Carnivals of Clouds · Contemporary Works on Paper

January 12 - February 22 2022

Janet Rady Fine Art is pleased to present Carnivals of Clouds, a group exhibition of international artists, featuring Alice Macdonald, Beatrice Hassell-McCosh, Blessing Ngobeni, Iain Andrews, Jade van der Mark, Kerry Louise Bennett, Koshiro Akiyama, Lindsey Jean McClean, Orla Murray and Yann Leto.

As the name of the exhibition suggests, Carnivals of Clouds is inspired in part by Emily Dickinson’s poem, “Heaven” has different signs – to me”, which comments on our boundless capacity for awe and wonder found in in human relationships, the natural world, and quotidian happenings in our surrounding environment. At once playful, imaginative and evocative, the works reflect the necessity of expression and the lived experience that resonates through us all, while also embodying a psychological tone.

Bringing together ten artists from across the globe, the exhibition encompasses 35 contemporary works produced over the last few years, that in some cases have been influenced by the global pandemic in their sometimes expressive and emotional ruminations on isolation, to works that take on the tradition of landscape or still life, to comment more widely on themes of surrealism and fantasy. The included pieces vary in size, form, texture and technique. The processes used by the artists are as diverse as the makers themselves and the style of their works.  Though the artists deviate in their subject matter, style, and scale, the thread which draws them together is their psychological nature and consideration of form, subject matter, scale, and colour palette, that create works that are both playful yet also expressive of deeper inner truths that can be surreal, fantastical or figurative.

While the work of Macdonald, McClean, and Murray concerns itself with representations of femininity, and the attendant inner psychology of the female experience, through sensitive figurative oil painting, Hassell-McCosh and Bennett explore emotional themes and identity issues through the tradition of landscape and still lives. Though Ngobeni grounds his art in a critical approach to the corruption and incompetence of political regimes such as in his birthplace of South Africa, he uses the artistic grammar of Surrealism and the symbolic force of neo-Expressionism to articulate the fusion of the nightmarish, beautiful and absurd in his captivating images. Contrastingly, Andrews’ work plays with the borders of figuration and abstraction, his ability to be in two worlds at once; the past and the present, the abstract and the figurative, the imagined and the real, reflects his interest in how stories are told and re-told, and perhaps aptly communicates the exhibition’s thesis on our endless capacity for discovery and awe in our surrounding environments.

Van der Mark’s thick bald staring heads superimposed, cropped or collaged speak of her interest in the dichotomy of crowds and human intimacy, and her use of bold and abstracted colour palettes convey a sense of sculptural depth that amplifies their gravitas and surreal psychological quality. Similarly, Akiyama’s idealistic landscapes are psychological in their dealing with utopian ideals and morbidity. His work plays with the balance between tension and relaxation Akiyama believes to be inherent in the human mind and imbues his work with intimate narratives yet also a sense of ambiguity. These often-opposing dualities are fundamental to his work and reflect his artistic approach – that while the figures in his works are presented as vulnerable, they also show the resilience of the human mind that is a symbol of power and beauty.

Each artist treats the themes of surrealism and fantasy differently; in some cases through an observation of the inner psychology of the human form, in other cases, through the examination of natural forms, still lives and landscapes. The works in Carnivals of Clouds are evocative, imaginative, and playful, and reflect the necessity of expression in the lived experience that resonates with us all.

 

Exhibition text by Luli Gibbs and Claire Pearman

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