Sim Smith is delighted to present ‘Wild Horses’, an exhibition of painting and photography by a group of artists, focusing on their gaze, specifically looking at the couple.
The exhibition includes works by Bar Alon, Beatriz GlezSa, Kate Groobey, Yanmei Jiang, Chantal Joffe, Aneta Kajzer, Emma Kohlmann, Florence Peake, Jurga Ramonaite, Mayan Toledano, Aviya Wyse.
The couple need not solely refer to a romantic pairing in this exhibition, instead the artists in the show explore pairs and duos including friends, siblings and genderless and ageless bodies where relationships are questioned.
“Figures that are made of two but at times appear as one and at times also separate. The distance between them is small but apparent and for just a few moments when captured by paint or photography, they are secluded from the entire world. Is there any resemblance between the two? Sometimes it's there and sometimes it’s missing. An invisible bond connects them, their own universe which only exists when no one else is around. A secret of every couple, of every kind.” Bar Alon, 2021
The exhibition explores themes of self disclosure, intimacy and connection of the couple through an assortment of lenses. Many pull on the autobiographical in the show including Kate Groobey, who explore the androcentric cannon of painting from a feminist, queer perspective through watercolour on paper of herself and her girlfriend Jina Khayer. Tangible, everyday relationships are further discovered through the insight and emotional force of Chantal Joffe in her painting ‘Lola and Scarlett’, a portrayal of two sisters in a landscape.
The Red Sea is where Bar Alon chose to photograph her family members in black and white; captivating, poignant and still. Intimacy and the quotidian is examined further in the work of Yanmei Jiang who records the daily life of her and her partner in a series of self-portraits.
Challenging traditional beauty standards, Mayan Toledano explores themes of youth identity and gay culture, the feminine body and intimacy in her large blue skied portrait of kissing girls.
Expanding on the role of the body as a site of transformation, Beatriz GlezSa photographed naked bodies of a couple entwined on a bed in blue/green light capturing intimate scenes of healing and resilience.
Moving away from earthly preoccupations, Emma Kohlmann offers up otherworldly, genderless bodies brightly painted onto canvas in an egalitarian and inclusive ethereal space, with others like Aneta Kajzer teetering between abstraction and figuration. Kajzer works somewhere between humour and melancholy in jewel toned oil paint, with figures that reveal themselves to her through the act of making – out of the complexities of abstraction, simple forms of the body emerge. The sensual and witty work of Florence Peake sees her use the erotic as a sensual tool in hollogrammed works in oil depicting the couple as if from a dream and in a twist of magic, Aviya Wyse’s portraits have extended to become a human existential record, a proof of existence. Often shot on black and white, the works are raw, atmospheric and full of emotion. While, Jurga Ramonaite, a photographer and filmmaker captures the moments we participate in through an editorial lens, exploring themes of love, romantically, motherly and environmentally.
What is clear across the exhibition is the consideration of human traits, emotions, habits and ritual. The works are mirror-like, counterparts which explore a familiar spirit. Whether through appropriated imagery or imagined figures, these works are a chance to tell the truth, to be unashamed. They follow deep, close, active relationships - that is the source of the work – the relationship between the couple, of the artist and their subjects and ultimately the viewer who becomes part of the work too. It is the anthropomorphism within the works that binds us, that is what speaks to the innate tendencies of our human psychology and in the end, what makes us look and linger a little longer.