Winner of the East London Painting Prize 2015 Willem Weismann’s exhibition Alphabet Soup opens at the Nunnery Gallery. Supported by the Foundation for FutureLondon in partnership with Bow Arts Trust, this imaginative and vibrant exhibition of Weismann’s work explores the similarities between the introspective privacy of reading books and the personal experience of painting practice. As the prize recipient in May 2015, Weismann has embarked on a singular body of new work that builds on Library Guide which captured the sensation of being enraptured in a novel, so much so that the figure seems oblivious to everything else. To return to a way of wondering about the world that is personal; beyond merely interpreting data and collating information and towards knowing the importance of a story.
The East London Painting Prize celebrates the incredible talent and diversity of artists living and working in the boroughs of east London. The prize has been created by the Foundation for FutureLondon and Bow Arts Trust, with kind support from the Goldhill Family and the Zabludowicz Collection. This is the second year of the prize which provides a £10,000 cash award as well as the solo exhibition at the Nunnery Gallery, Bow for east London based artists.
Elizabeth Neilson, Director of the Zabludowicz Collection and East London Painting Prize panel judge said: “Immediately upon seeing Weismann’s work I was struck by its visual bravery, but also its approachability. His graphic style zigzags across the art historical spectrum – recalling references as diverse as Robert Crumb and Phillip Guston or Alan Davie. His paintings of people immersed in books caricature the loneliness of the reader, the author and the painter but they also poke fun at our absorption into our mobile devices. I am greatly looking forward to digging in to his Alphabet Soup!”
Weismann explained: “There are similarities between books and painting. Both are a communication of information, and both are physical objects which are pushed to the side in an increasingly digital age, where everything is becoming virtual and weightless.”
The title Alphabet Soup refers to the presence of text that is undecipherable in the paintings; just like the confusion of vermicelli letters one cannot make out what they mean, they can only be consumed on a visual level. A cheap dish available for almost everyone, reflects a democratic idea of accessibility similar to that of a library, or the concept of book printing or the paperback itself and its multiplication and availability to all.
For the publication that will be part of the exhibition writer Alice Butler created a text that responds to the work from the viewpoint of the women inside the paintings themselves.
Nunnery Gallery Director, Bow Arts said: “Willem is a dynamic talent. His deceptively simple visual language succeeds in communicating complex ideas. I am excited to be exhibiting his new work and continuing the strong themes of communications as the exhibition and his paintings enter into a new dialogue within a public and free space.”
Claire Gevaux, Head of Programmes, Foundation for FutureLondon, said: “The boroughs surrounding Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park are home to Europe’s largest concentration of artists and arts organisations. Through the East London Painting Prize, we set out to nurture this talent and help some of these outstanding artists to make their mark on the capital’s contemporary art scene.”