Sunday 26 November 2023

Like Paradise

Hurvin Anderson - Miss Sylvia, 2011 (detail).

“Like Paradise” is a profound exploration of the natural world through the lens of artists of colour. The exhibition focuses on figures of colour within scenes of nature. Typically excluded from narratives about the countryside, these visionary artists redefine the relationship between people of colour and nature. Their artworks transform landscapes into realms of hope, renewal, and liberation, portraying nature as a sanctuary of freedom."

Last year's exhibition In the Black Fantastic at the Hayward Gallery (here) curated by Ekow Eshun was a wonderful, important and timely showcase for certain contemporary black artists. It is so good to see that Eshun has curated another such exhibition albeit on a smaller scale at Claridge's Art Space, an interesting gallery space and cafĂ© behind the renowned hotel. The exhibition Like Paradise showcases a further selection of present-day intergenerational black artists working in a variety of media such as paint, photography, collage and textiles with a unifying theme of placing black bodies within the landscape. I wasn't aware of the work of many of the artists featured so it was a good opportunity to acquaint myself with their practices and bodies of work. There were some particularly good paintings on display. I really admired the splashy textures in Hurvin Anderson's work. Other favourites among those exhibited were Stacey Gillian Abe's acrylic painting on canvas of blue/black figures which featured the inclusion of embroidered ears of wheat, the strongly figurative photography of David Uzochukwu and Togo Yeye, as well as the collaged works of Sharon Walters.

Paul Dash - Joy to the World, 2022

Milan Young - TELEKINISIS, 2023

Delali Aylvi & Togo Yeye

David Uzochukwu

David Uzochukwu - Stake Out, 2019

David Uzochukwu - Shoulder

Sharon Walters - Golden Light, 2023

Sharon Walters - Still Standing, 2023

Julianknoxx - Untitled, 2023

Miranda Forrester - Abode series 1, 2021

Stacey Gillian Abe - Whispers of Sorghum II, 2023

Richard Maguire

Richard Maguire - Untitled (Jasmine), 2023

Richard Maguire - Hands holding flowers I, 2023

Hurvin Anderson - Miss Sylvia, 2011

Jadie de Montserrat

Wole Lagunju - Essence II, 2023

Kimathi Donkor - Mumbi's Return, 2019 & On Episode Seven, 2020

Tizt Berhanu - Confluence, 2022

Frank Bowling - As Above So Below, 2020

Shannon Bono - Surrendering to his will, 2023

Dawit Adnew - Private Party, 2022

Osman Yousefzada - Migrant Godx IV, 2022

Samuel Ross - Earth - interior - descend, 2023

Like Paradise
curated by Ekow Eshun
until 5th December
Claridge's Art Space
Brook Mews

Sunday 19 November 2023

Emily Young: Pareidolia in Stone

Emily Young - The Teacher, (detail)

"Pareidolia has been defined as the tendency for perception to impose a meaningful interpretation on a nebulous stimulus, usually visual – as in animal forms in clouds. This is based in early awareness mechanisms for seeing and avoiding danger in our ancestors; those who were more aware of two potentially dangerous eyes in a shaded wood were more likely to survive. I free-carve stone, tiny pieces of the planet; I find them in quarries, in stone yards, or in places of geological interest, including the hillside I live on in Southern Tuscany. I work with pieces that speak to me in some way. They may have interesting forms in their structures, or wonderful colours, or evocative figurations on their surfaces. Guided by the stones, I carve them into heads, torsos and discs. I put into them something of my own mind, seeing in them the history of the creation of the planet, which can then touch on the creation of our solar system, and beyond. I am also alive to the connection between all matter. It seems industrialisation has caused us to misread the planet we live on, and our relationship to it, which is in fact one of complete dependence, no separation. It is a kind of pareidolia, where we see something in nature to exploit, that we hope will improve our capacity to live safely. We have seen the planet as a mindless resource, to be used and abused, whereas in fact it is the great creator of every part of our being and deserving of the uttermost respect. These sculptures call to our inner knowledge of who we might be, showing a quietness, a kind of stillness carried in the stone, an understanding that we are children of a magical planet, which gives life and meaning to everything. They show a profound gratitude for the gift of life, and deep compassion for all our fellow creatures and life forms, manifesting as unmitigated respect for our Great Mother Planet." - Emily Young, Santa Croce, September 2023

Emily Young's body of work (previously here) is so beautiful. I always take time to view those situated outside of Tate Modern when visiting. This is the first time I have seen them exhibited at the Richard Green Gallery though, and they were in very good company situated among a selection of Ben Nicholson paintings and Henry Moore maquettes. Sculptor Young really knows her materials and has an instinctive feeling for creating in whatever stone she chooses to work with. These monumental, dreamy heads exploit the natural flaws, fissures and pattern in a variety of stones to create imposing and majestic sculptures. They are like ancient carvings excavated from an earlier culture. Young's Chthonic Head series illustrated below certainly refer to ancient Greek mythologies. These sculptures have a calming presence, unaware of the viewers gaze, they are lost in their own reveries, possessing a real sense of the ethereal. There is spirit in these stones.

Bear Mountain Flight

Still Water

Ben Nicholson - August 63 (Metallic)

Ben Nicholson - August 58 (2Circles and Green)

Walking in Stone

Sun's Daughter

Chthonic Head II

Jeu De La Terre

Daughter of the Sky II

Chthonic Head V

Poet Warrior

Desert Sentinel I

Dream Time

Moon Torso III

Small Macauba Torso III

Cave Song III

Chthonic Head I

Cave Song II

Chthonic Head IV

Cave Song I

Henry Moore - Maquette for Figure on Steps

Black Swan I

Henry Moore - Family Group

Small Crystal Wind Head

The Teacher


Aminth (Head of a Boy)

Chthonic Head III

Moon Torso IV

The Teacher

Daughter of the Sky II

Emily Young: Pareidolia in Stone
until 17th November
Richard Green Gallery
33 New Bond Street