Once upon a time in Mayfair, is a group exhibition that brings together
25 international artists from across the globe. For the first time presented together, at Phillips in Berkeley Square Mayfair.
“Once upon a time..” Is probably the most universal story opener, independent from what part of the world you are from it is culturally embedded within us, we get excited because it is simply an indication that a story is about to be told. Storytelling? That is exactly what this group exhibition is about. United in diversity, the artists works across a wide variety of mediums and collects from an array of topics, references, media and themes. Whilst exploring the greatest story of all, life.
Life is experienced on an individual and a wider societal level. Yet, even as a group, we never experience life exactly the same as someone else. In Once upon a time in Mayfair, the interpretations seen give a glimpse into the sentience of these artists who confidently create their own spectrums of viewing the world, and as a result perhaps even offering novel ways of seeing everyday life. Discover these artists new work that through a collection of purposed settings and events, qualities and characters reflect on topics ranging from the personal to the collective. Via an avenue of multiple techniques, under the umbrella term of life, the exhibition furthermore seeks to deep dive into and explore a range of sub-themes such as identity, society, culture, self-love, contemporary life, consumerism and the multiverse.
Can a lipstick be political? How do you interpret a face without its key features? How does pigtails relate to the Americana? Why does the figure of a balaclava riot invite its viewer to explore the inner conflict between what we show to others versus what we really feel? And why does it feel so good to laugh and mock a culture that we are actually part of? Powered by language and text, there’s an open commentary upon sub-culture, pop- culture , mock- culture, that in turn highlights the ironic relationship between the individual and the collective in society. The phrases are constructed upon an eager and active observation of contemporary society and everyday life and the result is often, more than not, brutally honest. The confines of honesty are also being explored in the use of appropriation art. In studying Simulacrum, Jean Baudrillard hypothesised that human life is merely a simulation of reality, where everything is seen as a copy of a copy of a copy, ultimately becoming a hyperreality. Using that as a hook, there is a further investigation in topics as consumer culture and originality, but also blue light and how much screen time our generation accumulate.
Everyday objects are presented in an entertaining way and in the form of a self-portrait to highlight the energy between high- and low-brow culture. Whereas wavy, fluid and surrealistic brushstrokes suggests that as individuals in today’s fast paced society, we are melting under pressure of our surrounding, not to say the least, from the pressure that we put on ourselves.
Whimsical poetic paintings intersect a combination of facial expressions and body language whilst exploring the possibilities and boundaries of abstraction and figuration. One hand is exploring the unknown diaspora whilst another multiple truths. A face is depicted without any facial elements leaving the viewer only with ones very own interpretations. Interpretations that then add into a wider social commentary of how we read people. Social commentary is also seen in the diptych
works where the objects rely on cultural symbology and just like a portal these transforms and celebrates the culture of Stars and Stripes.
Cartoon-like figures brings out the relationship between the simple and the absurd.
A refined imagination of what contemporary sculpture can be is brought together by an Avant-garde style, elegant craft skills and poetic compositions. Quintessentially its own, there’s a gentle nod to the Southern Californian 1960’s Finish Fetish movement.
There is an affectionate tribute to art history and Claes Oldenburg’s 1969 sculpture Lipstick (Ascending) on Caterpillar Tracks. With multiple suggestions for interpretation of the monument, one suggest that the sculpture was presented as a bisexual object at the time, exploring femininity and consumerism, war and masculinity. Reimagined on canvas and presented in the exhibition, there is an urge and an open invite for a continued conversation on gender iconography, reflected within the contemporary society of today.
“Only the best is good enough” is the slogan of Lego, a motto counting back to 1936. Lego is suitably used here as a medium for a subject matter that is interested in today’s hype culture, where indeed only the best is believed to be good enough. Alongside hype culture, multiverse is a theme being explored, through an investigation of the space between technology and antiquity. At the same time, there is an attempt to capture the essence of being and suspending it in digital and physical space.
The exhibition is keen to explore life from all its possible angels and in a heterogeneity of aesthetics, techniques and styles. A diversified and colourful presentation is on display, showing paintings and sculptures from some of the most interesting young artists working in, and very much also shaping, what is referred to as contemporary art of today. Ultimately the exhibition offers a thrilling invitation to think about and explore the complexity and interconnection of contemporary life. Our shared human experiences create an ever- dynamic intersection where human life experiences, encounters and stories redefine our role individually and collectively.
Text by Angeliki Kim Perfetti
Oil on canvas, 200 x 180 cm