Whitechapel is predominantly a local gallery for local people. It’s free, it’s accessible and thanks to a hefty refurb, a total pleasure to peruse as your leisure. We went to see the annual output from the East End Academy which has run since 1932 and is year focusing on painting in all it’s many glorious forms. From over 600 submissions, 12 painters were selected for the show. The three exhibitors that caught our eye were abstract artist Henrijs Preiss, spray paint patterner Luke Dowd and nature’s friend Andy Harper. The show took up the wall space of the downstairs Gallery 2, nicely arranged and annotated the huge variety of art work provided much insight into the current state and mood of contemporary painting.
The Latvian born artist Henrijs Preiss is strongly influenced by medieval religious icons from the Italian Renaissance and Russian icons, and was exhibited in last year’s Royal Academy Summer Show. He combines his own knowledge and artistic skills to portray abstract and architectural paintings. The images have a more structured and mathematical feel, the spiral and continuous lines resemble the construction of a clocks mechanics, whilst having and overall feel of time travel from old to new. Living and working in Hackney, he deals mainly with acrylic paints on hard wooden boards, and his works are reminiscent of 1920s art deco motifs and faded Hollywood glamour.
Luke Dowd heralds from New York and studied painting at the Sarah Lawrence College before completing his Masters in London. He uses readily available materials such as spray paint and found paper to recreate a mythical take on diamonds. The diamonds seem to glisten, reflect and refract light. The precious nature of the stones have appeared to retain their desired qualities and values, but still offer glimpses of a more desirable life we may aspire to.
Harper’s paintings have references of natural landscapes, whilst using colourful oil paint as a medium. The smooth and glossy finish has a slightly surreal though breathtaking impact which begs for a closer examination to appreciate the detail. Harper lives and work between Cornwall and London, the pairing of country and city ways is clearly demonstrated in his work with the theme of the natural world depicted in the bold, edgy brushstrokes.
While up and coming artists constantly push, stretch and redefine the boundaries of creative mediums through which to express themselves, what this exhibition proves is that painting is far from being an old worldly means of creating artwork, and celebrates the well deserving masters of this format.
East End Academy: The Painting Edition
77 – 82 Whitechapel High Street
London E1 7QX
Until 30th August
Tuesday – Sunday: 11am – 6pm
Thursday: 11am – 9pm
Artists include: Varda Caivano, Robert Holyhead, Henrijs Preiss, Luke Dowd, Andy Harper, Guy Allott, Emily Wolfe, Zara Matthews, Bruno Pacheco, Daniel Kelly, Cullinan Kelly.
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