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Private view: must-see gallery shows opening in October

From Theaster Gates's black bricks at Gagosian to Gillian Wearing's contemplative lockdown self-portraits at Maureen Paley

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Adrian Ghenie’s Self-Portrait with iPhone 2 (2019) © Tim Van Laere / the artist

Adrian Ghenie

Tim Van Laere Gallery, Antwerp (15 October-28 November)

Despite comparisons to Francis Bacon, Romanian painter Adrian Ghenie insists that the British artist has never been a direct inspiration. But, he says, “I steal from everybody.” Auction prices for the 43-year-old artist’s work have rocketed in the past decade, but Ghenie remains measured—in 2018 he told The Art Newspaper that when a young or mid-career artist “scores millions at auction, a balanced debate is compromised. People start to be hysterical, over-confident or hyper-sceptical, highly subjective, jealous, etc. This is my case entirely”. Ghenie is still working on new paintings for this show, his fifth with the gallery since 2008, and details are scant before the big reveal.

Theaster Gates’s Flag Sketch (detail, 2020) © Gagosian / the artist

Theaster Gates, Black Vessel

Gagosian, New York (10 October-19 December)

The US artist Theaster Gates is using his trademark black bricks to turn Gagosian’s white cube Chelsea space into a kind of “vessel”. The installation is an attempt to hold space for black cultural memory at a time when racist monuments are being felled and art institutions are being called to reckon with their colonial pasts. The artist’s first solo show in New York, it features a new series of large-scale works in glazed and fired clay along with a sombre sound installation, drawing inspiration from music ranging from southern gospel and blues to John Cage, scored by black monks.

Gillian Wearing’s watercolour Lockdown Portrait (2020) © Maureen Paley / the artist

Gillian Wearing, Lockdown

Maureen Paley, London (Until 25 October)

During lockdown the British artist Gillian Wearing started making contemplative self-portraits in watercolour, a medium she had not used in 33 years. “Having represented myself in photography both as myself and as others, I wanted to see how paint and even the manner of painting could change my appearance,” she says. “These new portraits provide a record of my time spent in lockdown and are an exploration of my image depicted in isolated concentration.” She is also showing her new sculpture work, Mask, Masked, and her ongoing, open-submission video work, Your Views (2013-present).