Here you can find all of our recommended art exhibitions in one place. Below is a list of our 7 must-see art shows for the month, along with a navigation that can take you to smaller weekly listings that are worthy of note. This section is updated with new shows every week. If you want to see exhibitions in London or in your area simply go to our Artist Calendar – let us know about an exhibition using the form at the bottom of that page for the chance to be included in one of our Art Exhibitions on Now posts!
7 Unmissable Art Exhibitions on in April
This month’s not to miss choices include works never seen in the UK before, as well as exhibitions that offer an insight into some of the most dominant traditions in Western art.
1. Sorolla: Spanish Master of Light
Known as the ‘master of light’ for his canvases filled with beautiful dappled light, Sorolla was a Spanish painter working around the turn of the twentieth century. Between the waves of innovation of the French Impressionists and before the birth of Modernism, Sorolla’s works stand out because of the sun-drenched depictions of the life, landscapes and traditions of Spain.
Whilst these types of work sealed his fame, Sorolla first won international acclaim for works tackling social subjects. In this exhibition these prized early social paintings will be brought together, including his ‘The Return from Fishing’ and ‘Sewing the Sail’. This is the first UK retrospective of the artist since 1908 when Sorolla was promoted as ‘The World’s Greatest Living Painter’ at London’s Grafton Galleries.
This exhibition is showing at the National Gallery until 7 July 2019.
2. The Renaissance Nude
A tradition in art that dates back to Ancient Greece and beyond, the nude has long been used to express ideals of male and female beauty, along with other qualities. The 15th and 16th centuries were a pivotal time for the nude in Western art. A renewed interested in ancient Greek and Roman art brought the human body to the forefront of artistic innovation. Artists were copying from classical models, as well as exploring new, non-religious subject matter. At the same time the nude was transforming Christian art, encouraging modern representations of age-old themes.
This exhibition comes at a pertinent time, in the midst of modern debates surrounding nudity and expression; it is fascinating that one of the few places where we can gaze at images of the naked body in public with impunity is the art gallery. Whilst exploring and celebrating this tradition, this exhibition makes visitors aware that the idea of the Renaissance nude is quite misleading. Many people would consider Titian’s Venus Rising from the Sea (pictured above) as a typical Renaissance nude, however, the exhibition provides evidence that nudes were much more diverse and often reflected different ideas of beauty.
From paintings and illustrations to bronze statuettes and anatomical studies, the works in this exhibition contrast idealised beauty with the ageing body, and public images with more intimate, private works.
This exhibition is showing at the Royal Academy of Art until 2 June 2019.
3. The Northern Boys: A Celebration of Plein Air Painting
The Northern Boys have become a regular sight in recent years – they can be found stooped under umbrellas, poised in doorways or working through the rain in Manchester. The group have quickly become known as the Northern region’s finest plein air painters and have poured their skills into capturing the pubs of Manchester, trams, city streets, and the historic and glitzy buildings.
Each of the nine artists will contribute a number of plein air paintings to the upcoming exhibition, including paintings from Manchester, Venice, London, and more. Each has his own style and yet the group are united in their love for painting outdoors. Painting en plein air is not for the faint-hearted and requires great persistence against the British weather and inquisitive public, all of which creates an unmistakable freshness and energy within the paintings. The Northern Boys members are the recipients of three national British plein air awards: Pintar Rapido, PaintOut, and PaintLive, and the group’s work is a mainstay at the annual exhibitions of the Mall Galleries in London, the Royal Institute of Oil Painters, and the New English Art Club.
This exhibition is showing at the Contemporary Six, Manchester until 21 April 2019.
4. Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawing
This ambitious series of 12 simultaneous exhibitions will stretch across the country to mark the 500th anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci’s death. The nationwide event will give the widest-ever UK audience the opportunity to see the work of this extraordinary artist, with 144 of his greatest drawings from the Royal Collection forming the 12 exhibitions.
Revered for his technical ingenuity and the diversity of his talents, this series of exhibitions will focus on examples of all the drawing materials used by Leonardo, including pen and ink, red and black chalks, watercolour and metalpoint. There are 12 drawings at each venue, all selected to reflect the full range of his interests – painting, sculpture, architecture, music, anatomy, engineering, cartography, geology, and botany.
The exhibitions will take place at the Royal Collection Trust’s partner venues until 6 May 2019.
5. Invisible Narratives
Curated by Lubaina Himid CBE, winner of the 2017 Turner Prize, this exhibition presents the work of three artists who explore the poetic investigation of place, space, and time through painting, sound installation and place-based research. All three artists use their work to understand a place as it is experienced by those who know it well and to remember apparently unknown histories.
Rebecca Chesney will be showing three pieces, including a line drawing measuring 8.75m long, showing 102 years of mean sea level recorded at Newlyn’s Tidal Observatory. Magda Stawarska-Beavan is showing several pieces, including Translating the City, a sound piece featuring the interwoven voices of two women, Ekin Sanac (from Istanbul) and Lubaina Himid. The work captures the voices and sensations from unknown cities from a personal viewpoint using binaural microphones.
As well as curating the exhibition, Lubaina Himid presents a suite of paintings in the drawers of a dressing table. Sometimes they are hidden but more often completely exposed – this acts as a reminder that lives lived below the surface are as important as those we find in history books.
This exhibition is showing at the Newlyn Art Gallery, Cornwall until 15 June 2019.
6. Emma Kunz: Visionary Drawings
The work of Swiss artist and naturopath Emma Kunz shows her deep awareness of connections that contradict both normal experience and scientific interpretations of the laws of nature and art. In attempts to find a universal connection, Kunz’s drawings connect viewers to a geometrical world that is both calm and deeply evocative.
Kunz lived in rural Switzerland and was known as a healer and researcher of nature. She created geometrical images as part of a complex practice of healing, done so with the help of a small pendulum. Visitors to the Serpentine can view Kunz’s drawings from the comfort of a number of benches made out of Aion A, a healing rock discovered by Kunz that is still sold in Swiss chemists.
The abstracted works are quiet and calm. They invoke the feeling of a church or a shrine – they transform the space into a sanctuary of tranquillity. As more and more of the public look to producing colourful, therapeutic forms of art as a means of disconnecting from our busy, media-saturated world, it is no surprise that such meditative work has found its place in the Serpentine.
This exhibition is showing at the Serpentine Gallery until 19 May 2019.
Directly translated to ‘homesick’, the artists involved focus on a psychological response to the space we live in and the sense of displacement and longing. The idea of displacement is relevant in the current political landscape and each artists has made a commitment to this idea in their work, whether through painting, film, photography, textiles, or collage.
The title references Freud’s essay ‘Das Unheimliche’ (The Uncanny) which focuses on the strangely familiar or the doubling of that which is familiar in a taboo setting or in an unexpected way. Through this idea, each artist explores various interpretations of home – a longing for home when it is no longer readily available, an attachment to the home, or an inability to connect to the idea of home. For some, the home is a place of comfort, everything emanating from its centre. For others, there is the traumatic loss of the home. You can read our interview with Charlotte Brisland here.
This exhibition is showing at the Art Space, Portsmouth until 14 April 2019.
Interesting Upcoming Artist Shows on this Month:
This is a selection of UK art exhibitions, including group, solo, artist-led and gallery curated shows, that we think are interesting or unusual in some way. We update this section every week so you know the exhibitions to see now. If you want to submit your own, follow the link at the bottom of this section.
Exhibitions on at the Start of April
Lucy Marks: Big Skies, Land and Sea
4 April – 4 May 2019
Known for her dynamic compositions that communicate the changing energy and movement within the landscape, Lucy Marks’ work is recognisable by their highly textural nature, generated through a combination of painterly mark-making, layering and the application of found materials directly onto the canvas.
Lucy holds an MA in Fine Art from Brighton University and has participated in numerous group shows. She has also won two awards through The Artist and Leisure Painter Open Exhibition, Calverton (2017, 2018). You can read our interview with Lucy ahead of her exhibition here.
Piers Feetham Gallery
475 Fulham Road
Tom Farthing: Travelogue
6 April – 27 May 2019
A solo exhibition of new paintings by Tom Farthing, a young emerging artist, looking at his recent travels to Iceland and other places. Tom Farthing gained his MA in 2013 from Chelsea College of Art, and his BA in 2005 from the Ruskin School, Oxford University. With a palette reminiscent of Sickert’s landcapes, these contemporary works have a timeless quality. Tom Farthing is also a printmaker, creating thought-provoking, semi-abstract screen prints.
Zimmer Stewart Gallery
29 Tarrant Street
Sam Windett – Remodel
29 March – 5 April 2019
In this exhibition British artist Sam Windett will show recent paintings produced through his distinctive process of layering paint and paper. Windett works through a system of continuously adding and subtracting materials, modelling and remodelling the canvas surface.
‘I always start with a rough idea of how each painting might look, drawing first in charcoal or pencil, but through the process of its making, the painting becomes remodelled from its initial idea to something far removed: a version 2.0. Conceptually, the title also reflects the revealing or concealing of an idea. When I’m making a show, I’m usually conflating two things, remodelling them so that they work together; something personal, alongside a cultural reference, a pop song or something I’ve read.’
1st Floor, 47 Approach Road
RWS: In The Studio
29 March – 27 April 2019
The place where an artist works is a fascinating reflection of their personality and the pieces they produce. The studios where RWS artists work are no exception. Some artists need a tidy, empty space, while some can only work surrounded by a clutter of inspirational objects. Studios, whether large, small, quiet, noisy, at home, away, shared or private, are very special places.
This exhibition will capture the essence of work made in the studio environment with a display of artworks, photographs and short films exploring the theme of the ‘studio’.
48 Hopton Street
Gillian Ayres: Song Beneath the Stars
4 April – 11 May 2019
Gillian Ayres (1930 – 2018) was one of the leading abstract painters of her generation. Spanning fifty years and charting her passion for printmaking, this exhibition includes prints made in numerous techniques and features the very last works the artist ever made.
Ayres’s devotion to making original prints was unremitting and culminated in a large body of graphic work in her final years that rivalled the magnitude and vividness of her abstract paintings, for which she was so celebrated. In 1989 she was shortlisted for the Turner Prize, and in 1991 was elected Royal Academician. Ayres was appointed a CBE in 2011.
Alan Cristea Gallery
43 Pall Mall
George Shaw: A Corner of a Foreign Field
8 February – 6 May 2019
This exhibition covers George Shaw’s career from 1996 to the present, including some new works never shown in the UK. Shaw’s paintings, made with enamel model paint, focus on the Tile Hill estate, a post-war development on the outskirts of Coventry where he grew up, and the ancient woods surrounding it. Steeped in modern and historic fine art traditions, Shaw’s work alludes to twentieth-century painting and photography, and the legacy of such European masters as Titian. The exhibition also demonstrates his skills as a draughtsman.
The Holburne Museum
Great Pulteney Street
Exhibitions on in the Middle of April
Nadia Ayari: 8 Ways of Holding On
6 April – 17 April 2019
In this exhibition, Nadia Ayari furthers her investigation into the interaction of her works’ primary forms: the leaf and the branch, which in this new body of work bend onto themselves and fold into each other like bodies entangled in a series of quiet embraces. These elements convey a new narrative, one that although told through abstract and allegorical means appears instantly intelligible as it delves deeper into the personal, universally shared struggle for survival and pursuit of growth at a time of widespread political instability.
Looking At You: A Show of Contemporary Painting
2 April – 14 April 2019
Collapsing historic preconceptions of the portrait, the artists present bodies which are shrouded in raucous colour — abstracted, amorphous, playful and lifelike, exploring the portrait and the figure through a contemporary lens. Using traditional notions of portraiture as a starting point, the exhibition includes works by Rebecca Harper, Ross Head, Anna Ilsley, Igor Moritz and Janet Sainsbury.
Rose Lipman Building
43 De Beauvoir Road
Sarah Eddy: Cornish Land and Seascapes
15 April – 27 April 2019
Inspired by the raw natural beauty of her birthplace, Sarah Eddy’s artworks represent both person and place: her love of the wild coastal landscapes of Cornwall and unique relationship with them are core to every striking piece. Experimentally using oils to capture the light and energy of her subject, each original image portrays a passion with the process of painting; and as Sarah evolves from canvas to wood panel, her ever-growing body of work becomes simultaneously more focused and freely self-expressive.
Lemon Street Market
Paintings by Clyde Hopkins: A Path Through Dark and Light
4 April – 14 April 2019
This is a major retrospective exhibition of the work of Clyde Hopkins, who died in 2018. Curated by David Sweet and Marilyn Hallam, it comprises thirty-two exhibits chosen from the artist’s output spanning four decades. It gives an opportunity for his many admirers to appreciate Hopkins’ lifetime achievements as a painter.
APT Gallery & Studios
Henry Woller: Great Hall of the People
7 April – 27 April 2019
For his first solo exhibition in London Henry Woller has been invited to exhibit works thoughts and questions on the significance and functions of the exhibition space as a location of view and as a receptor of concepts. According to it, the gallery has been reconceptualised in its actual narrow dimensions and converted in a grandiose HALL OF THE PEOPLE.
126 Blurton Road
Jo Hummel: Safety at Sea
5 April – 13 April 2019
Jo Hummel’s work is characterised by a painted and paper collaged surface on which she employs spontaneous variations of space, colour and form. The hard-edged dividing lines, repeated systems and pinned stacks are borrowed from the geography which she documents at the coastline near her studio on the Isle of Wight. For her, the junction where the sea meets land is critical as both a metaphor for the dichotomy of human consciousness and a quiet place for consolation.
After Nyne Gallery
10 Portland Road
Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolours – 207th Exhibition
3 April – 18 April 2019
This exhibition is an annual survey of how contemporary artists are using this age-old medium. It is a great place to purchase vibrant, original works with prices starting from £350.
Showing a diversity of styles and techniques, from traditional uses of watercolours to more experimental and innovative paintings. Works on display are produced by members of the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours (RI) and other artists whose pictures have been selected to hang alongside these by the RI Council, including many young painters using water-soluble media in often new and exciting ways.
Gladys Nilsson: Unencumbered
3 April – 18 April 2019
Gladys Nilsson (b.1940, Chicago) studied painting at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, 1958-62. In 1973, the artist was among the first women to have a solo exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art (New York, USA). She lives and works in Chicago.
Gladys Nilsson first came to prominence in 1966 as a member of a group of graduates of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (Jim Nutt, Suellen Rocca, Karl Wirsum, Art Green and Jim Falconer). They exhibited under the moniker ‘Hairy Who’ at Chicago’s Hyde Park Art Center. Despite only showing works together for three years between 1966 – 69, these exhibitions are now cited as the first defining moments of Chicago Imagism.
7 Bethnal Green Road
David Edmond RCA
3 April – 18 April 2019
The beach paintings showing at Will and Yates Gallery are based on photographs David Edmond RCA took on the beach in Coney Island, New York in 2007 and 2016.
Will & Yates Gallery
104 – 106 High Street
12 April – 25 May 2019
Happy Hour brings together eight artists to exhibit at Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery’s London Bridge project space. Happy Hour allows us to glimpse a space of possibility between work, leisure and the domestic, an example of how this performative cross-boundary ‘being-together’ can come about through the communal or collective.
Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery
533 Old York Rd
11 April – 18 May 2019
Sarah Gillespie is an exceptionally talented painter and original print-maker, living and working in Devon, UK. Gillespie trained in Paris at the Atelier Neo-Medici, and at the Ruskin School of Fine Art, Oxford University. She was awarded the Egerton Coghill Prize for Landscape Painting, and the prestigious International Elizabeth Greenshield Award for figurative painting. She is well established in the art world. In the last fifteen years, Sarah has had several sell-out exhibitions in London, having shown with Waterhouse and Dodd in Cork Street and The Portland Gallery, Mayfair. She currently exhibits with Beaux Arts in London and Bath.
Beaux Arts London
48 Maddox Street
Derek Jarman: Shadow Is the Queen of Colour
12 April – 22 June 2019
The paintings in this exhibition were made during 1989-1990, a moment when Derek Jarman was in the midst of creating his garden around Prospect Cottage in Dungeness. During this period he also made The Garden, 1990, a film in which the life of Christ was re-imagined as the life of a gay couple. His diaries from these years formed the publication Modern Nature, a lyrical rendition of the pain he experienced as he contended with AIDS, the anger he felt at the current political situation and the joy of working on the garden and spending time in the visually ‘postapocalyptic’ landscape of Dungeness. The Garden has recently been re-mastered and will be screened at the Metrograph Cinema, New York, from 29 May to 4 June 2019 and at the BFI Southbank Cinema, from 21 June to 27 June 2019.
Amanda Wilkinson Gallery
18 Brewer Street
Exhibitions on at the End of April
Rebecca Harper, Jennifer Milner-Lunt, Camille Yvert: Threshold
25 April – 28 April 2019
The three artists joined APT Studios as recipients of the 2018/19 Ryder Project Space and the Graduate Studio Programmes. Coming to APT from alternative Art Schools ‘Turps’ along with established institutions, RCA and Goldsmiths, this year Harper, Yvert and Milner-Lunt have since been involved in not only the research, development and the production of their independent practices, but they have also been involved with and participated in the exhibition programmes and APTs Gallery and projects committee.
APT Gallery & Studios
Czech Routes: Selected Czechoslovakian Artists in Britain
8 April – 20 May 2019
Czech Routes is the fourth in Ben Uri’s series of exhibitions designed to highlight the contribution of émigré artists to Britain since 1900, succeeding previous exhibitions on German, Polish and Austrian artists (2017-18).
Featuring the work of 21 painters, printmakers and sculptors, many of whom fled to Britain as racial and political refugees from National Socialism, Czech Routes marks the 80th anniversary of Hitler’s invasion of Czechoslovakia on 15th March 1939.
Ben Uri Gallery and Museum
108A Boundary Road
Sugar Shilpa चीनी शिल्पा
16 April – 21 April 2019
Each of the 7 artists has spent time living, teaching, painting and drawing in India. This exhibition is a celebration of India and the creative inspiration it has given each artist.
159 Bethnal Green Road,
Johnnie Cooper: Throe on Throe
19 April – 4 May 2019
This exhibition presents a major survey of works by acclaimed British artist Johnnie Cooper. The exhibition comes at a time of heightened interest in the artist. In 2018, as part of its initiative to re-evaluate key twentieth and twenty-first-century artists, art publisher Black Dog Press produced a monograph documenting Cooper’s 50-year career; and this eagerly-awaited presentation – his first in London in three decades – will be complemented by further shows in the U.K. and America.
Mandy El-Sayegh: Cite Your Sources
12 April – 9 June 2019
Chisenhale Gallery presents a new commission and first solo exhibition in an institution by London-based artist Mandy El-Sayegh. El-Sayegh’s large-scale paintings, works on paper and object-based installations move between linguistic, material and corporeal registers, often creating double meanings that signal a breakdown in everyday systems and orders.
64 Chisenhale Road
Hito Steyerl: Power Plants
11 April – 6 May 2019
Hilo Steyerl is a German artist and filmmaker whose work explores the complexities of the digital world, art, capitalism, and the implications of Artificial Intelligence for society. Her recent artworks cover subjects as diverse as video games, surveillance and art production.
Serpentine Sackler Gallery
West Carriage Drive
If you want to find out about more exhibitions that are on near you, or if you are feeling inspired to try something new, search our Exhibition and Artist Opportunity Calendar by region to find an event for you.
Let us know about your exhibition by filling out the form at the bottom of the page and we may include it in one of our Art Exhibitions on Now posts.
all images are copyright of the artist unless otherwise stated