Chisenhale Gallery, London E3
During Johannesburg-based artist Ravelle Pillay’s first UK solo exhibition at Chisenhale, Idyll, Peer Sessions and special guest respondant artist Thomas J Price facilitated a Chisenhale Crit open to the public, discussing the work of two artists with the assembled group.
Alex Lewis showed a wall-based installation Relics of the Youth, consisting of a number of textiles pinned to the wall, including an advertising-like poster print, some sneakers, a skateboard and other paraphernalia. The session began with discussion about whether the work was best identified as a painting, installatin or sculpture. It's formal composition reminded some of landscape painting, but its specific materiality in terms of cultural references pointed others to see it as a critique of American cultural imperialism, or indeed of the aspiration of counter-culture to sit outside extraction capitalist hegemony.
Bokani showed three reflective paintings Silence (titled after YAudre Lorde); We're the Ones We've Been Waiting For and Untitled. The conversation initially focussed on the seductive quality of the paintings, with their highly reflective viscous-looking translucent paint. The mirrored surface led the viewer to see themselves when looking at the work, with speculation about how this made them into portals or interfaces with another realm. The shape and gold framing led to interpretations of the works as windows, with many speculating about religious references to iconography or stained glass.
Bokani was born in Zimbabwe and moved to England as a teenager; she now lives in East London. Her work is blending an African sensibility with the traditions of conceptual western art. She studied Politics with Economics (2009) at the University of Bath, as well as a Masters in Fine Art at Goldsmiths College, University of London (2020) specialising in Computational Art. The key theme of her digital practice is journey, creating a narrative that takes viewers on an immersive experience.
Alex Lewis / Lex Lou is an artist based in London. He graduated with an MFA in painting from the RCA in 2021 and in 2022 took part in the Kyoto City University of the Arts Exchange Programme.
Images (from top)
- Kate Pickering and Charlotte Warne Thomas in front of Bokani's work
- Kate Pickering and Charlotte Warne Thomas in front of Alex Lewis' work
- Alex Lewis Relics of the Youth; Photo credit: Elliott Mickleburgh
- Bokani Untitled; Photo credit: Deniz Guzel