London’s art scene benefits from an international outlook, much of which comes from the presence of European artists. Yet that’s doubly threatened: first, by the forthcoming referendum, which risks reducing artists’ ease of access; and, whatever the vote, by the increasing difficulty of finding living and studio space in the capital – a problem, of course, for all artists.
‘Secret European Studio’ celebrates the diversity of the London art scene by focusing on what’s being made by artists who’ve come from EU countries to live here. Carlos Noronha Feio (Portugal) makes paintings which seek abstract equivalents for the power structures implicit in colonialist world views, and also sets the show’s soundscape as he reflects on what ‘Universism’ might be; Alzbeta Jaresova (Czech Republic) puts her figures into tense psychological relationships with transparent yet unfathomable versions of London’s infrastructure; Simona Brinkmann (Italy) uses metal and foam-padded leather to form half-fetishistic, half-architectural objects which suggest shifting boundaries private and public; Willem Weismann (Netherlands) seems to mock both dystopia in general and the putative death of painting in particular in his colourful cartoon-tinged tableaux; Franco-German collective TROIKA bring sublimity to trauma as they draw intricate webs of lightning, and run a smoke bomb through a labyrinthine maze; and Nadege Meriau (France) lets snails and mushrooms impose their own dark logics on her photographic underworld. Maybe that’s how it’s all set to end in a post-Brexit twilight.
Meantime, the works emerging from these Secret European Studios cohere in a darkly intelligent overview of where we are now – and we wouldn’t want to be without that… We should vote to stay in the EU, and then adjust planning rules to make it easier for artists to find the space to tell us – a little more optimistically, perhaps – how they see the world.
Curated by Paul Carey Kent
Alzbeta Jaresova Czech Republic
Nadege Meriau France
Willem Weismann Netherlands
TROIKA : Eva Rucki Germany
Conny Freyer Germany
Sebastien Noel France
Simona Brinkmann Italy
Carlos Noronha Feio Portugal