ORGAN THING: James Owens at Hackney’s Lychee One Gallery, luminous nocturnal scenes, aliens in the woods, swans, mystery, anticipation…

James Owens at Lychee One, Hackney, East London, July 2022

James Owens has some paintings hanging over in Lychee One at the moment, Dreaming of UFOs, a new body of work from the  painter –

“Through psychologically charged expressions of emotional states, the artist’s paintings of luminous nocturnal scenes suggest the power of mystery and anticipation. The show’s title draws on Owens’ experiences of following online communities of UFO watchers. In reading accounts of UFO sightings”, he says he’s been struck by how the descriptions of encounters are often authentically sincere and enthusiastic; “the emotion invested in the narratives could not be invented”. Following a path of curious enquiry,it seems Owens has come to see UFOs as symbols of contemporary mythology and as vehicles for storytelling.


We’re told Dreaming of UFOs “imagines someone who spends their life hoping to be abducted by aliens; waiting for something to snatch them out of their everyday life or to come in and change how they live. Through this motif, the show speaks to the ubiquitous hope for a deus ex machina solution to humanity’s problems. Owens questions the futility of waiting forever for something that will likely never happen; but his work also hints at the hopeful possibility that if you look hard enough, you might eventually find something you didn’t even know you were looking for”. 

Me? I’ve never invested that much time in the notions of aliens, or the futility of waiting, I hate waiting for buses, we’ve surely all invested time in hope though? These are hopeful paintings, hope there in the blue of nighttime, the hope that you might at last catch a sight of a noctilucent cloud formation just beyond the dark tree line or maybe the hope invested in making the effort of going to an opening night of an exhibition from a painter you’ve never heard of, the hope of being rewarded by what you might find. There’s a dark blue calm here, a serene sense of atmosphere, I guess you could say a hint of mystery? Thought patterns? Strange figures in the twilight, myths, swans, fairytales? The secret lives out there in the woods, the animal play that’s just out of our sight? There’s atmosphere here, there’s a sense of the person, the personal, a sense of dreaming, the vivid moonlit experience, and just maybe something more in the darkness of the colours, in the shapes in the half light, something there in his repeated depictions. It maybe isn’t a style or a set of subjects that strike any real chord with me personally, aliens in the woods, myths, the luminous glow of whoever or whatever might be out there aren’t really my thing but I can respect a good painter, it might not excite me but I can see the merit – no, that sounds throwaway and maybe a little patronising and I really don’t intend that, this is a damn fine show, , this is a great show, these are fine fine paintings, they may not be quite my thing, it may well be yours and if it sounds like it is then this is another recommended exhibition . Lot of good art out there waiting for you at the moment (sw)  

Lychee One is at Unit 1 The Gransden, 39-45 Gransden Avenue, Hackney, London, E8 3QA – London Fields would be a better address, in that gap between Mare Street and London Fields itself, just through the alley almost directly over the road from London Fields overground station,, the gallery opens onto the street as part of  one of the fancy new builds (where Play once happened before all the destruction). The James Owens show runs until July 30th, the gallery opening hours are stated as Thursday – Saturday 12 – 6pm and by appointment.

Do as always, click on an image to enlarge it or to run the slice show…

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