The New Chapter brings together all of Poppy Sebire
's artists in one show for the first time to launch the gallery's new permanent home in Southwark. It's a celebration of four individuals who have forged the gallery's identity to date, and a bold statement of its ambitions for the future.
The new space, All Hallows Hall, is a stunning, high-ceilinged, vaulted Victorian church hall that sits in one of London's most creatively vibrant and historically fascinating areas. After a first year of innovative, attention-grabbing pop-up shows in a variety of central London locations, it offers a chance for the gallery to change gear, and start to build something bigger.
James Aldridge's paintings on canvas are influenced by imagery from natural history field guides, Renaissance landscapes, John James Audubon's watercolours and heavy metal album covers. Inky backgrounds, washes, and soft smoky areas of paint are offset by more graphic and silhouette forms, and his juxtaposition of realistic and heavily stylised depictions of nature invite us to reassess our relationship with the natural world.
The show also features the first London outing for Aldridge's new watercolour work. This draws on nineteenth century bird illustration, with its mixture of scientific accuracy and artistic interpretation, adding bird-related folklore and superstition to the mix. The works present us with 'unnatural' aberrations where birds' heads grow from a central point to form writhing mandalas, or a single bird bears two heads, each threatening to consume the other.
Georgie Hopton's works are a contemporary take on the still life tradition. Her photographs of flowers have both a poignant fragility and a pronounced sculptural quality. Through subtle interventions in the photographic process, she makes simple blooms and pots feel detached from reality - their appearance more painterly than photographic.
The show also features Hopton's paper and wool collages, inspired by childhood memories of her mother's knitting and of her own picture making at school. All of them show the same flower - the auricula - once again chosen for its clear, sculptural form. The rudimentary materials are part of Hopton's attempt to capture some of the physicality and form of three-dimensional objects in her two-dimensional work.
Boo Ritson has chosen this exhibition to unveil an exciting new direction in her work: she'll be showing one of a series of canvas body masks that form the latest stage of her continuing exploration of identity and performance. Wet paint on skin has been replaced by digital painting on painstakingly-created canvas patterns. Ritson then sews these patterns together to make new identities for herself as sitter. She animates the canvas masks once for a single photographic print, then hangs them up, empty, alongside it. The deconstructed 'painting' is a three-dimensional comment on the two-dimensional photograph, and by subtly altering the mask post-performance, Ritson suggests a continuing narrative.
Danny Rolph's multi-layered paintings use colour, texture and transparency to evoke a sense of space and movement. Familiar forms draw the eye into a series of disorienting, scale-less landscapes, creating a constant pull and push between the comfortable and the unsettling - reality and geometric illusion. Rolph creates the works organically and intuitively - the result is highly ordered and disciplined, but contains within it the tension and emotion of the process. In this show, alongside a new painting on canvas, he will be exhibiting the pages of a sketchbook which reveal his working method, combining pencil drawings with collaged 'found imagery' collected during the artist's recent journey to Texas.