Here you can find all of our recommended art exhibitions that are on in August. 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 August
This month’s not to miss choices include bright, bold and illusory abstracts, as well as retrospectives investigating social and political issues across the globe.
1. Ruskin, Turner & the Storm Cloud
This fascinating exhibition is the first in-depth examination of the relationship between John Ruskin and JMW Turner. The exhibition will include more than 100 works and stretch across six rooms. It is one of the biggest exhibitions in the UK during the 200th anniversary of John Ruskin’s birth (8 February 1819).
The exhibition examines both men’s work and the impact Ruskin had in highlighting climate change. In 1884, Ruskin wrote about an encroaching ‘Storm Cloud’ – a darkening of the skies that he attributed to the increasing environmental damage of the modern world. The imagery also allowed him to articulate his ongoing mental struggles. This can be seen more closely through the haunting portrait of Ruskin from the National Portrait Gallery, made in the aftermath of his first serious mental illness.
As part of the exhibition, Royal Academician Emma Stibbon was commissioned to go to Chamonix and record the glaciers around Mont Blanc. This is where, in the early 1800s, Turner painted watercolours that inspired Ruskin to embark on his Alpine tours decades later, photographing and drawing awe-inspiring glaciers such as the Mer de Glace. By following in the footsteps of JMW Turner and John Ruskin, capturing the breathtaking sites in the French Alps, the work reveals a stark depiction of how climate change has taken its toll on the glaciated landscape.
This exhibition is showing at the Abbot Hall Art Gallery until 5 October 2019.
2. Bridget Riley
Bridget Riley is a British artist known for her Op Art paintings. Her clean lines, colour arrangements and geometric precision, create optically compelling visual effects that divided critics. Her paintings first came to international notice when she exhibited with Victor Vasarely and others in the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in an exhibition called ‘The Responsive Eye’ in 1965. While some critics dismissed the works as trompe l’oeil (literally ‘tricks of the eye’), the exhibition was a hit with the public. Riley held another popular exhibition at this time in the US, at the Richard Feigen Gallery in New York. Tickets sold out on the first day they went on sale – a remarkable achievement for an artist who was still in her early thirties.
Bridget Riley’s paintings present more than just simple visual tricks. Her works are very large and may take six to nine months to develop. She begins by making small colour studies in gouache – she hand mixes all of the paints as the exact hue and intensity is vital and must be kept consistent.
Successful studies lead to a full-size paper and gouache cartoon which prefigures the final work. These are then enlarged, ruled up, under-painted with acrylic and over-painted in oils. Everything is painted by hand – no rulers or masking tape is used when actually applying the paints. Riley has worked with assistants since the 1960s because of the large scale and the need for great precision.
This comprehensive exhibition, which takes over both floors of the Royal Scottish Academy, will be the first museum survey of Riley’s work to be held in the UK for 16 years. Spanning over 70 years of work, it will place particular emphasis on the origins of Riley’s practice and will trace pivotal moments across her career.
This exhibition is showing at the Scottish National Gallery until 22 September 2019.
3. Helene Schjerfbeck
Through over 60 portraits, landscapes and still lifes, UK audiences are for the first time seeing works by one of Finland’s most revered artists.
Helene Schjerfbeck’s pensive, melancholic paintings offer an intimate insight into the life of an outsider. Schjerfbeck progressed Finnish painting further than any contemporary – many critics consider that, because of her vantage point away from the main artistic centres, she could more easily forge such a distinct style. Her work encompasses a broad range of references, from the Old Masters to the French Impressionists.
The exhibition shows an artist of compassion and great intelligence. Schjerfbeck was very particular when choosing her sitters. She admired the Old Masters, above all El Greco and his ability to render psychological intensity and drama. This became an important consideration when selecting her models. Her skill as a portraitist lay in her ability to bring out the character of each sitter in a way that has been described as ‘emotionally candid’, rather than straying into the sentimental. This trait also reflects Van Gogh’s influence.
This exhibition is showing at the Royal Academy of Art until 27 October 2019.
4. Frank Bowling
Bowling landed on British soil as a teenager in 1953 and later studied at the Royal College of Art alongside David Hockney and Patrick Caulfield. Yet, while both were causing a stir in the arts scene, Bowling’s approach to painting was overlooked. This neglect was not just because of race – it also has to do with the unfashionable character of his painting for much of his career. At this time the British art scene was leaning towards figurative, narrative-driven painting, whereas Bowling favoured shapes, structures and colour.
In 1966 Bowling moved to New York and his paintings of the early 70s reflect it. He was surrounded by garish colours, gestural improvisation and new dilemmas: as the civil rights movement intensified, artists of colour began to feel pressure to rank politics above aesthetics. This created tension between what Bowling ‘ought’ to be making work about, and what he wanted to create.
The result is an expansive body of work that gels thought and commentary with action. This nine-room takes visitors phase by phase through an enormous body of work that covers decades of Abstract expressionism, Colour Field painting and Lyrical Abstraction. He became increasingly interested in the effects created by paint, and in 1973 he began to pour paint directly onto canvas, angled so that the wet paint would slowly flow to the bottom. In his New York and London studios Bowling built a tilting platform that allowed him to pour the paints from heights of up to two metres.
Bowling exhibited the first group of these ‘poured paintings’ in New York in the autumn of 1973. Over the last fourty years Bowling has developed his technique, adding other materials and thick layers of paint to the canvas. Colour and the material structure of the paint remain his focus.
This exhibition is showing at the Tate Britain until 26 August 2019.
5. Bartolomé Bermejo: Master of the Spanish Renaissance
Bartolomé Bermejo was one of the most fascinating figures within Spanish art of the second half of the fifteenth-century. Bermejo’s work exploited the potential of oil painting techniques – a new development at the time. He developed a realistic language with a particular emphasis on illusionistic effects, coupled with an ability to interpret themes and iconographies in new and often visually terrifying ways.
His urge to carry on exploring new avenues, especially in landscape and portraiture, led him to produce some of his most complex and innovative works during the last stage of his career. Though fewer than 20 works by the artist are known and much of his life remains a mystery, Bermejo’s paintings set him apart as a technically skilled and visionary master. At the heart of this exhibition is Saint Michael Triumphs over the Devil, widely considered the most important early Spanish painting in Britain. Its technical skill and excellent state of preservation are even clearer following its recent year-long conservation treatment.
This exhibition is showing at the National Gallery until 29 September 2019.
6. Paula Rego: Obedience and Defiance
This exhibition is an ambitious retrospective of the Portuguese artist’s work that puts heavy emphasis on politics. Spanning Rego’s career from the 1950s through to 2012, the works in this exhibition address António de Oliveira Salazar’s fascist regime, the 1997 referendum on legalising abortion in Portugal, the invasion of Iraq in 2003 by the United States and its allies and, from 2009, female genital mutilation.
The exhibition includes previously unseen paintings and works on paper from the artist’s family and close friends, which reflect Rego’s perspective as a woman immersed in urgent social issues and current affairs. Many of the images begin with the artist’s Portuguese roots and childhood experiences.
Driven by folklore, fairy tales and literature and cultural visions of the nineteenth-century, Rego weaves dark narratives as contemporary folklore – her paintings seem to be taken from a cruel tale and evoke women’s issues in strange scenes, going against social codes. Showing these paintings in Portugal, as well as a series of etchings on the same subject, undoubtedly influenced a 2007 referendum which led to the legalisation of abortion – her images were republished in Portuguese newspapers.
This exhibition is showing at the MK Gallery until 22 September 2019.
7. Félix Vallotton: Painter of Disquiet
Compared to his contemporaries Bonnard and Vuillard, Félix Vallotton is little-known in the British public eye. Despite this, the influence of Vallotton’s striking colour combinations, each laced with quiet detachment, have permeated into twentieth-century art – from the paintings of Edward Hopper to the films of Alfred Hitchcock.
Born in the Swiss city of Lausanne in 1865 and raised in a modest, Protestant household, Vallotton moved to Paris as a 16-year-old aspiring artist, situating himself at the heart of the contemporary art world. He began to capture frenetic life on the city’s streets and his work soon caught the eye of Pierre Bonnard and Edouard Vuillard. With them he joined a group known as ‘the Nabis’, although he was never a fully committed member. The group took inspiration from the decorative, Post-Impressionist style of Paul Gauguin and popular Japanese woodblock prints.
Despite living through such a significant period of change in the history of Western art, Vallotton ultimately remained loyal to traditional modes of depiction, developing the ‘disquieting’ style which defines the many nudes, still-lifes and landscapes he produced in the final 25 years of his life.
This exhibition is showing at the Royal Academy until 29 September 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 August
25 July – 4 August 2019
The Brick Lane Gallery is proud to present its new upcoming Contemporary Painting Exhibition. They have works from the following artists:
Antonella Baldacci, Emily Ma, Sophie Baker, Haser, Maurizio Fioretti, Mikio Urasaki, Halcyon Jarrett, Lili Da Silva, Salman Alhajri.
The Brick Lane Gallery
216 Brick Lane
Lucy Jones: Awkward Beauty
26 July – 6 October 2019
A new showcase of selected works by British artist Lucy Jones will be coming to the University of Leicester’s Attenborough Arts Centre, in collaboration with Flowers Gallery, London.
The exhibition includes a new portrait of Attenborough Arts Centre’s patron, artist Grayson Perry, which was commissioned by the centre.
Attenborough Arts Centre
University of Leicester
B L A K E
25 July – 1 September 2019
After a near sell-out show 5 years ago in Sheffield, Pop-art pioneer Blake returns this time to ‘The Viewing Room’, a new gallery aptly located within a re-purposed 1965 department store. This new ‘show & sell’ brings together a collection of new works plus a selection of rare classic pop-art-masters.
Blake’s work crosses all generational divides and inspires great respect from younger artists such as Damien Hirst, Gavin Turk, Pure Evil and Tracey Emin. Knighted in 2002, an honorary doctor of the Royal College of Art, and with his work represented in major collections throughout the world, Peter Blake truly is a grandee of British Art.
The Viewing Room
25 July – 18 August 2019
Alchemy is an exhibition of new works by Broken Fingaz, Carrie Reihardt and Helen Bur.
Alchemy was a branch of natural philosophy that featured in many cultures around the world. It is most closely associated with attempts to transform base metals into more valuable noble metals. Both alchemy and art are each often perceived as blends of science, magic, mythology and religion.
Within this exhibition, the artists utilise base materials and transform these into more valued works of art. The artists use various elements to transform abstract ideas and emotions into physical works of beauty.
Duke of York’s HQ
25 July – 19 August 2019
Delphian Gallery is pleased to present Divergent Motion, their first annual summer group show featuring artists working across painting, drawing, collage, and sculpture.
This summer show provides the opportunity to continue a visual conversation with previously exhibited artists by showcasing their new work alongside other exciting contemporary artists whom they have yet not yet shown.
76 Montague Square
30 July – 11 August 2019
The artistic heritage of a city is created and shaped by the artists who live and work there. Urban Angles reveals the city as a hub which enables the cross-pollination of multiple ideas and cultures.
In the same way that the city provides each individual with the anonymity to be themselves, Urban Angles offers each artist within the collective, the opportunity to present and express their unique and individual perspective of the urban environment.
Artists: Moich Abrahams, Kanwal Dhaliwal, Geraldo Frazao, Kirsi K, Marc Martyr, Noriko Michigami, Rosana Miracco, Amravati Mitchell, Alice Richards, Jack Smith, Carole Thomas, Martini Yoganini.
159 Bethnal Green Rd
Exhibitions on in the Middle of August
Paradise Skies by Julio Guerra
2 August – 30 September 2019
Julio Guerra is a London-based graphic artist with a bold, geometric and colourful style.
He studied Graphic Arts as well as Sociology in his native Venezuela, and his work has been exhibited at The Cruz-Diez Museum of Print and Design in Caracas. Julio went on to further training at Central Saint Martins in London.
Julio is strongly influenced art movements such as geometric abstraction, Renaissance painting, Suprematism and colour field painting. However, as an artist-cum-sociologist he also takes inspiration from contemporary fashion and culture, and 20th Century art and design.
Paradise Skies is an exhibition of Julio’s tropical birds; flamingos, parakeets, pelicans and some colossus toucan heads.
Of Cabbages & Kings
127 Stoke Newington High Street
My Friends Are Geniuses II – Hochoul Lee – Iris Mathieson – Tristan Pigott
1 August – 31 August 2019
Tristan Pigott, Saint George Mocked, 2019, Oil on board, 110 x 122 cm
Recent Graduate Exhibition from Hochoul Lee, Tristan Pigott and Iris Mathieson. Opening night on 1 August.
A Second in Thousands painting performance by Hochoul Lee will be on 1 Aug 7:00-7:25 pm.
Projection by Iris Mathieson will be played on the opening evening, as well as Thursdays, Fridays and on request.
White Conduit Projects
1 White Conduit Street
What’s great about Britain?
3 August – 31 August 2019
Take a look at Britain through the eyes of Nathan Bowen…
Nathan Bowen is a guerrilla street artist, he actively works as an art vigilante, seeking for dull, lifeless spaces around London. By openly using his imagination he transforms old walls, creating new and inspiring works of art. His style is unique, fast, dynamic and unpredictable, his signature characters known as ‘The Demons’ invade building site hoardings all over London, using the streets as his own gallery.
Curious Duke Gallery
173 Whitecross Street
1 August – 25 August 2019
Showing a selection of work from the last three years comprising of large scale bird portraiture in oils and abstract watercolours with a cellular theme.
57A Redchurch St
Drawings / Flowers Group Show
1 August – 25 August 2019
Works include the delicately formed and exquisitely executed ethereal hair drawings of Denmark’s Alexandra Buhl; Mexican Guillermo Monroy’s found objects reimagined and given new life as a menagerie of new creatures; Paul Robinson’s Pink bear who lives a life of highs and lows in beautiful technically intricate produced paintings and prints; Graham Carrick’s paintings writhe at the notion of what we perceive to be attainable goals. Alex Allmont provides the rhythm with a new kinetic Lego piece.
The Tommy Flowers
50 Aberfeldy St
1 August – 1 September 2019
StolenSpace Gallery is pleased to announce the new group show ‘Convo’, featuring new work from Australian artists Tom Gerrard, Matthew Fortrose and Elliot Routledge. Gerrard, Fortrose and Routledge have struck up a correlating ‘convo’ between their work to create a show of unison but uniqueness.
Stolen Space Gallery
17 Osborn Street
Summer Show 2019
5 August – 11 August 2019
A group exhibition of paintings, drawings and sculpture at 54 The Gallery. Featuring work by the following artists:
Ada Dawnay, Henry Dawnay, George Dawnay, Elizabeth Dawnay, Charles Harcourt Smith, Hugh Bredin, Oleg Baikoff, Clarissa Wilson.
54 The Gallery
54 Shepherd Market
Liberation Through Nature
5 August – 10 August 2019
Bringing together a selection of new and older work, the exhibition focusses on the dialogue between human and nature, and the benefits it can bring to our mental and physical wellbeing. Christina’s practice aims to stimulate the viewer’s awareness of their environment, specifically their engagement with nature. Through her painting, she shares her own experience of liberation through nature.
Menier Chocolate Factory
51 Southwark Street
Lost in Transition by Vanessa Milito Rodriguez
2 August – 28 August 2019
This exhibition celebrates the mix between the traditional Japanese culture and modern pop culture. The artworks are inspired by the works of Ukiyo-e masters, such as Hokusai and Hasui.
70-72 Old Street
Kit Boyd – ‘Solo’
3 August – 25 August 2019
Exploring our relationship with nature, Kit’s art fuses the pastoral and surreal. He follows in the British romantic tradition of the neo-romantics of the 1940s and Samuel Palmer. While primarily known as a printmaker, he also makes collages and paintings.
White Box Gallery
5 Hare and Billet Rd
2 August – 1 September 2019
LANDSCAPES exhibits works created over the past three decades showing how artists continue to use landscapes to reflect on contemporary issues. Centred around the incorporation of thematic elements relating to conflict, abstraction, and technology, LANDSCAPES is a unique look into how contemporary artists have adapted the historical genre in diverse ways.
NO 20 Arts
20 Cross Street
8 August – 21 August 2019
Originally from Bunclody, SE Ireland, Redmond’s multifaceted artistic practice is as much an open conversation with the social and cultural impacts of his background, as it is the embracing and celebration of gay male love and life in his current home in London.
7 Roach Road
Exhibitions on at the End of August
St Ives & Beyond: A Personal View
17 August – 14 September 2019
Curated by Richard Selby, co-director of The Redfern Gallery in Cork Street, London. This is a selling exhibition of artists who worked in St Ives from 1847 to the present day. The potter Richard Phethean who is also based in St Ives shall also be exhibiting.
Twenty Twenty Gallery
4 Quality Square
17 August – 25 August 2019
Colourful and whimsical paintings in mixed media and acrylic by artist Judit Grant McLoughlin.
Garden Cafe and Gallery
Helena de Pulford – Simnel
17 August – 26 August 2019
In her first solo presentation ‘Simnel’, artist Helena de Pulford explores her relationship to catholicism and her own assimilation of masculinity, in an installation of works formed almost exclusively from wax.
50 Resolution Way
Ways of Seeing
15 August – 18 August 2019
The show seeks to represent a varied selection of the artists’ work. This group of artists from different backgrounds, experiences and styles are brought together around a shared ethos of collaboration, respect and sharing. They all see the world around them in different ways, and this exhibition illustrates their way of seeing.
There are 12 artists showcasing a diverse range of work which includes drawing, painting, photography, print, mixed media and wall-based sculpture.
The exhibition will invite the viewer to consider the changing world around us as seen and experienced by each artist.
Geraldine Molia, Hamish Macaulay, Mark Welland, Catherine Sweet, Sal Jones, Caroline Banka, Kira Phoenix K’inan, Chris Horner, Lisa-Marie Price, Hannah Pratt, Arturo Garcia de las Heras, Jen Wiggle
Deptford does Art
28 Deptford High Street
16 August – 21 August 2019
Five Sussex Artists exhibiting as part of Lewes Artwave 2019. Artists are showcasing an exciting and diverse portfolio of contemporary art styles in the beautiful surroundings of the Crypt Gallery.
23 Church Street
Beyond The Visible by Sherrie-Leigh Jones
9 August – 30 August 2019
Sherrie-Leigh Jones is an Artist/Printmaker exploring imaginary landscapes through a process of collaging her own photographs, paintings, found imagery and printmaking techniques to create limited edition prints and originals.
Drawing inspiration from romanticism, the sublime, science fiction and nature, her work transcends past, future and present offering a means of escapism.
42 Bond Street
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