BP Portrait Award 2015, National Portrait Gallery, London
This year 55 portraits are on display, with the award winner 35-year-old Israeli Matan Ben-Cnaan. His “Annabelle and Guy” is a neorealist, filmic painting that depicts his friend and stepdaughter in an unnerving mise-en-scène inspired by the biblical story of Jephthah, an Israelite judge who sacrifices his daughter. Second prize goes to another neorealist picture, Michael Gaskell’s depiction of his teenage niece Eliza; third prize to a looser, less finished work, marked by dissolving forms, Borja Buces Renard’s “My Mother and My Brother on a Sunday Evening”, painted after the death of the artist’s father.
npg.org.uk, 020 7306 0055, to September 20
The M+ Sigg Collection: Chinese art from the 1970s to now, Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester
A standout show because the works come from the important M+ Sigg Collection, amassed by Uli Sigg, the first westerner to acquire and document Chinese experimental art from the 1970s onwards. Highlights include Zhang Huan’s photograph “Family Tree”, for which nine calligraphy artists inscribed lyrics about the artist’s family on his face, and Weng Fen’s “On the Wall”, featuring adolescents confronting economic and social change.
manchester.ac.uk/whitworth, 0161 275 7450, from Wednesday to September 20
Nathan Cash Davidson: thou annointest my head with oil, Hannah Barry Gallery, London
Cash Davidson’s glorious manipulation of oil, in painting ever more assured and eccentric, jumbling head-twisting allusions from popular culture to Old Masters, make this a must-see for anyone interested in the next generation of figurative painters. Pleasures of texture and surface — stucco and panelling, medieval battlements, a glassy rotunda pouring light on a carnivalesque horse, stone sculptures morphing to flesh — are exhilaratingly put to the service of narrative.
hannahbarry.com, 020 7732 5453, to July 27
Word by Word, Luxembourg & Dayan, London
Text as image, language as artistic medium, since the 1960s: John Baldessari, Joseph Beuys, Alighiero Boetti, Joseph Kosuth, Glenn Ligon, Barbara Kruger, Richard Prince, Ed Ruscha, Lawrence Weiner and more.
luxembourgdayan.com, 020 7734 1266, fromTuesday to September 5
The New Medium: Photography in India 1855-1930, Prahlad Bubbar Gallery, London
Rare photographic prints, from early Indian masters to Man Ray’s portrait of Yashwantrao Holkar II, Indore grandee and patron of Brancusi and Le Corbusier. Nostalgic, splendidly constructed images of India at the crossroads of colonialism and modernity.
prahladbubbar.com, 020 7494 3144, to July 10