Victoria Miro studied painting at the Slade and opened her first – small – gallery in Cork Street in 1985. In 2000, Miro moved to an 8,000 sq ft former furniture factory in northeast London, and expanded further in 2006, building a 9,000 sq ft exhibition and viewing space adjacent to the original gallery and overlooking a waterside terrace and garden. This remains her principal space: the gallery has become an international leader, but hasn’t sought to expand much geographically – though a Venetian outpost was opened in 2017, and there was a return to Mayfair from 2013-20.
There is also a notable online presence, with particularly informative presentations of the physical shows as well as virtual exhibitions via the Vortic platform developed by Victoria’s son, Oliver Miro. Victoria herself is an avowed fan of painting. One could cite the support for Chris Ofili, Chantal Joffe and Tal R as evidence of that, and the gallery nurtured the reputation of Alice Neel years before she reached her current level of fame. Younger painters who have joined the gallery include Flora Yukhnovich, María Berrío and Kudzanai-Violet Hwami. Yet the wider media of Yayoi Kusama, Grayson Perry, Sarah Sze, Elmgreen & Dragset and Stan Douglas have been equally central to the programme over the years. Go to Wharf Road now, and you’ll see two extensive exhibitions which showcase the range well. On the one hand, historic and new work from Stephen Willats, who has long concentrated on issues attuned to current times: communication, social engagement, active spectatorship, and self-organisation. On the other, a varied group show themed around Leda and the Swan.
London’s gallery scene is varied, from small artist-run spaces to major institutions and everything in between. Each week, art writer and curator Paul Carey-Kent gives a personal view of a space worth visiting.