The WW Gallery in London are presenting Vacant Lots, an exhibition of paintings by Susie Hamilton and Inguna Gremzde. While Hamilton and Gremzde reference the tradition of figurative landscapes and portraits, the psychological charge and setting of their work is a phenomenon of the contemporary world. The vacant lots of their paintings are the metropolitan deserts of Asda, Iceland, Lidl and Tesco, the modern supermarket.
Like the extension of blank concrete airport runways or the multiplication of identikit skyscrapers, office blocks and housing developments, the continual expansion of supermarkets leads to a paradoxical paralysis of choice. Hamilton and Gremzde reflect upon the soulless non-places and waste lands of our consumer super-cities, presenting a bleak vision charged with melancholy.
Susie Hamilton’s Women Shoppers shuffle through the freezer aisles: solitary, obese and elderly. Inguna Gremzde’s paintings on plastic lids are both intimate miniatures and mass-produced portraits of a single figure moving through the non-narrative of a shopping trip. The subjects of both Hamilton and Gremzde become anonymous consumers in a tribe of vacant shoppers as they are processed by supermarkets through a wilderness of discounts, reductions and special offers.
This exploration of supermarket psychology is fuelled by a social paranoia which stretches beyond the depressing monotony of the weekly shop. The chaos and anarchy which is caused by the order of J G Ballard’s forty-storey High Rise packed with a ‘glut of conveniences’, seems to lurk behind the sterile aisles. Barry Schwartz describes this ‘paradox of choice’: “There is vastly too much choice in the modern world and we are paying an enormous price for it. It makes us feel helpless, mentally paralysed and profoundly dissatisfied.”1
At odds with the insistent visceral assault of supermarket crowds, bright colours, stark strip-lighting, the relentless pop drone and piped smells, the works in Vacant Lots carry a sense of the dystopia masked by this artificial superstore environment.
Opening during Frieze Week Vacant Lots will offer a counterpoint to the art fair. With its temporary white walls and neatly divided cubicles Frieze offers another type of consumerist waste-land, an art superstore for convenience purchases.
The Paradox of Choice, Barry Schwartz
Susie Hamilton studied painting at St Martin’s School of Art, and Byam Shaw School of Art and studied English Literature at Birkbeck College, London University. Since 1996 she has shown with Paul Stolper, London, where she has had eight solo exhibitions. Other solo shows include Postmodernism and Spirit, University of Central Lancashire, Preston (2002); Paradise Alone, Ferens Art Gallery, Hull (2002) and St Edmund Hall, Oxford (2003); Paintings and Monoprints, Galleri Trafo, Oslo (2007); World of Light, Triumph Gallery, Moscow (2008); Black Sun, Studio Hugo Opdal, Flo, Norway (2009); Mutilates and A New Heaven and a New Earth, St Giles’, Cripplegate, London (2001, 2011). Group shows include The Mostyn Open, Oriel Mostyn, Llandudno (1993); The Whitechapel Open, Whitechapel Gallery, London (1994, 1998); Ikon Touring, Ikon Gallery, Birmingham (2000); Presence, St Paul’s Cathedral, London (2002); John Moores 23, The Walker, Liverpool (2004); Strictly Painting III, Voges + Partner, Frankfurt (2005); The Summer Exhibition, The Royal Academy, London (2004, 2009); National Open Art Competition, Chichester; In the Flesh, Paul Stolper Gallery, London; Afternoon Tea, WW Gallery at The Venice Biennale (2011); The Threadneedle Prize (Mall Galleries, London), Bite: Artists Making Prints (Mall Galleries), The Jerwood Drawing Prize (Jerwood Space, London) and RE OPEN: The Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers (Bankside Gallery,London) in 2012. Her work is in numerous public and private collections including Murderme UK, Deutsche Bank, The Economist, THS Partners, Bernard Jacobson Collection, The Groucho Club and The Methodist Art Collection. She lives and works in East London.
Inguna Gremzde studied at the Art Academy of Latvia and completed her MA in Fine Art at the Wimbledon College of Art, University of the Arts London, where she was selected by the WW Gallery as an Axis MAstar. She was the recipient of an Honourable Mention at the Turgut Pura Prize and had a recent solo show at the Adirondack Lakes Center for the Arts, NY, USA, 2012 Crossroads. She will be included in the upcoming exhibition for the Threadneedle Prize, Mall Galleries, and showing in What a Wonderful World, Plato Sanat, Istanbul, Turkey. Group shows include 2012 Magnitude 7, Manifest Gallery, Cincinnati; Turgut Pura Prize, Izmir Art and Sculpture Museum, Izmir, Turkey; Upcycle, Athens Institute for Contemporary Art, Athens, USA; 6th International Arte Laguna Prize, Arsenale, Venice, Italy; Postcard Show, Surface Gallery, Nottingham; International Painting NYC, Jeffrey Leder Gallery, NY, USA; CoCA’S 2011 Annual Exhibition, Center on Contemporary Art, Seattle, USA; 2011 Salon Art Prize, Matt Roberts Art, London; Cork Street Open Exhibition, London; Summer Salon, Islington Arts Factory, London; Futura Bold/Futura Oblique, The Nunnery, London; and Politics and Power, LCC, London.
The WW Gallery’s Frieze week exhibition at the gallery in Hatton Garden which will hopefully offer something of a counterpoint to the art fair.
Susie Hamilton & Inguna Gremzde
10 October – 10 November 2012
PV Tues 9 October 2012, 6 – 9pm
Open Weds – Fri 11 – 6pm; Sat 11 – 4pm
WW Gallery, 34/35 Hatton Garden EC1N 8DX