much is taken, much abides

End Date: 10/07/2020

The imagery in these works is derived from a late 17th-century petticoat embroidery, its details worn by time as the silk decayed. Belén dyes this narrative deep into rough cotton.

Peter Linde Busk’s catalogue of miniature paintings of the desperate, or curiously radiant, or droopy, bruised and gammy, each built up with oil paint and studio scuzz, represent people on journeys, or the people one encounters on journeys. His piercing animation of mania and clear sympathy toward wildness renders these characters paragons, if not saints, of the long and messy journey through life. As for
Ryan Mosley, A King’s Return is a raucous stomp, the monarch dancing in Pierrot’s flouncy silks, animating a skeleton, making the bones dance. Unless the skeleton is the king who has come back? The sophistication of this composition, a bacchanal rendered as a site of carefully calibrated ambiguity and confusion, keeps everything active. Not everyone knows why they’re celebrating here.

much is taken, much abides

Josh Lilley’s first presentation in virtual space considers the navigation of physical space: how we do it, why we do it, and where we end up. Staying, going, and coming back. As we greet a summer unlike any other, few issues weigh heavier upon us. Where are we going?

Nick Goss’ Hotel depicts four pairs of shoes in a line, viewed straight down from head height. The scene tends toward flat pattern, with figure and ground vibrating over tiles of rugs, but it never forgets three dimensions. A West African house plant curls like putti’s ribbon from the top right corner, insisting on the physical world. The scene appears to be shorthand for family life, four people together and in sync. If only togetherness were that simple, that savoury. The image is partially vamped from Sophie Calle’s legendary 1981 L’Hotel project, in which the artist moonlit as a Venice chambermaid and rifled, without permission, through other people’s lives.

The protagonist of Tom Anholt’s painting stares from a rooftop perch on to a crowded plaza below. People Watching, it’s called, quite consciously acknowledging how simple that phrase used to be. One is fiercely aware of the atmosphere, the distance, the elevation of his vantage point. Should he stay up there? In Ian Davis’ cruise ship cuts through unbroken blue. There is no one in the glassed ballroom crowning the vessel. There is no one anywhere. Everything is in focus, clean, and the artist is flamboyantly keen with his details and the balance of his composition, but the story outside the frame will remain a mystery. What happened?

Belén Rodríguez’s new series of bleached and dyed fabric works take their name, Japanning, from a 1688 instructional book teaching wealthy British people how to achieve the look of lacquered Eastern goods. To witness cultural appropriation at an early, innocent moment of admiration — full of curiosity, fresh and uncurdled by prejudice or domination — is to witness a potential world that never came to be.