of artists including major names and new creators worth knowing. 

Emerging London-based artists such as Tom White and the wonderful Salomé Wu, feature alongside establish voices such as Unit London repped Joshua Hagler, and Cob Gallery’s Cat Roissetter. The sale also includes an exciting selection of up-and-coming artists from Eastern Europe, for whom this matter is very close to home, including London-based Lithuanian painter Vilte Fuller, Polish painter Julia Kowalska, and Ukrainian artist Yana Makukh.

Proceeds will be donated directly to the Disaster Emergency Committee’s (DEC) Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal.

Art on a Postcard | Mini-Auction Curated by India Rose James for CHOOSE LOVE | Until 21 April 2022 | theauctioncollective.com

Art on a Postcard has partnered with uber-cool gallerist India Rose James of Soho Revue to curate a cutting-edge lineup for their April auction. Amazing creators such as Courtney Love, ceramicist Alma Berrow, London Art-World favourite Danny Fox, and painters Nettle Grellier and Layla Andrews will produce mini postcard works to be auctioned online for CHOOSE LOVE’s Ukraine Appeal, with bidding starting at just £50.

Art on a Postcard was founded by Gemma Peppé and The Hepatitis C Trust with the aim of championing the power of art to do good for marginalised, oppressed, and at-risk individuals. Their auctions are usually in aid of The Trust’s work to eradicate Hep C, however for this edition, Gemma Peppé and India Rose James have chosen to focus on the urgent situation in Ukraine.

Artists at Risk | Solidarity Print Sale | Until 30 April 2022 | solidarityprints.org

The incredible NGO, Artists at Risk (AR) has launched a print sale with all proceeds going to facilitating emergency travel, shelter, and financial support for Ukrainian cultural workers. Pieces are available from more than 70 leading international contemporary artists including some of the UK’s finest such as filmmaker and installation artist Isaac Julien, comedic conceptual artist and Turner Prize winner Jeremy Deller, Allison Katz fresh from her show at Camden Arts Centre, and the wonderful world-builder Tai Shani.

AR highlight that “The war in Ukraine has put artists at high risk” and offer life-saving support to creative people in the area, helping them to find safe and welcoming communities nearby. To date, they have received 370 principal applicants from Ukraine alone, and this figure is rising daily. The AR-Solidarity Team for Ukraine has already relocated dozens of artists to the Czech Republic, Austria, Finland, Sweden, France, Germany, Latvia, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands. This work builds on their essential ongoing mission to support global art practitioners in danger of persecution.

Guts Gallery | Supporting the Disaster Emergency Committee Online Artwork Sale | Ongoing | gutsgallery.co.uk

London’s foremost destination for collectors of emerging artists, Guts Gallery is hosting an online charity sale, bringing together original works by their supported and championed artists. Practitioners such as painter Victoria Cantons, who rose to fame mere moments after graduating, Olivia Sterling, who has already hosted a solo show at Goldsmiths CCA, and Elsa Rouy, creator of luscious, sexual, and abjectly appealing bodies are taking part. Works will also be available by Douglas Cantor, Oliver-Bijan Daryoush, Nadine Faraj, Lucia Ferrari, Ariane Heloise Hughes, Alicia Reyes McNamara, Kemi Onabule, Anousha Payne, Sophie Vallance Cantor, and Salomé Wu.

All proceeds will be split between The Disaster Emergency Committee’s Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal, their Afghanistan Crisis Appeal, and the contributing artists. It is particularly significant that they are dividing the profits between Ukraine and Afghanistan as it reminds us not to ignore the evolving and high-risk situation in the middle east in light of war on European soil.

NewBlood Art | Solidarity with Ukraine Charity Sale| Ongoing | newbloodart.com

NewBlood Art is another fantastic platform for finding outstanding up-and-coming talents. They are hosting a sale of original artworks by emerging international artists, led by painter Ed Saye. The enormous range of styles, materials, and voices in the selection is refreshing, offering a truly diverse picture of the talent of young creatives today. The majority of the money raised is being donated to The Disaster Emergency Committee, with 10% going directly to one of their own, artists Glib Franko and his young family.

Glib Franko is a NewBlood Masters artist from and based in Ukraine, he paints emotive and fluid abstract works creating a unique pictorial language that foregrounds mark making and expression. New Blood has also suspended taking commissions from sales of his work, with the full fee going directly to him. He is currently safe and wrote to NewBlood, “You have no idea how valuable your support is now”.

‘They Hugged In The Moon’ (2022) by Ruby-Bateman

Joséphine-May Bailey of @procrastinarting_ | Artists for Ukraine Print Sale | Until 5 April 2022 | airauctioneer.com

Independent curator Josephine-May Bailey platforms women artists through her Instagram @procrastinarting_ and satellite exhibitions, alongside her work with new gallery Studio West founded by curator Caroline Boseley.

She has organised an online auction of original works by 16 emerging female artists with all the money raised going to The British Red Cross’ humanitarian efforts in Ukraine. She comments, “The Auction was born out of an overwhelming sense of hopelessness after the horrendous invasion of Ukraine, and a desire to actually do something.” Thus far, she has raised nearly £3000. The 23 covetable works in the auction include a fairy-tale, a rosy rendering by Jeanine Brito, a dreamy nude in ink by Ruby Bateman, and a swirling figure gazing vacantly at the viewer by Rhiannon Rebecca Salisbury.

‘Erection Privileges’ (2021) by Glen Pudvine

BLOB Curated by Eddy Frankel at TJ Boulting | Until 15 April 2022

Time Out’s wisecracking and wonderful Art & Culture Editor Eddy Frankel presents an exhibition and esoteric book project ‘BLOB’ – certainly, an unmissable April highlight. The book is a decidedly odd amalgamation of fantastic fiction and brilliant artwork. It is described to great intrigue as “a vile, miserable little short story about a man whose bones disintegrate”. The text is accompanied by artworks specially created from the likes of  Shadi Al-Atallah, Luke Burton, Gareth Cadwallader, Emma Cousin, Rachel Howard, France-Lise McGurn, Glen Pudvine, Mary Ramsden, and Olivia Sterling which are currently on show at TJ Boulting.

Olivia Sterling’s paintings are bulbous, blubbering, and fleshy suggesting BLOB’s original rotund body bursting free of the canvas. Glen Pudvine’s melting man seems at once deeply distressed and resigned to his fate – BLOB on his journey to mush. Meanwhile, Emma Cousin departs from her usual large-scale painting, presenting pleasantly putrid drawings in ceramic frames and depicting BLOB’s final disintegrated form. Ultimately, this exhibition brings together a celebrated selection of artists who channel visceral humour to explore Frankel’s sorry tale.

TJ Boulting
59 Riding House St, Fitzrovia, W1W 7EG
Free Entry

Opening Hours: Tue – Sat 11am – 6pm

In The Round at Unit London | Until 23 April 2022

A welcome break from the undeniable primacy of painting in the contemporary art world, In the Round includes exclusively sculpture, celebrating the wonderful artists making in three- dimensions. The exhibition illuminates a vast global and cross-cultural history through pieces by 10 international artists, offering a truly sensory experience, with works spanning playful re-incarnations of everyday objects to mysterious forms that straddle functionality, abstraction, and decoration.

Pieces by Henry Hudson and Saskia Fleishman engage with traditional pottery techniques through contemporary impressions of vase-like objects that fluctuate between the languages of functionality and aesthetics. The humorous and hyper-real pieces by Paa Joe, Alma Berrow, and Lei Xue make the familiar distant – incarnating Air Jordan Sneakers, ashtrays, and crumpled-up cans respectively. When created in ceramic, these items become delicate, almost votive, and are resurrected from the category of the quotidian into the artful and unusual.

Our reality becomes a matter of questioning, and we find ourselves in relation to playful, experimental, and unusual things that engage with us sensorially. A different kind of object-subject exchange is incarnated by each work, inviting us to view and participate in new and unexpected ways.

Unit London
3 Hanover Square, Mayfair, W1S 1HD
Free Entry

Opening Hours: Wed 11am – 9pm, Thu – Sat 11am – 7pm, Sundays 10am – 6pm

Marcus Jahmal: Spiral at Almine Rech | 7 April – 14 May 2022

Painter Marcus Jahmal’s first solo show in London brings together new works by the New York-based artist. The colour purple permeates this body of work, bringing symbolic significance carried throughout history; in Ancient Rome, citizens were forbidden from wearing the colour on penalty of death. It seems its rare presence in nature and resultant scarcity, contributed to the purple craze – historically, the most purple pigment was harvested from a single species of sea snails. I explain all this, not purely as an indulgence, but instead because it offers a vital entry route into understanding Jahmal’s work. The abundance of the colour and presence of symbolically significant characters such as the snail loop back to these reference points.

Jahmal has roots in the West Indies and American South and draws on this heritage to synthesise an enormous range of autobiographical inspirations including photographs, ancient rituals, and glimpsed memories. Odd symbols and haunting characters reappear across his oeuvre, while in this show there is a decided emphasis on staircases and ladders suggesting journeys and passages between realms. His work remains mystical, intriguing, and ultimately ungraspable, even to those of us unusually expert in the history of purple.

Almine Rech
Grosvenor Hill, Mayfair, W1K 3JH
Free Entry

Opening Hours: Tue— Sat 10am – 6pm

Phantasmata at Public Gallery | Until 30 April 2022

With a title like ‘Phantasmata’, you know you can expect the trippy, hallucinatory, and absurd. This show is, indeed, like a sweaty acid trip into the wilderness of a madman’s subconscious. Straddling figuration and abstraction, the mammoth group exhibition brings together the practices of 13 artists as they contemplate the ambiguity of image-making and push their work beyond the realm of representation.

Lose yourself in the swirling, vibrant, and desire-ridden canvases by Li Hei Di, explore the meditative, mysterious, and symbolic works by Wendell Gladstone, and avoid the gaze of Greer Lankton’s terrifying dolls. Major highlights are Eliška Konečná’s original and incredible fleshy imprints – like bodies writhing, trapped beneath the surface, and Hamish Pearch’s shroom growing sculptures. Brought together with pieces by Amanda Baldwin, littlewhitehead, Ewan Macfarlane, Cezary Poniatowski, Tal Regev, Vanessa da Silva, Taylor Simmons and Rafał Zajko.

Public Gallery
91 Middlesex St, Aldgate, E1 7DA
Free Entry

Opening Hours: Tue – Fri 11am – 6pm, Sat 11am – 5pm 

Isabella Bonner-Evans
Isabella Bonner-Evans

Art writer, curator and public relations specialist, focussed on platforming emerging talent across the visual culture sector. When not walking my dog in rainy East London parks, I can be found on my sofa writing articles for Bricks Magazine, FAD magazine, Art Plugged and Off the Block Magazine.

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