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Today is the first Thursday of June which means it’s time to celebrate with an exciting walk through East London’s vibrant art scenes! This month’s route will take you on an exploration of four galleries in the East End. The walk will take 40 minutes going through Aldgate, Shoreditch and Haggerston. The meeting point for anyone interested in the printed copy of this route will be at Whitechapel Gallery.

Our first stop is Yamamoto Keiko Rochaix, at 19 Goulston St, London E1 7TP, for an exhibition titled “Le Long Voyage”, a snapshot of the captivating practice of Anthony Ngoya (b. 1995, FR), with a series of works, in-between painting and sculpture, from the artist’s ongoing internal search for identity. Celebrating familial bonds while questioning its essence, the French artist with Congolese background traces kinship links across various objects and images from personal archives to collective cultural memory. Being a second-generation French following his parents’ immigration and feeling confronted with ruptures, Ngoya created a family cosmogony by playing with the space of possibility with the gaps in his family history, with imagined links through the eyes and perspectives of different characters.

Moving along the walking route, we arrive at A.I. Gallery, located at 1a Tenter Ground, London E1 7NH. The exhibition “Hyphenate” features three female artists: Amy Bernstein (b. 1980, US), Betsy Bradley (b. 1992, UK), and Weixin Quek Chong (1988, Singapore). The show offers unique interpretations of language, exploring calligraphic and typographical elements, as well as logograms, through a diverse range of practices. Amy Bernstein has been dedicated for the last two decades to painting and writing, exploring the limitations of abstract languages and the possibilities of colour, while Weixin Quek Chong works with images, objects, audiovisual and performative elements drawing from interests in dichotomies between digital and organic, monumental and minuscule, human and nonhuman, and other constructed binaries. Betsy Bradley is a painter producing abstract compositions exploring how the act of painting can become an extension of the body and mind.

The journey continues to Autograph, situated at Rivington Pl, London EC2A 3BA. “Ajamu: The Patron Saint of Darkrooms” is a captivating exhibition showcasing the work of Ajamu (b. 1963, UK). For more than 30 years, the artist has unapologetically celebrated black queer bodies, the erotic sense and pleasure as activism. He has been at the forefront of genderqueer photography, challenging dominant ideas around masculinity, gender, sexuality and representation of black LGBTQ+ people in the United Kingdom. Ajamu’s evocative photographs present the lives and experiences of himself and those around him. From charged self-portraits to tender depictions of lovers, spirited images of friends to objects that his sitters use, The Patron Saint of Darkrooms foregrounds the community that has fostered an environment embracing the politics of pleasure. Since the 1980s, Ajamu has sought to use sensuality and desire as a creative practice, liberating representations of the black queer body.

Our final stop on tonight’s route is at Seventeen Gallery, at 270-276 Kingsland Rd, London E8 4DG. Here, you’ll have the opportunity to immerse yourself in the exhibition “Ripple,” the forth show of Rhys Coren (b. 1983, UK) at the gallery. The exhibition presents a collection of works from the artist’s eye-catching production, with a selection of rectangular paintings, relief paintings, marble works, and an animated piece, delving into a world of rhythm, color, visual delights and playful textures. Coren works across animation, writing, performance and painted marquetry and he credits the structures found in electronic dance music, jazz and disco as central to his work.

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