Olek @ Tony Gallery

Tony’s Gallery on Sclater Street, Shoreditch just a short walk from the art hub of Redchurch Street and Brick Lane offers a different kind of exhibition that is both exciting and overwhelming.

 

This small space is filled from floor to the ceiling with the knitted creations of the Polish, New York based artists Olek. This is her first UK solo exhibition and it has hit the ground running. Titled ‘I do not expect to be a mother but I do expect to die alone’ (a direct quote of Tracey Emin from 2002) the artist has filled the space with household objects and hangings constructed in crochet.

 

Olek has travelled from guerilla knitting a jumper for New York’s famous Wall Street Bull to being listed as one of ‘the 25 most important artists of 2011’. She has become a key figure in the artworld and this exhibition goes to prove that her originality is making her a key figure in the art crowd.

 

Work on display is frantic, filled with psychedeila and is lighthearted yet it carries a strong undertone of sexism and modern culture. A personal look into Olek’s colourful bedroom highlights her talents but also her vulnerabilities. Here she is seen as taking a strong step for herself yet shows her human weaknesses, her feelings of isolation, abandonment and untapped potential signified by the empty shopping cart, bed and cradle are on display for the scrutiny of the viewer. She highlights everything we fear in a heady and colourful medium that is both jarring and enthralling at the same time.

 

This exhibition is exciting, innovative and unique, head down there to catch one of the hottest artists before she becomes truly massive.

 

Olek @ Tony Gallery 27th January – 23rd March 2012

http://www.tonysgallery.com/


 

First Thursday in Shoreditch – Eb & Flow Gallery – Ross Brown & Nicholas McLeod

As you probably know, it was the first Thursday of the month last week which meant that The Whitechapel First Thursdays initiative was in full swing with Galleries all over the East End opening their doors late to the general public. Always a busy night, this is generally the time when those working through the week get an opportunity to check out exhibitions that they might not get the chance to. That and generally you can pick up a free beer at most shows meaning an incredibly cheap night out.

My Thursday evening was spent in the Shoreditch area. Finding myself at a bit of a loss, I decided to go on a random walk and see what I could find on my journey. I felt like a classic French flaneur, despite the fact I was in East London and come from Essex. Taking a stroll down Leonard Street I first came across the Eb & Flow Gallery. As I walked in I was confronted by an assistant who swiftly handed me a cold Becks and a beautifully printed exhibition guide. Not the worst welcome I have ever received!

The Gallery is a two floored space with large white walls. The space is a converted print works so would seem to be the perfect space to exhibit contemporary artists. When I settled myself in, away from the rain and cold, I discovered that two exhibitions were on display.

In the main space, Saatchi Gallery and Channel 4’s New Sensations nominee, Ross Brown, took over the space with his oil paintings series ‘The Margins’. This collection of work explores the experience of built environments. His focus on architectural landscapes and abandoned structures take on a filmic appearance and a frail dystopian beauty. Pieces range from bright open spaces with graffiti to dark, terrifying and unnerving scenes where you would definitely not like to be alone.

Ross M. Brown

Ross M. Brown, Monologue, 2011, 130 x 170 cm, Oil on Canvas.

Each painting Brown has formed from a one point perspective with the images being built up through a layering of techniques which rely on chance. He has used techniques such as pouring, smearing and dripping. These randomized and chaotic processes are then layered upon with more considered painterly approaches.

In the basement gallery, Threadneedle Prize 2011 Visitor’s Choice Winner, Nicholas McLeod dominated the walls with his ‘Badlands‘ series depicting sinister landscapes of abandoned places, wastelands and crime scenes. His work is evocative and displayed a sense of power and raw energy. His paintings depict threatening places and are reminiscent of haunted houses and places where terror can be expected if one should enter. Hunting Ohio made me instantly this of cult horror the Amityville Horror instantly. His pieces create an unnerving feeling with an overpowering sensation of unease much like his co-exhibitor Ross Brown.

Nicholas McLeod

Nicholas McLeod, Hunting Ohio, 2011, 122 x 140cm, Acrylic and Oil on Board.

Unease is further enhanced by the absence of habitation and human form. There is something truly ghostly about this complete abandonment of humanity in his pieces. With the layering of paint, and previous images being seen through the layers, this sense of ghostliness becomes even more apparent with the paint seemingly acting as a veil between the viewer and the scene.

All in all this was a great show, great space with friendly and helpful staff. There was generally a good vibe in this gallery which would make me want to go back again. Both Brown’s and McLeod’s work are extraordinary and truly have an uneasy presence about them. Both shows work well together as they tackle similar themes of abandonment, yet both in their own way represent it differently. Whilst Brown’s work almost seems to be hopeful and inviting to the viewer, McLeod’s is not. His work seems to be of giving up; his images depict wasteland where no one wants to be.

These shows are a definite must see, with both running until 3rd February 2012, you have plenty of time to catch them as well as this gorgeous gallery space.

Catch the rest of my First Thursday review soon…