The rainy day didn’t stop me to head down to StolenSpace Gallery to check out the long awaited and much-talked about exhibitions of the autumn. Especially after some sneak peeks of the works by both Word To Mother and Beau Stanton. The athmosphere at the opening was exciting and the gallery was incredibly packed for the shows. Beau Stanton was kindly drawing on some black books brought in by his followers, Word To Mother was around with his lovely Cali, his studio manager dog and Conor Harrington, Chloe Early, David Shillinglaw, D*Face and Ronzo among other artists were also hanging around.
One of the two front windows welcomes people with the projection of a coloured stained glass rose window. The small room at the entrance has been darkened to enhance the display of Beau Stanton’s new body of work. In fact, ‘Tenebras Lux’ is quite experimental and sees Stanton confronting himself with both imagery and techniques of the religious iconography and sacred spaces. He re-appropriates them, re-imagines their original function and the displacement from their original places gives them new meaning.
These works, previously and temporarily installed in the Crypt of Saint John the Baptist in Bristol, blend ancient techniques and contemporary media and mix symbols familiar in Stanton’s work with classical and christian characters and symbols. The eye gets immediately caught by two anatomical studies that stand out against the exposed wall: very intricate pieces depicting the sections of two human busts, incorporating decorative elements both typical of his previous work and of the sacred stained glass.
On the white walls there are five more LED light framed stained glasses. ‘The Peacock’, which represented the radiance of the sky for the ancient Greeks and the resurrection and immortality for Christians, has been enriched by a detail peculiar to Beau’s work: on the last feathers a single eye depicted in a progression, first closed and culminating into an open one. There is ‘The Moon’or Diana and ‘The Sun’ or Apollo which offer an interesting ‘syncretism’ of Roman Greek gods portayed against a Christian background of precious enameled stained glass.
Apart from some more experimental works, highlighted against black windows there are also three little oil paintings in Beau Stanton’s distinctive style, but which clearly make a reference to the relics of saints.
The big room offers a striking body of work created by Word To Mother. The surroundings where the artist is immersed act as the background of ‘Too Blessed To Be Stressed’. From its title, the show suggests that it is not worth to be stressed in the pursuit of what we don’t have, instead it brings the focus back on what we already have and on the fact that we are already blessed with the simple things that make us happy. The artworks can be divided into three groups: there are layered paintings on wood panels, mixed media paintings on salvaged wood panels and small precious drawings on antique paper. In his peculiar style, Word To Mother keeps playing with textures and writing, enriching the works with details – precious gold triangles, cartoon characters, trees, London iconic buildings – which reveal themselves to the viewer only at a closer and more attentive look.
‘Too Blessed To Be Stressed’, which gives the name to the show, is finely built on the open opposition of different values and goals. In its centre it has the figure of a man who is calmly indulging himself with a cup of tea. He opposes to the bankers, depicted very small against buildings that clearly refer to the City. A skull with blood spurting from the open jaw is close to the Cheshire cat banker and conveys the negative meaning related to that character. The calligraphic references also reflect the visual construction of the work, with a prominent ‘blessed’ on top and a half readable ‘stressed’ drowning in blood.
‘London Loves You’ immediately catches the attention. It is beautifully realised with many architectural details and a very special and intricate writing style. The hooded man immersed in the city environment seems to seek his own space in a place which can be very tough but at the same time still ‘loves you’ and can be inspiring and foster your creativity. The works on salvaged wood look simpler, without many layers of painting but still with catchy details that encourage the observer to reflect about the meaning.
Each single piece is skillfully created and constantly presents the theme underlying the show. Attracted by the gold details, the viewer is drawn to the texture of the work, and invited to discover the beauty which lies behind. This is a metaphor of what is implicit in the title of the exhibition, which reminds people of the beauty hidden in everyday reality.
Connected to this show, there is also a raffle, the proceeds of which go to Eastside Educational Trust. The 100 tickets, hand drawn and screen printed by Word To Mother were all sold out the night of the opening. The raffle will be drawn at the end of the show and the prize is going to be an original framed drawing by the artist.
It is an interesting autumn at StolenSpace Gallery. So if you are in London don’t miss the chance to visit it!
StolenSpace Gallery, 17 Osborn Street, E16TD London.
Chicago, United States of America