Dig the New Breed, ON|OFF @ Rankin’s Annroy Gallery

Head off of the somewhat beaten track to Kentish Town and witness the delights of Rankin and model wife Tuuli’s ‘Dig the New Breed’ Exhibition. The exhibition is a collaboration with ON|OFF at the photographer’s Annroy Gallery to coincide with London Fashion Week. This is the third consecutive season in which the photographer and model have ran this event which acts as a competition for new fashion film talent to have their work exhibited to the fashion elite.

Since 2003, On|Off has encouraged and supported multimedia cross referencing and pioneered this way of showcasing during London and now Paris Fashion Week. On|Off presents fashion film as a vehicle to promote directors as well as designers’ collections in exciting ways. On show are male models throwing each other around a room, the freaks and weirdos from club night ‘This is Circus’ as well as beautiful set pieces in fields full of colour. Not only do the visuals captivate but the soundtracks also grab your attention.

The beauty of these films is further emphasised by the fact that their stills could be used as astounding images in high fashion editorials. Away from the films, stills have been pulled and exhibited in the main exhibition area.

To coincide with this exhibition Rankin and Tuuli have produced a fanzine which will feature some of these talents giving the directors an opportunity to reach a wider audience. From this exhibition it is clear that these directors and the subjects in their films will be sticking around. Keep an eye out for them.

Florence Welch

Highlights included Tabitha Denhom’s film which humorously explored mental health in a 1960s style. The film features Florence Welch as compulsive hoarder who writhes upon piles of clothes in a state of ecstasy. Thomas Giddings’ film ‘Lavender’ featured models in beautiful fields wearing colourful prints that call for your attention. Whilst Joost Vandebrug and Alex Noble’s film features a model dancing for a man in a seedy environment, its dark, twisted and sexy all at the same time.

This is just a small selection from the great films on display, make sure you head down to the Annroy Gallery and catch these films for yourself, or catch them online right now.

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A Century of Olympic Posters @ One Canada Square

Head down to Canary Wharf to catch another countdown to the London 2012 Olympics. Borrowing work from the Victoria & Albert Museum’s acclaimed collection, One Canada Square offers up a collection of Olympic Games posters in its main lobby area. With One Canada Square being in East London and the fact it provided the office space for the London 2012 bid team this space feels like it should be the perfect location for this exhibition.

Colour Lithograph

This show features rare examples of posters created from the early twentieth century right up to posters produced for this year’s Games in London. The posters on display have been used as prime means of communication to herald the Games, build excitement and shape expectations or in the case of many Londoners, fill with utter dread.

Within this fine collection of posters artists Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein can be found who designed posters for the 1984 Winter and Summer games. Lichtenstein’s incredibly bright Los Angeles ’84 poster is based upon a painting by the Futurist Carlo Carra and reworked in the style of Fernand Leger. He uses curves and diagonals to create a sense of speed and excitement becoming a piece of art rather than a simple piece of advertising.

Colour offset Lithograph

The power of the posters on display comes from their broad appeal and their ability to relay messages through eye-catching and memorable imagery. They convey identity, politics, sports, art, place, commerce and culture. From advertising opportunities by corporate companies right through to politics, the posters cannot simply be described as Sports advertisement because they send so many messages to the viewer.

A poster taken from the 1936 Berlin Games demonstrates clear political motive and ambition in its imagery. The Berlin Games which were opened by Hitler on 6th February were promoted by a poster designed by one of Germany’s most distinguished poster designers Ludwig Hohlwein. The poster shows a skier in a strong pose in bold colours with high tonal contrasts promoting the Nazi’s ‘Aryan Ideal’. The gun on his shoulder and the skier’s strong pose does not only relate to the event but alludes to Germany’s developing strength.

Colour Lithograph

The posters are magnificent; they give a broad range of national identities and politics and also show how commerce and brands form partnerships with the Games. For example, the Coca Cola Company which produced an advertising poster for the Los Angeles games which promoted the company as well as the Olympics as a strong partnership that supported each other.

Colour Off-set Lithograph

This exhibition is great due to the various design styles on display by what doesn’t work however is the display. It fails to attract the attention of most passersby. Bearing in mind how busy Canada Square is, there is minimal promotion for the show and nothing that draws attention when you are even in the main lobby. The pieces are simply placed on the walls around the main structure of the building meaning visitors have to dodge workers as they try to make their way to their offices. This exhibition could have been amazing if it was separated from this work environment and placed into a temporary gallery space whereas here, it is missed easily. It is hard to disconnect from the busy work environment around you and really appreciate the posters.

However, if you can brave angry City office workers who curse at you for being in their way, then do go see this exhibition as it offers the viewer a diverse range of styles and narratives in a simple yet extremely effective way.


A Century of Olympic Posters @  Lobby, One Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London, 16 January – 2 March 2012

The Other Wave: Contemporary Chinese Photography @ Ben Brown Fine Arts

Head down the hidden and somewhat secluded Brook’s Mews in London’s West End and you will find the delightfully understated Ben Brown Fine Arts Gallery, hidden in a quant basement below street level. On display are contemporary works by Chinese photographers including Chen Wei, Cheng Ran, Jiang Pengyi and Ye Linghan with their pieces taking on various styles and trends of photography and video art.

In the 1980s in China the term ‘The New Wave’ was coined to describe an avant-garde art movement in which documentary photography played a central role, now, in the present day, contemporary art in China is being dominated by photography and video art more than ever. This domination however seems to have been missed and overlooked by the Western World making this exhibition the perfect time for the art public to acquaint itself with the imagery that these photographers are creating right now. These photographers are demanding to be heard in the wake of their high profile painting peers who have in recent years shattered auction results.

Archival ink jet print 120 x 150 cm; (47 1/4 x 59 1/8 in.)

The exhibition collects together four photographers whose work range in subject matter. Images range from the bleak, isolated and abandoned to heady, crowded areas that are both fun to look at yet alienating at the same time. Chen Wei’s work depicts elaborate scenes constructed of found materials choreographed into a surreal studio setting. Tackling isolating and abandoned scenes that reek of dystopia, Wei presents imagery that is challenging and uncomfortable. In his File Clerk photograph a man walks alone along a concrete walkway in the middle of an expanse of dark water and mist, in another piece, Anonymous Station  he highlights his taste for abandoned, forgotten and eerie spaces which seems to be a recurring theme within his imagery. Other pieces by the photographer highlight alienation in a city setting, in the photograph titled Countless Unpredictable Stand No. 1, a male stands alone above a city landscape creating a sense of wonder and loneliness at once within this dense concrete environment where no one else can be seen except for one solitary character.

Archival ink jet print 100 x 150 cm; (39 3/8 x 59 1/8 in.)

Ye Linghan photographs and video based works link the past to collective histories. Linghan’s work on display defies focus to the individual and instead makes the scene and setting prominent. Blurring details with the haze of memory, the viewer projects their own thoughts, feelings and memories on to the piece.

C-print 5 panels; 60 x 80 cm; (23 5/8 x 31 1/2 in.) each

Third artist on display, Cheng Ran dramatically stages his work which creates a romantic feeling within his pieces. Collected from different bodies of work, his pieces act as a short retrospective of the young photographer’s work. His work is rich in cinematic quality with a strong narrative running throughout, particularly the barren and destitute images of Hollywood. These images highlight how Hollywood has played such a key role in the shaping of American as well as the rest of the Western World’s identity and how it all seems a bit empty. These images are stark and fascinating due to the editing of the photographs which questions the physical beauty of Hollywood. This questioning is further highlighted by his piece The Still of Unknown Film where a hundred dollar bill is lit, perhaps this is where Western obsession with money and Hollywood is heading, up in smoke.

Luster ink print 104.5 x 178 cm; (41 1/8 x 70 1/8 in.)

Last but not least is photographer Jiang Pengyi who highlights the destructive force of rapid urbanization, redevelopment and demolition that has overwhelmed Beijing. In his photographs he creates imagined miniature cityscapes and skyscrapers within real decaying domestic spaces, highlighting beautifully the destructive power that massive urbanization is having on the lived environments of the Chinese people. These photographs were my personal favourite due to their incredible detail but also due to the issues that they highlight. The images up close are astounding.

Ultra Giclée print 90 x 125.4 cm; (35 3/8 x 49 3/8 in.)

This show, whilst small, is a definite must see. It highlights all too well the stark realizations of our urbanized consumer based culture and how it is both destructive and alienating to our lived environments and to our personal lives. If this show is anything to go by, I predict that these photographers will be enjoying the same levels of success as their painting peers very soon.

The Other Wave: Contemporary Chinese Photography @ Ben Brown Fine Arts – runs until 29th January 2012

Mystery of Appearance @ Haunch of Venison

Head down to the Haunch of Venison this January and you are in for a treat. Currently in their New Bond Street Gallery they have on display ‘Mystery of Appearance: Conversations between ten British post-war painters.’ This exhibition is essentially a who’s who of post Second World War British artists. The exhibition explores the artists’ works and how they link with one another. Artists on display include Michael Andrews, Frank Auerbach, Patrick Caulfield, William Coldstream, Lucian Freud, Richard Hamilton, David Hockney, Leon Kossoff, Euan Uglow and Francis Bacon.

Oil on canvas 197.8 x 137.4 cm

The exhibition features large and small scale pieces which focus on the artists’ varied approach to paint and subject matter and the connections between their work. The title of ‘Mystery of Appearance’ comes from a statement by the most celebrated of this group, Francis Bacon: “To me, the mystery of painting today is how can appearance be made”.

These artists are celebrated in this exhibition because they rebelled against the then current appeal of abstract painting that dominated in the mid twentieth century and instead focused their attention on reviving portraiture and landscape painting.

The show takes over four of the spaces in the new Haunch of Venison space. In the first gallery the visitor is confronted by nudes by Auerbach, Coldstream, Hamilton, Uglow and a portrait of Francis Bacon by Lucian Freud. Artworks range from painstakingly detailed to more simple abstracted nudes in this room. The piece by Freud for example appears to be a simple pencil and charcoal study of his old friend Bacon. All pieces involve singular people, people in rooms, models and the artists themselves.

In the next room paintings are presented featuring landscapes and portraiture which demonstrate the group’s experimentation with the materiality of paint.

The exhibition carries on to show the significance of Old Masters’ work in the new works on display. This section of the gallery presents pieces that directly refer to an Old Master painting or to a museum object. Notably Francis Bacon’s haunting Pope I can be seen which he painted after the Spanish Painter Diego Velazquez. This painting by Bacon grips the viewer as soon as they walk into the room. I have always been fascinated with his Pope series. It made me think back to his fabulous retrospective at the Tate in 2008. Close by Uglow’s Massacre of the Innocents a rendition of the original by Nicolas Poussin hangs despite its small scale it demands the audience’s attention.

Oil on canvas, laid on panel

In the upstairs gallery pieces Patrick Caulfield’s pop style can be seen in his Coloured Still Life 1967 whilst there are extensively detailed pieces opposite featuring many characters in the likes of Michael Andrews piece with each individual screaming for attention making it difficult to focus on one part of the image. Next to this piece a large scale image of a naked male on a bed by David Hockney is presented with its dominating bright greens and blues taking up a large proportion of the gallery space. It is difficult to see a conversation between these pieces and it is unclear the reasoning for this layout.

Acrylic on board 56 x 89 cm

Oil and silkscreen on turaphot linen on canvas 213.3 x 213.3 cm

The exhibition aims to link all these artists together, yet the exhibition’s loose, discursive structure also suggests that the group sometimes know as “The School of London” (a term coined by R.B Kitaj in the late 1970s to refer to the figurative trend in British painting) were never really a group in the first place, but instead they were a disparate gang of individuals joined by the common ambition to create art rooted in the texture of everyday life. Each piece seems so distinct that it is hard to imagine them as one solid group. Where obvious relationships in the history of art can be seen in the styles of the Cubist works of Picasso and Braque for example, within this exhibition, such obvious links cannot be seen.

Paintings in this show seem to have been chosen to stress each individual artist’s unique style rather finding a thread that unites them together as a solid group. However, on leaving the gallery it is difficult to separate the pieces from each other. This exhibition allows the audience to credit each artist individually as well as part of a group. It shows how diverse post-War British art was yet at the same time how the artists have been linked together by their close personal relationships. There is a sense of the work of these ten artists being linked together if not visibly, at least spiritually.

This exhibition is great because it shows the importance of British artists, especially as only three of the displayed artists are still alive. This exhibition is  perfect opportunity to see Great British art and is a welcome opportunity for those excited to see Lucian Freud’s exhibition at the Portrait Gallery and David Hockney at the Royal Academy to whet their appetites.

Mystery of Appearance: Conversations between ten British post-war painters @ Haunch of Venison, New Bond Street runs until 18th February 2012

Hatchet and Helve: Standpoint Studios

Are you at a loose end with a mountain of Christmas shopping to work your way through? Then head down to Standpoint Studio.

Here you will find all manner of interior works. Set up as more of an exhibition space then as a shop, Hatchet and Helve has brought together eight distinct and precise makers working in the fields of ceramics, upholstery, woodcarving, sculpture, letterpress printing, tapestry and embroided drawing.

 

 

Displayed around this long and oddly shaped space are various pieces of work that are both homely as well as intriguing. The Gallery itself is a very interesting space. It uses all available spaces including an old fashioned lift situated in the middle of the gallery. It also has rooms off to the side of the main floor creating separate areas for display. There are elevated spaces which although small, create a sense of wonder as they encourage the visitor to take a closer look at the works displayed upon them.

 

 

Objects range from simple wineglasses to large ceramic lamps. Objects range from the domestic to the conceptual, for instance, Marcus Vergette’s bell which refers to the ‘idea’ of the object. The bell’s traditional white marble and the quality of the carving emphasise a subtle relationship between lightness and weight. To me this object seemed to be out of the ordinary when placed with all the other more domestic pieces, but maybe this is the point. Maybe it is saying that people will find a way of domesticating even the most conceptual object, because even though this object is out of the ordinary, it still fits with the general scheme of this show.

 

 

My personal favourites were the works of Graham Bignell and Richard Ardagh. Their work consisted of letterpress prints that sang old Cockney nursery rhymes in a Western font whilst tacking the relationship between old and current vernaculars in contemporary design. Each rhyme was filled with melancholy which you do not really realise as a child when singing them.

 

 

This exhibition as a whole works great because you almost forget that everything is being sold to be displayed in a home. Even though the objects on display are made for a domestic setting, they are seen in this gallery as works of art themselves that question the relationships between useable domestic designs, art and the home.

This show is perfect for Christmas and here you have a great opportunity to get that last minute gift that no one would have thought of! Get down there before it closes its doors on the 22nd December.

 

Hatchet and Helve @ Standpoint Studios – 9th December – 22nd December

(Glass) Blown Away – Chihuly and the Halcyon Gallery

After deciding that Christmas shopping was causing me emotional and physical pain I stepped away from the hell hole named Oxford Street and decided to take a stroll down New Bond Street. This street boasts some of the most famous West End Galleries dealing with the pricier end of Art; here we are talking thousands of pounds of art for sale.

This blog will look at one show I found incredible. I found myself in The Halcyon Gallery, a gallery so grand it could easily be a public institution. The Gallery displays and sells work of contemporary artists as well as more established artists. This broad mix ensures that the Halcyon always has its finger on the creative pulse of art.

The show I went to see was that of iconic artist Dale Chihuly. This artist has revolutionised the perception of blown glass as an art form worldwide. If you are unaware of his work, next time you are in the V&A look up at the 27 foot high snake chandelier in the main foyer, this he made for his landmark show there in 2001.

Chihuly – Persian Wall

Chihuly has experimented with glass for many years he became obsessed with glassblowing in the 1960s. This exhibition acts as a retrospective of his impressive career.

This exhibition does not only feature his incredible and colourful glass blown sculptures, it also features paintings and drawings the artist has created throughout his career.

Chihuly has truly made this glass blowing technique his own; he has stuck to it and developed it meticulously throughout his career. He has manipulated and magnified the potential of this medium making this exhibition a mesmerising experience in colour. The dramatic installation adds to this mesmeration, the Halcyon has become a welcome home for his work.


Chihuly – Dusky Sky Chandelier and Cranberry & Clear Chandelier

 

 

 

What makes these pieces incredible is the way they interact with their surroundings. People are pulled in close and orbited around the pieces. I found myself trying to find imperfections in his incredibly smooth and finished pieces but found none. I found myself walking around each chandelier again and again seeing how the light was taken in and reflected off each piece of glass. I was entranced with how the sculptures projected and transformed light sending it in different directions.

Like the V&A, the Halcyon displays chandeliers made of snakes, elsewhere however they had grand shells, and various other shapes. Each of these chandeliers is an assemblage of hundreds of individually made glass elements, showing how detailed and meticulous each piece is. Each piece seems as if it could be a beautiful glass monster.

Chihuly – Waterford Sconces

A running technique in Chihuly’s work comes in the form of his use of the ‘lip wrap’. This technique is a traditional rim-strengthening method borrowed from historic Venetian glassmaking, this technique has become one of Chihuly’s trademarks.

The glass pieces seem to explode naturally from their surroundings, almost organic, they belong to the space. This can be seen best in the basement behind the cell like doors. In these rooms, glass sculptures seem to burst from beds of glass ice like plants bursting through the dirt of a carefully constructed garden. It feels like a garden, yet at the same time, it feels as if you could be viewing these pieces underwater as they slowly wave in the current. Chihuly has created a true sense of movement in his static pieces.

Chihuly – Sapphire and Sky Blue Fiori

His passion for glass can be seen throughout the main space, the basement and the side rooms, but where it truly bursts in to full bloom is in the Gallery’s Mezzanine space. When you enter you are confronted with the largest burst of colour I think I have ever encountered. In this room the 24 foot long Mille Fiori garden dominates. This piece was made especially for this exhibition, truly proving that Chihuly still has a great passion for his medium. This piece is made of many different shapes which can be seen individually in the Gallery’s other rooms, here however they form one complete piece that is completely overpower and intriguing. I felt like a bewildered child finding it difficult to take the piece in all at once, it was chaotic yet controlled. It was a true delight.

Chihuly – Mille Fiori

Head down to this show to witness Chihuly’s passion for yourself. With all the bright colours and dancing light it will set you in a good mood to face the cold and the horrible task of Christmas shopping.

Chihuly @ Halcyon Gallery – 5th December 2011 – 29th February 2012

Land of The Rising FUN: ICN Gallery – Riusuke Fukahori & Yoriko Tsukagoshi

Yesterday I found myself, for the first time, in ICN Gallery on Leonard Street. The Gallery had two shows on display; its main exhibition was a collection of work by Japanese artist Riusuke Fukahori whilst in the basement gallery was the work of Yoriko Tsukagoshi.

In the main space Riusuke Fukahori’s work’s subject matter was that of the humble Goldfish. This exhibition is the artist’s debut exhibition in London. His Goldfish theme has ran throughout the work he has produced during his artistic lifetime.

These pieces and this theme came about after Fukahori suffered an artistic drought. All of a sudden this drought ended when he began to become obsessed with his pet Goldfish which, sadly, had been neglected (and yet was still alive) for seven years. He looked down into the fish tank which he abandoned cleaning and was given a breathtaking shiver. In the dirty water the goldfish’s shiny red silhouette moved mysteriously and was extremely beautiful. He took out his red paint and painted her figure. This was the day he calls ‘Kingyo sukui’, the day he was saved by the goldfish.

   Riusuke Fukahori ‘Ai’ – acrylic on canvas

 

Developing a new passion for his goldfish he developed a unique style of painting. He uses acrylic painted on clear resin poured into containers, resulting in a three-dimensional appearance. The fish painted in the resin are frozen in time. It seems that the fish have been forever captured unaware in the resin that Fukahori has used.

Fukahori captures these fish in traditional staples of Japanese Culture. His small painted fish appear in Sake cups, Sushi -basins and rice measures. As well as appearing in these objects, Fukahori has painted his fish on to large canvases that perfectly fill the large white walls of the gallery.

 

Riusuke Fukahori – Muses – Sushi-basin, resin, acrylic

The pieces that rest on plinths littered around the gallery encourage the viewer to engage with them. I was pulled in and found myself almost dipping my nose into the resin to get a close look at the wonderfully detailed fish. The canvases on the wall had an almost spectral quantity. I found myself transfixed with their wonderful colours that sent out an astronomical feeling. The colours could be used to create paintings of deliriously delicious scenes of solar systems. I never thought I could get such entertainment from Goldfish.

Fukahori’s art works, because of their constrained theme and his impressive talent, the artist has produced a body of work that is engaging, exciting and impressive. He has made a pet that has been artificially bred on a mass scale and made it unique. Even with many of his pieces containing many Goldfish, each one engages the viewer personally. This is what makes his work so impressive.

In the small basement gallery, fellow Japanese artist Yoriko Tsukagoshi appears featuring a body of work titled ‘NEWMOR’ that she has created over the past five years. This young artist, just 24, graduated from Kuwasawa Design School in 2009 and is now studying at London’s prestigious Central Saint Martin’s.

Yoriko Tsukagoshi – Sushi March

Fun and playful, Tsukagoshi’s work engages with the public with her miniature designs. As you descend the metal stairs into her space, you are lead by the ‘Sushi March’. Here she has created tiny pieces of sushi that exit from a pair of sliding doors. She describes these pieces of Sushi as a part of Japan’s national identity. She describes the Sushi as Japan marching forward into the future with hope.

Tsukagoshi has a terrific imagination that is entertaining and light. You can tell that she gets a great sense of joy from the often comical pieces that she has created. From the adventures of her miniature paper model Shiba dog who dreams of being a pilot to Moai’s (the Easter Island stone statue) exploration of Japan the viewer can sense Tsukagoshi’s childlike joy in her pieces.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                            

 These miniature adventures are reminiscent of street artist Slinkachu’s miniature street sculptures. A main difference would be whereas Slinkachu places his characters in mortal danger or in melancholic scenes, Tsukagoshi places hers in a world of fun that is entertaining and humorous.

Entertaining, and at times random, Tsukagoshi’s work is a delight. Her dreams of dreaming on a piece of bread are reflected in her piece ‘A Bed in Bread’.

The only sign of melancholia appearing in her show comes in the form of her ‘Egg’s Dream of the Future’. Here most would believe with the eggs being labeled ‘Strong’ that they were untapped potential as they had not be fertilized, however, Tsukagoshi turns this around and claims that their destiny is to become an egg. This was always the plan. It has a positive feel, they were born eggs they will stay eggs and will dream of their futures as eggs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     

I was very impressed with both shows and they are definitely worth a visit. Tsukagoshi’s exhibition is only on until Thursday, I urge you to get down there. Fukahori’s runs until early January.

I look forward to seeing what direction Tsukagoshi’s work takes in the future.

 

 

Goldfish Salvation – Riusuke Fakahori @ICN Gallery – 1st December 2011 – 11 January 2012

NEWMOR New + Humor – Yoriko Tsukagoshi @ICN Gallery – 9th December 2011 – 15th December 2011

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…