James Freeman Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of new works by Carolein Smit and Ray Caesar, two contemporary artists who delve deep into imaginative worlds in the creation of fantastical and surreal works.
Carolein Smit’s exquisitely detailed ceramic figures draw on the great treasure trove of images that exist in myth, folklore, and religion. Satyrs and skeletons, medusa’s heads and sacrificial lambs – these are characters that lurk deep in our shared cultural psyche, and that re-appear across millennia. Thanks to their timeless nature, the archetypes Carolein references have a deep emotional charge, and tap into some of the most elemental narratives governing the subconscious. But at the same time there is a sense of humour in Carolein’s works, as if they have been playing their roles for so long, they have become more theatrical than fearsome. In tandem with this show, Carolein’s solo exhibition ‘Myth and Mortality: The Fairytale World of Carolein Smit’ runs at the Victoria & Albert Museum until 30 September 2018.
Ray Caesar is renowned as one of the pioneers of digital art, and for his depiction of a vast and complex inner world. His images present a cast of figures he refers to as dolls dressed up in myriad historical costumes and interpreting a variety of cryptic roles. The environments they inhabit are equally uncanny: pastoral landscapes, nostalgic seafronts or neo-classical interiors, idealised imaginary scenes where animals become human and organic plants come to life like triffids. In Ray’s world, everything from historical eras to instinctive animal natures collide and cross-pollinate. An undercurrent of Dickensian macabre runs through the work, juxtaposed with a thread of clinical technology, together with a sense of romantic nostalgia and at times a gentle innocence. Sinister and sweet, surreal and symbolic, Ray Caesar’s images are an adventure into the unconscious imagination.