Here are four artists who our Curator recommends keeping an eye out for, and where you can see their work this month.
By Phin Jennings | 01 Feb 2023
With hundreds of art exhibitions opening each month and thousands of artists making work, it can be easy to miss something outstanding. Here are four artists who our Curator recommends keeping an eye out for, and where you can see their work this month.
When I first visited Harriet Gillett’s studio in 2021, I was drawn to a tiny canvas. It contained a crowd of anonymous heads painted in murky greys and purples. Looking out at the viewer, her head turned 90 degrees away from her companions, was a neon pink woman with a face only just discernible through the glow that she emitted. Some months later, Gillett had created a larger version of the same painting, Aurora, for a group exhibition titled Emergence at our Soho gallery. The following year I encountered the pink lady again, this time painted into Deeper Understanding, an even larger painting that was part of Gillett’s MFA degree show presentation at City & Guilds of London Art School. In the years between these encounters, Gillett’s practice has developed and her audience has grown hugely – her work has been shown at the Saatchi Gallery and Soho Revue among other places – but the neon pink hughes and loosely suggested figures remain. Instead of revealing them, her paintings tend to conceal their subjects, their half-rendered faces bringing a sense of mystery and intrigue.
You can see her work in ‘The Picture’ at Brooke Bennington and ‘when i was walking on the edge of a teacup’ at Roman Road.
- Brooke Bennington, 76 Cleveland Street, London, W1T 6NB | 25 Jan – 25 Feb
- Roman Road, 50 Goldborne Road, London, W10 5PR | 19 Jan – 17 Feb 17
Sabrina Shah was also featured in Emergence. Her mixed media painting Bananas depicted a group of three ambivalent-looking painted creatures apprehending a collage of oversized bunches of fruit. Food and faces regularly appear in Shah’s work, not always where or how we would expect them to; a dog eating its own tail, a jack-in-the box wearing a glum expression and a group of creatures who appear to be eating from a pot labelled “bucket list” all feature in the artist’s world. Like Gillett, her work leaves me with more questions than answers – but this time, it’s not “who?” but “why?”. It is a question that many have found compelling, Shah having won the Castlegate Prize, made the John Moores shortlist, and had her work shown with Indigo+Madder and Thorp Stavri among others. To me, her work pokes fun at the many bizarre (and sometime harmful) traditions and customs that we unquestioningly engage in ourselves.
You can see her work in ‘Inside’ at Two Temple Place, organised by Thorp Stavri.
Two Temple Place, London, WC2R 3BD | 28 Jan – 26 Feb
Is Haroun Hayward an abstract painter? Looking at his work, which tends to consist of modular constructions of colour, shape and texture in oil paint and pastel, it might seem like the answer is yes. But when you begin to read into the artist’s influences and sources of inspiration, it becomes less clear. Hayward’s paintings feature references to his favourite DJ’s and producers, the 20th Century British artists who inspire him and his mother’s collection of South Asian and West African textiles. In other words, his work – though far from being portraiture – represents the artist himself in a fuller sense than any figurative work might. To me, Hayward’s works are anything but abstract. Far from being non-representational, they are maps of the artist’s life – made up of visits to art galleries, nightclubs and his family home. Following an outstanding solo exhibition at Indigo+Madder in 2021, he recently gained representation with Hales Gallery, where he will have his first solo exhibition in March.
You can see his work in ‘Abstract Colour’ at Marlborough Gallery and The Moth And The Thunderclap at Modern Art.
Alice Macdonald’s practice spans printmaking, ceramics and painting, depicting people during quiet, contemplative moments in a world where it always seems to be dusk. Rarely do her characters express much emotion; they tend to look ahead – at, or sometimes past – their companions or the viewer, lost in thought. The scenes that she creates feel like fond memories, their colours slightly washed out and their edges softened by time. I recently organised an exhibition at Drake’s on Savile Row, which included Macdonald’s paintings of her subjects reading on the beach, walking in the woods and eating at the table. Since completing the prestigious postgraduate diploma at The Royal Drawing School in 2017, the artist has since shown her work with V.O. Curations, Aleph Contemporary and Oliver Projects among others and is currently working towards her MFA at City & Guilds Art School. With her peaceful way of depicting the world in mind, I’m looking forward to seeing how her work fits into a group exhibition centred around depictions of the sword.
You can see her work in ‘Who holds the sword?’ at Hypha Studios.
Hypha Studios, 50 Celebration Avenue, London, E20 1DB | 27 Jan – 10 Mar