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/


 

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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