Our Curated Collections

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Figurative Art in 2020

2020 has offered us a time for self-reflection, perhaps more than any other year in the 21st Century so far. In quarantine conditions, spending more time than ever indoors, and perhaps furloughed from work, we have been looking inwardly at our lives, goals, and beliefs. In this collection we take a look at some of the portraiture created by our artists since the year began. These depictions of the human form and face vary in style, from the abstracted, bent figure in Mazen Khaddaj’s ‘I can’t remember when I last saw you’ to the blurred photographic form in Iliana Tosheva’s ‘Alter ego 1’. Portraying the human form and expressing our identity is an artistic practice as old as can be, and modern day artists have harnessed the styles and movements that have come before them for inspiration. For example, we can see the influence of James Rosenquist’s flawless figures in ‘The fish of my dreams” by Vadim Kovalev, who depicts the fishing woman with a characteristic Pop Art glaze of sexualisation. In Francesco Polazzi’s ‘Still life in a portrait” we see almost Cubist levels of abstraction, intermingling the “portrait” with suggested botanical shapes. Our self-image in 2020 seems to be highly complex, a dance between distance and intimacy, honesty and hiding. In Darren Macpherson’s ‘Redusa’, which pastiches Caravaggio’s ‘Medusa’, we see how identities are quietened by social expectations (note the formal tie and shirt, and the thick, purple paint which covers the face of the figure). In Georgia Peskett’s ‘Commuter’ the artist captures a brief encounter, one that many people go through hundreds of times a day. In an age when social media makes it faster to connect with people than ever, Peskett’s work reminds us that we are still isolated in many other ways.

Curated by Verity Babbs

Established Artists

What does it mean to be an "established" artist? The Cambridge Dictionary defines the adjective as "accepted or respected because of having existed for a long period of time". Is career longevity enough to make an "established" artist? There are plenty of artists meeting success after only a few years in the game. Maybe it's popularity that helps to "establish" an artist? Salvador Dalí said that the "thermometer of success is merely the jealousy of the malcontents". Success to Dalí was being well known and annoying your competitors. Perhaps the success needed to be deemed "established" is financial? Andy Warhol amassed a huge following, a lot of money, and - as Dalí prioritised - a lot of critics. However, he doubted whether financial success was imperative to "establishing" oneself: "I’ll bet there are lots of artists that nobody hears about who just make more money than anybody. The people that do all the sculptures and paintings for big building construction. We never hear about them, but they make more money than anybody." It seems that it's not clear what truly makes an artist "established", but it's likely a combination of longevity, popularity, and financial success. What is clear, however, is that the concept of "establishing" oneself is not as important as staying true to one's artistic truth. "Don’t be fooled by success and money. Don’t let anything come between you and your work." – Louise Bourgeois "Whether you succeed or not is irrelevant, there is no such thing. Making your unknown known is the important thing." – Georgia O’Keeffe We have brought together a collection of work by Rise Artists who have excelled by any definition of success, including Gavin Turk, Takashi Murakami, Tom Phillips, Fatola Israel, Sandra Blow, Sir Peter Blake,, Dave White, Jane Ward, Joe Webb, Andy Gotts, Philip Vaughan, Halima Cassell, Nina Fowler, Reisha Perlmutter, Rosalind Davis, Sara Shamma, Alexandra Gallagher, Seçil Erel, Adam Bridgland, Patrick Hughes, KAWS, Nadia Attura, Irene Hoff, Nelson Makamo and Odilia Fu.

Curated by Verity Babbs

Garden Art

The garden has a multitude of emotional connections and meanings. They are places of respite, activity, and creativity (often an artwork in their own right). They are big and small, wild and tamed, bursting with life and in need of some love. As seen in Chris Shaw Hughes’ Woman in the Shadows they can be places for playfulness with family: an escape from claustrophobic domestic space indoors, work, and now more than ever, our screens. Drawn from a vintage photograph, Hughes’ piece shows a family lined up amongst shrubbery, posed for their picture to be taken. The group smile as if stifling laughs, struggling to stay composed while a central figure playfully half-hides in the backdrop plants. Ellie Vandoorne’s Snowdrop Pixie similarly shows how the natural world is harnessed for childhood games and whimsy. Upon a swing harnessed between two snowdrops sits a pixie in the form of a young girl. The colours are light and cheery and the subject matter plays into childhood fantasies. We are reminded that the garden was once our own place of wonder, adventure, and make-believe. During the Spring and Summer lockdowns of 2020 across the world, gardens have taken on new significance in our lives. Many have found refuge in their personal green space, and others have longed to have one. Dawn Beckles’ Pink Door shows a man-made garden space. On top of a dark wooden decking various pots are placed containing their plants. The pots, like the eponymous door and yellow building are bright and vivid. Whether a garden is small in size, lacks natural resources, or is on the balcony of a high story flat, these spaces are sanctuaries for the people who care for and use them. There has been a vast amount of research done on the health benefits (both mental and physical) of gardening and spending time in green spaces. The garden differs from other natural spaces like the park, woods, or rolling landscape. They are loaded with personal meaning and their enclosed nature reflects this private ownership. As written across Benjamin West’s work, the garden offers Wildlife on Your Doorstep. In this sense the garden becomes a transitory space between “home” and the “wild”, a place where the beauty of nature can be curated and observed. The garden has been a popular subject throughout art history. Not only is the garden an easily accessible model, but it can be used as a symbol of domesticity, security, and homeliness. In Monet Monet Money no. 7, Wayne Sleeth pastiches Monet’s famous works featuring the waterlilies in his garden pond in Giverny. Monet painted at least 250 oil paintings of these waterlilies during the last 30 years of his career. For Monet, like for countless others, his garden was his sanctuary.

Curated by Verity Babbs

Picnic in the Park

"Picnic in the park?" "Picnic in the park." So goes the rallying cry across London and the world as we enter a world where we're allowed to meet friends but can't yet go to the pub. Here are some of our favourite artists' interpretations of what makes up the institution of the modern picnic, from triangles of processed cheese and fresh fruit arrangements to facemask-clad revellers and discarded banana skins.

Curated by Phin Jennings