A glimpse at the sizzling London art scene

Martha Mosse London artist

Part of Mosse’s ‘Body Sculpture’ series

I was lucky enough last night to have been invited to a private view of a new exhibition opening in London’s Notting Hill. Debut Contemporary hosted the event, so I went along with a friend Chrissy Cant, who works in the art industry. I was very excited, as I knew I was in for an interesting evening with some up-and-coming visual and performance artists.
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The space is a beautiful and brightly lit small gallery in the heart of Notting Hill, the area made famous by the film featuring Hugh Grant. There were too many exquisite pieces of art to talk about every one in this post, but I’ve selected a few artists to review.

The first is a young performance artist, Martha Mosse, who creates visual and performance art based on her personal outlook on feminism in society today.  Her pieces challenge commonly portrayed female characteristics and deal with ideas of confinement and the oppression of the modern woman.

She was at Debut Contemporary presenting works, which included the one photographed (quite badly) above. Here she is photographed naked, trying to escape the confinement of a box measuring 6 foot x 2 foot (approx. 1.8m x 0.6m). The frame is made from an old window frame, which increases the sense of voyeurism of the viewer. I found the piece simultaneously very beautiful and powerful, yet soft and feminine.

Another of her works presented was a piece of live performance art, in which the viewer is invited to enter a confined space and stand before a piece of stretchy black material with words “mother”, “slut”, “perfect” and “spinster” sewn onto it. Once the viewer is in the space, the material begins to move, forcing them against the wall in the minimal corridor space. The piece looks at how these labels trap women, who are then unable to break free of any of these stereotypical social labels.

Illustration of pandas by Damilola Odusote

Illustration of pandas by Damilola Odusote

Damilola Odusote is another of London’s bright young stars, who presented some of his collection at the viewing. His works included some beautifully intricate collages in which illustrations of animals and invented characters are personified through the miniature worlds he presents them in. In these works I saw hints of Spanish maestros Dalí and Picasso. They are not only extremely well executed, but very thought provoking, encouraging me to consider themes such as politics, race, fantasy and fiction.

A feature attracting much attention was a hand made chess table by Damilola, the individual pieces seeming to emerge from the board itself. Based on a concept developed in his previous collection, this work forms part of a transitional phase in his artistic development. It forces the viewer to reassess the nature of objects that they are used to seeing in everyday life.

It was a fantastic evening, demonstrating just how much fresh talent there is on the London art scene.

Glossary

Sizzling [adjective]: very hot, exciting or passionate.

Industry [count noun, with adjective or noun modifier]: a particular form or branch of economic or commercial activity.

Up-and-coming [adjective - of a person beginning a particular activity or occupation]: making good progress and likely to become successful.

Exquisite [adjective]: extremely beautiful and delicate.

Review [noun]: a formal assessment of something.

Outlook [noun]: a person’s point of view or general attitude to life.

Confinement [noun]: the action of confining or state of being confined.

Voyeurism [noun]: the observation of someone else’s activities.

Stretchy [adjective]: (especially of material or a garment) able to stretch or be stretched easily.

Spinster [noun]: an unmarried woman, typically an older woman beyond the usual age for marriage.

Sewn [past participle of sew]: join, fasten, or repair (something) by making stitches with a needle and thread or a sewing machine.

Label [noun]: a classifying phrase or name applied to a person or thing, especially one that is inaccurate or restrictive.

Intricate [adjective]: very complicated or detailed.

Collage [noun]: a piece of art made by sticking various different materials such as photographs and pieces of paper or fabric on to a backing.

Personified [past participle of personify]:attribute a personal nature or human characteristics to (something non-human).

Hint [noun]: a slight or indirect indication or suggestion.

Chess table [noun]: a square board divided into 64 squares of two alternating colours, used for playing chess or draughts. (Tablero de ajedrez)

Reassess [verb]: consider or assess again, in the light of new or different factors.

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