11 August, 2017 | Share Article
Three contemporary artists look at different ways in which surfaces can be explored through materials, media, textures.
The summer show at Leila Heller Gallery Dubai, titled Surface Issues, and guest curated by Maximillian William, brings together new works by young artists, Coco Capitán, Reginald Sylvester II and Magda Skupinska. The three contemporary artists have diverse practices and distinct visual languages. The show looks at the different ways in which they have explored the surface in terms of materials, media, textures and imagery, while also inviting viewers to go beyond the surface, and contemplate the underlying social, cultural and political issues addressed by the artists. The artworks include photographs and mixed media paintings on canvas and paper, which express the concerns of a new generation of artists and speak about their fresh approach, as well as their appreciation of art history.
Skupinska was born in Warsaw, Poland in 1991, and is now based in London. She graduated in Fine Art from Central St. Martins, London and is doing her masters in painting at the Royal College of Arts. She is interested in exploring the tangible and fragile quality of organic materials, and often uses natural materials such as spices and fruits along with traditional media in her work.
The three paintings she is displaying in this show, are abstract compositions, featuring simple forms and earthy colours that evoke a feeling of balance and harmony. The interesting thing about these paintings is that the artist has applied organic materials such as sandalwood, bee pollen, peppermint, chilli, milk and chocolate on her canvasses to create a unique sensory experience for viewers. But by using these tangible, perishable materials in her work, she also invites viewers to look beyond the surface and contemplate the beauty and fragility of nature, and the degradation of the environment caused by human activity.
Unlike Skupinska’s mellow, meditative, minimalist canvases, Sylvester’s compositions are a chaotic mix of bright colours, and complex emotional narratives. The African American artist was born in Jacksonville, North Carolina in 1987, and studied graphic design at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. His paintings deal with issues of his black identity, and of life in the digital age, especially the addictive and obsessive nature of the digital world. They are filled with abstracted figures, childlike scribbles, and tangled, disembodied limbs. Through his spontaneous, expressive brush strokes, vibrant colours, distinct textures and forms, amusing self-portraits, and quirky titles, the artist speaks about his personal experiences, thoughts and feelings.
He is showing a large acrylic and oil painting on canvas titled, Debauchery in the Club, an acrylic and oil pastel painting on paper titled Distraction, and a set of small paintings, titled Beginning and End of our Problems. The artworks tell stories about the rhythms and struggles of daily life in his community, about uncomfortable experiences such as his first visit to a strip club, about people that inspire him, such as his favourite sportsmen, and about his concepts and ideas as an artist. They offer insights into the mind of a young man who is coming of age and trying to figure out what life is about and an artist who is looking for original ways to express himself.