Hales Gallery is pleased to announce VITALIC, a show of four artists who explore the relationship between a personal fictional narrative and the artist's own (very different) backgrounds and realities. What draws these artists together is the imagery present in much of the work on show, which suggests a fantastical private world occupied only by the artist and a complex thought process. These fantasies are, however, all grounded in a tangible, physical experience of the world.
Operating in a similar way to the 1980s literary genre of 'Magical Realism', this exhibition aims to present works' where plot lines and imagery characteristically display multiple levels of reality. The often dreamlike and luscious environments allow glimpses of familiar details; whether they are recognizable figures, environments, modes of thought or cultural references that in turn both explain and navigate the contemporary world.
Omar Ba makes paintings directly onto corrugated cardboard sheets, the artists preferred surface. His relocation from Dakar to Geneva has had a major effect on his work bringing together African and Western influences often centred around single figures, isolated on blackened surfaces. The highly patterned and elaborate personages draw together imagery associated with famine, tribal decoration, factional warfare and despotic self-styled leaders along with advances in new technology and popular culture.
Sebastiaan Bremer dapples tiny freckles of paint over the surface of glossy photographs. The resulting works attempt to subvert, or at least redefine the photograph as a historical document in time. Bremer's fascination with the expression of the 'Romantic' in art has lead him to explore both images of himself, his father and his children as well as isolated eyes taken from the photographs of Bill Brandt. More recently images of the musician Harry Nilsson have become the focus in his attempt to discover the man behind the image. The dream-like atmosphere that Bremer has created by re-touching, allows the viewers to enter them and establish an intimate connection with the works.
Hew Locke explores the languages of post-colonial power. His interests have lead him to a wide range of subject matter including the representation of royal portraiture, coats-of-arms, public statuary, trophies, company share certificates, weaponry and costume. Locke's ability to fuse this existing material with his own political and cultural concerns makes for some witty amalgamations between the modern materials he sources and uses in his sculpture and the historic subject matter. Successfully merging influences from his native Guyana and the readily available British colonial subject matter from around him in London where Locke now lives and works, Locke probes the contemporary ramifications of these histories but does it with a lightness of touch allowing the viewer to enjoy the luscious colour and rich textures.
Trenton Doyle Hancock's works are suffused with personal mythology. Through collage, paint, and accumulations of detritus, he creates energetic and subversive narratives. Hancock employs a variety of cultural tropes, ranging in tone from comic-strip superhero battles to medieval morality plays, often using language, which is contained within the works, both as way to drive the narrative and as a central visual component. His renowned and on-going body of work is the visually depicted tale of his sprawling, epic battle between the forces of good, as represented by 'Mounds' and their colour-filled world, and evil, as embodied by the skeletal 'Vegans' who live underground in a world of black and white
About the artists:
Omar Ba (b. Senegal, Africa, 1977) attended L'Ecole Nationale des Beaux-arts, Senegal; L'Ecole Superieur des Beaux-arts, Geneva, Switzerland; and ECAV-MAPS Arts in Public Sphere, Sierre, Switzerland. International solo shows include those at Galerie Guy Bärtschi (Geneva, Switzerland); Galleria 1000eventi (Milan, Italy); Galerie Anne de Villepoix (Paris, France). He was recently included in La jeunesse est un art at Aargauer Kunsthaus (Aarau, Switzerland) (2012), the important Swiss round-up of the most interesting local young artists. In 2011 he was awarded the prestigious Swiss Art Award. Ba Lives and works in Geneva, Switzerland
Sebastiaan Bremer (b. Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 1970) attended the open studio program in Vrije Academie in The Hague (1989-1991). Selected shows include Tate Modern (London), The Brooklyn Museum of Art (New York), Het Gemeentemuseum (The Hague), The Aldrich Museum (Connecticut), Marlborough Gallery (New York), Mia Sunberg Gallery (Stockholm), Projektraum I (Berlin), Warhol Museum (Pittsburg). Bremer's work is represented in important private and public collections such as Victoria & Albert Museum (London), MoMA (New York), LACMA (Los Angeles), Berger collection (Zurich), The Rabobank Collection (The Netherlands). Bremer moved to New York in 1992, where he currently lives and works.
Hew Locke (b. Edinburgh, UK, 1959) spent his formative years (1966-1980) in Guyana before returning to the UK to complete an MA in sculpture at the Royal College of Art (1994). Recent works have been included in The Folkestone Triennial (2011) and the 54th Venice Biennale (2010). In 2012 he was the lead Artist/Curator for Deptford X. Selected shows include National Portrait Gallery (London), El Museo de Bario (New York), Fondation Clément (Martinique), The Bell House (Prague), Kunsthal KAdE (Netherlands), Tate Britain (London), V&A Museum (London), The New Art Gallery (Walsall), Rivington Place (London), The Bluecoat Gallery (Liverpool), The British Museum (London), The New Art Exchange (Nottingham), The Luckman Gallery (LA), The New York Museum of Art and Design (New York), Atlanta Contemporary Arts (US) and at The Brooklyn Museum (New York). In 2010 Locke's work, Sikandar, was shortlisted for the Fourth Plinth, Trafalgar Square (London). Locke's work is represented in many collections including The Government Art Collection (UK), Miami Art Museum (US), The Tate Gallery (UK), The Arts Council of England (UK), The Collection of Eileen and Peter Norton (US), The Brooklyn Museum (New York), The Arnold Lehman Collection (US), The Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art (US), Kansas City Collection (US), The RSID Museum (Rhode Island), The New Art Gallery (Walsall), The Victoria & Albert Museum Drawing Collection (London), The British Museum (London) and The Henry Moore Institute (Leeds). Locke currently lives and works in London.
Trenton Doyle Hancock (b. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA, 1974) has been exhibited nationally and internationally, including in the 2000 and 2002 Whitney Biennials. Important solo exhibitions include the 2010 survey exhibition We Done All We Could and None of It's Good, originating at the University of South Florida Contemporary Museum and travelling to Savannah College of Art and Design; Weatherspoon Art Museum, Greensboro, NC. In 2007, Hancock's European solo exhibition The Wayward Thinker, was mounted at the Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh, and travelled to the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam. In addition, solo exhibitions have been mounted at the Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston; Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth; Cleveland Museum of Art; and Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami. Recent projects include a commission to produce a 40 x 108-foot mural for the new Dallas Cowboys Stadium, a residency at the Singapore Tyler Print Institute, and a site-specific installation at the Olympic Sculpture Park in Seattle. Hancock was the 2007 recipient of the Joyce Alexander Wein Award from the Studio Museum Harlem, NY. Important to the artist's oeuvre are the large scale public installations and performing arts works that have been commissioned by the Austin Ballet, Cowboys Stadium and Olympic Sculpture Park. Hancock lives and works in Houston, Texas.