Jolanda Chandler’s inspiring and relaxed tour introduced us to the work of different contemporary artists starting with Yinka Shonibare at the Cristea Roberts Gallery. He is a British-Nigerian artist whose work explores cultural identity, colonialism and post-colonialism. A hallmark of his art is the brightly coloured Ankara fabric he uses. Because he has a disability, Shonibare uses assistants to make works under his direction. To continue to read...
We then went to the Saatchi Yates gallery and focused on the work of New York artist Will St. John. He spent years studying Renaissance painting techniques in Florence and around Europe, he then started depicting queer, trans and gender non-conforming subjects. In his own words : ‘It was those works that made people in the art world start to pay attention. People want to see the stars and celebrities that they like, who are people of today, represented in a classical and timeless way’.
At the Marlborough Gallery we looked at Symphony of Storms an exhibition by Deanio X. Confronting his British and Jamaican heritage, his work reflects the artist’s concern with the impact of suppressed historic narratives in contemporary society. His paintings tell stories of resistance like the Jamaican Maroons : men, women and children who resisted enslavement to build enduring communities in mountainous forests. One such figure alluded to throughout his body of work is Queen nanny, a Jamaican hero who led the Maroons in guerrilla warfare against the British military.
At the Pilar Corrias gallery we looked at the work of Shanghai-based artist, Cui Jie. She is particularly drawn to contemporary architecture and the tinted glass used on skyscrapers that becomes a mirror of the environment, camouflaging the building and adorning it with pattern and texture. These surfaces are paired with the cracking surfaces of animal sculptures. Her paintings are composed of various layers of images – some based on photographs, some imaginary, which explore multiple perspectives of various locations or buildings simultaneously.
At the Alison Jacques gallery we enjoyed “Sheila Hicks : Infinite Potential”. The internationally acclaimed 89 years old American born artist lives and works in Paris. On view was Mirage in the Oasis from her iconic Lianes series where linen, cotton and silk cordes hang as vines of colour including avocado green, russet orange and gold or Minimes – small scale weavings made on a repurposed frame-turned loom with found objects such as seashells, stones, bones and razor clams. Environmental responsibility is part of Hicks’ methodology.
We finished our tour at the Max Hetzler Gallery with Busy Signal, a solo exhibition by Eleanor Swordy. In each painted tableau, a figure interacts with its environment or with another figure by way of a gesture. In every case this gesture is mediated by an intervening object or tool (brush, string, leash). Each of these linear objects might be read as metaphors for the painter’s tools, which mediate her gestures in search of a painting. Meanwhile the figures, in their different attitudes and situations (appearing variously distracted, baffled or absorbed in their work) could be read as comment upon the different styles of looking, characteristic of both artist and viewer.
We enjoyed afterwards the friendly and cosy atmosphere of the Landsdowne Club just down the road.