CHOI&LAGER are pleased to present Adieu to Old England, The Kids are Alright, featuring Alvaro Barrington, Olivia Bax, Bea Bonafini, Mark Corfield-Moore, Lucas Dupuy, Ben Edmunds, Oli Epp, Ziggy Grudzinskas, Hun Kyu Kim, Yushi Li, Jesse Pollock, Paloma Proudfoot, Robin Seir, Antonia Showering and Felix Treadwell, all recent graduate artists living and working in and around London.
The inspiration behind this show was Thomas Rowlandson’s Adieu to Old England (1818), a hand coloured print of joyous dancing figures. Rowlandson (1756–1827) was a English caricaturist who observed social dynamics of the Georgian era, producing timely and irreverent political satire.
Just as Rowlandson commented on 18th and 19th century society, this exhibition presents an emerging group of artists who through their own narratives and wide range of mediums create work that is their reflection of today’s society. The Kids are Alright is a nod to the infamous album by the British rock legends ‘The Who’.
Britain is changing, seemingly more than ever. The landscape of the society, culture and politics has never looked so uncertain. Yet, against this challenging climate, London has become ‘the’ fruitful incubator for recent art graduates, producing a myriad of diverse work, the Kids really are Alright.
Although this is an exhibition of artists working in London, the artists are not necessarily English. Artists born in Venezuela, Germany, Sweden, Malaysia, Thailand, Korea and Australia contribute to the show, celebrating the wide multi-culturism and multi-ethnic fabric of the city alongside their English counterparts.
Alvaro Barrington (b.1983, Caracas, VE) epitomises this multi-culturism, having been born in Venezuela and spent his first years with his grandmother in Grenada before moving to New York and now settling in London. Barrington’s work is a result of his pulling apart of these childhood memories and extracting their materiality. It was his time in Grenada which has provided the fabric of his work, which depict a romanticised Caribbean, embodied in Yellow Hibiscus Red Stem, rooted in Grenadian culture with a palate of the vibrant colours of the region.
Mark Corfield-Moore (b. 1988, Bangkok, TH) of British and Thai heritage recently began to delve deeper into his Asian connection, which is reflected in his ornate weavings. These works are influenced by connecting with his family in Thailand who are traditional-weaving. The featured work, The Tourist Revisited, is based on a 13th century Peruvian tapestry. The mention of Tourist references his struggle for identity and the collective idea that all artists are tourists, always searching, always looking.
Hun Kyu Kim’s (b. 1986, Seoul, KR) works tell narratives focusing on contemporary pop culture in a harmonious manner whilst using traditional Korean techniques.
Through the cultural eclecticism he presents an extra-ordinary experience. Kim’s paintings are strange yet subtle. They offer beautiful stories about an imaginary world, combining a mesmerising aura of traditional oriental painting and a contemporary political discussion.
Antonia Showering (b.1991, London, UK) has a mixed heritage background, self- identifying with the United Kingdom, Switzerland, and China. This has led to a fascination with ancestry, family and nostalgia in her work. She creates layered works full of emotional charge, morphing recollections of family members, landscapes, and encountering reality and fantasy.
Yushi Li’s (b. 1991, CN) charged photographs challenge the notion of gender, desire and sexuality, as she investigates male representations as an erotic subject. Li blurs the boundaries of sexual difference, by placing men in stereotypically feminine spaces, subverting the idea of what we see as erotic and intimate.
Oli Epp (b.1994, London, UK) paintings are informed by his everyday experiences and observations. Epp uses the visual language of branding and interplay between graphic and painterly surfaces to create optical confusion, echoing the way that our real and digital lives are merged. His work focuses on the seemingly unremarkable moments that pass us by, but once explored are akin to an unreported tragedy.
Felix Treadwell (b. 1992, Maidstone, UK) rummages into his own personal being, exploring every crevice of his existence in his work. In this latest nightmareish series, he questions his own fear within nostalgic popular culture through sinister depictions of ‘Furby’, the must have 90’s toy of his childhood, and a dark portrayal of the cult science fiction film Alien.
In Bea Bonafini’s (b. 1992, Bonn, DE) works, she utilises the medium of textile through carpet, projecting the viewer into a comfortable space. Where then they are confronted by the adversarial nature of human relationships, through an abstracted aesthetic.
The earthenware sculpture of Paloma Proudfoot (b. 1992, London, UK) tells a surreal story. It call us to attention and ask us to question our response to objects; their ability to evoke memories, and the visceral responses they may bring. Her fascination lies with the human body and how it is represented, and the role of clothing to attempt to contain the body, yet its failure to hold in its messiness.
Olivia Bax (b. 1988, Singapore, MY) latest series explores the notion of a vessel in unconventional and colourful forms. She sculpts works characterised by familiar elements, such as pockets. The series started as an attempt of a visual description of feeling weighed down. It continued on to an exploration of freestanding, static vessels in her Vide Poche work. For the first time, Bax has produced her own display furniture, imprinting her own touch within the rudimentary object of a table.
Jesse Pollock (b. 1993, Gillingham, UK) creates sculptural furniture formed by painted hunks of steel bound together. The imagery of the work shown draws on ‘stiles’, rural stone crossings, wholly emblematic of his birthplace in the heart of the pastoral English countryside.
Ziggy Grudzinskas (b.1986, Sydney, AU) examines the gesture through the application of a wide range of contemporary techniques and mediums. Grudzinskas blurs the lines between the foreground and background while creating subtle tensions within the work. His compositions arise organically with spontaneity and unpredictability through free drawing and reactionary practices while using materials from fine art restoration to industrial inks, the paintings attempt to perform as moments of suspended animation.
The works presented by Robin Seir (b.1986, Gothenburg, SE) draw from ancient visual sources spanning iconography, ornamentation and pre-historic writing, along with contemporary counterparts such as logotypes and sticker designs. Through minimal and reduced vocabulary, Seir manages to avoid explicit, cognitive references and instead points to the physicality of reference itself.
Lucas Dupuy (b.1992, London, UK) conceives work which explores semiotics and signs. His complex, yet baring paintings realise themselves in the form of abstract languages. His dyslexia abstracts the traditionally figurative form of words. The paintings are monolithic abstractions that have recalculated the purpose and form of our language.
Ben Edmunds (b.1994, Norwich, UK) chiefly characterises his work by combining the archaic, almost 'holy' modes of colour field abstraction with extreme sports and hi-tech fashion. The dyed canvases and slick constructions might be mistaken for pieces of equipment, suggesting an unknown functionality. They are held together in a state of balance by shock cords and carabineers, climbing equipment and sailing gear, the materials of activity and leisure.
Press release courtesy Choi&Lager Gallery.