This exhibition takes its inspiration from 'The Europeans', a novel by Rye author Henry James on the 100th anniversary of his death. The exhibition is a contemporary reflection on James’ tale of the relationship between ex-pats who cling onto the traditions and etiquette of their homeland much more fiercely than their less restrained, visiting cousins.
The artists, Alice Anderson, Phil Illingworth and Evy Jokhova, all explore ideas of boundaries, restraint and liberation and communicate their own personal responses using their own, unique visual languages. In bringing their works together at this particular time curator, Paula MacArthur, seeks to create some resonance with current European issues and invites discussion from both personal and political viewpoints.
This exhibition forms part of Rye Arts Festivaland Root 1066 International Festival.
Born in 1972 in London, Alice Anderson is a French-British artist and currently resides in London. She studied at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Paris and then at Goldsmiths College in 2001-4. Her first monograph exhibition Rituals, took place in 2011 at the Freud Museum London. Since then Anderson’s work has been shown at the Whitechapel Art Gallery in 2012, at the 55th Venice Biennale in 2013, at the Espace Culturel Louis Vuitton in Paris in 2014, the Wellcome Collection in 2015, the Saatchi Gallery and at the Royal Academy of Arts in 2016.
Anderson is fascinated about how our brain and body are adapting to the current digital age. In that research, she has developed alternative ways to memorise and create her own DATA : Through physical interactions of ritualistic gestures using various materials such as rusted steel, oil pastel and thread the artist ‘records’ her everyday’s life.
The Nocturnal Drawings are a body of work that the artist started to develop in 2011 with the idea that the thread ‘memorises’ a movement, it is an ongoing series that she performs at night. The musicality derived from the unwinding of the thread in a ceramic jar, unveil a dance with the invisible. Anderson turns around paper on a floor in a ritual-like performance, her hands, feet and entire body manipulate the thread turning rhythmical movements into a drawing. It evokes Jackson’s Pollock’s and Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s insight that vision and the body are tangled up in one another and that we cannot hope to observe existence or to understand art from afar.
Following art college, Phil Illingworth worked as a graphic designer before resuming his fine art career in 2005. He has exhibited in the UK, the USA, and at the 53rd Venice Biennale. His works have been selected for the John Moores Painting Prize, the Marmite Prize IV, and the Jerwood Drawing Prize.
Phil Illingworth’s practice encompasses the expanded fields of painting and drawing, three- dimensional works, and the conceptual. The one word he uses to define his practice is experimental.
There are two main factors driving Phil Illingworth’s practice: the materials of painting; and the language used to describe it. Each of these has its own narrative, but when brought together these two elements provide for an extremely complex and convoluted relationship; one which he explores with relish.
Illingworth enjoys toying with, and questioning the idea of what a painting is or can be. An important part of his methodology involves following the seed of an idea as closely as possible, aiming to encapsulate the spontaneity of that ‘vital spark’. He endeavours to challenge preconceptions, and in doing so break away from the idea of what is accepted. The history and visual syntax of painting is a rich source of inspiration for him, and an important field of enquiry. Illingworth posits the hypothesis that if art is contextualised by self-reference, can it ever be new? Is its value diminished beyond that of its usefulness to academia?
Illingworth takes the raw materials of the painter, adds to them, and reconfigures them in his own way. He selects his materials and processes very carefully, if not obsessively. Fundamentally, he says, it’s a question of attitude – although the works are mostly three dimensional he approaches them as paintings, from the initial concept right the way through to completion.
On the one hand, his perspective is that of an innocent who encounters the constituents of painting and composes them free of the restraints of convention; on the other his work is frequently and variously a nod towards, or a close scrutiny of, the traditions, history and craft of the medium.
Born in Switzerland to Russian parents, Jokhova lived in Soviet and post-Soviet Russia, Austria and Estonia. She is currently based between London, Vienna and Tallinn. Her multi cultural background and exposure to diverse social and political structures in altering states of flux and stability form the backbone of Jokhova’s research and practice. In 2013 Jokhova completed MA in Political Communications, Goldsmiths College with an anthropological research project on media influences and the sense of political belonging in Soviet and post-Soviet Russia; and in 2011 she completed an MA in Fine Art, Royal College of Art with a final thesis on the ontological question of being in architectural space.
Evy Jokhova is a multi disciplinary artist whose practice engages with dialogue and relationships between Social Anthropology, Architecture, Philosophy and Art. Working with drawing, painting, sculpture, installation, film and participatory events, Jokhova aims to bridge gaps between these fields and their inherent hierarchical structures creating work in the expanded context of interdisciplinary research projects. Her practice is research driven by investigations into relationships between things, the creation of social systems, and how social behaviour can be altered through architectural construction, with reference to the post-Cartesian ontological question of being in space (M. Heidegger, J-L. Nancy, Ian James, M. Foucault) and the relationship between building, body and mind (Bertrand Russell, Bill Hillier, Vitruvius). Jokhova’s projects are often supported by anthropological fieldwork and interviews.
Engaging with the everyday as well as possible and impossible futures as imagined by architects, city planners, historians and politicians, Jokhova surveys the disparity between plan and reality using a paired down aesthetic of a muted palette, creating sculptural objects of an ambiguous materiality, drawing into landscape and architectural space. Exploring social narratives and remembered ‘truths’, Jokhova questions her own subjective role in and relationship to society, history, landscape, architecture and public ‘signifiers’ such as monuments. The complex relationships between the perceived, the imagined and the accepted norm are driving factors in Jokhova’s multi-facetted practice.