There are two shows on at New Art Projects at the moment, once again the two sit together rather well, they compliment without ever infringing on each other. Of course the layout of the Hackney gallery lends itself well to more than one show and yes, it would be so easy to put two artists who’s paintings don’t really want to be sharing the same space together, arguments between pieces could so easily break out. You’d maybe think these two painters would be arguing, putting the two together isn’t an obvious move, once again the curation and the hang is strong (these things don’t just happen, there’s an art to hanging art), things are working well in here however you view it, one whole thing or two fine shows.
There is a fine sense of an event when you descend those gallery stairs to the very very white basement, that first almost theatrical glimpse as you turn the corner and look down into the first of the rooms down there. is there such a thing as gallery envy?
Adam Hennessey’s paintings are in the first and second rooms, there’s plenty of space for each piece to breathe, the first thing that strikes you in the colour, the power of the pieces all together, the strength of the turquoise, the blue, the minty greens, and then you focus on the edges of the subjects, the squareness of the car, the (block)heads, the lines and you don’t immediately cotton on to the fact that you know his work from previous shows here – those smiles of 2017, and yes it is so obviously the same artist once the coin finally drop. This whole body of new work is something really different and at the same time as obvious as it could be that it could only be from Adam Hennessey. And it is surely hard to not like the way Adam paints? To not like the joy – joy rather than fun, this isn’t throwaway fun. This is a celebration of something or other, of a time and place, of floppy discs, Austin Alegro lights (is it an Alegro? Of a time of very square cars at least). There’s a dialogue here, a commitment to the paintings, to himself as an artist, to the viewer, not a challenge, just a commitment, something wholehearted, something that matters to him and us. They are blocky, almost but never quite cartoony, or maybe they are panels from a cartoon strip? Whatever they are I really like them, love the colour, the size, the ambition, love the angles, the relationship between the pieces, the conversations the relatively big pieces have with each other from one wall to another. It is wrong to say this is fun, but it is fun, and I love that floppy disc! Who paints as floppy disc like that?
For Adam Hennessey’s third solo show at New Art Projects ‘Adam and Steve’ he looks back to his awkward teenage years growing up gay in the 1990’s. Hennessey describes his new paintings as “memory fantasies”. He uses a reduced palette of greens, to create an artificial light that helps to set the scenes in them, in the past. Like watching an old film or discoloured home movie the figures move through a distorted green haze acting out his teenage dreams and desires.
And now I’ve read the gallery information for this show, it seems I was indeed right to pick up on the cartoon comic book aspect (honest guv, I really hadn’t read it until just now). I like Adam Hennessey’s art, I really like his art, I love the way it has evolved since last time, I love what it says, it made me smile even more than the last encounter did, love it, love the colour…
And then you carry on (clockwise) into the third of the four rooms (you can do a complete circuit in here when all the rooms are open as they are with this show) and there are the rather beautiful watercolour paintings and monoprints of Kate Belton. Now watercolours of trees might not sound that exciting, but then you look a little closer – and yes, it is something said on these pages all the time but once again, the photos, mine here, or the gallery’s on their own website o social media, do these pieces absolutely no justice. You have to see them, you have to be standing there in front of the pieces, not viewing some compressed digital photograph on a lifeless computer screen, you need to be right there in touching distance of the paint and paper, they only really come to life and talk to you in such a rewarding way when you engage with them. I almost want to smash the glass of the pieces that are framed so there’s nothing between me and the paint and paper – no almost about it, they’re like caged birds crying to be let out, to escape the reflections
I know nothing about Kate Belton, apparently she’s a Hackney based artist – For her first solo show at New Art Projects, Kate Belton started making works on paper, working in mono print and watercolour. Her subject matter is at first glance, landscape, however ideas of memory, pattern and repetition also inform her compositions. The works for this exhibition are centred on the east end of London and developed using photographs taken by the artist of the surrounding area. However these are not formal compositions, the references are taken from the hinterland, the edges of the city: canal towpaths, abandoned buildings, land about to be re-developed, or overlooked in the regeneration of the area.
– There’s something special here, something beautiful in those lines of trees and where they take you, in the composition, in the humanity of it all, the (clever) simplicity – it isn’t that these pieces are demanding or even exciting, the pieces aren’t jumping off the walls and challenging anything, they just quietly invite you in. They refresh, they delight and yes, that is exciting, as exciting as the spaces they tell of, that Kate Belton brings dignity to in that way only a painter can. These are beautiful paintings and prints, they’re welcome you, they’re warm, they quietly talk to you, they’re special.
Two shows, one rather fine exhibition, two recommended artists, do try and drop in (sw)
New Art Projects is at 6d Sheep Lane, Hackney, London, E8 4QS. Just by Broadway Market, not far from the Regents Canal and a stone’s throw from Beck Road. Both shows are open until August 7th. There is a evening “private view” on Thursday July 22nd, details via the Facebook event page
ORGAN THING: Zachari Logan, Fergus Hare and Fredrik Andersson at New Art Projects, Hackney – glorious paintings, trophies that are far more than just playful, do catch it all if the lockdown lets you…
Do, as always, click on an image to enlarge or to run the fractured slideshow…