Universe 25 Curated By Matilda Liu 30th March – 29th April 2023 Gillian Jason Gallery 19 Great Titchfield St London W1W 8AZ
Gillian Jason Gallery launches ‘Universe 25’, curated by Matilda Liu. Seven international emerging artists explore the blurred space between utopia and dystopia that the 1968 study of mice by sociologist John Calhoun predicted for humanity.
Crisis and social decay are recurrent impetuses to self-reflection and artistic creation. Lately, collective angst about issues such as the cost of living crisis, urbanisation, and artificial intelligence, has forced us to re-evaluate our relationship with nature and the broader implications of being ‘human’. Contemporary artistic endeavour cannot help but be influenced by such precarious living conditions, which often distort our individual instinctual identities and our collective ability to form functional bonds. The show brings together seven female artists whose practices are critically engaged with the conditions of today’s urban society.
By responding to the environment we live in and the social identities we inhabit, each artist calls into question the fragility of the social fabric and what it means to be human. With a wide range of practices and styles, these artists explore the theme in two main ways: through the negation of the physical body and the inward examination of mind and space. The exhibition’s title ‘Universe 25’ derives from the homonymous social experiment that American ethologist John Calhoun began in 1968. As urbanisation and drastic socio-economic reforms swept across Post-War Europe and America in the ‘60s and ‘70s, Calhoun contemplated the fate of humanity and the fine line between utopia and dystopia through the study of a mice colony.
Artists include Shanghai-based Bi Rongrong, whose painterly and digital artworks use urban architecture as a source of creative direction, experiment, and self-discovery. For the recent Rolls Royce ‘Spirit of Ecstacy Prize’ winner, this is the first time Bi Ronrong is exhibiting in the UK. While Phoebe Evans depicts architectural dreamscapes carefully delineated by infinite shades of a monochrome, Bethany Hadfield focuses on transforming rendered animations and digital images into large-scale physical canvases.
Serpil Mavi Üstün investigates the loneliness of the individual in contemporary urban society through figures carrying out mundane activities in picturesque scenarios. Both Yaya Yajie Liang and Joanna van Son explore definitions of ‘humanity’ in an ever-changing and increasingly urban society. And Caroline Zurmely’s nail polish paintings are driven by her fascination with social media, and the intimacy and remoteness created between the viewer and subject.
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