Transformations Sue Tilley, Dylan Meade, Fredrik Andersson.at New Art Projects, Hackney, East London (July 2019) – So what to make of this one?, What to make of everything right now? Going to as many London shows as ever but where has the spark gone? Is it just me? Not seeing so many shows that really truly excite this year, not feeling the energy that an exciting art show can ignite, seeing quite a few shows that are interesting enough but really in all polite honesty really nothing that has been inspiring enough to spark a stream of whatever on this fractured keyboard. The Mayfair Art Weekend really didn’t excite that much this year, we’ve encountered a few performances in a few galleries in recent weeks that didn’t really connect enough to fire up the keyboard, we’ve wandered into galleries and wandered out again, encountered over slick print releases and a few rather conservative so-called street art shows full of those unadventurous tubehuggers, art in London in recent times really hasn’t been inspiring the flow of as many words as it was doing back there, .
Transformations is a three artist show, a show that’s happening right now down the big bright white cube of a basement that is New Art Projects; “Gay porn and queer politics collide with Lucian Freud’s muse at New Art Projects’ latest exhibition” so shouted the headline on one website that likes to sensationalise things, all about the click-bait but then they’re not that far off with that headline. More importantly what we have in the basement are some rather glorious paintings from Dylan Meade, I guess you might see them as gay porn but really, they’re just excellent paintings, there some “colourful ceramic pieces about homo eroticism and desire” from Frederik Andersson that surely can;’t fail to make you smile. and really, not sure how “controversial” anything here actually is, not sure anything is actually trying to be? Does art really need to be “controversial to make a splash in the art world”? True, those Dylan Meade paintings could be viewed as erotic, they’re certainly beautiful, they’re deliciously honest, they’re very real and the paint itself flows so so well, there’s certainly painterly energy but are they that “controversial”? Surely they’re just great paintings really? Exciting paintings THAT work rather well as part of the not really that “controversial” three artist show next to Fredrik Andersson’s amusing ceramics and the energetic colour of painter Sue Tilley….
Now Sue Tilley is as colourful as her paintings suggest she might be, “born in 1957 in South London, she was the muse and friend of the late fashion designer and performance artist Leigh Bowery and worked as the cashier for his notorious nightclub Taboo. In 1990 while working in a benefits office as a benefits supervisor she began to model for Lucian Freud appearing in his world famous portraits Benefits Supervisor Sleeping and Benefits Supervisor Resting. She is the Author of Leigh Bowery the Life and Times of an Icon published in 1997. Since she retired from the dole office and encouraged by club impresario Wayne Shires, Tilley set up a studio and began to make oil paintings. Turning herself from model and muse to artist she has shifted her gaze from domestic items and things about her home to self portraits and portraits made in homage to artists she admires. Her drawings of mundane domestic objects became the runway star of Italian Fashion Week in 2018 when she was commissioned to collaborate with Fendi, who covered their collection with her drawings of a telephone, her cup of tea, a banana skin and a bottle opener, also featured were her bathroom taps. In 2019 Tilley collaborated with fashion designer turned sculptor Nicole Farhi and they bonded over their mutual friendship with Lucian Freud. The result was a show of sculptures by Farhi shown this year depicting Tilley. For her first solo show at New Art Projects the gallery has commissioned her to make a new series of paintings based on her memories of Leigh Bowery” – you see, that’s it, we really don’t need to tell you anything more, she’s as colourful as her very very beautifully alive paintings, I want to say “vibrant” but that word is way way too abused, these are vibrant piece though, iconic (there goes another one, iconic and vibrant are two words that should never blight a review in 2019), paintings as beautifully loud as paintings of people like Leigh Bowery really should need to be, excellent.
Hey look, you really don’t need too many words, this is a great show, a really enjoyable show, a beautiful show, there’s some fun in here, some mischief, can’t really say there’s anything that “controversial”, Transformations is a beautifully upbeat show, an art show full of life, full of colour, full of delight, sometimes that’s all you need…(sw)
Transformations is on until Saturday 3rd Aug 2019 at New Art Projects. New Art Projects is at 6d Sheep Lane, Hackney, London, E8 4QS. Just beside Broadway Market, not far from the Regents Canal and a stone’s throw from Beck Road