Purdy Hicks is pleased to present a new group exhibition of small scaled works. The show will gather a selection of international artists working across a large variety of genre and media from photography to painting and mixed media.
The works exhibited here answer to the concept of the small and miniature, as a working process and statement. The scale defines their personal aesthetic, yet, also an aim to revitalise a certain genre. From Victorian miniatures to what may look like a trivial postcard or an arrangement of modest materials onto board, the works presented certainly celebrate the preciousness of their scale.
In the view of Claire Kerr, " In painting, a small scale has the same effect, perhaps, as looking through a keyhole - reminding us of a way into another world, in this case the world of the imagination. The keyhole is small, but the imaginative world beyond that it represents is limitless, opening out far beyond the confines of the painted surface. The effect is a kind of concentration, or counterintuitively a magnification, emphasising the importance of our imaginative, idosyncratic, private worlds – those both of the painter and of the viewer. And we now have so little privacy – particularly psychological privacy; the world is a public space, we know well that nearly everything we do is tracked and watched over. It is only interior mental spaces that still have real privacy, or even perhaps, intimacy. For me, therefore, the ‘breathing space’ provided by looking at certain kinds of art is very important – and where very large work might need the context of a large institution (with the inevitable intrusion of politics or rhetoric this entails) something on a small scale can be encountered more easily one-to-one, allowing space for personal thoughts and feelings to emerge. In Robert Hughes’s phrase, ‘one voice carefully explaining itself to one person, the interested stranger’. "
As one gets closer, it becomes tangible that the small also affects us in a deep and intimate manner. The dimensions of the works resonate with our desires of protection, and longing to cherish. Indeed, the small retains its quality of keepsake, or amulet.
Historically and from experience, it relates to memory, and the noble expression of one's sentiments, captured and preserved on the canvas. Somehow, and mysteriously, it seems to hold the deepest secrets and even, perhaps, a part of our soul.
Amy Bennett was born in 1977 in Portland, Maine, USA and studied in 2002 at the MFA in New York, then the Academy of Art.
‘Working with common themes such as time, isolation, and transition, I am interested in the fragility of relationships and people’s awkwardness in trying to coexist and relate to one another.' Amy’s use of the small scale allows her to alter the light, composition and vantage point of her paintings. The object she uses, with houses being a 1/500 scale, highlights the importance of the delicacy and vulnerability of the world, sparking empathy from the viewer. Bennett also uses a small scale to create a believable but alternate and fabricated world from her paintings.
Pierre Bergian (born 1965, Bruges, Belgium) studied Art History and Archaeology, and combined with his fascination for architecture his paintings explore space and structure and make use of the presence of architectural components. Bergian's work looks at rooms and spaces that are often almost empty, bar a small selection of furnishings and objects. He is intrigued by the many old, abandoned houses he encountered as a child: these buildings were shrouded in an air of the mysterious.
Jonathan Delafield Cook (born, London 1965) trained as an architectural draughtsman in Japan, winning many awards for his detailed drawings. After completing his training he returned to England to study at the Royal College of Art (1994 - 1995) receiving the Darwin Scholarship.
Cook's exquisite charcoal drawings of a variety of subjects - cows, flowers, nests, fish, barnacles - have a photographic quality and are made with a remarkable attention to detail.
Anni Leppälä (born 1981, Helsinki) explores the relationship between the past and present. She is drawn towards the 'possibility of being able to make a moment motionless, to make something stand still.' Her photographic style is a visual expanse that covers a multitude of landscapes, surfaces and enclosed spaces, including streams, human figures caught in the seclusion of their own presence and antique paintings. Like stylised postcards or snapshots, her works take on an aura of frozen time, recording both fleeting moments and the small glimpses of larger tales from which they are taken.
Claire Kerr (b. 1968) has a unique perspective on realistic painting. Indeed her works are born from a strong sense of contemporary realism, and their content seems to rise from the wooden panels they are painted on. The paintings are miniature in scale and deliberately photographic in technique. Nevertheless, the painted surface is only the beginning of each painting's conceptual investigation of its subject-matter and each work transcends its surface to become something much greater than the sum of its parts.
David Quinn (b. 1971) is an Irish artist whose works are largely inspired by the marks, textures, patterns and atmosphere of Quinn's native Dublin city. The majority of the mostly small-scale and intimate paintings are made up of individual panels of paper on mdf measuring 21 x 13.5cm. Quinn says he sees the individual panels as being like "visual haikus" which evolve spontaneously. Quinn's work draws on numerous influences from musical notation, minimalism, abstract expressionism and book design to signwriting, Asian miniature painting and the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi.
Anna Maria Schönrock (born 1989, Witten, Germany) studied painting at the Academy of Fine arts in Nuremberg where she graduated in 2015 as a master student of Professor Ralph Fleck. She likes to say that for her starting a new painting is similar to undertaking an adventure: she never knows where she will be lead. ‘Explorers have been an inspiration for me. I think of men like Ernest Shackleton, who not only made an incredible journey, but continued with it when he knew it was doomed to failure. …As a painter, I find myself attracted to the incredible risks these explorers, of all types, take. It encourages me to take risks.’
Bettina von Zwehl's (b. 1971) most recent projects which reprise the tradition of the painted portrait miniature.
The reason miniatures still hold such allure is down to their original purpose and connection to relationships and love. The miniature was at its essence the visual and portable version of the contemporary love song – commissioned and cherished by those in love.
Her ongoing pre-occupation with the miniature, and its lesser-known C18th sub-genre, was inspired during her six months as Artist in Residence at the Victoria & Albert Museum. Since then, von Zwehl's photographs have taken a new direction. They are all presented in a small scale, in custom made framed reminiscent of the Victorian miniatures. Her new methodology reveals a deepening interest in the politics and the possibilities around the three-way dialogue between artist, sitter and viewer. The Sessions, 2016, is a new body of work made in response to a long period of reﬂection on the life and legacy of Anna Freud, interwoven with the artist's own personal experience of undergoing psychoanalysis.
Masao Yamamoto, (b. 1950) is a Japanese artist known for his small photographs. He studied under Goro Saito as a painter and then became the photographer he is today, blending the line between painting and photography. He uses dyes, tea, paint and physical rips in his photographic images to blur this line.
‘Most of his photographic works are in monochrome and its aged texture reminds us of “memories dropping out of someone’s drawers”. Snapshot sized, yet speechlessly beautiful pictures have been exhibited in groups of ten to several hundred spread across the wall, or sometimes placed in a small box. Tranquillity around each photograph filled the entire space. Strangely, the existence of a single piece of art and a whole installation seemed to be equal. It recalls oriental and Japanese ideas about the relationships between the world and self. Western audiences pick up those essences and are the reason why his work is widely appreciated in the western world.’