What is the current nature of painting? If JUNE: A Painting Show at Soho’s Sadie Coles is anything to go by, it’s ethereal, two-dimensional – in terms of perspective, not meaning – and ever so slightly erotic.
This exhibition is a group show, collating the work of fourteen artists from across the globe. Some are past but most are very current, and all have a predilection for the unusual. All artists look at the human form within the wider world, in some cases hyper-real, in others dreamlike. There are many references to the last century of painting here, but always with a new twang.
Jonathan Gardner, in his early thirties and trained at the Art Institute of Chicago, has references to late modernism and surrealism in his paintings, which depict ordinary scenes in a somewhat disjointed manner. In his works, figures recline in rooms that are slightly too flat, where clean, crisp lines draw together realism and surrealism to meet somewhere in the middle.
By contrast, Filipino artist Rodel Tapaya paints collage-like compositions in truly bizarre, vibrant tones that capture a post-surrealist chaos, where the precision and obvious metaphors of the 20th century have been replaced by a cacophony of images and subjects. This work appears both old and new, referencing tribal and folk imagery, with a craft-like aesthetic.
Despite the youthful energy and progressive nature of the show, the older artists (and a few late artists) are all on the same page. Co Westerik, now in his nineties, works with a contradiction of flatness and depth, depicting the sexualized female body alone, in stark surroundings, where recognizable objects are twisted into peculiar forms.
All the painters in this show are very strong, and it’s interesting to see the individual quirks that come from around the world. There are artists from Baghdad, France, Germany, Japan and Melbourne, all fitting with this cross-movement influence, all taking something from the past and transforming it to create a painting style that is contemporary and relevant.
JUNE: A Painting Show runs until 15 August at Sadie Coles