A programme of exhibitions curated by Vigo Gallery
is on display at Wellington Arch from April. The historic site, which is in the care of English Heritage, is hosting the exhibition in its Quadriga Gallery from April 2022 to January 2023.
This includes a series of epic paintings by Australian artist Jordy Kerwick, a group of never-seen-before works by Ibrahim El-Salahi created in the run up to his solo retrospective at Tate Modern, the much-anticipated exhibition of new paintings by #ArtistSupportPledge founder Matthew Burrows and an exciting exhibition of specially commissioned work by YBA favourite Marcus Harvey.
This partnership offers a new way for contemporary art to reach a larger audience and to encourage engagement with this important landmark in a new way.
1st April 29th May 2022
Kerwicks brazen, colour saturated paintings transport you to a dream world of mythology, folk law and misadventure. The artist explores his own domestic family frivolity through the lens of alternative bodies or forms. Snakes, bears, wolves and tigers are juxtaposed with his favourite books, still life flowers, trees, and domestic arrangements within almost fairy-tale narratives. His two sons Sony and Milo for example are often represented as double headed beasts.
This exhibition is a playful reaction to the history - or altern ate histories - of Wellington Arch and some of the characters immortalised by it. Tigers, bears, snakes and unicorns all take sides in the artists own version of the Battle of Waterloo, replacing key characters such as Napoleon and Wellington but leaving these characters ambiguous and interchangeable, inspired by Ken Websters book Vertical Planes (1989) which documented the experience of the author receiving contact from people of the 16th-century and the future who had all inhabited the same cottage in Dodleston, Cheshire. He believed in parallel planes of existence all running simultaneously which is an idea that fascinates Kerwick.
Black and White
1st June - 30 October 2022
This group of Black and White works on paper by Ibrahim El- Salahi from 2012 have never been exhibited before. They were completed in the lead up to his solo show at Tate Modern, when he became the first artist of African birth to exhibit there. They show the Godfather of African Art at his best with a confidence of line reflecting over seventy years of creating his surreal multilayered visions.
Born in Sudan in 1930, Ibrahim El-Salahi is one of the most important living African artists and a key figure in the development of African Modernism.
El-Salahi grew up in Omdurman, Sudan and studied at the Slade School in London. On his return to Sudan in 1957, he established a new visual vocabulary, which arose from his own pioneering integration of Sudanese, Islamic, African, Arab and Western artistic traditions.
2022 is an exciting year for the now Oxford based El-Salahi. The artist has been selected to participate with 99 drawings in the 2022 59th Venice Biennale, The Milk of Dreams curated by Cecilia Alemani. Alongside the exhibition at Wellington Arch, Vigo will also show El-Salahi at their gallery in Masons Yard, London (June 2021) and his Pain Relief drawings will be the subject of a solo exhibition at The Norwegian Drawing Association - Tegnerforbundet which will travel in an expanded format to The Drawing Centre in New York in October. The Pain Relief canvases relating to these drawings will also be the subject of a solo exhibition at Hastings Contemporary (Formally the Jerwood Gallery) from April to June. In a busy year the 91-year-old legend will further participate in upcoming group exhibitions at the Chrysler Museum of Art (October), and the Fisk University Galleries (October).
In and Through
8th November 2022 - 8th January 2023
The paintings of Matthew Burrows explore a coalescence between stillness and movement. Work from the In and Through series has a preoccupation with watchfulness and the lines that delineate the landscape and our physiology. Burrows speaks of his work as an internal vigilance for place, creating images that meditate on the deep knowledge derived from repeatedly moving in and through the landscape. His relationship with habitat is not one of description or nostalgia, but one of dwelling and ritual. It is a process of mythologising, of drawing meaning from the particularities of the environment, of realising its wilderness and ours.
In 2020, a week before the first national lockdown, Burrows founded the Artists Support Pledge initiative, to help artists and makers through the COVID19 pandemic. Artist Support Pledge has become a global phenomenon helping sustain thousands of artists across the globe during the pandemic. It has become a global movement empowering both artists and collectors. For his efforts, Matthew was awarded an MBE for services to Arts and Culture. An artists artist, many are excited to celebrate a man who has contributed so much to his community.
11 January 19 March 2023
Marcus Harvey makes raw, expressive figurative paintings and sculptures. He seeks out imagery that is emblematic of a brutish but proud Britishness, iconic images whether goo d, bad, or ambiguous without commenting on his own relationship to them.
Harveys most infamous work is Myra an image of the infamous child-murderer exhibited as part of the groundbreaking 1997 exhibition Sensation and is now in the Damien Hirst collection. This chilling painting derived much of its potency from the iconography of a photograph so engrained in the British psyche through years of media reproduction. A family man, it was sensation Harvey was after, and this painting regarded as so important in British Art history is also one of the most misunderstood.
Recently, Harvey has started to work extensively with ceramics creating motifs and emblems of Britishness into collaged portraits of historical British figures, or foes, from history, from Nelson to Margaret Thatcher and Napoleon to Tony Blair. He works the imagery, handling the clay in a battle to find its form through multiple firings. The result is tough but humorous sculpture, unapologetic and brash, political yet ambiguous, considered, and painterly.
Wellington and his eponymous boot fit snugly into Harveys Punch and Judy ensemble as it fights to balance our nations patriotic sympathies with its dark imperial legacy. These complex and contradictory emotions will infuse the characters who will take temporary residence in the upper galleries of wellington arch.
Toby Clarke, Director of Vigo Gallery says: It is a privilege to be able to bring contemporary exhibitions inspired by history to one of Londons most iconic landmarks and to work in partnership with English Heritage to create interesting opportunities for both the artists and public to experience this setting within a new context.
Josephine Oxley, Keeper of the Wellington Collection for Apsley House and Wellington Arch added: We welcome the opportunity to work in partnership with Vigo gallery and are excited about the varied and diverse programme that they have put together. The exhibitions will give our visitors to the Wellington Arch a wholly new and exciting experience.