Connectivity in Diversity
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Art, like thought, is about making connections. Connections both vulgar and pure; connections with people, with place; connections of the mind. Connectivity can propagate the same by increasing the means of consolidating a collective identity, or it can bring difference together into a shared space and welcome it, giving different people, cultures and ideas a bit of space.
We live in a time dominated by the former, but, leaving that to facebook, art in the latter breaks down conceptual, intellectual and creative boundaries by questioning them nakedly (think R. Mutt). Some of this, after a time, crosses over into the social body, dissipating boundaries as new ideas spread and doors are opened in people’s minds to the possibility of other ways of thinking, creating, and living; or even just the possibility of other doors at all. Thus art makes boundaries fluid. But when times are harder, people poorer, voices shriller and communities more isolated, fluidity and nuance recede; borders get rebuilt; simple, straightforward ways of thinking are seized – there’s no blunter weapon than a soundbite (ahem) – and people have less time and space for difference, less time and space for art.
Borders and boundaries appear to be in season these days. Yet fluidity of national borders, national identities, national ideas, is central to difference and central to art. In fact, boundaries are antithetical to art, which allows for change, the new, the unknown. By being willing to accept things we do not know we offer the world our hand. If we are hopeful, we will not assume the world will bite us like a rabid dog. If we are fearful, we will wear a glove and never touch, share or feel a thing. Hands that never see daylight, feel air or touch other living things eventually shrivel, become gangrenous, and die.
Connectivity – as a space for sharing and exchange – is the doorway to diversity, to welcoming diverse ways of thinking, being, doing, and changing the way things are as a result; and diversity – as a platform for the new, as a platform for all this – is the air that art, culture and new thinking lives on. Connectivity and diversity are two sides of the same coin and they both do the same thing: break down boundaries and create change. Ask Patrick who co-founded Gabriel Fine Arts and he’ll tell you, probably twice: ‘creativity has no boundaries’.
The only way we can prevent the world from crushing difference, crushing art, is to ceaselessly encourage and celebrate diversity; diversity of thought, diversity of people, diversity of art and the connections we can make between people.
Gabriel Fine Arts aims to create a space where people from around the world can join in their shared appreciation of creativity, connectivity, art and diversity. Art and Emotion (one of their recent exhibitions) had 26 artists from around the globe (big up Guatemala!); this Autumn will see Haitian art, the art of politics, and in this opening, Intersection, more artists from around the world with different ideas that challenge us. Among the many things that we need at the moment, it’s to be challenged.
The gallery is now based in Canary Wharf, a boats throw away from the trade routes of the past through which England begged, borrowed and stole its polyglot of identities from other countries, peoples and cultures. The language we speak, the thoughts we think in here in London, are a cauldron of past and present cultures from other parts of the planet. This place has been a part of that for centuries: an intersection, where many paths meet. We are going to celebrate that, and through art, keep connecting, keep diversifying, keep challenging, keep creating.
Exhibiting Artists: Max Baccanello, Dorota Bardyszewska, Isabelle Beaubien, Sholto Blissett, Kelly Carter, Saffron Harper Gow, Brad Kenny, Arkadiusz Kulesza, Carolina Leven, Shavkat Muratov, Mary Anne Nguyen, Anastasia Olarou, Sara Abdalla Ozongwu, Tony Pro, Fiona Rennie Schwieters, Chris Rivers, Kingsley Thompson, Robert Wilkinson
Fri 9th September 6-10pm
Featuring dance performance by
interactive performance by
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Anastasia is a Russian born artist specialising in human and animal portraiture in painting and sculpture.
Having moved to the UK as a child, and often returning to visit her hometown, she has witnessed the vast difference between people's perception of animals across different cultures. Through her art she offers the image of animals in a less categorised and purpose led context - elevating them to eye level. Her aim is to provide a platform for the model, stripped of its original context, to converse with the viewer. So as not to lead the viewer to a predetermined conclusion, her portraits are de-cluttered, dedicated solely to the life within them. In that way the model has a chance to speak for themselves.
Interested in expanding her work beyond canvas, she gained a degree in character creation and technical effects from the University of Hertfordshire, and worked as a prop maker and sculptor in the film industry prior specialising in portraiture. Passionate about experimentation and pushing the boundaries of her media, her experience with materials from that time sparked in her a love for blending traditional aesthetic with modern techniques.
Colour, it's subtleties - or lack thereof - and the illusions it can create are important in her work. She takes great pleasure adding spice by augmenting natural tones with an accent of brightness. She is currently investigating how psychology could inform the enhancement of the visual experience and create a better journey for the viewer.
Arkadiusz Kulesza was born in 1980 in Zgierz, Poland. He has lived in London for 10 years, and is a self-taught artist.
“I am a self-taught artist. I have lived in London (UK) for 10 years. Abstract painting is my true passion and my spirit. I continuously experiment each day to push myself to my creative limits. Squares, frames, arcs and circles are the things I like to paint the most. However, there must always be some kind of light and shadow - I like when shapes appear to be popping out of the canvas like a 3D effect. I love when light breaks through the squares or glass. That wakes me up and gets me excited.”
The truth is - without light there would be nothing to paint!
Brad Kenny is a freelance contemporary artist and was born in Epsom, Surrey in 1992.
He achieved an MA & BA (Hons) Degree in Fine Art from the University of Chichester, following a ‘Triple Distinction’ : BTEC National Diploma in Art & Design at Brooklands College ,Weybridge, Surrey.
His inspiration and influences has been gathered from artists such as Francis Bacon, Jenny Saville, Andrew Salgado, Cecily Brown, Matthew Burrows, Frans Hales. His current style and technique is of abstract representation. The abstract element of his paintings allows him a form of expression which focuses on the human condition for the contemporary age.
Artist about his work:
“My practice drives me to explore the human condition through portrait/figurative representation. I am inspired by Hong Kong based artist, Simon Birch, (born UK, 1974), who recently said 'I paint the human body. I paint life, raw, loved and unloved, thrashing and twisting, falling, arms outstretched trying to protect ourselves from the future'. Recently I explored my own experiences of extreme personal emotions through self-portraiture and a series of figurative paintings, inspired by dance, to explore a metaphorical/spiritual/physical representation, of recovery. I am drawn to a subject by their style and strength of character. Drawing on my own emotional experiences, I feel, allows me to capture authenticity of emotion in my paintings.
I identify with contemporary artist, Antony Micallef, (born UK, 1975), recently stated 'I'm terribly dyslexic so painting and drawing became a way of expressing myself'. I too find that painting speak in a way that, for me, is not easily written or verbally expressed; it is a way of communicating and interpreting. My preferred style of abstract mark-making, with very often, the application of non-representational colours, is an instinctive process. I am fascinated by magic of applying paint to a two dimensional surface, to create visual/physical representations of a person projecting consciousness, identity, emotion and evoking a reaction.”
"Painting is like traveling to an unknown destination, where anything can happen and change overtime."
Joy, emotions and a more colorful living is the goal of the Carolinas art. Vibrant colors are a characteristic of her paintings that together create their own idiom. The motive of her work changes as her creativity is guided by lust and curiosity - but recurring motifs are flowers and silhouettes.
Chris is a self taught artist from Manchester who comes from a background of art and music who begin painting in around 2013.
Alongside doing his artwork Chris is also the drummer for UK rock band 'Heaven's Basement', which has toured worldwide alongside bands ranging from Aerosmith to Papa Roach.
"I don't believe in a right or wrong way with anything creative. I enjoy the challenge of trying to invent new unique styles and techniques through the process of trail and error. I’m attracted to the darker and weirder side of anything, I love anything that is thought provoking and leaves room for the viewer to make up his / her own story.
I love going into the unknown and painting with a certain amount of not having a plan, I never want to get into a comfort zone. I describe my style as quite surrealistic, a lot of dark with contrasts of light both in the subject of my paintings aswell as the actual choice of colours I use."
Born in Nidzica, Poland, Dora graduated from high school with a biological profile and studied Philosophy for one year at the famous Jagiellonian University in Cracow but her love of artistic creation led her in another direction. In 1992 she graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw with an MA in Fine Arts. Dora studied painting, drawing, graphics and graphic design, photography, illustration, sculpture, animation, poster, and industrial design. Dora has been living and working in London since 2013. In 2015 she focused on portraits.
As a painter, she creates her pictures in acrylics, oils, pastels and mixed media. She takes her inspiration from literature, the street, traveling or just from life. With her paintings and installations she took part in several individual and collective exhibitions in Poland, Spain and the UK.
In 2009 Dora established the Foundation ARTEFAKT , to design and realize the contemporary monument “Cigarette Sailors of the Three Cross Square”. The memorial refers to the famous story of Polish Jewish children from the Warsaw Ghetto during the Second World War. It represents children's footprints imprinted in the pavement next to the image of abandoned lying newspaper plaques from the Second World War period.
The project was made at the request of members of the Warsaw social group and received support and approval from the authorities of Warsaw to be realised in the historic place in the center of the city called The Square of the Three Crosses.
Fiona Rennie Schwieters
Fiona Rennie Schwieters, born in Whanganui, New Zealand in 1961.
She works predominantly in lost wax cast glass crystal, and site specific works from bronze, glass and stone. Fiona completed her B.V.A in sculpture at A.U.T. in 1996. Her work is exhibited in galleries and sculpture parks both locally and internationally. Her first solo show was at Artstation 1983.
Fiona’ s sculptural practice comes from her love of nature and its connections with people through visual storytelling. The world is full of wonderment and possibilities. Healing, balance, attunement and our ability to create spaces in our physical world to connect with the forces found in nature.
Themes include direct casts from nature, underwater worlds, mythical beasts, vessels, aural and environmental healing.
Artist about her work:
“I became a glass sculptor after a trip to Italy in 2000. I had been carving New Zealand limestones for ten years and wanted to carve marble in Pietra Santa, historically a mecca for sculptors, carvers and bronze casters. Botero was exhibiting enormous bronzes in the Piazza. I was inspired to experiment with a different medium.
When I returned to New Zealand I worked at Artworks for six months gaining skills in bronze casting. I did a course with David Reid at the Studio Gallery Workshop in lost wax glass casting. This led to me sharing a glass casting studio with Sam Ireland and Greg Smith for 3 years in Kingsland, and exhibiting in the Studio Gallery. In 2005 I set up my studio in Grey Lynn with a kiln and a flamework torch, and have been glass casting using mainly local Gaffer Glass since then.”
Isabelle was born in Montreal in 1980 and completed her studies in Fine Art at Concordia University in Montreal. She then moved to the South of France to specialize in Contemporary Art where she got a Masters Degree from The Villa Arson, Nice. She has lived and worked in London for the past 7 years.
Her attraction to uncertainty through her spontaneous technique, and that she can never predict the final result of her work provokes a surprisingly happy reaction when the colors happen to interact perfectly with each other. She says that she would never retouch a painting, it’s a one shot experience. Isabelle is someone who has strong control of her surroundings, allowing her the freedom needed to create an amazing piece or art.
Inspired by two of the most important artist of this century, Donald Judd and Gerard Richter, Isabelle Beaubien’s mixed media paintings combine vibrant, dynamic colors that generate excitement and emotion. Similar to Richter’s technique, she does not paint with brushes; but takes a chance in one stroke that could or could not result in a great painting. Isabelle is also very attracted by minimal art, which is why her work is a mixture of the colorful, glossy, and perfect sculptures of Donald Judd and the surprising and blurry paintings of Richter.
The effect of her work is the outcome of a combination of acrylic paint and a resin that creates a highly glossy finish and illusion of depth. The thickness of the finished canvas result in a sculptural effect creating a truly unique object on the wall.
Kelly has considered herself an artist since she could hold a crayon as well as coming from a solid base of excelling in Art at Ucluelet Secondary School and completing a distant education commercial art program. Kelly has worked in pencil sketch, water colour, acrylic and photography, however her heart belongs to pyrographic art which is a fancy way of saying wood burning.
Kelly has lived across Vancouver Island, British Columbia Canada from Ucluelet to Victoria and back again settling her roots just outside of Ucluelet where she is currently in the works of creating a home studio which she hopes to open to the public sometime in the near future.
Wood burning is her passion with endless resources of artist conks and a variety of wood products that she sources out in her area. She continually finds new ideas and inspiration in the outdoor world that surrounds her natural way of life. Her pieces range in size from 1cm squared to 170 cm squared and she continually challenges herself to create larger pieces. Because Kelly works with natural canvases she incorporates the natural flaws of the canvases into her work.
About her work:
“There is nothing as creative as the flaws of nature...Studying the canvases that I acquire has much influence on the design that is chosen. All imperfections on the chosen canvas whether it be fungus or wood are incorporated into the design.”
“I am a Textile Artist, exhibiting in both in this country and abroad. My work is contemporary and individual - each piece being a ‘one-off’. Medium to large in size, I take commissions as well as having a body of work for sale.
On a visit to York Cathedral some years ago, the excavations exposing all the layers of which that great city is built fascinated me. When looked at closely, everything would appear to be constructed in layers; trees, clouds, plants etc. I like to respond to this, when creating each new piece. For me, each piece of work I produce should have an element of experimentation, allowing it to develop and surprise.
I start by ‘snow-dyeing’ my background fabric, as this creates exciting and unexpected results, adding a mix of block and screen- printing. To this are added layers of dyed and printed fabrics which are mostly recycled, and free-machine stitch. Having been lucky enough to live in Suffolk and Devon, two very beautiful areas of the country, I base most of my pieces on the natural world.”
MaryAnne Nguyen is an American artist born in Fort Wayne, Indiana in 1980. She earned her Bachelors of Fine Arts degree at Herron School of Art and Design in Indianapolis. Since graduating in 2006 she has been a dedicated studio painter, muralist and portrait artist. She moved to England in 2016 and works from her studio in Reigate.
Nguyen’s love of nature is evident throughout her portfolio. She prefers to paint with oils on wood or canvas and works from direct observation with the subject present whenever possible. Though she often paints from her own photographs when necessary. She paints not only for likeness but for a genuine realness that one can only achieve with a keen eye for detail.
Her artwork is in private collections throughout the US and Europe.
Maximillion Baccanello is a London based artist focused on the human form and figurative arts. He completed his foundation course in Fine Art at Chelsea College of Art & Design, University of the Arts London, in 2006 having received the art scholarship from Shrewsbury School. Max was classically trained at Charles Cecil Studios in Florence Italy, where tuition was focused on academic portraiture in the lineage of traditional representational art. It was at Charles Cecil where he studied the human anatomy and found his inspiration drawing from life models. His dynamic and powerful figure drawings capture both a classical and contemporary feel. His award winning work has been commissioned for private and corporate collections throughout the UK, America and Europe and has been widely exhibited including, The Pastel Society for 2015 and 2016, The Society of Portrait Artists on Cork Street.
Max has most notably exhibited with The Pastel Society at Mall Galleries and The Royal Society of Portrait Artists at Cork Street Galleries, where he was awarded runner up prize from the Tiranti group. Max’s portrait of the Caudwell Family was also honoured by an unveiling and hanging at Blenheim Palace. Bespoke portrait commissions available on request.
“My work is very much focused on the forces of nature; the power and infinite expanse of the sky and the Universe. How do you capture the feeling that you get when you stand under the stars at night?
I have been very lucky in my life to spend quite a number of years living by the sea. I have stood on cliff tops watching electrical storms unfold out at sea and felt the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end at the sheer spectacle of it.
Many mornings I have watched the sunrise from the sea, as though it is literally rising up out of the waves, that amazing sight is one that I want to capture and with the sun’s passing at the end of the day in a burst of colour as it sets.
When Mount Etna erupted in 2000 I spontaneously travelled to Sicily to go up it and experience the force behind the eruption, it still remains the most spectacular display of natural power I have ever witnessed. It is these forces and the insignificance of man’s presence amongst them that I try to capture. Despite our prominence on planet earth, we do not control the natural forces, we can merely witness them. I put circular shapes and vortex into my paintings in order to remove the boundaries of the canvas edge, to try to make a picture feel limitless like the sky or space itself. Of course there is one significant artist that I admire, who influences me greatly and that is J.M.W Turner. I rarely travel anywhere in the world without a reference book of some description in my case with me. “
Saffron Harper Gow
Crocus Design was founded in 2014 by Saffron Harper Gow and is currently based in Edinburgh.
Every element in each of the textile designs has been hand drawn before being layered together to create unique original designs which are all printed in the UK.
Sara Abdalla Ozongwu
Sara Abdalla Ozongwu is a Scottish/Egyptian Artist, designer, activist, curator & educator, and is the founder of Cape to Cairo which is a British based Artisan studio. She studied Graphic Design at Chelsea College of Art and Central Saint Martins, both of University of the Arts London. Sara Abdalla Ozongwu illustrates cultural and social narratives close to her consciousness, She believes in making art for social change. The themes of her work are human rights, Muslim diaspora, globalisation, exploitation, immigration and the environment.
The artist on her work:
“I use block printing and screen printing techniques to graphically illustrate prints onto fabric. My British, Middle Eastern and African heritage are a major influence in the design process and final work. The prints are consciously made to appear beautiful with intricate detail and hand crafted considering the reader. This appropriation takes the ugly subject of war and subverts it for the viewer’s consumption. It gives the consumer agency to question their position and the meanings behind the images denoted on the beautiful garment. In a highly consumer capitalist society seeking instant gratification - showing the position of the migrant in this way is a reflection of our polarised world.”
Exodus Syria bag exhibit (a)
This work depicts delicate Islamic patterns and travelling camels subverting the dire situation Syrians face at home today. The dream for this land to be as it once was.
Exodus Syria bag exhibit (b)
This work depicts barbed wires, travelling camels and the journey of immigrants from Syria to Europe, and their constant struggle and resistance at checkpoints and borders on land and sea upon arrival.
Using a bag as a canvas in this way for the works represents leaving home, embarking on a journey and a nomadic existence. A bag can connote many meanings as things, personal belongings, protection and for migrants who are fleeing from war and oppression it contains fragments from their past life that they could carry. What is carried inside the bag are only the essentials to survive and what has been collected on their journey, many having to grab what they can and run for their lives.
The bag is their companion it has recorded their journey, heard their tears and given comfort to rest their head. The bag has started the journey with the migrant and will be with them till they reach their final destination.
The bag holds memories of the struggle, the loss, the pain, but also of hope. The marks made on the bag are symbolic, they are signs of the migrants proud heritage and culture that signify myths of camels roaming the land. They are hand printed and painted reflecting the long history of craft traditions of hand making, printing, embroidery and weaving for trade and markets.
The bags are a homage to the migrants resistance, resilience and pride to a world they have left behind but will never forget. Keeping the bag is a sacred reminder of their struggle to the new world. A document to pass on to the next generation, it's a keepsake, a document surpassing language that narrates the story of exodus in the 21st century for future generations to come."
Shavkat is a London based sculptor, and graduated from the Art Academy in Moscow, Russia. In 2003 he was awarded an RBA from the The Royal Society of British Artists Sculpture.
“A majority of my pieces have grown from the notion of the universality of life and order within varying forms of life, has no real variety - only differing levels of disorder or discontinuity. All living things have, by definition, their own energy and although they involve great structural variety of form, movement and energy are the essence of being. I have attempted to bring forms to their structural minimum and reconstitute the individual parts into a whole in order to bring the universality of being from the collective unconscious into the consciousness of the viewers. ”
Sholto is a young and extremely talented British artist studying BA Geography at Durham University. His paintings are the result of a deep-seated attachment to watery landscape and the subtle depiction of ephemeral subject matter that often occurs within them. The work also draws upon the relevance of place and the symbiotic relationship between humans and landscapes and is significantly influenced by the writings of Robert Macfarlane and Philip Marsden. Although a central theme of this work is the depiction of landscape as a re-interpretation of late 18th century romanticism and 20th century exponents such as John Piper, it is also influenced by the more abstract and design-oriented styles of artists such as Kurt Jackson and Emma Stibbon RA.
Tony Pro was born in Northridge, California in 1973. He grew up in Southern California under the guidance of his father, Julio Pro (1929-2013), a successful southwest wildlife painter. Pro received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Graphic Design from California State University, Northridge while simultaneously studying drawing with the late illustrator, Glen Orbik(1963-2015). It was at this time that he learned the value of academic figure drawing and the importance of applying these strict study principles to his craft. With this methodology, Tony became an exemplary, self-trained painter.
Pro embraces romanticism in painting which places the feelings of the artist above all. Whether it be through his figures, portraits, still-life or landscapes, he paints life seen through his own eyes.
In 2005, juror, Daniel Gerhartz, awarded the highly coveted Best in Show Award at the 14th Annual Oil Painters of America Show to Pro. He has also won many finalists Awards of Honor from the Portrait Society of America Show. In 2014, Pro received the First Place award for Best Painting at the Portrait Society of America International Competition for his painting, "Last train home."
He is a Signature Member of the prestigious California Art Club. Pro is the Executive Director of the Coppini Academy of Art in San Antonio, Texas where he lives and works with his wife Elizabeth and 4 children.
Pro’s works hang in museums and private collections around the world.