Somewhere on the outskirts of reality lies the realm of imagination and the subconscious. In this exhibition, artists Jorge Castellanos, Michael Fanta, Kate Lyddon, and Pawel Sliwinski each demonstrate a prevailing desire to reconcile the real with the unreal, and the conscious with the subconscious. All four artists have devised a cast of characters who represent the proverbial outsider. Whether these outsiders are isolated as a result of their own foolishness, or because they possess some elusive wisdom, their role holds both symbolic and psychological significance.
Indeed, the psychological impact of these works can hardly be understated. In the paintings of Pawel Sliwinski, bizarre figures drift through a backdrop of emotive colours and vaguely disconcerting abstracted landscapes. The figures thus occupy a space that exists outside of what is real and certain. In Bums, we are subjected to a vibrant and distressing scene of social disintegration. As the characters in Sliwinski’s painted worlds collapse in upon themselves, we are left with the sense that these paintings are not merely a representation, but a mirror for revealing the truth of human nature.
Similar in psychological impact is the work of Michael Fanta, in which a recurring (and increasingly forlorn) floating head becomes a metaphor for internalized fears and phobias. Is this figure hiding, or hesitantly presenting itself to us? Minimal and unpretentious in content, Fanta’s paintings are nonetheless fraught with social and psychological implications. The half-concealed figure, immersed in an unending sea, takes on the role of an everyman. Peering out from the surface of the water, this figure is indelibly isolated and immobile within himself.
The notion of immobility and internalization is also present within the visceral paintings of Jorge Castellanos. His misshapen, inverted human forms are depicted with a physicality verging on the grotesque. Yet even as they emphasize viscera and organs, they avoid classification as merely anatomical. Castellanos imbues his paintings with a significance born of his personal identity as a Mexican artist. Drawing both indignation and inspiration from the violence found all too frequently in his home country, and in the world at large, Castellanos’ writhing figures are a simultaneous ode to resilience and futility. Even as they reference a physical injury of the body, they create an equally powerful commentary on wounds that are far more psychosomatic in nature.
A correlation may be drawn to the work of Kate Lyddon, whose sculptural figurehead draws on the historic tradition of the grotesque, while simultaneously surpassing this precedent in favour of a highly contemporary perspective. Lyddon’s Lunatic sits proudly as a proclamation of the malleability of the human body and mind. Its severely malformed features transport the viewer into an alternate reality in which dark humour prevails, and the verisimilitude of representation is in a constant state of flux.
In short, these are images and objects that transcend the category of metaphor. They are a document of that which remains unseen, yet ever present.
Kate Lyddon has made it her business to question the meaning of normality. A multi-disciplinary artist based in London, Lyddon conceives her work from a desire to cut the tether that binds the viewer to reality. Her sculptures manifest themselves as distorted human forms, at once grotesque and darkly comical. Malleable, deformed and isolated, these figures take on the role of the anti-hero. Their otherness is made visible through their warped appearance, and we are left to question the purpose of these manifestations within the world at large. Simultaneously psychedelic and psychological, Lyddon's work seeks to transport viewers on a trip through their own subconscious.
KATE LYDDON (b. 1979, Brighton, UK) graduated from the Fine Arts course at the Canterbury Christ Church University in 2001. In 2005 she earned a PG-Dip in Fine Arts at Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Stockholm, and in 2006 earned a MA in Fine Arts at Chelsea College of Art and Design, London. Kate Lyddon’s solo exhibitions include If You Should Die Unexpectedly, studio1.1, London (2012); Idolizer, Galerie d'YS, Brussels (2012); Heroes and Villains, Gallery Daniela Da Prato, Paris (2011); The Amazing Wall of Death, Galleri Villavägen 7, Uppsala (2010) and The Feeling, Galleri Remi, Östersund (2010). She has also been part of several group exhibitions Masques / Masks, a touring show from Galerie d'YS, Brussels (2013); Mingles Calypsus: Mungles Capitaltis, Neue Froth Kunsthalle, Brighton (2013); we will rule - we will fool you, a two person show with Jay Cloth, studio1.1, London (2013); The Opinion Makers, collaborative work with Maria Bajt, Enclave Gallery, London (2013); Post-War and Contemporary Art 1990 - Now, Christies, London (2012) and Face to Face, Transition Gallery, London (2011). In 2011 she won the Emerging Artist Award for solo presentation by Galerie d'YS at Art on Paper, Brussels. Lyddon lives and works in London.
For Austrian artist Michael Fanta, meaning is often found beneath the surface. Typically working with a minimal and uncomplicated aesthetic, Fanta is nonetheless consistent in his ability to fill a canvas with tension and symbolism. A recent untitled body of work finds the artist engaging with a recurring figure, always pictured partially submerged in a vast sea. These works exemplify Fanta's propensity towards scenes which are quiet yet inexplicably unsettling. His artistic practice seems to be rooted in a desire to impact the viewer on a psychological level. Though his works are at first glance simplistic, they offer layers of hidden meaning waiting to be unpacked.
MICHAEL FANTA (b. 1989, Graz, Austria). Michael Fanta’s selected exhibitions include Small Pieces III/2, Galerie Eugen Lendl, Graz (2013); Im Kabinett, Galerie 3, Klagenfurt (2013); 14.11.13 (solo), Kunstwerkraum Graz (2013); 1.10., Ve.sch, Vienna (2013); London/Vienna calling, Mile End Art Pavillon, London (2013); C’est la vie, Atelier Suterena, Vienna (2013); Obir Reception, Artist in Residence, Bad Eisenkappel (2013); Good prospects, Galerie Gaudens Pedit, Lienz (2013); EG Nord, Semperdepot, Vienna (2013); New work, Artelier Suterena, Vienna (2013); Malverk, Artima Galleri, Reykjavik (2012) and Turn on turn off, Galerie Lisa Ruyter, Vienna (2011). Since 2008 he has attended the Expanded Pictorial Space course with Daniel Richter at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna. Fanta currently lives and works in Vienna.
In the paintings of Mexican artist Jorge Castellanos, aesthetics and the body collide, resulting in a visceral cacophony of images. Castellanos is best known for his harrowing depictions of inverted and misshapen human figures. These works express a striking physical and emotional anguish. Even as their rich colours and smooth forms serve to visually entrance the viewer, there is something undeniably repulsive about their raw physicality. Castellanos employs this dichotomy as a tool against the violence he has witnessed in his homeland, and in the world at large. But political and social meaning is by no means the artist's only concern. These are images that function on multiple levels. Influenced though they may be by a threat of physical violence, they simultaneously divulge fear of an injury that is infinitely more internalised and personal.
JORGE CASTELLANOS (b. 1982, Mexico City) received his diploma from the Academy of Fine Arts in 2012 (where he was instructed by Professor Markus Oehlen), Munich, Germany. He previously studied in Mexico City for his BA in Fine Arts at the National School of Painting, Drawing and Etching (ENPEG), “La Esmeralda”, National Center of the Arts (CNA), 2006. In 2012 he completed a solo exhibition entitled Rächer, Klasse Oehlen, at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste München in Munich, Germany. In 2010 his selected shows included Turbokubismus, Die Reliktion, Golden Pudel Club, Hamburg, Germany and in 2009 Ola grande tabla corta Jorge Castellanos + Pablo Cotama, Manuel García Gallery, Oaxaca, Mexico. Selected group exhibitions include Creacion en Movimiento, Young Creators, 2012-2013 Generation, Instituto Veracruzano de la Cultura, Veracruz (2013); Encontremos una razon para amar, Luis Adelantado Gallery, Mexico City, Mexico (2013); German Kleinformat 3, Proyectos Neter, Mexico City, Mexico (2012); REVUELTA, Manuel García Gallery, Oaxaca, Mexico (2010) and Jahresausstellung, Akademie der Bildenden Künste München, Munich, Germany (2010). Castellanos lives and works in Oaxaca.
Pawel Sliwinski believes that painting should transcend the need for a utilitarian purpose. Disregarding function in favor of concepts and aesthetics, Sliwinski draws on the precedents set by the German New Objectivity movement of the 20th century. In an effort to uphold what he calls "the tradition of painting," he references artists such as Otto Dix and George Grosz, and continually embraces a raw and satirical view of the human condition. Sliwinski's work is notable for its allusions to deep-seated psychological concerns and their impact upon society. At once tangible and readable, his paintings allow the viewer to engage without necessitating intricate commentary or explication.
PAWEL SLIWINSKI (b. 1984, Chelm, Poland) holds an MFA in Painting from the Academy of Fine Arts, Warsaw (2009). The artist has exhibited extensively in Poland and internationally and has also been acquired by the Zabludowicz Collection in London, the Collection of the ING Polish Art Foundation, Warsaw, as well as the Polish Modern Art Foundation, Warsaw. Notable solo exhibitions include Wayward Layer, 4-Face Space Gallery, Beijing, China, 2013 (two person- with Tymek Borowski), Figures and Motives, Kolonie Gallery, Warsaw, Poland, 2013, Unknown Master From Kasilan, BWA Gallery, Zielona Gora, Poland, 2012, and Family, Supplement Gallery, London, England, 2011. Selected group exhibitions include Mum, I just really need to focus of my art right now, Arsenal Gallery, Poznan, 2013, Landscape, Portrait, Still Life, Kolonie Gallery, 2011, Hi, Stereo Gallery, Poznan, Poland, 2011, No Sleep!, BWA Gallery, Zielona Gora, Poland, 2010 (with Tymek Borowski). The artist lives and works in Warsaw, Poland.
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