ORGAN THING: Hugh Mendes and His Mentors at The Tub, Hackney, The right show, the right place, the right time. There’s something very spiritual about  this collection, something reverential…

Hugh Mendes and His Mentors at The Tub, Hackney, April 2022

Back to The Tub for a second show in a matter of days, last weekend it was a Supple Octopus presentationand what the refereed to as “a strange world of ceramics, paintings and drawings by Coral Brookes and Rebecca Elves, created together and apart, there were some interesting paintings, some fine ceramics as well, good to get to see a couple of good shows in the gallery. 

The Tub, as we said last week,  is in Hackney, a relatively new artist-run space in the lane just behind Broadway Market, you head for the canal end take a right if you’ve walked along Broadway, and there, just beyond the Merengue Girls semi hidden  down the lane, is the small gallery/studio. We need these spaces, the more the better, they’re not the most friendly at the Tub, we have tried, they don’t do art community or communication, they are rather aloof but hey, that’s East London for you (West End gallery people are far friendlier) and we desperately need these spaces around Hackney and East London right now, we needed artist-run spaces, we need proactive artists doing things, making things happen, we need at least a hint of ten years ago. They’ve put on some rather decent shows since they opened The Tub, shows that have been covered on these fractured pages, as have the recent shows of Hugh Mendes. In our dirt-stained book, the few artist led space and operations still managing to hang on or trying to get going in East London should at least speak to each other and vaguely come together and support each other, community is important surely? Art needs to engage doesn’t it? We have tried with The Tub several times now, we surely all need to pull together, those of us left here that is? East London is not the place it once was in terms of art or artist-led spaces, curators, shows and such.

Hugh Mendes, if you know his work, his familiar signature obituary paintings, has a number of those wonderfully familiar pieces respectfully hung in the small space tonight. A short sharp show, only on until the end of the weekend, I like the energy of a short sharp show, it is how we did it at Cultivate, this space reminds me of the Cultivate in the Vyner Street days. The space is apparently run by some of ‘Mendes’ ex students, that partly explains the name of the show “Mendes and His Mentors” although there may just be some of his mentors up on the white walls. , an appropriately poignant place to exhibit painting of his mentors, “representing a continuing lineage of mentorship in the arts” 

There is something about those Hugh Mendes paintings, especially this collection, in other spaces at other times we’ve seen obituary paintings of rock stars, so called leaders, presidents and prime ministers, we’ve encountered wishful thinking now and again, Trump and such. At The Tub we have paintings of other artists – Francis Bacon, a vert fine Gwen John, David Bomberg, Keith Vaughn, David Medalla  and more, referenced in different styles, united by the newspaper style of the pieces. There’s something very spiritual about  this collection, something reverential, respectful where in other places at other times Mendes can appear critical, maybe even angry, here it feels beautiful, a celebration, a warmth, it feels right. The right show, the right place, the right time, it all feels right (and there isn’t much that feels right at the moment), good on Hugh Mendes for choosing to do this here, the right kind of mentor and a rather excellent show, paintings that hold the eye, some that look back at you, some that look beyond, everyone demand you linger just a little longer, which is of course what portraiture is about. There’s an understanding, an appreciation of style, well just an appreciation really. A fine fine show, kind of need to go again before the weekend is over. (sw)

The Tub is at Unit 2, Broadway Market Mews, Hackney, London, E8 4TS. The Hugh Mendes show runs until Sunday April 24th, 11am until 6pm. The 17 pieces in the show are also all on sale via The Auction Collective

Previously on these fractured Organ pages.

ORGAN THING: Robert Cooper X Kate Dunn – Fugue at The Tub, Hackney, E8 – The joy of escape…

ORGAN THING: Hugh Mendes, twenty years on from that day, a powerful retrospective, a provoking exhibition, the role of a painter? A dirty job but someone’s got to do it…

ORGAN THING: Poking around Space Studios, London needs artists….

as always do click on an image to enlarge or to run the slide show

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