Roam Rebecca Gilpin and Henry Ward 20th – 24th April 2022 Fitzrovia Gallery 139 Whitfield Street London W1T 5EN
A two-person exhibition featuring Rebecca Gilpin and Henry Ward, both showing recent paintings. Entitled Roam, after the song by the B52’s, the exhibition investigates the threshold between abstraction and representation with both artists exploring this territory in different ways.
In Gilpin’s “What Difference Does It Make” an apparently abstract painting directly references the Smith’s track and a story she overheard outside a cafe about that record being thrown across the room. Ward’s “Puppet” also appears as a gestural abstract composition but took its inspiration from Manet’s “The Execution of Maximilian” from 1868 in The National Gallery. The title? Well Maximilian was considered a ‘Puppet Emperor’. Ward says “I like to choose titles that potentially suggest a variety of interpretations. Often, I’ll use words that can be considered both verbs and nouns”.
Such references to the history of painting appear in Gilpin’s work too. Her recent painting, “Closer Every Day” drawing on Turner’s “Lake Nemi”. Ward is interested in the idea of objects, but objects that we can’t necessarily name.
The spaces in his paintings suggest actual spaces, but the compositions come about through a series of intuitive decisions, each one responding to the painting itself, layers building up over time. Gilpin too uses this layering with her paintings manifesting over time, working and revising. She says of her practice that “the paintings contain elements of pentimento with remnants of previous paintings and layer upon layer of reworking through the medium of oil paint and oil stick”.
Both artists listen to a wide range of different music whilst they paint and this mutual interest and shared broad taste suggested that a music reference for the title might be appropriate. But Roam also suggests an approach to both making paintings and looking at them. Gilpin and Ward treat painting as a journey and invite the viewer to do the same.