Bethlem Gallery is celebrating its 20th anniversary with a new group exhibition entitled It’s how well you bounce, which exploresresilience and its relationship to the imagination and artistic practice. The gallery is an art focused platform for former and current patients of the historic Royal Bethlem Hospital in Bromley, supporting artists with lived experience of mental illness to involve themselves in the positive direction of art making. ArtAttack chats with Bethlem Gallery’s curator Sam Curtis about the show’s themes, the gallery’s milestone anniversary and what the future holds.
How does the theme of resilience manifest itself in the works in the exhibition?
The theme of resilience manifests itself in the works in the exhibition in diverse ways, we see the works of artists who draw on the imagination as a positive and strategic response to life pressures, works that are born out of the artist’s ability to adapt and survive to new and often challenging circumstances, artists that resist or document resistance to social and political pressures, artists that reroute negative thoughts into something more positive through their art making, artists that map, shape and transform their identity through art making and therapy and importantly we can encounter artworks and projects that critique the notion of resilience that says we need to ‘man or woman-up’ and bounce back from adversity . It’s how well you bounce includes artworks that explore a specific aspect of resilience as well as artworks that come from artistic practice that is itself a form of resilience.
It’s that time of year again! The annual Vauxhall Art Car Boot Fair is back, this time in its namesake of Vauxhall on SUNDAY, 9 JULY 2017 from 12 – 6pm.
This year’s brand-new theme, ‘The Original,’ promises to be a prime opportunity to snap up one-of-a-kind original as well as limited edition artworks all for a fraction of their usual prices. The one-day festival will take place in the streets of Vauxhall’s vibrant new gallery district with the support of Newport Street Gallery and U+I Plc, and will present an eclectic line-up of over one hundred artists who will be selling exclusive pieces from the boots of both new and vintage Vauxhall cars.
Thursday 24th May sees the opening of RobertPerkins: The Written Image at Benjamin Spademan Rare Books, the first of a two-part exhibition of the American artist’s 45-year collaboration with poets.
From Seamus Heaney to Allen Ginsberg, Perkins has worked with the best of the best when it comes to the world of poetry. In fact, his journey began back in the 1970’s when he was a student at Harvard University and took poet, Elizabeth Bishop’s creative writing seminar. Perkins explains that when he told Bishop that he’d always wanted to be an artist, she wrote out a copy of her poem TheFish and asked him to illustrate it.
This assignment launched The Written Image, which Perkins describes as ‘self-portraits of the poet in the moment.’ To begin a work, he takes the poet’s hand-written text and then melds it with his own imagery, thus constructing a visual representation around the words.
On Friday 19th May Gallery DIFFERENT will present 35-year-old contemporary painter, Tarek Sebastian Al-shammaa’s debut solo show Fall of Europe II (until 22nd May).
We at ArtAttack stumbled upon Tarek’s artwork last year and have been great admirers of his painting practice ever since. His painterly use of space is quite extraordinary, filling the canvas with symbols and figures that tell stories of our world within the greater context of mythology. Each tiny element he chooses to include says something powerful. No iconography is wasted.
The artist’s main practice is history painting as he explores historical and mythological subject matter juxtaposing it with the harsh realities contemporary Western society. Within each of the epic paintings he presents the viewer with poignant psychological insight into his own life and heritage; Al-shammaa is half French and half Iraqi, and so has found himself straddling two oft-opposing cultures throughout his life.
Recurring themes across the young artist’s paintings include consumerism, war, love, lust and political oppression, as well as the opposition and even conflict of Western and non-Western culture and ideals. In the body of work on view, Alshammaa depicts everything from iconic myths like that of the Tower of Babel to mythical iconography such as Mother Earth, all within a present-day context.
ArtAttack contributor, Franzi Gabbert, had the chance to interview Al-shammaa in regards to his upcoming exhibition as well as his general practice.
Self-taught artist, Paul Benney, will make his Venice Art Biennale debut from 13th May with his monumental installation, Speaking in Tongues.
The 12ft by 8ft painting on show at the 14th century San Gallo Church, just north of St Mark’s Square is the centrepiece of an installation that includes sound and other smaller works in oil by the artist. Curated by James Putnam and Flora Fairbairn, this is the first time Speaking in Tongues has been shown outside of the UK.
The work itself is secular but draws on the New Testament story of the Pentecost in which the twelve apostles encounter the Holy Spirit and then begin ‘speaking in tongues’. Modifying and updating this familiar interlude, Benney has painted twelve artistic contemporaries of various ethnicities and religious backgrounds, with the aim of capturing a collective state of spiritual awakening.
Playing with the idea of narrative painting, Benney introduced a sound element to the work, inviting each of the subjects to record themselves sharing transformative moments in their lives. These are relayed through holosonic speakers placed around the church. At first the viewer hears hushed murmuring, however, when they stand in a precise spot they hear individual voices, an effect achieved via sound-focusing technology that isolates the viewer from their own reality and the outside world. Then come the subject’s revelations. These are poignant and sometimes shocking – one man tells of how he accidentally shot dead his best friend; another reveals the joy of becoming a father – and, in the context of a religious setting they create the experience of receiving a confession.
Camden-based artist BenEdge talked to us last week about his debut solo exhibition, FolkRenaissance – an ode to the detail and craft often found in Folk and Naive Art as well as the traditions of religious Renaissance painting – which opens March 13th at CNB Gallery in Shoreditch.
Edge’s paintings channel Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s allusion that “Man can stand anything except a succession of ordinary days.” By doing so, Edge’s work investigates and celebrates the ‘other’, presenting the viewer with a critical and psychological insight into the human story.
Impulsive, daring and intimate, his work champions the illicit; portraying people who live beyond accepted social and cultural norms, whether they are artists, arctic explorers, circus performers or musicians. By reversing the belief that out of folklore comes contemporary culture, Edge not only turns unsung heroes into icons, but also transforms the orthodox portrait into a poetic metaphor for the friability of life.
Just in time for your last minute Christmas shopping, Juju’s presents Festive Cultural Traffic from 17-18 December, 2016.
The counter culture event returns to the Truman Brewery and adjacent Spitalfields market once again, offering a broad vivid experience away from the dull predictable mainstream Christmas shopping options, providing an opportunity to engage with the past present and future of counter culture at an affordable level for that perfect gift.
Back for its third year running, Tintype presents Essex Road III, 8 specially commissioned short films that each delve into the iconic North London street from which the exhibition takes its name.
Whether it’s Susan Collins‘ ‘Wildlife’ depicting the various creatures (real and not) that inhabit the neighbourhood, or Lynn Marsh‘s ‘Resurrection Restoration’ filmed on location at Gracepoint during the restoration of a former 1930’s cinema and incorporating a gospel choir, each of the 8 contemporary artists who’s work will be screened through the front windows of the gallery, has approached the brief in their own unique manner.
For those who didn’t know, our team has decided to crowdfund to raise £100,000 to enable us to continue to grow, bring more fantastic artists on board and make the app even better. The fundraising is through HMRC’s incredibly generous SEIS scheme, more on that here.