Just what is it...?
Cristea Roberts Gallery is pleased to announce Just what is it…?, a group exhibition bringing together paintings and works on paper from four artists, new to the gallery, whose practice examines the concept and meaning of ‘home’, the definition of which has shifted for so many during the COVID-19 pandemic. The title of the exhibition is taken from Richard Hamilton’s iconic 1956 collage Just what is it that makes today’s homes so different, so appealing?, which was created for the exhibition This is Tomorrow at the Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, and became a symbol of British Pop Art.
In very different ways, all four of these artists are creating highly personal domestic spaces that reflect the world they live in and their place within it.
Explore the four artists and selected works below. If you would like to receive a preview of all the works that will feature in the exhibition, or information about pricing, please contact the gallery via [email protected].
Is it possible to paint the smell of fresh pine needles or the sound of jasmine tea being poured into a porcelain cup? British artist Charlotte Keates (b. 1990, Somerset) has made a new series of paintings of domestic spaces that attempt to recreate a sensation or feeling from a moment in our past. Keates has always painted spaces that are a combination of memory and imagination, but in these new works she is challenging herself to create a moment where all our senses come alive. ‘My starting point of reference is often a section of a space that I remember, or something that I have seen lately. This triggers the painting to evolve in a way that is unknown to me at first. I want for the viewer to first be convinced by the interior or architectural structure, but when looking closer they may discover parts that are improbable, impossible - a sort of dreamscape…’. Stairs that lead to nowhere and floating floors make an otherwise familiar setting appear slightly surreal. ‘I want for the viewer to feel something, whether it is nostalgia or comfort or longing to be somewhere else. I like that people often feel a sense of familiarity with the spaces, as if they have once been there before.’
American artist Karen Lederer’s (b. 1986, New York) paintings and monoprints focus on the items in our daily, domestic life, combining objects from her imagination with objects from current consumer culture. Plants, pets, drinks and snacks all appear in her work. As with Shindler, Lederer often includes other artist’s work in her own paintings, but in this case they are usually depicted in reproduction, on mugs, posters or books: ‘I’m very interested in how artists influence one another…. I like to directly quote artworks by others as a way of calling attention to this web of influence and making it clear to the viewer who I am in dialogue with.... Because I come from a printmaking background, I think a lot about the idea of reproduction and how our relationship to images changes when they are copied from the original.’ Her images appear constructed in a specific way; she is particularly interested in Instagram and how we see so many mediated images nowadays.
‘My paintings echo the digital manipulation of real life. I often include objects that have been swept up in the cultural moment, like Aperol. With many of the products in the paintings, I poke fun at a hipster consumer culture with which I am hopelessly complicit. I also often draw objects that I have in my studio or home. In that sense, the paintings reflect my life and my city.’
Hungarian artist Zsofia Schweger’s (b. 1989, Szeged) practice is informed by her experience of moving countries; she is interested in human relationships to place in general and the notions of home and belonging in particular. ‘My work is driven by an interest in the concept of home. The overarching, big-picture question I’ve built my practice around is “what is home and where am I at home?” This is informed by my personal narrative, my experience as a Hungarian living abroad since age 16, first in the U.S. and now in the UK.
'I am acknowledging the fluid nature of the concept of home; the fact that its definition is rooted in both place and time, and thus will likely change throughout our lives. I have focused on my changing relationships to certain spaces. Exploring the motif of domestic interiors has been an obvious choice.’
For this exhibition Schweger has made a new series of paintings of London interiors, both domestic spaces that are personal to her and public spaces where she finds solace. Schweger has made London her home for the past seven years and wants to depict that dual feeling of belonging and alienation. As an EU citizen living in the UK, how does it feel to have to apply for settled status, in a place where she has felt settled for so long? Has this process changed her relationship to the city she has called home for so many years? ‘I get nervous about sharing my personal perceptions of home - admitting that I no longer feel at home in Hungary or that although I feel at home in the UK, I worry if according to Brexit-driven ideologies, I don’t belong.’
American artist Polly Shindler (b. 1977, New Haven, Connecticut) creates small, intense paintings of interior domestic spaces, filled with furniture, objects and artwork. ‘My interest in creating these rooms grew first from an investigation of solitude and retreat. I had just relocated to a quieter space and my focus quickly changed from abstraction to a representational response to my immediate surroundings. Soon I began creating fictional (and sometimes aspirational) spaces with more of my attention being paid to composition and more formal concepts. I now consider color, pattern and texture in an architectural and art historical context when creating each work. My interest in both classical styles and modern designs create a scaffold for the space I want to construct.’
Often the objects in the room are recognisable classic design pieces or paintings by well-known twentieth-century masters: ‘This is aspirational and intended to be a bit surreal. I like to introduce surprising elements, paying homage to artists and movements that I feel make an uncanny sense in the area. I find inspiration in so many different things, so I use the opportunity to honor as many artists and designers as I want. For example, I am not a Suprematist but I love Suprematist painting so I take advantage. I try to give credit where possible to shine a light on my influences.’