London Twelve at City Gallery Prague featuring the work of Hew Locke and Zak OvéWednesday, July 11th, 2012 Categories: Diaspora, Exhibitions, Updates
Current artistic practice in London is entirely diverse with no dominant school or group easily located or pinpointed. Awash with talent, it is constantly evolving and mutating. Advances in technology coupled with societal and cultural change, have expanded valid artistic territory opening new avenues for exploration. Concurrently, time-honoured areas of inquiry such as the treatment of nature and identity are given new twists, explored in both sublime and subversive contexts. Download catalog here.
This exhibition does not aim to be representative of the London “art scene” as a whole, nor a survey of those at the top of the tree. It is a personal snapshot of the work of artists whose shows and studios I have visited over the last year. London 12 is set in the historical confines of the exquisite ancient Stone Bell House, which both restricts and inspires the works chosen. Dating back to the mid 13th Century, this unique Gothic Town Palace is one of the most exquisite buildings in Prague. The Museum hosts exhibitions of contemporary and modern art as one of the three sites of the City Gallery of Prague.
London Twelve is curated by Toby Clarke. Participating artists Include:
JONATHAN BALDOCK, MATTHEW BURROWS, BIGGS AND COLLINGS, JAMES CAPPER, CEDRIC CHRISTIE, DAN COOMBS, KEITH COVENTRY, HOWARD DYKE, TOM GALLANT, NEIL GALL, STEVE GODDARD, STEPHANE GRAFF, HASSAN HAJJAJ, MARCUS HARVEY, HEYWOOD AND CONDIE, PAUL HOUSLEY, HENRY KROKATSIS, PHILIP LAI, PENNY LAMB, HEW LOCKE, OLIVER MARSDEN, JASON MARTIN, RYAN MOSELY, ZAK OVE, DAN PERFECT, FIONA RAE, BARRY REIGATE, MICHAEL SAMUELS, CHRIS SUCCO, NEAL TAIT, DOLLY THOMPSETT, GAVIN TURK, and DOUGLAS WHITE.
London 12 juxtaposes generations, as well as established and emerging artists. The works are presented aesthetically in order to take advantage of the unique character and nature of the building. However, there are threads and themes that run through the show.
Many of the artists explore issues of identity and what it is to be British. London, as a cultural melting pot attracts artists from all over the world who filter its influence through the lens of their past experience. Other British born and based artists explore what it means to be such within a changing world.
Nature is historically a recurring artistic inspiration, although its influence has perhaps not been as heavily associated with contemporary art in recent times. Several of the artists investigate it within the context of their existence in the city environment offering different twists through assemblage, video, performance and painting.
Finally many of the artists in this exhibition are concerned with new ways to address abstraction. One thread is the interest in how colour, light and form in abstract painting create a pact with the viewer, whereby he or she interacts with the work through movement and the science of visual processing. Others create work that could only be made now with advances in technology and others refer to history aiming for timelessness or as a referential anchor.
Of course trying to categorise the artists in the show is full of opportunity for misrepresentation. Many artists involved would feel their work to be unfairly labeled within such categories. In the end the mandate is for a snap shot of London’s artistic practice and as such, like the city itself, thrives on its diversity.
Hew Locke’s work utilizes a wide range of media and makes extensive use of found objects and collage. On one level, he selects his components or palette on an aesthetic level. However, equal importance is attached to the narrative elements within each object – be it a little toy gun, soldier or lion acting as symbols and/ or characters within his drama.
Locke is fascinated by how different cultures invent themselves and how they select their symbols of nationhood. What are the visual means used to express, or to attempt to create, ideas of statehood, legitimate power, national identity, and historical authority? This interest has led him to adopt, question and subvert the visual display systems and iconography of those in power and those who aspire to power.
‘The Kingdom of the Blind’ is an installation of wall reliefs showing the possessions of an imaginary ruler. The figures re-enact the moment of his rise to power in battle and act as elaborate votive objects. Locke draws on the iconography of battles such as those illustrated in the Bayeux Tapestry and the Battle of San Romano. The British Museum’s Assyrian Lion Hunt reliefs also inform these figures. In one section, the King is shown holding two powerful but defeated lions – a pose referenced here, the lions though being substituted for dead soldiers/ victims.You can feel the power of the characters, and at the same time their impotence, decay and perversion. And this is the essence of his work. It is essentially about Power – who had it, who has it and who desires it.
About Zak Ové’s ‘Nubian Return’
Zak Ové works between sculpture, film and photography. His mission is to reignite and reinterpret lost culture using new-world materials, whilst paying tribute to both spiritual and artistic African identity. The work is born from his documentation of and anthropological interest in diasporic and African history, specifically that which is explored through Trinidadian carnival. His work portrays the emancipation of personal existence through incarnation with an ‘other self’, showing us the power of play to free an individual from the contained experience of the self. This in turn is filtered through his own personal and cultural upbringing, growing up in London and Trinidad with a black Trinidadian father and white Irish mother.
Ové’s works are completely fantastical – ‘Nubian Return’ for example is a time travelling Nubian princess, an intergalactic ambassador for beautiful young black women, enclosed in her personal space ship beacon-like in her magnificence!
For more information visit Vigo Gallery.