Image: The future of London art
Rachel Jones, photo by Jess Hand/Time Out
Featured in Time Out

The future of London art The nine best young artists working in the city today

11 October 2023


Somehow, despite everything standing in its way, art is flourishing in London. We’ve got rising rents, exorbitant studio fees, a lack of opportunities and a suffocating cost of living crisis, but still, the young artists of this city are making work, and doing it brilliantly. It would be easy (and lazy) to depict the London art world as entirely rarefied, nepotistic and exclusionary, but the truth is far more open, interesting and varied. There are artists from countless different backgrounds, with different viewpoints, working in all different parts of the city.

And the work they make is varied too. If you go by what the galleries are showing, you’d think London is nothing but wall-to-wall hazy figurative painting, but the variety out there is staggering. Satirical housework performances, immersive rodent-based film installations, ceramic friezes, Frasier Crane, Tupac Shakur, ska, Mariah Carey, sausages, teeth, paintings, sculptures, photos and everything in between; young London art in 2023 is weird, diverse, funny, exciting, challenging. 

For me, this is the most exciting young crop of artists I’ve seen since I started at Time Out, more than a decade ago. They’re dealing with major topics like racism, exclusion, mental health, gender, sexuality and poverty, but with a ludicrous amount of joy, pop culture references, fun, aggression and weirdness, it’s actually, really, genuinely, properly thrilling. 

So here are our nine favourite young artists working in London today, picked with the help of some of the best curators and gallery directors in the city. You might not be able to hang all of it on your wall, and some of it might even make your parents tut and say ‘I could do that’, but if that’s what you’re after, the past is that way. This right here, this is the future. 

(With thanks to the following curators and directors for their contributions: Paul Luckraft, Zabludowicz Collection. Martin Clark, Camden Art Centre. Alex Petalas, The Perimeter. Sarah McCrory, Goldsmiths Centre for Contemporary Art. Cliff Lauson, Somerset House. Selvi May Akyildiz, Frieze No.9 Cork Street.)

Rachel Jones

Turns out it’s not the eyes that are the window to the soul, but the teeth. At least in Rachel Jones’s art they are. Her ultra-vivid take on abstraction – all clashing colours and textures – finds inspiration in an oral fixation, with all the shapes based on teeth, tongues and uvulas. It’s like Clyfford Still with a degree in dentistry, but Jones’s beautiful canvases also explore all the hidden meanings in smiles and frowns, the messages we send with our mouths, and the endless racial and culture symbolism of teeth, making her the most interesting abstract painter working today.

Atmospheric image Atmospheric image
Atmospheric image Atmospheric image
Atmospheric image Atmospheric image