Gallery-going is usually a pastime reserved for those who have the time midweek to enjoy carefree cultural activities. But Art After Dark gives you a special opportunity to visit some of central London’s best loved art institutions and independent galleries for two nights of late night free visual viewing.
Following the success of the inaugural event in March Art of London have arranged a summer edition of their wonderful Art After Dark event, taking place on the 29th and 30th June (until 9pm). Visitors will have evening access to the area’s art exhibits, many of which are offering great perks. Those passing through Piccadilly Circus will be treated to a picturesque night garden to celebrate return of Art After Dark.
Last week I had a preview of this month’s Art After Dark offering. Here are some highlights I recommend checking out later this month –
Head to the iconic National Gallery to see the first major UK exhibition exploring the life and legacy of Saint Francis of Assisi, one of history’s most revered figures. The new exhibition includes over 40 works of art from public and private collections from across the world. You can elevate your experience by reserving a table at the gallery’s landmark restaurant Ochre for dinner with a complimentary glass of champagne (by quoting ‘Art After Dark’.).
Following a three-year closure the National Portrait Gallery is finally open again. Photography enthusiasts will enjoy the latest exhibition, Yevonde: Life and Colour, and guest DJ Lady Kamikaze will be spinning vintage tracks from the 1930s – 1970s. The National Portrait Gallery is also hosting an in-conversation with the award-winning musician, Paul McCartney – live streamed from the Gallery – to discuss his major new exhibition, Paul McCartney Photographs 1963–64: Eyes of the Storm on the Thursday.
As always the Royal Academy of Arts features some thought-provoking free displays, as well as the popular annual Summer Exhibition. Each year a different Royal Academician puts together the summer show (in recent years Yinka Shonibare RA and Grayson Perry RA have coordinated) and this year the show has been overseen by the British painter David Remfry RA. The exhibition showcases every art medium – from prints, paintings, film and photography to sculpture, architectural works and more – by a mix of leading artists and emerging talent. During Art After Dark The Royal Academy will be serving complimentary pintxos with every drink purchased at the Poster Bar and the newly installed Portico Terrace as well as delicious seasonal food and drinks at The Shenkman Bar, making it the ideal post-exhibition venue for refreshments. If you fancy something more substantial head to Spanish chef José Pizarro’s resident restaurant.
The exciting arts programme will also feature some of London’s most acclaimed independent galleries. I recommend popping into –
Skarstedt Gallery for their striking Beyond Abstraction exhibition. Highlights include Steven Parrino’s startling red ‘Bent Painting’ Richard Prince’s witty ‘What’s His Face’ and Marco Pariani’s ‘Landscaper’s Birthday’ which was created just this year.
Art gallery 3812 specialises in contemporary Chinese art and is always a calming space to spend time in. I loved their current exhibition ‘Blue and Black’ the first solo exhibition in London for Qian Wu. Wu studied painting in America, but is firmly grounded in the traditional Chinese brush painting, his works are a sensitive mix of the two cultural artistic styles.
Stern Pissarro is a welcoming gallery which is perfect for those with all levels of art knowledge. It is the ideal venue for visitors wanting an overview introduction to the important Impressionist painter Camille Pisarro while also exhibiting engaging seasonal shows. They are currently showing ‘Art on Paper 1920-2020’.
Whether you are after a pre-show tipple or an after-exhibition feast, the West End has a host of tasty options to satisfy your appetite. I checked out Leicester Square Kitchen, which is very centrally located (in the heart of Leicester Square) and serves vibrant Mexican sharing plates. We opted for ice-cold beer and sour grapefruit Paloma cocktails before a table full of delicious food. Highlights included the Wagyu beef sliders, spicy guacamole and charred sweetcorn. It was the perfect al fresco meal for a summer’s evening.
With the days at their longest and the sun finally out in London’s West End, there has never been a better time to spend an evening strolling round the capital’s finest galleries and enjoying food and drinks at the neighbouring restaurants.
Discover Art of London’s seasonal art and culture programme, Art After Dark, via artoflondon.co.uk/artafterdark
Offers available during Art After Dark
- Aquavit London – Enjoy a free glass of fizz when you book dinner on 29th or 30th June between 5pm and 9pm
- Franco’s – Receive a complimentary glass of champagne when you book dinner, quoting ‘Art After Dark’
- EllaMia London – Tuck into a focaccia sandwich with an alcoholic beverage (excl. bottles and champagne) or soft drink for only £15, available to anyone attending Art After Dark
- Leicester Square Kitchen – 25% off beverages for groups of 10 or more. Available on the restaurant’s A La Carte menu only
- Ochre Restaurant (The National Gallery) – Receive a complimentary glass of champagne by quoting ‘Art After Dark’ when booking dinner
- Poster Bar (Royal Academy of Arts) – Serving complimentary pintxos with every drink purchased at the Poster Bar
- Whitcomb’s at the Londoner – 20% off food for groups, available for 4-8 guests when dining from the À La Carte menu