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Britannic Myths by Joe Machine See the Light at CNB Gallery

  • joe machine exhibition november december young stuckist 2014 group
February 14, 2016
Behind the pseudonym of Lor Dethal lies Nemanja Torlak, a writer for Widewalls intrigued and moved by diversity in art and in the lives of those who create it. It is often the unexpected that come forth and surprise us, and art is a world that allows it and makes it possible. David beats the Goliath daily, and writing about it is a pleasure.

Mythology has been an influential factor in many of life’s segments throughout history, including religion, literature, and of course art. How believable they may be along with their purpose has changed with the people that interpret them, and many of the myths that were even subjective to a certain nation or area got appropriated and changed. Such is the case of many British Isle-related myths, whose appearance can be tied to the times of invasions and conquest. Depicting some of these, the British artist Joe Machine works in collaboration with the academic and writer Dr Steven O’Brien in order to create his latest body of work. Displaying it in an exhibition titled Britannic Myths, the CNB gallery presents a second solo show by the acclaimed artist.

joe machine exhibition
Left: Joe Machine – The Tuatha De Danaan, 2015 / Right: Joe Machine – The Lenna Sidh, 2015

Autobiographical Art

Born in 1973, Joe Machine (Joseph Stokes) started painting around 1988 in an attempt to escape the background of theft. Without any formal art training or a college degree, he was one of the thirteen founders of the anti-conceptual art group called Stuckists, with which he widely exhibited. “Painting and writing have been far better for me than any of the mistakes I made in stealing and fighting” said Machine, and the life experiences of sex and violence influence his art, and are obvious in his strongly autobiographical paintings. A prize winner in the Cork Street Open Exhibition in London in 2012, some of his recent shows include Woland ART SPACE at Porto Piccolo Gallery in Trieste (2015); Fairytales – Russian and British at Russian Cultural Centre in the UK (2014); Alice in the Wonderland/ Alice in the Artworld at Omnibus in London (2014), and Machine Evolution at CNB Gallery in London (2013).

joe machine exhibition
Left: Joe Machine – Herne the Hunter, 2015 / Right: Joe Machine – Weyland, 2015

Visual Mythology

Thomas Mann wrote: “For the myth is the foundation of life; it is the timeless schema, the pious formula into which life flows when it reproduces its traits out of the unconscious,” and Joe Machine’s paintings aren’t far from this statement. Pouring life of various myths into the canvas, he tells stories that have existed for ages through his detailed paintings. Writing Britannia Stories which explores twenty myths associated with the British Isles, Dr Steven O’Brien has influenced the artist as much as his paintings have influenced the book. Working closely together, they reexamine the timeless struggles of the human spirit,  emphasizing the importance of myths even in today’s world.

joe machine exhibition
Joe Machine – St. Dunstan & The Devil, 2015

Joe Machine Exhibition at CNB Gallery in London

The stories of old are present in every part of the world, and they have survived the centuries due to the intriguing message or story they convey. Seeing them visually represented by the artist transmits its energy further, creating a memento for the generations to come. With twenty myths finding their way into the Britannia Stories, the show is sure to leave an impression. The Britannic Myths exhibition displaying paintings by Joe Machine starts on February 19th at CNB gallery in London, and will be on view until March 13th, 2016.

Featured image: Joe Machine – Math, Son of Mythonwy (detail), 2015. Images courtesy of CNB Gallery.