The monumental arch at Hyde Park Corner isn’t just something to walk past, you can go inside, and there’s an art exhibition filling the upper floors at the moment.

At the moment, it’s Pain Relief, by artist Ibrahim El-Salahi. Born in Sudan in 1930, Ibrahim El-Salahi is known as the ‘Godfather of African Modernism’ and is one of the most important living African artists.

Work on display was created by the artist between 2016-2018, when he made around 200 tiny drawings in pen and ink created on the inside cardboard of his medicine packets and on the backs of envelopes. These were drawings in their own right, but El-Salahi wanted to make larger scale work, so he used the drawings as a nucleus from which to create large, unique mono-print paintings transferred by screen from the drawings. The original image is pressed through the gauze onto strong woven linen canvas many times over until a thick inky texture is achieved, amplifying the character of the marks. It is a selection of these unique mono-print paintings that form the current exhibition.

As an exhibition, it’s of a certain taste – it’s quite abstract and does feel like the sort of art that would adorn a corporate boardroom, which is commercially very sensible if maybe that’s not quite what an artist would automatically aspire to.

The exhibition runs until Sunday 30th October 2022.

The main reason to visit Wellington Arch though is for the permanent exhibition about its history, and the views from the walkway that is open at the top of the arch. Time it correctly, and you can be there for the horses riding to the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace.

Even without that, it’s a pretty good view over this part of London.

The arch is open Wed-Sun 10am-5pm. Entry is £6.60 for adults, £4 for children, or free for English Heritage members.

Later in the year Wellington Arch will host an exhibition by Matthew Burrows and Marcus Harvey in 2023.


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