In San Francisco for FOG? Don't Miss These 7 Exhibitions Around the City

Anyone who has weaved through endless rows of booths at an art fair knows there is limited exhibition space in even the largest of stalls. While certain San Franciscan outposts will be bringing their program to this year’s edition of FOG Design + Art—including Et al., Berggruen, and Fraenkel Gallery—the full breadth of their capabilities is currently on view in a number of enticing local exhibitions.

Meanwhile, San Francisco’s institutions are championing both historical and contemporary names, with deep dives into the work of artists like Pacita Abad, Sandro Botticelli, and Hayv Kahraman. Anyone in town for the annual fair would be remiss to not get out into the city and, luckily, CULTURED has compiled the seven best stops around town.  

Pacita Abad, L.A. Liberty, 1992. Image courtesy of the Pacita Abad Art Estate and the Walker Art Center.

Pacita Abad
October 21, 2023–January 28, 2024

The first traveling retrospective of the late Filipino artist (1946-2004) will introduce many viewers to her technicolor oeuvre. Abad is best known for her trapunto paintings, quilted and elaborately painted canvases that reflect the time she spent traveling the world. In her 20s, Abad visited San Francisco and met her future husband, who would go on to work for the World Bank. Together, they traveled to 60 countries across six continents, all of which made an imprint on the artist’s rich, maximalist body of work.

Cecily Brown, The Hunt, 2022. Image courtesy of the artist and Berggruen.

Abstract Perspectives
January 11–February 29, 2024

After years of commercial and critical attention showered on figurative painting of all ilks, abstraction is back on the menu. Berggruen is presenting a group show of work by contemporary abstract painters including Julie Mehretu, Odili Donald Odita, and Sarah Crowner. These big names are coupled with lesser-known practitioners of the form, including Clare Kirkconnell, Sarah Blaustein, and Heather Day.

Eli Ping, Gorget, 2023. Image courtesy of the artist and Micki Meng.

Eli Ping”
January 18–February 28, 2024
Micki Meng

Brooklyn-based artist Eli Ping is known for his singular sculpture work. It is often reminiscent of organic forms, like a plant sprouting up from a gallery floor or taut skin pulled across a wall-hanging canvas. Both iterations are now on view in a show that highlight’s Ping’s stark minimalistic style. Monocarp takes its name from the eponymous breed of short-living plants, while Gorget displays the artist’s signature suture technique in which gashes in a canvas are stitched together into simple, elegant lines. 

Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller, Ambient Jukebox, 2024. Image courtesy of the artists and Fraenkel Gallery.

Ambient Jukebox & Other Stories” by Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller
January 11–March 9, 2024
Fraenkel Gallery

In a room illuminated only by flecks of light from a mirror ball, the ambient sounds of distant planets reverberate. Cosmic Disco, the centerpiece in Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller’s latest exhibition, pulls recordings from NASA’s Voyager I and II to root interplanetary travel firmly on Earth. Accompanying works, made in large part from found materials and audio, build out the sonic landscape in a tone-setting show by the visionary Canadian duo. 

Lotus L. Kang, Root, 2020-2021. Image courtesy of the artist and Bibeau Krueger.

Maybe it’s about bodies?
January 19 - February 24, 2024
Et al. etc. and Et al. books (2831A Mission St)

Co-organized by Et al. and Bibeau Krueger, this group exhibition—featuring work from Tatjana Danneberg, Vanesa Gingold, Naomi Hawksley, Brook Hsu, Lotus L. Kang, and Benoit Gilles Michel—explores the tension between the body and creating art. Is our quest to understand our own form akin to an artist trying to illuminate the culture that surrounds them? Several works here liken the parts that compose artwork—paint, canvas, plaster, paper—to the flesh, blood, bone, and other materials that make a body.

Sandro Botticelli, Study for the Portrait of a Lady in Profile to the Right (Detail Shot), 1485. Image courtesy of the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology and Legion of Honor.

Botticelli Drawings
November 19, 2023 – February 11, 2024
Legion of Honor

This is the first exhibition ever dedicated to the drawing practice of Sandro Botticelli (1445-1510). The artist, known for his evocative Renaissance paintings, crafted both standalone works and rough sketches on paper. Early renderings of masterpieces such as Adoration of the Magi, 1500, are shown alongside their final forms. In other sections of the exhibition, Botticelli’s experiments in technique and style offer new insight into his well-trafficked oeuvre.

Hayv Kahraman, Love Me Love Me Not, 2023. Image courtesy of the artist, Jack Shainman Gallery, Pilar Corrias Gallery, The Third Line Dubai, Vielmetter Los Angeles, and the ICA San Francisco.

Look Me in the Eyes” by Hayv Kahraman
January 16–May 19, 2024
ICA San Francisco

In her largest museum exhibition to date, Hayv Kahraman is showing an entirely new body of work. A collection of paintings and large-scale sculpture are accompanied by the artist’s first audio installation. The piece explores Kahraman’s experience as an Iraqi/Kurdish refugee in Sweden. A motif of the artist’s eyes, complete with thick, emotive brows, follow visitors through the winding exhibition. Several pieces show forays into a new marbling technique that splashes blues, blacks, and greens over the deeply personal collection of artwork.