THE WORLD WITHOUT US
Phillip Allen, Maja Godlewska, Sally Kindberg, Andrew Leventis,
Christiane Pooley and Soheila Sokhanvari
25 October–10 November 2019
Harold Wharf, 6 Creekside, Deptford SE8 4SA
Private View: Thursday, 24 October, 6–8 pm
Few things are more commanding than our own image – after all, the wealthy and the influential have demonstrated the power of an iconic portrait century after century. But what of the digital era and its effect on the painter and, in particular, our image of self? In the past, the aristocrat or the ruler might assert their dominance through a commissioned portrait, surrounded by carefully staged possessions and symbols. Today, the contemporary cultivation of glamour is instantaneously related through the filters of Instagram as electronic devices carve new divisions for potential class categories. The sublime now becomes the backdrop of the selfie, and easy access to quick image making means that essentially everyone can mimic what the traditional painter constructed slowly and deliberately through physical material. How do painters respond to this? What is the role of the painter in this era? Do painters still maintain a separate and special perspective to examine culture in such circumstances? The infiltration of the digital is unavoidable and The World Without Us pays homage to this. Running from 25 October–10 November 2019 at APT Gallery, London, it examines these issues through the works of six contemporary painters: Phillip Allen, Maja Godlewska, Sally Kindberg, Andrew Leventis, Christiane Pooley and Soheila Sokhanvari.
Each artist shares an interest in how reality is fabricated across media, whether exemplified in the exoticised paintings of Tiepolo, or in the sterilised and diagrammatic environments of Jacques Tati. They borrow imagery that is already a reiteration of reality, drawing on everything from telephone cameras and snapshots from film and television to family photo archives, and even clickbait advertisements. The resulting works reconfigure contemporary mass media into painting as reimaginings of their instantaneous counterparts.
“The theme is topical, and perhaps more urgent than ever for painting, as more of painting is created digitally through tablets, Instagram filters, iPhones, etc,” says Leventis. “How does traditional painting respond to – or have a dialectical relationship with – these technologies? How do these technologies change the content, style, and feel of traditional painting? How would Luc Tuyman's paintings look, for example, if he didn't use CCTV and low-grade video and photo references?” The resulting works on display in The World Without Us show each painter’s unique relationship to new media. For Andrew Leventis, this translates to painstakingly painted still lifes of chandeliers, table tops, and convex mirrors reminiscent of Van Eyck’s Arnolfini Portrait.
Similarly, Sally Kindberg’s paintings of everyday objects take on a two-dimensional quality – a glass of wine at once flatted into a single image plane, both photographic and yet not so. Maja Godlewska, meanwhile, has been researching “the spectacle of global Insta-tourism in search of the Sublime landscape.” In doing so, she tracks travellers in the most Instagrammable locations. “I am interested in the ‘tourist gaze’,” she explains, or “’selfie-gaze-tourism’, the colonising aspect of excessive photography, in the notions of being and experiencing and what may unfold and be ignored outside of our perpetually employed viewfinders.” The resulting work unfolds on long paper scrolls, with Godlewska working from memory, “attempting to revisit places once seen and recreate an experience… ironically, my paper installations serve as good selfie backdrops as well.” There are more abstract approaches too – such as Phillip Allen’s sea anemone-like sculptural paintings, swirling with references like the currents on the sea floor. Or Christiane Pooley, who deftly combines abstract painterly strokes with figurative portraits, creating scenes that are at once dream-like and yet infinitely real. Soheila Sokhanvari re-examines historical reality – specifically taking pre-revolutionary Iran as her starting point, weaving layers of political histories with bizarre, humorous and mysterious narratives that are then left to viewer’s own sensitivity to complete. “These images done in the traditional technique of egg tempera on calf vellum become the skeleton for the narrative which is imbued with symbolism, metaphor and magic realism,” she explains.
APT is a registered charity committed to promoting the value of creativity through the visual arts. Located in South East London, A.P.T supports an exceptional resource and facility for artists and the wider community. With the provision of secure studios and high quality exhibition space as a cornerstone, A.P.T aims to foster an environment where creativity may flourish, forging links and collaborations with other professional bodies both locally, nationally and internationally.
Phillip Allen graduated from the Royal College of Art, London in 1992. Recent exhibitions include Luca Tommasi, Milan and The Approach, London (both 2019); Deepdrippings, Kerlin Gallery (2017); Dolph Projects, London (2016); The Approach, London (2014, 2011 & 2008); Kerlin Gallery, Dublin (2013, 2009 & 2005); Bernier/Eliades Gallery, Athens (2010); Xavier Hufkens, Brussels (2007, 2005); Milton Keynes Gallery, UK (2006); and PS1 Contemporary Art Center, New York (2003). International group shows include Galerie Dukan, Paris (2015); CCA Andratx, Mallorca (2012); Hong Kong Heritage Museum, Hong Kong SAR (2011); Nottingham City Gallery, UK (both 2011); Fabio Tiboni arte Contemporanea, Bologna, Italy; The City Gallery, Leicester, UK and Tate Britain, London (all 2009); Mitchell, Innes & Nash Gallery, New York (2007) and the British Art Show 6 at BALTIC (2005/06).
Maja Godlewska is Associate Professor of Painting at the Department of Art and Art History, UNC Charlotte, NC, US and received her MFA in Painting, Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Wroclaw, Poland in 1990. Godlewska’s work has been exhibited internationally in more than 100 solo and group shows, including recent On the Basis of Encounters, Greenlease Gallery, Rockhurst University, Kansas City, MO,
The Ultimate Landscape, New Gallery of Modern Art, Charlotte, NC, Self, c.r.e.t.a. rome, Rome, Italy and ARTchipelago, French Institute, Mauritius. She has been a recipient of grants and fellowships, including Fulbright Fellowship, North Carolina Arts Council Fellowship Awards, several Charlotte Arts and Science Council grants, Kosciuszko Foundation Fellowship and Tempus Mobility Grant from the European Union, she participated in artist-in-residence programmes in the US, Chile, France, Spain, Iceland, Greenland, Mauritius and South Korea. Her work is represented in the Southeast by the New Gallery of Modern Art in Charlotte, NC. Godlewska has been 2019 Artist-in-Residence at the University of Tasmania Cradle Coast, Australia.
Born in Sweden, Sally Kindberg received her MFA at Goldsmiths College, University of London. Recent notable exhibitions include /'Meikup/, curated by Sally Kindberg, 3 Oct - 2 Nov 2019, MOCA, London, Modern Finance, curated by Howard Dyke and Playpaint at Thames Side Studio Gallery, London and Happy Hour, curated by Roberto Ekholm at Kristin Hjellegjerde’s Melior Place space, London (both 2019); Soft bite, curated by Maria Stenfors at 12 Star Gallery, London; Not Dream of Islands, selected by John Chilver and Daniel Pettitt, Palfrey Gallery, London; Secret Charter, The Dulwich Picture Gallery, London (all 2018) and the XIX Cerveira International Art Biennial, Portugal (2017); the touring exhibition Nature Morte Contemporary Artists Reinvigorate the Still Life, curated by Michael Petry and Roberto Ekholm, Sweden, Poland, UK (2016–17).
Receiving his MFA in Fine Art from Goldsmiths College, University of London in 2012, Andrew Leventis paints imagery of collecting practices that have formed culture since the Renaissance. He received his MA in Fine Art from Wimbledon College of Art, University of the Arts London (2010) as well as a Bachelor of Fine Art from the American Academy of Art, Chicago, IL (2006). Recent exhibitions include a group show at Salmagundi Club, 5th Avenue, New York; Mise-en-Scene at SOZO Gallery, Charlotte, NC; Mainframe at The Mint Museum, Charlotte, NC; Malamegi, 28 Piazza di Pietra Gallery, Rome and the LA Artcore 4th Annual Juried Exhibition, in Los Angeles, CA. He is Assistant Professor of Painting at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and previously a member of the Graduate Faculty at the University of South Dakota.
Born in Temuco, Araucanía, Chile, Christiane Pooley lives and works in Paris, France. She received her Postgraduate Diploma Fine Art, Chelsea College of Art and Design, London in 2006, and the year before, her BA Fine Art from the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago. She has won numerous residencies and awards, including the ADAGP Grant for first monograph, France (2017); Shortlisted for the Marmite Prize for Painting, UK (2016) and the 2011 UNESCO-Aschberg Bursary for Artists. Recent solo exhibitions include Landscapes Beneath, Bendana Pinel Art Contemporain, Paris (2018), La forêt est là et me regarde, Bendana Pinel Art Contemporain, Paris (2016) and Los bordes del mundo, Galería Patricia Ready, Santiago (2015).
Soheila Sokhanvari graduated in 2006 with a postgraduate diploma in Fine Art from Chelsea College of Art and Design and MFA Fine Art from Goldsmiths College in 2011. Her work has been shown at TECTONIC, The Moving Museum, Dubai (2013) and selected for Young Gods, Charlie Smith Gallery (2011). She was one of the UK graduates shortlisted for the Catlin Art prize in 2012 and has been exhibited as one of the top seven new art graduates for exTRAct at GL Strand, Copenhagen (2011). She is a resident artist at the Wysing Arts Centre, Cambridge.