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Three to see: London

From Malick Sidibé’s black-and-white photos of Bamako’s youth culture to Ken Price’s bright and colourful ceramics

by Julia Michalska, Aimee Dawson, Hannah McGivern  |  21 December 2016
Three to see: London
Ken Price, The Lug (1988) (© Estate of Ken Price, Courtesy of Matthew Marks Gallery. Photo: Fredrik Nilsen)
For a burst of west African summertime in the depths of a British winter, head to Malick Sidibé: the Eye of Modern Mali (extended until 26 February) at Somerset House. The first UK show dedicated to the photographer of Bamako’s youth culture opened during the 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair in October—six months after his death at the age of 80. Sidibé’s original black-and-white prints from the 1960s and 1970s feel as fresh as ever, capturing stylish teens in nightclub dances, swimming parties on the river Niger and portrait sessions at his own Studio Malick, where “often it was like a party”.

Forget virtual reality, one of the biggest trends of 2016 has been the rise of ceramics. From Betty Woodman to Gillian Lowndes, artists working with clay have been ubiquitous this year, but few names are as synonymous with the humble medium as Ken Price. The first major UK show since the 1970s, Ken Price: a Survey of Sculptures and Drawings, 1959–2006 (until 4 February), fills Hauser & Wirth’s two Mayfair spaces, bringing together the late artist’s bulbous ceramics with his lesser-known works on paper. A surprise hit are Price’s drawings of Los Angeles that fuse Japanese prints with Pop art. 

The British artist Maggi Hambling is probably better known for her slightly kitsch public sculptures—such as a coffin-shaped bench featuring the distorted face of Oscar Wilde close to London’s Trafalgar Square—than her drawing. Maggi Hambling: Touch, Works on Paper (until 29 January) at the British Museum is a show of 40 drawings and prints, which includes early student drawings and etchings, as well as works that have never been exhibited before. Featuring the famous faces of the artist and critic John Berger and the actor Stephen Fry, a highlight of the show is the striking ink drawing of a rhinoceros, which Hambling made when she was 17 and considers “her first portrait”.

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