Private View: 22/6/16
Cry Violet brings together a group of artists, Jess Littlewood, Anouk Mercier, Nina Mangalanayagam, Nao Matsunaga, Reginald S Aloysius, whose practice references the Ethnosphere. Cry Violet is curated by Reginald Aloysius as part of a new series of artist curated exhibitions for The Contemporary London.
The Ethnosphere is a term coined by anthropologist and ethnobotanist Wade Davis and The National Geographic. In analogy to the inseparable interconnections of the natural world, the Ethnosphere refers to the cultural and spiritual web of life; the Ethnosphere is the sum of human imagination, encompassing, but not limited to all thoughts, beliefs, myths and institutions. Due to the irresistible need to defend the validity of progress, the Ethnosphere accepts and references the inevitable range of understandings of events that become a society’s history and that are often inconsistent with other historical interpretations.
In reflection of the Ethnosphere, the Cry Violet artists bring their own vision and language to the varying views of cultural landscapes, imagined or real, the decay of ideologies, and the memories of myths and rituals. Together their works showcase and explore the wondrous potential of human imagination, thought and creation.
Jess Littlewood’s digital compositions reference the recycling of ideas and aesthetics on a cultural level. Utopian concepts and myth-making embody fundamental needs that are tied up with humanity’s greatest strengths and weaknesses. Utopia is pursued but beyond reach and therefore may only act as a force of destruction and folly.
Anouk Mercier’s fictional collaged landscapes are reminiscent of 17th and 18th century Romantic landscape etchings. In fact, they are created from fragments of existing images. The merged images reference the past with a futuristic proposition. Mercier’s mesmerising compositions capture a yearning for escapism through the portrayal of fragmented yet beautiful ideals, whilst also exploring the mysterious, the abysmal and the uncanny that often lurks beyond.
Nina Mangalanayagam’s work examines the impact of environment, family and society on our identity. Even the closest interpersonal circles show evidence of social issues. Her video ‘Balancing Act’ uses familiar floor-markings in a sports hall to speak of rules, boundaries and nationality while a voiceover weaves together recollections of exclusion by the artist and others.
Nao Matsunaga is concerned with the cultural, physical and ethnological differences that make up cultural identity. As opposed to highlighting diversity, Matsunga references mankind’s similarities. These similarities often manifest in primal cultures and his ceramic amorphic pieces lend their process to this ‘primal culture’
Through his graphite drawings, Reginald S Aloysius explores emigration and the destruction of tradition. Dust, a floor piece drawing made from rice powder, references the fragility of culture and acts, such as the slashing of drawings with a scalpel, that can’t be undone. However, despite the brutality his stunning works retain an alluring essence.
Cry Violet is a species from the violet genus ‘viola’ extinct in the wild by 1930.
Jonny Green’s paintings are precise renderings of very imprecise, rather expressionistic sculptures. Green’s working process is long and labour intensive, beginning with making miniature sculptural objects fabricated from accumulated everyday and discarded, overlooked objects, such as screws, nails, plasticine and electrical tape. The artist then lives with the pieces, discards or edits them, photographing his few selected pieces then paints them. The point of photography is important in Green’s process as this is the moment where most of the decisions are made in terms of its presentation, reducing the subject from 3 dimension to 2, choosing what will be shown and what will be concealed and the painting process is a documentation of these decisions. Once painted, his objects, once flawed and abject are transformed and take on a monumentality and depth not originally present in their original state. Within his process, Green’s works bring to mind ideas of displacement, otherness, metamorphosis, and the abject and the vulnerable. Green explains his approach as one of chasing the human element within his objects, to tell their story and make their voices heard and validate them. Previously creating the sculptures in a ‘stream of conscious’ working process, Green’s latest works are purposefully directed towards portraiture. His paintings thereby exist as portrait and still life, as anthropomorphized objects crossing over to subject, both animate and inanimate. What we, the viewer are presented with is highly realised pictorially yet intentionally ambiguous, we don’t know what we are looking at, its provenance and what its intention is and it is this ambiguity that challenges us.
Bad To The Bone is Jonny Green's first solo exhibition at the gallery, following the success of his highly acclaimed solo presentation at London Art Fair 2016, Art Projects.
Jonny Green’s work has featured in Art Review, a-n, ArtLyst, Tate etc., The Evening Standard, The Guardian, The Independent, Time Out, FAD, Modern Painters and It's Nice That. His work is collected by Deutsche Bank, Hull City Art Gallery, Sony International and the Susan and Bob Summers Collection.
Born 1966, North Yorkshire, United Kingdom. Lives and works in London.