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Carl Kostyál is delighted to present new works by Deborah Brown, Camilla Engström, Alexander Guy, Jordy Kerwick, Hiroya Kurata, Jeremy Lawson, Maud Madsen, Koichi Sato, Tony Toscani.
His soul stretched tight across the skies
That fade behind a city block,
Or trampled by insistent feet
At four and five and six o’clock;
And short square fingers stuffing pipes,
And evening newspapers, and eyes
Assured of certain certainties,
The conscience of a blackened street
Impatient to assume the world.
I am moved by fancies that are curled
Around these images, and cling:
The notion of some infinitely gentle
Infinitely suffering thing.
Wipe your hand across your mouth and laugh;
The worlds revolve like ancient women
Gathering fuel in vacant lots.
T. S. Eliot Preludes 1910, verse IV
T. S. Eliot’s poem Preludes, which anticipated his much longer opus The Waste Land, is a profound meditation on the drudgery and loneliness Eliot perceived to be inherent in modern city life. Urban society, the poem suggests, isolates people from one another, threatening to erase their individuality and even eroding human morality itself, an overwhelming preoccupation at the turn of the last century.
Describing the hum of ordinary street life as viewed from his window in almost painterly terms, this impressionistic snapshot seems to contain all of human existence: the daily grind of the familiar and the strange, the street, the dirt, the sounds, the isolation of the individual in the crowd, where comfort is to be found and where it is absent and a resounding awareness that the world keeps on turning, no matter what noise we make in it. Plus ça change, one might say.
Adapting its title from Baudelaire’s immortal musings on the life of the flâneur, this exhibition will look at how these artists, each in their distinctly poetic ways and over a century after Eliot penned his poem, offer perhaps a contemplative palliative to this dystopian vision, touching upon the struggle for authentic living and the search for meaning in and escape from our modern lives, seen both from within the urban sprawl and the alienating digital technocracy of our present.
These artists’ chosen medium is painting, the language of which is becoming ever more elastic, generous and relevant as a uniquely analogue, solitary and salvatory pursuit. Deborah Brown’s haunting streetscapes, Camilla Engström’s hallucinogenic escapist landscapes, the ‘poor-Pop’ of Alexander Guy’s painterly kitsch compositions, Koichi Sato’s familiar archetypes of New York life, Hiroya Kurata’s comfortingly familiar yet absurd painterly snapshots of family life, the deliberate meditative destruction of the artist’s presence in Jeremy Lawson’s abstraction, Maud Madsen’s interrogations of memory and normalcy, Tony Toscani’s lethargic, isolated figures and Jordy Kerwick’s fantastical animal compositions each in their way mark a profound engagement with painting as an essential and hopeful pursuit for our times.
– Katharine Kostyál
Photo by Sofia Gomez Fonzo © the artist. Courtesy of Carl Kostyál, London | Stockholm