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4 Exhibitions to see in London this spring and summer

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4 Exhibitions to see in London this spring and summer
In need of a culture fix? Here are four must-see art exhibitions in London, from explorations of architecture and freedom to new perspectives of Michelangelo

Tropical Modernism: Architecture and Independence, The V&A South Kensington, London, now–September 22

Installation shot of Tropical Modernism: Architecture and Independence at the V&A South Kensington © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
The V&A’s exhibition Tropical Modernism: Architecture and Independence explores an architectural style that emerged in the mid-20th century, during a period of post-war modernisation and decolonisation. Many countries in tropical regions adopted the style as a symbol of modernity and progressiveness, distinct from colonial culture. 
Tropical Modernism adapted modernist architecture to the environmental and cultural contexts of tropical regions by merging modernist approaches with traditional building practices. Typical characteristics include responsiveness to the local climate, use of local materials, an indoor-outdoor connection and local architectural elements (for example, pitched roofs and raised floor levels). 
The V&A exhibition focuses in particular on West Africa, India and Ghana, bringing the architecture to life in vivid colour through photographs, film stills, illustrations and more. 

Carvalho Park exhibition, Frieze No 9 Cork Street, May 2–18

Continuum Mother, Se Yoon Park, 2023
This May sees New York-based art gallery Carvalho Park’s first exhibition in the United Kingdom, taking place in participation with Frieze No 9 Cork Street in London. Opening on May 2, this group exhibition displays work from Danish artist Kristian Touborg, whose work crosses between sculpture and painting; Se Yoon Park, whose practice draws on the artist’s foundations in architecture to create complex structures; and Yulia Iosilzon, whose creates figurative works on stretched silk.
Carvalho Park grew out of its directors’ backgrounds in performing arts and architecture, resulting in a cross-disciplinary gallery that focuses on sculpture, installation and performance. Likewise, the exhibition at Frieze No 9 Cork Street crosses disciplinary boundaries, blending sculpture, painting, assemblage and collage to explore the natural world. 

Michelangelo: the last decades, The British Museum, London, May 2–July 28

Michelangelo Buonarro (1475–1564), The Punishment of Tityus, 1532. Royal Collection Trust © His Majesty King Charles III 2024
A new exhibition at the British Museum will explore Renaissance painter Michelangelo beyond the most famous works of his youth, such as the David or the Sistine Chapel ceiling, looking instead at the remarkable work he produced in the last three decades of his life.
In 1534, Michelangelo left Florence for Rome, never to return. This move marked a shift in his life and career, which didn’t slow down in his later years—he was still working four days before his death in 1564 at the age of 88. 
The exhibition focuses on how Michelangelo’s art and faith evolved, looking at how the artist redefined the iconography of religious art. Works from the British Museum’s collection of Michelangelo drawings will be shown for the first time in nearly two decades. Alongside his art, a selection of his poems, letters and designs will also be exhibited, revealing an insight into the man behind the masterpieces. 

Bella Hoare, A Different Green, The Oxo Tower, South Bank, London, May 22–June 2

Bella Hoare, Orange Kimono
Emerging solo artist Bella Hoare’s first solo exhibition, A Different Green focuses on over 20 works that align the beauty of the female form with references to nature. Hoare is deeply embedded in the natural world, living and working on the edge of the Stourhead Estate in Wiltshire among forested landscapes. Her distinctive style of painting uses the modern cold wax medium with traditional oil paint, creating complex, multilayered works.
Themes of renewal and hope are prominent in the exhibition: her series of “green goddess” paintings reimagine the “green man” figure of medieval folklore through a feminist lens, exploring the human potential for intimacy with the natural world, while the subjects of her “Glasshouse” paintings are women from The Glasshouse, a social enterprise empowering female prisoners through horticultural training.
Of her work, Hoare says, “The intricately textured surfaces of my work evolves over months with many layers of oil and cold wax medium. Representational when viewed across a room or on screen; in proximity you appreciate the successive application of abstract marks. We are all more interesting the closer you look.”