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Check out our critics’ picks of the ten best art shows coming up in the capital at some of the world’s best art galleries London’s major galleries and museums are allowed to reopen from May 17. Check on the galleries’ websites before visiting, you may need to book a slot in advance. For London’s museums and galleries it’s time to open up again. The city’s independents are already back in business, but from May 17 it’s the turn of their big brothers: the Tates, National Galleries and Haywards. Some galleries may now require booking for shows you used to be able to just rock up to, and others may have drastically reduced visitor numbers so you may have to queue, and almost all of them have changed their opening hours. Still, it’s great to be able to go and stand and gaze at some unbelievable art again. Here’s your next art outing sorted.  Matthew Barney’s a real onion of an artist: we’re talking layer after layer after layer of meaning and myth and narrative and concept and aesthetics, on and on forever and ever. So your chances of fully grasping what this show’s about - even if it didn’t include a two hour film - are pretty slim. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth a go. Hayward Gallery, until Jul 25. Big Dave’s been getting right up people’s noses lately. Just last week, our most celebrated living painter designed possibly the most slapdash roundel ever for Piccadilly Circus, a knowingly naive bit of super colourful playfulness done on an iPad, and people were livid. Now, he’s opened a whole show of iPad paintings at the Royal Academy. 83 years old, and absolutely hellbent on trolling everyone who has ever liked his art.   Royal Academy of Arts, May 23-Aug 1. Immersive art gets a bad rap, dismissed as twinkly lights and pretty colours designed to get Insta likes. But there's nothing twinkly or pretty about Ryoji Ikeda's exhibition at 180 The Strand, and it is seriously immersive. Instead, the Japanese artist (here with his biggest ever European show) has filled the labyrinthine brutalist spaces of this former office block with eye-searing, brain-liquifying, ear-shredding light and sound installations. At 180 The Strand, until Aug 1. A cheeky smile can get you pretty far in life, and even further in art. Just ask Mona Lisa, her semi-smirk has helped make her the most famous painting ever. That’s because that smile is enigmatic: we don’t know why it’s there or what it represents. English painter Lynette Yiadom-Boakye pushes that idea – the enigma of the portrait – to an extreme. In this huge show, her first major institutional exhibition in the UK, her figures smile and grin and frown and laugh, and we never, ever know why.   Opening May 19. The elusive, ultra-ambitious American artist is coming back to London for his first major institutional show in the UK since ‘Drawing Restraint’ at the Serpentine in 2007. Intensely conceptual, Barney’s art is some of the most absorbing and deeply weird work of the modern era. This show involves a feature-length film of hunters in the snow, casts of trees and other spooky, quasi-mythical goings-on. It looks magical and visually extraordinary.   Hayward Gallery, May 19-Jul 25. Opens May 18. By now, we’ve all seen Auguste Rodin’s ‘The Thinker’, but you might be less familiar with his 1898 sculpture ‘Balzac’, a monument to the French novelist that may or may not depict him fondling his penis beneath his coat. The artist was influenced by the sculptures of ancient Greece, but as this Tate Modern exhibition seeks to show, Rodin was a true modern radical. Tate Modern, May 18-Nov 21. Tracey Emin lies nude on a bed, weeping and bleeding. Her splintered body is spattered with red, caked in dripping bodily fluids. Opposite, Edvard Munch’s women mirror Emin’s poses in soft watercolours, all staring emptily into the distance. This exhibition of the great Norwegian artist’s paintings of nude women alongside Emin’s own naked self-portraits is dark, harrowing and almost physically painful. Not a lot of laughs here, but a hell of a lot of feelings. Royal Academy of Arts, May 23-Aug 1. Opens May 19. A major retrospective of renowned British-Ghanaian photographer James Barnor. He established the Ever Young studio in Accra in the ’50s before moving to London at the end of the decade and documenting the Black diaspora in the capital. Barnor’s images span studio portraits and more candid street shots, and this show looks great. Serpentine North Gallery, May 19-Oct 22. Opens May 19. Don’t miss this Whitechapel Gallery retrospective of British artist Eileen Agar – painter, collage-maker, sculptor and creator of some demented ceremonial hats. Agar had a really remarkable life, frequenting surrealist circles, but her work has not been widely championed. This is a great chance to catch up with it.  Whitechapel Gallery, May 19-Aug 29. Opens May 17. This major show of the works of French painter Jean Dubuffet is the first in the UK in half a century. Dubuffet was a true one-off: his works are raw and ravishing (he coined the term ‘art brut’ – ‘raw art’) to describe them. This is just the sort of show that post-lockdown spring London needs.   Barbican Art Gallery, May 17-Aug 22. Support Time Out We see you’re using an ad-blocker. Ad revenue is Time Out’s main source of income. The content you’re reading is made by independent, expert local journalists. Support Time Out directly today and help us champion the people and places which make the city tick. Cheers!
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