11 FEBRUARY 6.00 PM - 9.00 PM
8 DUKE STREET, ST JAMES, LONDON. SW1Y 6BN.
9 FEBRUARY - 21 FEBRUARY OPEN DAILY 11.00 AM - 7.00 PM
Vestige brings together artworks that subtly or overtly reference historical imagery and objects, incorporating the traces that histories leave behind in unique ways. The exhibition includes arresting new works by artists Lisa Wright, Emma Vidal, Penny Byrne, Aaron Smith and Henry Hussey.
Lisa Wright’s paintings and drawings are simultaneously rooted in the past and the present, intimately and emotionally entwined with historical portrait painting. Fragments of history – ribbons, ruffs, wigs and petticoats - are pieced together with a contemporary sensibility. The resulting figures hover between time periods. They also hover on the brink of adulthood: childish faces with rosy cheeks and rounded bellies at odds with their formal clothing and decorative adornments.
The sensual and striking subjects of Wright’s works are underpinned by her remarkable skills in drawing and deft handling of paint. The works are uniquely unsettling and compelling.
Wright studied painting at the Royal Academy, London, 1990-1993, after which she moved to Cornwall, where she now lives and works. In addition to many well-received solo exhibitions, Wright’s work has been acquired by numerous corporate and private collections and was shown at Tate St Ives in the notable Art Now Cornwall exhibition. She was Artist in Residence with the Royal
Shakespeare Company throughout the two year period of the ‘Histories’ cycle, which culminated in exhibitions at the Roundhouse, London and at the Royal Academy. Notable awards include the National Open Art Prize, the Hunting Art Prize, and, most recently, the Threadneedle Prize, 2013.
The works of Penny Byrne are at once highly political and beautiful. Consistently working with ceramics, she combines vintage porcelain figures with other materials and objects that disrupt and unsettle the original figure. Sometimes Byrne paints text and motifs directly onto the porcelain surface or uses objects such as vintage Action Man accessories and decorative glass ornaments to bring radically alternate stories to these familiar domestic figurines. Her recent pieces reference conflicts and protests connected to global political affairs such as the Occupy Movement and events in Syria, giving these characters voices and new lives which are far removed from their original purposes as meek sheperdesses or farm girls feeding ducks. Byrne’s meticulously manipulated ceramics are saturated, too, with wry humour.
Byrne is based in Melbourne, Australia and holds a BA in Fine Art Ceramics. In 2015 she will be showing in the Venice Biennale, a project in collaboration with the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, Russia. The artist has won several awards and prizes, and has shown her work extensively in the UK, Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand. Notable exhibitions include those at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, The Gallery of Western Australia and Saatchi Gallery in London.
The work of Emma Vidal explores a post-apocalyptic world in ruin. Her practice, taking the form of charcoal drawings, sculpture and moving image, balances both the will to survive in such circumstances and the vulnerability of the human body. Vidal re-imagines a future world as a place whose inhabitants consist only of wild children and where Mother Nature is claiming back her own territory. Vidal is influenced by spiritual experiences from her Catholic upbringing and her travels, and is particularly concerned with ideas of religious symbolism, ritual and cult.
The artist’s use of charcoal utilises the material’s unique abilities to capture expression with a fragile and quivering stroke of her hand. The totemic three-dimensional works Vidal creates reference a range of historical, cultural and visual objects from around the world, mixing styles from disparate places and periods.
Vidal studied Fine Art at Central St Martins College of Art and Design, London, where she lives and works currently. Her work has featured in the Jerwood Drawing Prize exhibition, touring nationally in 2013 and in the ING Discerning Eye selection in London at The Mall Galleries in 2014. Her solo exhibition Gold String was presented at Museum Blue, St Louis, USA in 2014.
Photographic portraits from the Edwardian and Victorian eras provide inspiration for the paintings of Aaron Smith. While these figures might seem to represent a masculine ideal, Smith imbues each portrait with a complexity and vulnerability, even loneliness. The works are expressionist portraits and thick impasto paint is used to build up a richly textured painting surface. A contemporary twist comes in the form of Smith’s palette, which utilises vibrant, hyper-real colours that capture the eye. The artist describes these men as exotic, vulnerable creatures of desire, transformed from the formality of the original portrait into curious and beautiful new figures.
Smith is interested to explore the impact of the introduction of photography upon painting through his work; how photography has challenged the dominance of painting as the primary means of image capture and opened up new ways to paint.
After studying art in California, Smith has gone on to show his work prolifically across theUS A and is currently the Artist in Residence at the world famous J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles. He is additionally Associate Professor/Associate Chair at the Art Centre College of Design in Pasadena, California and was previously an Artist Lecturer, also at the J. Paul Getty Museum.
Henry Hussey’s works bring together vintage, hand-dyed and printed fabrics, embroidery and bead-work in the production of rich and emotive textile pieces. Drawing upon personal experiences of specific events and the emotional responses that have informed his life, Hussey skilfully layers and interweaves text, imagery and material to create exquisitely detailed works with a powerful resonance. The imagery used derives from the artist’s own library of sketches of objects from museum collections, as well as photographs that depict emotional expression. Such photographs are an integral part of Hussey’s working process, as is his work performing with actors from the Royal Shakespeare Company which he uses to research and explore the ways that emotions are expressed through the face and the body.
The result is a highly complex and colourful body of work. Hussey graduated from Chelsea College of Art with a BA (Hons) in 2011 and completed his MA in Textiles at the Royal College of Art in 2013. He has recently been selected by Cat Street Gallery in Hong Kong for their exhibition Young Blood. Significantly, Hussey’s work was also selected for the Bloomberg New Contemporaries exhibition touring nationally and the Royal Academy Summer exhibition in 2014.
Henry graduated from the Chelsea College of Art with a BA Hons in 2011 and completed his MA in Textiles at the Royal College of Art in 2013. Royal Academy. He has recently been selected by Cat Street Gallery in Hong Kong for their Young Blood exhibition, Bloomberg New Contemporaries and the Royal Academy Summer exhibition in 2014.