This year The Dot Project will be the youngest gallery exhibiting in the history of Art 16 and Zane Lewis’s monumental and tonally playful images will light up their space at Olympia. Lewis will also show later in the year at The Dot Project gallery space to coincide with Frieze. Inclusion in Art 16 indicates the status of this youthful but precocious gallery, which was founded by interior designer turned gallerist India Whalley almost a year ago and is dedicated to dynamic and innovative curatorial support of their impressive stable of artists.
The gallery is currently abuzz for the new exhibition, which opened to a crowed room and showcased four of their young artists all of whom have already garnered a huge amount of interest within the art world from the likes of the Saatchi behemoth to Marcus Harvey of Turps Banana. Painting Made Me Do It is a group show focused on the physical act of painting with ideas drawn from Michael Blackwood’s documentary A Life Lived about the life of Philip Guston and features work from Hannah Bays, Asger Harbou Gjerdevik, George Little and Jessie Makinson.
Hannah Bays won the Jerwood Purchase Prize two years ago. Since graduating from The Royal Academy School she works in tandem with many of her RA graduate year, citing the continued group element as hugely important. On leaving art school it is not uncommon to feel a chill and loose momentum but Bays seems to be determinedly focused on work. Described as ‘spontaneous, painterly, gestural;’ what I particularly liked about her paintings in this show was the history of marks behind abstract shapes and the palette of pastels. Her colour, which was pronounced ‘seductive’ and often on ‘the brink of nausea’ in the Royal Academy catalogue only serves to add tension to her work in this show, most obvious in Untitled (Happy Pill), 2016 which brings the viewer into a space not altogether comfortable but compulsively examinable.
Space and setting is central to the work in this show. George Little’s paintings, influenced by a childhood in the kitchens of Soho use the red and white check and stripe pattern motif across the three works exhibited here. Little has exhibited in venues from The Bussey Building to the Saatchi Gallery and the Untitled Art Fair in Miami. His wide range of materials, and use of mixed media, add to the work all the hectic and highly sociable elements that reflect the passion the artist has in his subject and which are so successfully translated to the viewer. I felt almost as though I am sitting outside in the London sunshine, which made such an astonishing appearance last weekend. It was the small details that particularly added energy to the show, the frame for Perennial, 2016 that didn’t quite touch at some points and at others extended past the image added dynamism to his already vividly busy work.
Detail, Soul Train, 2016, Asger Harbou Gjerdevik
In Blackwood’s documentary Phillip Guston talks about ‘a moment…a time, when a third hand is [painting]’ which I think most readily applies when looking at the work of Asger Harbou Gjerdevik. Tall and serious, he talked to me about his influences, which were myriad and span time and geography. From the German Neo-Expressionists of the 70’s, to the contemporary Italian artist Francesco Clemente and all the way back to Pre Rennaissance painters and Gioto. Of all the images in the show Asyger's painting Soul Train, 2016 was the one that I most connected too. Reminiscent of Rauschenberg and with the wild freedom of Francis Bacon, the painting glowed with a wonderful palette and certainty of line, which drew the viewer in with its childlike abandon and exciting use of materials which he described as ‘anti formula, tactile and sculptural’. The point of using wool to paint on is to break out of the mould of painting as such.
Having graduate from the Royal Drawing School’s Drawing Year course 2012, in a review of the program Jessie Makinson describes drawing as a central part of her practice. Her complex work shows a fine painterly detail, which can only be grasped from a thorough understanding of a subject through drawing. This combined with a fluid and expressive painting style give her work intense depth. In Fake French, 2016 the eye is concerned as much with the fine detail of the shoe as with the face or Makinson’s successful creation of space. Creation of space being most relevant with the bold hang of the largest works in this exhibition in the smaller basement space, a surprising success from the two curators Kwaku Boateng and Amy Purssey. Ask nicely and they may let you sneak a peak into the office to see Cosy Girl, 2015, which isn’t part of the exhibition but is detailed in the catalogue. Less abstract than Fake French, Cosy Girl pulls the viewer into the dialogue of its confusing but colorful image.
When asked about his changing style in A Life Lived Guston tells his questioner ‘you’re working in this style or that style, what you’re doing is trying to stay alive’. The nature of creating, of painting is of the new and exciting, ‘trying to stay alive’, to stay relevant but furthermore to progress your practice to new and exhilarating levels. These four artists have certainly captured Guston’s ideal. Furthermore it is clear that The Dot Project is proving to be an invigorating wake up call to the lately sleepy Chelsea art scene. The gallery’s mission statement signifies passion, which is bringing back to life the artistic element which first brought Chelsea to the fore in the 19th Century, not just ‘trying to stay alive’ but emerging as a gallery successfully living to its fullest extent.
Painting Made Me Do It is on at The Dot Project, 94 Fulham Road until 24th June.
Written by Beatrice Hasell-McCosh
Editorial Assistant at Arteviste.com