When the entire West End is pedestrianised for Chinese New Year this exhibition will be taking place right at the very centre, amidst the celebrations for the Year of the Dog, in Chinatown – the biggest Chinese New Year celebrations outside Asia. Over 120 artists will be showing sculptures, installations, site-specific interventions, videos, sound works and performances – a surprising diversity of works with contrasting scales and materials with many stretching creative experimentation to the limit.
People born in the Year of the Dog possess the best traits of human nature. They are honest, faithful, friendly, loyal, straightforward, clever, admired and have a strong sense of responsibility.
Nevertheless expressions referring to dogs are often unflattering but, with the feeling of cohesion that comes from showing together, Embracing the Underdog endeavours to be supportive, as befits this festive occasion. But who are underdogs? The underdog is not expected to win but is the one everyone cheers for. Also, they are the disadvantaged, underprivileged, dispossessed and disenfranchised, for example, as reflected in a work made from stiffened, layered newspapers the size of a parking space containing many articles indicating the injustice, hardship and suffering of people who could be considered the ‘Underdogs’ in our society. The very first work to be seen in the exhibition will be a giant globe, because even though nothing is more giving and open-armed than our beautiful, plentiful planet, it is being made an underdog by the domination of humankind. Another work will be the depiction of the constellation Canis Minor in white marble dust and the sculpture in the image, above left, talks about power and where it resides and considers if even great economic or dictatorial control is able to crush freedom of the mind. This contrasts with a playful sculptural totem of twelve embracing Foo dogs each coloured for good fortune.
The London Group has around 90 members and is one of the longest-running and most prestigious artists’ collectives in the world and champions breadth and diversity of work and independent thinking.
This compelling, large-scale exhibition is a concerted effort to demonstrate how positive it is to make art in our troubled world and these artists come together to exhibit with a real sense of solidarity and a belief in the enduring power of art in these confusing times.