Hoxton is one of East London’s most exciting art neighborhoods with well-established galleries like White Cube Hoxton Square, to small lesser-known spaces. Visitors to Hoxton’s art scene will re-encounter familiar names and become acquainted with new talent.
White Cube Hoxton Square
The Hoxton location of White Cube is currently home to a series of sculptures by Antony Gormley. Still Standing features two floors of cast iron, highly geometric figures. The ground floor becomes a forest of figures in an assortment of poses from the relaxed to the tense. The exposed vulnerability each figure contrasts with the strength and durability of the material used to create the pieces. Perhaps what is most interesting about the exhibition is watching how other visitors interact with each of the pieces. Some attempt to mimic the poses, often as a joke, but such action grants further understanding of the sculptures. The blockworks transform organic human anatomy into an almost robotic geometric form. Despite the otherworldly appearance of the figures, each has an implicit human quality that is emotive and relatable.
Upstairs is a single block sculpture similar to those on the ground floor. Whereas the other sculptures have a warm reddish-orange tone, State V upstairs is darker in a more steel gray. Despite the darker colour, this sculpture has much more negative space than the ones below which give it a contrasting nature of greater density and greater airiness.
On Kingsland Road, the eastern gallery of Flowers has an impressive group exhibition called Uncommon Ground that explores the environment through photography. Featuring works by Peter Ainsworth, Edward Burtynsky, Chris Engman, Andrea Galvani, Andy Goldsworthy, Scarlett Hooft Graafland, Nadav Kander, Jason Larkin, Alastair Levy, Jaehyo Lee, Tom Lovelace, John Maclean, Robert Polidori, Simon Roberts, Aaron Schuman, Raven Smith, David Spero, and Wassinklundgren this is, as expected, a fantastic show.
Allowing a fluid interpretation of the term ‘environment’ the artists in this exhibition document established reality and create their own interferences in space. Andy Goldsworthy, known primarily for his natural works, here uses urban space as his canvas for a series of photographs. Jason Larkin exhibits a somewhat traditional though still beautiful series of dramatic landscapes. Other photographers, like Chris Engman, alter the perceptions of reality by subtle adaptations of the natural environment. The expansive exhibition is beautiful and at times serene, thought-provoking, humorous, or intense. Group shows have a tendency to feel jumbled, but Flowers has curated Uncommon Ground using the large space and interaction amongst works to create a cohesive though varied exhibition.
Hoxton Art Gallery
Artist Steven Dickie attempts to collate all of the world’s knowledge in his current project The Timeknowledge Continuum. The abstract theory behind the pieces relates to the gathering of knowledge and the passing of time, which Dickie believes to be part of a continuum. Whether the theory actually makes sense seems to be irrelevant, but it is a method to allow people to explore the idea of knowledge in our hyper-connected and data-filled society.
Using toner as his pigment of choice there is a blending of the real and digital world.
Utilizing a palette of black and white with a vibrant cerulean blue creates a stunning aesthetic that further relates to our digital culture. Two works demonstrate Dickie’s attempt to make his theory ‘official’ and the complicated relationship between art and the bureaucratic system. Referring to the tremendous amount of information available through the internet, Dickie has begun to compile an ‘Encyclopaedia of User Generated Content,’ which is a series of instructional videos and highlights the often trivial knowledge that is shared.
Beers Lambert Contemporary
Lello//Arnell: Echo Chamber is the first UK solo exhibition for Scandinavian artist duo Jorgen Craig Lello and Tobias Arnell. Simultaneously honouring and questioning Modernist art, the works in this exhibition are aesthetically fairly simple and utilize a monochromatic palette of black and white. Upon closer examination, however, it becomes apparent that the artists are not simply recreating early twentieth century Modernism, but instead are inviting viewers to question convention and embrace the lesser-known. The list of materials for each piece is often surprising and ranges from an Eames chair as sculpture to scorched wood and baseball bats to more common acrylic on canvas. It becomes apparent that what might initially appear simple is hardly ever as straightforward as it appears. Echo Chamber is also the inaugural exhibition for Beers.Lambert Contemporary’s new gallery space. The small gallery provides an intimate setting for viewing works, but also allows enough space for hanging large works, such as in this exhibition.
Rivington Place is home to Autograph ABP, a charity that uses photography as its medium for conveying important social and cultural issues. The current exhibition is Roma-Sinti-Kale-Manush, which explores the plight of the Roma people throughout Europe. The images in photography and video are from artists Cristiano Berti, Elisabeth Blanchet, Danica Dakic, Nigel Dickinson, Alfredo Jaar, Sitki Kosemen, Maria Papadimitrou, Alessandro Quaranta, William Ropp, and Santiago Sierra.
It is estimated that the population of the Roma is about ten to twelve million throughout Europe, and historically they rank among the people most discriminated against. The works on display question this long-standing discrimination and racism by showing the real lives of some of the Roma communities. Some photographs are somber, others express glimpses of happiness, but all demonstrate the vitality of a people continually faced with hardships both economic and socio-cultural.
A stone’s throw from the Hoxton Art Gallery is a small gallery specializing in graphic arts. Though often not considered part of the ‘fine art’ spectrum, many of today’s most well-known artists use graphic art principles in their work. Kemistry Gallery showcases contemporary graphic design in a ‘fine art’ context elevating the status of the genre. The current show features the work of Anthony Burril and Mesa&Cadeira in How to say the most with the least. The collaborative efforts of British Burril and Sao Paolo-based Mesa&Cadeira resulted in this series of works building on the brief “to produce a collection of phrases that best expressed their individual life philosophy.” The stenciled epitaphs contain such phrases as “Think Less More” and “Belong to Where You Are.” These works are displayed on wooden panels that seem to reference the application of posters to walls and buildings. The bilingual and cross-cultural approach demonstrates that despite different social, economic, and political conditions, there are certain ideologies that remain universal.
An exploration of Hoxton would be incomplete without referencing the emerging artists that thrive in the area. The Fortress is a multi-purpose venue that supports music, events, and visual art through a collection of studios and spaces for young artists to interact. FORT gallery is an interesting space in that it is not a single gallery space. The current show by Guy Bourner is exhibited along the staircase leading to the rooftop terrace of the building. Each landing on the four floors holds a separate work making the viewing experience more of a journey than a traditional setting.
Bourner’s works in Happy Medium relate to the aesthetic power of colour and the inherent qualities of paint. One series of works are painted in a vivid colour then wrapped in cling film. This drastically slows the process of drying and creates an almost tactile textural appearance. Each of these works is accompanied with a ‘painted date’ and a ‘dry by date’ that encourages viewers to consider the changes in appearance the work will undergo in the year between the two dates. Will the piece become something different when it is dry? Other paintings include seemingly random drips of paint on a velvet background juxtaposing the accidental or the ‘mistake’ with ideas of ‘preciousness’ and preservation. (Image courtesy of Guy Bourner)
Words and Images: Emily Sack © ArtLyst 2012