LONDON.- Grove Square Galleries
is presenting The Whispering Tongues (24 June 6 August 2021), a solo exhibition by Zimbabwean artist Marc Standing. Created during his return to Africa in early 2021, this new series of mixed media paintings marks a homecoming for the artist, celebrating and reconnecting with the heritage and culture of his native continent. Through his uniquely abstract fusion of texture, layer and colour, Standings latest body of work is enriched by the magic and mythology of his motherland, and illuminated by recurring themes of identity, self-discovery and personal expression.
Working organically and subconsciously, Standings painting begins through an intuitive process of dye washes and mark-making. Drawing on elements of surrealism, abstraction and collage, as well as more figurative motifs, he allows himself to be guided by the painting itself - a method he describes as almost Shamanic. The result is a complex and often invisible building of layers and influences, like a manifestation of the artists own expression of self: as a white African born to a Jewish mother, his work reveals a rich and multifaceted perspective, informed by his homosexual identity and his extensive travels across the world (including China, Mexico, Philippines, Maldives).
Having also spent a decade spent living away in Hong Kong, Australia and the UK where he is now based the profound experience of Standings trip to Rwanda and Kenya reveals itself in the striking influence of place in these paintings. Embracing the qualities of the African landscape, Standings colour palette sees a shift to the blacks, ochres and earthy tones of savannah plains. His compositions also incorporate natural local materials such as soil, sand, water and charcoal, as well as found objects such as sequins and beads a nod to the tribal histories that have shaped the countries pasts. Entitled The Whispering Tongues after the importance of folklore, storytelling and mystery, this body of work offers a visual counterpoint to those oral traditions that have shaped the cultural identity of Africa. Capturing the soul of the continent through a combination of personal homage and collective expression, these works are a bold and renewed consolidation of Standings identity as an artist - and an African.
"I began working on this body of work, The Whispering Tongues, in Kenya, in the land of the Masai, amongst warthogs and bougainvillea. It was my out of Africa experience, the return of the diaspora child to the motherland. It was profound, insightful, and inspiring. There was a freedom, spontaneity, and looseness to the paintings, a gorging of excitable impulses, a harking back to rudimentary mark-making, the marks of our ancestors in the cradle of civilisation. This body of work is a homage to my Africa, my home, as an African. If all the leaves on all the trees had tongues, hear them whisper as they divulge their secrets." - Marc Standing
Marc Standing has taken part in exhibitions internationally, both as a solo artist and as part of a group, significantly in New York, London, The Netherlands, Hong Kong and South Africa. His work has been shown extensively throughout Australia, with a selection of his works having been acquired by Artbank, Australia. Standing has also been included in prominent Australian art prizes; as well as being a finalist in various other international art prizes over the years, including the Sovereign Asian Art Prize. Marc Standings work can be found in numerous public and private collections worldwide including commissioned works for The Groucho Club, London, and the Cathay Pacific Lounge, Hong Kong.
Marc Standings sublime and iconic paintings have developed through his complex emotional and life experiences, with his work embodying his personal search for identity as well as the complexities felt by mass consciousness. Organic and anthropological in feel, Standings work is thematically inspired by the natural world, science and biology. References to microcosms, cell structures, and earthly composites abound and present the viewer with a fresh new perspective.
His work can be categorised as eerie yet peaceful, made up of the layering of textures and imagery designed to evoke a surreal clarity in the viewer. Marc Standing uses a palette an compositional platform mixed with sinister imagery in order to explore the tensions felt between light and dark; comfort and discomfort; a sense of belonging and a sense of void.