The Top Five Shows to See in the UK in June

From Rhea Dillon’s reverential found objects at Soft Opening, London, to Douglas Gordon’s rumination on ancestral trauma at Dundee Contemporary Arts

BY frieze in Exhibition Reviews , UK Reviews | 03 JUN 22

Jeff Wall

White Cube Mason’s Yard, London

27 April – 25 June 2022

Jeff Wall
Jeff Wall, Event, 2020, inkjet print, 2.2 × 1.7 m. Courtesy: © the artist and White Cube, London

An eerie green light shines overhead in a hallway where two tuxedoed men seem to argue. One, photographed from behind, stabs three fingers into the chest of the other, who appears unmoved by his aggressor. His hands are held loosely by his side, one thumb perhaps in a pocket. How do they know each other? Is this confrontation out of the blue or a long time coming? There isn’t anything inherently extraordinary about this image, Event (2020), but Jeff Wall’s billboard-scale prints magnify the gravity and emotional charge of the mundane. – Salena Barry 

Jesse Darling 

Camden Arts Centre, London

13 May – 26 June 2022

Jesse Darling
Jesse Darling, ‘Enclosures’, installation view, 2022. Courtesy: the artist, Camden Art Centre and Arcadia Missa, London; photograph: Eva Herzog

Darling’s work refuses the ordering and categorization of the colonial state, showing us that the body is beyond fixity. It bends, transforms and breaks. Though many institutions now demand work on care and resistance, I refuse to engage in clichés about the solace that art can provide in difficult times, or its capacity to be an amorphous means of resistance. As Darling gracefully reminds us at MAO and CAC, like our fragile, mortal impermanent selves, power and its grip on our bodies will inevitably wither and fade. – Iarlaith Ni Fheorais

Douglas Gordon 

Dundee Contemporary Arts

29 May – 07 August 2022

Douglas Gordon
Douglas Gordon, k.364, installation view. Courtesy: the artist, Gagosian, London, and Kamel Mennour Gallery, Paris; photograph: Ruth Clark

In one sense, the presentation of Douglas Gordon’s k.364 (2010) at Dundee Contemporary – its first showing at a UK public institution – marks a homecoming for the influential Scottish artist. This seems appropriate for a film that centres on personal and artistic return: what does it mean to go back? How can the story of such a journey be represented? – Helen Charman 

Rhea Dillon 

Soft Opening, London

30 April – 18 June 2022

Rhea Dillon
Rhea Dillon, ‘The Sombre Majesty (or, on being the pronounced dead)’, 2022, exhibition view. Courtesy: © the artist and Soft Opening, London

In ‘The Sombre Majesty (or, on being pronounced dead)’, Rhea Dillon finds multitudes in everyday objects and motifs, creating a new kind of space that invites us to understand it on its own terms. Her work represents an almost visceral confrontation with the racist past – and present – of the United Kingdom. A Caribbean Ossuary (2022), an ornate display cabinet presented on its back, becomes a failed vessel for the transportation of broken glass and a kind of casket, a colonial ghost reanimated by Every Ginnal Is a Star (2022), a nine-point star cut from a plastic shipping barrel. – Sam Moore 

Nicola L. 

Alison Jacques, London

13 May – 23 July 2022

Nicola L.
Nicola L., Flower, 1974. Courtesy: the artist and Alison Jacques, London 

Nicola L.’s ‘Penetrable’ sculptures, initially conceived to be entered or worn by viewers or performers, are creepy, almost kinky, their taut canvas forms like skins, punctuated with spaces for heads, arms, eyes and legs. Adorned with phrases like ‘We want to breathe’ and ‘We don’t want war’, these wearable artworks embody politically charged messages. Some accommodate multiple bodies – as in the 11-headed Same Skin for Everybody (1975) – and the unisex, one-size-fits-all tailoring suggests universality and the hope of interpersonal connection. These themes run throughout the show at Alison Jacques, Nicola L.’s first in the UK, which represents the diversity of her practice through a range of works created between 1969 and 2018. ​​​​​​​Salena Barry 

Main image: Jesse Darling, ‘Enclosures’, installation view, 2022. Courtesy: the artist, Camden Art Centre and Arcadia Missa, London; photograph: Eva Herzog

Contemporary Art and Culture