Johnny Izzat Lowry, Robin Megannity, Jessica Wetherly, Ellie Pratt, and Shinuk Suh.
San Mei Gallery, curated by Subsidiary Projects and Jeanette Gunnarsson.
The exhibition brings together five artists, in an exploration of loneliness and isolation. ONE, the loneliest number- considers isolation as a physical space that we all inhabit. Questioning what it means to be solitary, outside of, and isolated within our contemporary, globalised, and digital world. ONE explores this notion, not in the sense of the misanthropic, but considering the structural, institutional, political, and personal perspectives. Conceptualised in November 2019, prior to the current pandemic, the concept of the exhibition became an omen of what was to come. The five artists have been able to further question the notion of “ONE” throughout the year and have generated work reflecting on this theme, as “isolation” takes on a new dimension and meaning.
Johnny Izzat Lowry
Izzat Lowry works from photoshopped images, to create flat surrealist and detached imagery. The colour pallet he uses is muted, with grayscale shades and he creates his images by rubbing dry pigment and pastel directly into the course crepe fabric. The works switch from animate to inanimate, an offset version of reality that gives an uncanny sense of artificiality, dreamscapes, or film stills. The subjects of these works are zoomed in and the viewer encounters headless, bodiless figures, the canvases themselves become an object, somewhat sculptural in their scale and rendering. Through this, the paintings lose their human qualities, becoming a still life or a representation of human absence and memory.
Megannity is interested in the relationship between the painterly and the digital- he meticulously renders his paintings but deliberately places imperfect frames around them- so the "imageness" of the work becomes very apparent. Megannity wants to make work that communicates the complex, unstable and nuanced experience of being alive today. The viewer encounters intimacy and privacy, but robin also plays with the tension of the moment, giving something more sinister. The work in ONE is a meeting of opposites- intimacy met by denial, connection by detachment, Tenderness met by performativity. The imagery for the work is sourced digitally, things like found images from cameras, 3D modeling software, or internet search algorithms. The digital image, sourced through a screen, provides something artificial, vacant, and detached. The artificiality, the barrier of the screen gives this detachment and vacancy but also a quality close to a fetish - an alluring and transgressive fixation.
Wetherly often works with installations to build otherworldly sci-fi environments and landscapes, investigating the blindness within anthropogenic society towards nature and the consequent erosion of natural habitats. By exploring the domestication and digitalization of humans and their lived experiences, Wetherly considers how we have created an existence that is separated and isolated from the ecosystem we inhabit. The work that she makes strives to see the irony in this by challenging our viewpoint to consider the contemporary human activity as alien. the question, do we have to remain in an isolated digital sphere or can we reconnect with nature?
Pratt is a painter's painter with an exquisite understanding of light, paint, composition, and painterly mark-making. Pratt is interested in the way images are consumed within our contemporary world due to social media and media consumption in general. As she says: “images now are public snapshots of a private life”. And she sources the imagery for her paintings from fashion magazines, and art history and looks at how the female figure is understood. female figures are often pictured alone and isolated, in dark domestic interiors, or backlit by sublime landscapes. Capturing a quiet but confident moment using light and the way the surface of the work glows. The paintings play on ideas of an inside and an outside world and using the “snapshot” moment gives the viewer a sense of transience and a fleeting moment.
Suh is a sculptor that examines ideologies, both from his home country of South Korea and more widely considering the social and consumerist structures that dictate our lives. In his work, he thinks about the deprivation and isolation that we can feel when we are different and outside of the systems and ideologies that we are placed in. In "Hey, It's Me!" Shinuk has created the ideal human body in the age of capitalism. The marble-looking body parts are 3D printer rendered plastic, and they are held on a steel structure. The head and stomach are interchangeable in this body, visually exemplifying the idea of capitalist consumption.