Phin Jennings

Curated by Phin Jennings

Aristotle once said that "an individual who is unsocial naturally and not accidentally is either beneath our notice or more than human." Some years later, existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre declared that "hell is other people". As a species, we don't seem to know how to feel about gathering.

What we do know is that, change as it might (something that it has been forced to do beyond recognition with the advent of social distancing), gathering is an undeniable part of what it is to exist in our world. For this collection, I have put together works by artists all grappling with the idea of gathering in one way or another.

Some, like Mazen Khaddaj, Lee Ellis and - most explicitly - Angela Edwards with her aptly titled painting "Who was it?" seem interested in the way that individual forms and identities can lose themselves in a crowd. Others seem to portray the opposite message. For the figures represented by Rozalina Burkova and Malayka Gormally, multiplicity only serves to reinforce and cement their identities.

I have also included some abstract works; Matthew Dibble (referencing De Kooning), Persi Darukhanawala and Sandra Blow all take their thinking of gathering to a more primordial level, exploring how individual forms and marks interact with each other in a group.

I don't doubt that, as we continue to limit and adapt the way that we gather, we will continue to learn about this sometimes individuality-denying, sometimes identity-affirming and always necessarily human form of interaction.

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