Rosie Snell, Exhale (1998)
1 February – 12 March
20 Cross Street
N1 2BG London
For No 20’s second show, the gallery presents a selection of works from a private collection based in London. The exhibition, composed of fifteen works by twelve emerging and established artists, spans over the past fifty years of contemporary art with a survey that includes abstract and figurative paintings, woodcuts, ceramics and works on paper. Offering unconventional associations between works and artists seldom exhibited together, ‘Twelve at Number Twenty’ aims to explore the diverse relationships amongst artists and their medias.
Terry Frost (b.1915, Leamington Spa, d.2003) is one of the leading artists of the St Ives School. Self-taught, Frost didn’t take up paintings until 1943, when he was a prisoner of war in Germany. Since then, he has made works on paper in a wide variety of mediums, where he employs patterns of interlinked shapes, using drawing and watercolour in the development of his abstract oil paintings.
Sunghoon Yang (b.1967, Deagu) is a Korean artist who explores the nature of objects through the delicate texture of their surface, which encourages viewers to associate his work with human skin. For instance, in the Memory series, blots and imperfections on the pots’ glaze remind us of the marks that one can find on a cheek or a forehead.
Charlotte Barker (b.1986, North Yorkshire) graduated from the Royal College of Art in 2015 and Glasgow School of Art in 2010. She is intrigued by the irregularities of the hand-made object and by the creative territory that lies between impulse, intuition and technical skill. The monochromatic glazed ceramic Shell is a large-scale pot that explores such variations of form.
Paula Rego (b. 1935, Lisbon) is a Portuguese-born visual artist who is particularly known for her paintings and prints based on storybooks. Rego’s style has evolved from abstract towards representational and has favoured pastels over oils for much of her career. The mother/grandmother is a recurrent figure in her pictures: not only as a matronly figure, but also as a reference to the conflicted relationship she had with her own mother.
Known for sculptures in which the union between organic forms and sensual materials verges on the sublime, Anish Kapoor (b.1954, Mumbai) maps a terrain demarcated by a plastic vocabulary of voids, circles, and squares. Kapoor’s gouaches have been an integral aspect of his practice from the start, and in them the viewer can discern the forms and colours that dominate his sculptural works. Unlike the voids in his sculpture that descend into the depths of forms, the almond-shaped oblongs that appear in many of his gouaches have a presence that seems to radiate outward.
Jenny Saville (b. 1970, Cambridge) is a British painter widely celebrated for her large-scale depictions of nude women. Captivated by the endless aesthetic and formal possibilities of the materiality of the human body, Jenny Saville makes a highly sensuous and tactile impression of surface and mass in her monumental oil paintings. Pure visceral mountains of flesh are stripped bare and left to the judgement of the spectator’s gaze.
Rosie Snell’s (b. 1971, Littlehampton) disquieting landscapes bear the inscription of a disconcerting past. There is no human in sight and her subjects, presented at considerable distance, show a deserted inactive scenario. Nature feels as an extension of human loneliness. Looking closer at her paintings one discovers that various textures such as sand for soil, rust and aluminium strips are applied in the oil-based medium, revealing unforeseen layers to the original smoothness.
Alison Watt (b. 1965, Greenock) first came to public attention in 1987 when she won the National Portrait Gallery’s coveted annual award while still a student at Glasgow School of Art. Her recent work demonstrates a deep fascination with the possibilities of the suggestive power of fabric, however, in the 1980s Watt was painting mostly realistic studies of dramatic figurative scenes such as After the Bath (1989). The women in this painting look like they are holding in a thought. Perhaps hinting that the intention of Watt’s painting is cerebral, not sensual, which is also emphasized by the balance of texture and control in the actual act of painting.
Elaine Watt (b.1965) is a British artist who paints mostly on abstract landscapes. Rich, long brush strokes in complex layers, trails of thick oil paint inhabit her canvases and the heavily worked surfaces become a form of a landscape in themselves.
Having painted and lived under the stars in the Australian outback, in the Sahara desert and in the North Sea on an oilrig, Sarah Chalmers (b.1957) would describe herself as a nomadic artist. Chalmers has a natural flair for capturing the mood of a landscape. Her watercolours are full of light and of an atmosphere which is powerfully evocative of the places she paints.
Katsutoshi Yuasa (b. 1978, Tokyo) makes woodcut prints from his own digital photographs, investigating whether photography is printmaking or not. By combining two processes – the camera’s snapshot and the woodcut’s lengthy reinterpretation of the same image – he wishes to crystallise the atmospheric and emotional character of his subjects. His pieces take weeks to complete, transforming his ephemeral subjects into haunting images, as beautiful up close and from a distance.
Andrew Vass’s (b.1961, d.2015) drawings start from an experience of landscape that is common to everybody when one moves through a space. Vass's work is bound up with the fusion of mark making and looking: they record the probing of the eye as it is translated into a materiality. In his spatial drawings Vass’s perceptual journeys and bodily displacements is transmitted through the way his hand manipulates charcoal or pastel – each mark is a trace of the shape an observed landscape took in his mind.