In 2020 Gallery Founder Jean-David Malat
organised an open call exhibition entitled Isolation Mastered specifically to support emerging artists across the UK during the Covid-19 pandemic. Cornish painter Andrew Litten was one of the first artists chosen for the exhibition. The selection committee was unanimously impressed with his paintings. The members - key figures in the art world - felt that through his work Litten had captured the physical and emotional fragility exposed by the pandemic in a raw and visceral way. During the exhibition last July, Littens work clearly struck a chord with the visitors as well, so consequently the gallery offered him a solo show.
Entitled Fragile Together, the exhibition brings together Littens recent large-scale figurative paintings, sculptures, and mixed media works on paper presenting a multi-faceted body of work that reflects our shared human vulnerability. Author, critic and curator Anna McNay described Littens work in Studio International as unsettling images, frequently depicting liminal states, or a vortex of raw emotions, set in a nightmarish realm of distorted technicolour.
Andrew Litten cites the poetry of Louise Bourgeois as one of the key influences behind Fragile Together and discusses his thinking behind it: The work itself is intended to be unguarded, full of raw nerves and emotionally varied. He says. I look to create art that speaks of the love, anger, loss, personal growth and the private confusions we all experience in our lives. Where our vulnerability is made apparent, there is then a potential to relate to others. I want this exhibition to nurture a life affirming sense of our shared humanity and encourage wider readings of compassion. Empathy is powerful.
Fragile Together aims to express complex states of our contemporary condition and convey shared anxieties of our troubled times such as parenting in the pandemic, alcohol or drug dependency, grief, and mental health issues. Litten is inspired by the commonplace, stimulated by the many objects in his studio and by the activity of art making, assembling, collaging, scoring texture into surfaces, and manipulating the material qualities of paint.
The varied expressive handling of materials and the wide-ranging subjects denote the artists requirement for emotive articulacy. This body of work conveys potential human alienation and neurosis, whilst also reflecting our complicated co-existence. Through intensity, disturbance and agitation, the works in this exhibition aims to encourage readings of compassion. Litten hopes to contribute to the dialogue of developing a kinder society. He says Through these works I seek to create stories of authenticity and to explore the part of us that wants to care to compress a sense of endurance of human spirit.
Fragile Together is accompanied by an exhibition catalogue with an introduction written by Laura Gascoigne. View catalogue
Andrew Litten (b.1970) lives and works in Cornwall, UK. He is a self-taught artist who has exhibited widely in Cornwall and the UK, including at Tate Modern, London. Littens work has also been exhibited in Germany; Poland; Italy; China; Mexico; USA; and Australia. Littens work is in the collections of the Milwaukee Art Museum USA; The Royal Cornwall Museum, UK; The Priseman Seabrook Collection, UK; and the Falmouth Art Gallery Collection, UK. Litten is a nominated member of the Newlyn Society of Artists; and the Contemporary British Painting group. His work has been published in Studio International Magazine. Fragile Together is Littens first solo show in London.