There is no shortage of impressive exhibitions currently showing in London, from paintings of vile bodies to polystyrene sculptures. Satisfy your summer cultural cravings with Elephant’s pick of the bunch.

A gentle meeting of tips, 2018. © Loie Hollowell, Courtesy Pace Gallery
A gentle meeting of tips, 2018. © Loie Hollowell, Courtesy Pace Gallery

Loie Hollowell, Dominant / Recessive at Pace

In the New York artist’s first UK solo show expect to see brazen sexuality mixed with abstraction, surrealism and sacred iconography. Hollowell’s pastel-hued paintings are reminiscent of Georgia O’Keeffe, Judy Chicago and Agnes Martin, utilizing both precise geometrical compositions and a deft ability to capture light through graduating colour. Her work is often coded with symbols of female sexuality, so if you look hard enough, you’re sure to spot something naughty. (Holly Black)

28 August to 20 September

Lin May Saeed, Biene, Installation View, Studio Voltaire London, 2018, Courtesy of the artist; Jacky Strenz Galerie, Frankfurt and Nicolas Krupp, Basel. Credit Andy Keate
Lin May Saeed, Biene, Installation View, Studio Voltaire London, 2018. Courtesy the artist; Jacky Strenz Galerie, Frankfurt and Nicolas Krupp, Basel. Photograph by Andy Keate

Lin May Saeed, Biene at Studio Voltaire

Polystyrene, the packing material found shaped around fragile items shipped across the world, is not a material you expect to encounter on the exhibition floor. But for Lin May Saeed, the German-born artist currently showing a newly commissioned body of work at Studio Voltaire in south London, polystyrene is the basis of her sculptural and wall-based works. While others might carve from alabaster marble, this foamy, brittle material is carved and painted by Saeed to form life-sized animal characters. Crates usually used for storage and transport are used as plinths to display the creatures, as suggestive of cages as they are of the rarely-seen means of production behind the exhibition. (Louise Benson)

Until 26 August

Hamidou Maiga Untitled, 1973. Courtesy of Jack Bell Gallery
Hamidou Maiga, Untitled, 1973. Courtesy of Jack Bell Gallery

Rassemblement at Jack Bell Gallery 

You only have to travel as far as St James’s for a change of scene this summer—Rassemblement at Jack Bell gallery takes you to Porto-Novo, Benin, via the photographer Leonce Raphael Agbodjelou, who interprets the experiences of his generation—caught between tradition and progress—on medium format film. He was trained by his late father, Joseph Moise Agbodjelou, who was president of the Professional Photographers Association of what is now Benin, and ran a studio called France Photo, shooting portraits for nearly twenty years. His influence is clear in his son’s works, which appear alongside seven other contemporary artists drawing on tradition and heritage, in dialogue with photographs by the great Hamidou Maiga, sculptures by Goncalo Madbunda and paintings by Bambo Sibiya. (Charlotte Jansen)

Until 3 August

Félix Vallotton, Quatre torses, 1918. Courtesy Michael Werner
Félix Vallotton, Quatre torses, 1918. Courtesy Michael Werner

Vile Bodies at Michael Werner London

This exhibition’s title says it all: bodies can be weird, gross and just plain vile. The naked form has always fascinated artists, and this group show displays the lumpy, squishy and fleshy qualities of the human figure in all its glory, from a pencil sketch of a woman arching backwards by Joseph Beuys to crouched silhouettes by Georg Baselitz—appropriately titled Sex with Dumplings. The surprising eroticism of the show comes in part from the strangeness of many of the forms on display, casting them in a new light, as if that most familiar of forms was suddenly unknown. The exhibition features work by an impressive array of artist, including Peter Doig, Otto Dix, Lucio Fontana, AR Penck, Francis Picabia, Peter Saul and Sigmar Polke. (Louise Benson)

Until 15 September

Installation view of Oscar Tuazon at Maureen Paley, 2018
Oscar Tuazon, Fire, Installation View, Maureen Paley, 2018

Oscar Tuazon, Fire at Maureen Paley, London

Fire, the first solo exhibition by American artist Oscar Tuazon at Maureen Paley in London, is a cool and considered antidote to the heatwave facing the city. The artist is perhaps best known for his Zome Alloy series—an architectural structure that can be used as a “water school”, where new discussions about education and environmentalist strategies in the era of the Anthropocene can take shape. Although there is a narrative of post-apocalyptic dystopia running through the exhibition (giant “canvases” hinging between painting and sculpture and bearing the ghostly traces of gridded urban topographies since removed) the mood—like the water flowing through it—is overall generative and hopeful. (Alice Bucknell)

Until 29 July

Alex Prager, Despair Film Still #2, 2010. © Alex Prager. Courtesy The Photographers Gallery
Alex Prager, Despair Film Still #2, 2010 © Alex Prager. Courtesy The Photographers Gallery

Alex Prager, Silverlake Drive at The Photographers’ Gallery

In this sparse yet perfectly-formed show, artist and filmmaker Alex Prager invites you into her world of retro surrealism. She presents busy crowds that appear to be waiting for the cameras to roll in some anonymous Hollywood production, as well as women in bizarre predicaments, hanging from telegraph poles or enduring an attack from a flock of Hitchcockian birds. Every Prager image is infused with a cinematic quality, but her moving image pieces are something else altogether. Her multi-channel installation starring Elizabeth Banks is a feat of engineering, as varying viewpoints are projected onto three sides of the viewing room cube, adding to the sense of screeching anxiety that the actor is conveying. (Holly Black)

Until 14 October

Michael Landy RA, Closing Down Sale. Courtesy the artist and Thomas Dane Gallery
Michael Landy RA, Closing Down Sale. Courtesy the artist and Thomas Dane Gallery

The 250th Royal Academy Summer Exhibition 

Grayson Perry was the head honcho of this year’s Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, the 250th time the all-singing, all-dancing annual show has taken place at Burlington House. Running without interruption since 1769, you can certainly feel the Perry effect in 2018, with bursts of colour leaping off walls that have been painted yellow and fleshy pink, like a giant candy store for art lovers. The Summer Exhibition is a platform for unknown and amateur artist “Joe Bloggs”, as Perry puts it, to be hung next to household names—try to spot the difference. As ever, the show represents “what is happening in the art world right now” in a genuinely democratic way, with Perry and a team of Academicians sifting through hundreds of thousands of submissions to select 1,200 to put up. (Charlotte Jansen)

Until 19 August

Installation view of Katja Novitskova, Invasion Curves at Whitechapel Gallery, 2018. © Katja Novitskova
Katja Novitskova, Invasion Curves, Installation View, Whitechapel Gallery, 2018. © Katja Novitskova

Katja Novitskova, Invasion Curves at Whitechapel Gallery

Taking over the Whitechapel Gallery this summer is Katja Novitskova’s psychedelic and fearsome Invasion Curves. The scene awaiting you rivals any zombie film trope: a failed lab experiment spun out of control has led to a “biotic crisis”, where technology is used—and in turn, exploited—in a process of recoding the exploitation of natural lifeforms. The bodies of lab critters are reproduced through AI coding and rendered as projections, sculptures or hallucinogenic combinations of the two. A particularly nail-biting piece is Pattern of Activation, (Embryogenesis), which features eleven alien eggs seemingly ready to hatch, and a writhing, worm-like mother (the runner-up is a collection of haunted mutant baby rattles at the back of the installation). Like a bad acid trip cross-faded with net nostalgia, the exhibition is a super-sensory departure from the artist’s comparatively restrained cutout animal series, which teleported the Estonian artist to post-internet stardom. (Alice Bucknell)

Until 2 September

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