Sammi Lynch: The Last Time We Swam

Sammi Lynch: The Last Time We Swam
May 4 – May 21, 2023
Blue Shop Gallery
72 Brixton Road
London, SW9 6BH

Sammi Lynch’s first solo exhibition The Last Time We Swam is on view May 4 – May 21, 2023 at Blue Shop Gallery. There will be an opening event on May 3, 2023 from 6 to 9pm. A collection of paintings, prints, and drawings, The Last Time we Swam is an exploration of space, texture, and light, of symbolism, and of surface and depth.

For Lynch the artistic process begins in the field, where scenes and events are registered in drawings. In the studio these fleeting impressions are translated into paintings and prints, allowing Lynch to work productively with the tension between the immediacy of perception and the drawn out act of contemplating, evoking, and reminiscing on a landscape or situation. In combining her drawings with a dedicated formal process, colours become more vivid, space becomes flattened, and forms are simplified.

Sammi Lynch: The Last Time We Swam
There Was Time, pastel on paper, 22 x 15 cm 2022

The paintings and prints which emerge are at times a conversation, a negotiation, or a tension between the surface of the canvas and a sense of pictorial depth. Working onto coloured grounds allows Lynch to draw attention to the flatness of the canvas, an effect that is reinforced in specific pieces such as Unrest and Keeping A float by the recurrence of rectangular forms. Other pieces maintain a sense of the organic in which formal process and memory work together to produce landscapes which we find ourselves pondering as somehow familiar. In that sense, the works exaggerate different points on a continuum between perception and memory, form and colour, and surface and depth. As Lynch’s drawings are worked over and refined, they also often find a symbolic dimension.

Sammi Lynch: The Last Time We Swam
Red Moon Rising, oil on canvas 72 x 92 cm, 2023

The snake in Out of the Ground for instance is a paradoxical and ambiguous symbol: serpents may point to rebirth and the infinite and we are left wondering if the death of this particular snake affirms or disavows this sense of wisdom. The presence of the moon in other works, a symbol of cyclical change and renewal, may further strengthen this contradiction, or perhaps signal a sense of affirmation and resolution.

In some ways the work in this collection is also a sustained meditation on loss, grief, and transition. The works collected in this exhibition were created during a period of turbulence in which the artist was navigating unknown personal territory. At the same time Lynch found herself immersed in new environments and landscapes. The works speak to this sense of negotiating with and traversing the unknown. What emerges is less a cathartic expression of personal emotion and more an exploration of the natural world as a cypher for emotions and experiences that are shared by us all.

©2023 Sammi Lynch