Horton Gallery is pleased to announce a two-person exhibition featuring the work of London based painter Selma Parlour and Nottingham based multi-media artist Yelena Popova. In this exhibition, the abstract paintings on view examine not only the visual iconography of Modernist painting, but also the rhetorical structures used to define both Modernism and its critique.
Parlour, who is currently working towards a PhD in Art at Goldsmith College, University of London, uses the content and process of her academic research to inform her artistic practice. Shapes and forms rendered in thin transparent washes of paint are conceived of as representing rhetorical elements such as subject matter and analogy. Visually, the works explore features of painting that have been subject to scrutiny throughout the medium’s history such as surface emphasis versus pictorial illusionism and the arbitrariness of the visual sign versus the directness of the gestural index. At times certain works become more representational, seeming to depict actual abstract paintings within an archetypal Modern gallery space. As a result, Parlour’s paintings make iconographic reference to a multitude of pivotal Modern artists such as Mark Rothko, Ad Reinhardt, and Ellsworth Kelly, while playfully glimpsing generalized moments in the evolution of the pictorial field throughout painting’s history.
In this series of pale paintings, Popova, a recent Royal College of Art graduate, uses the compositional sensibilities of Russian Constructivism as a departure point, but deviates from the movement’s aggression and boldness to take on a palette that introduces the visual culture of our IKEA dominated contemporary era. Like Constructivist predecessors such as Kazimir Malevich and Alexander Rodchenkco, Popova is interested in society’s relationship with machines, which today involves a familiarity with translucent digital surfaces and the immateriality of screen based images. Popova, who like Parlour works with thin layers of diluted paint, creates ethereal images to represent her view that the Modernist narrative is “the history of matter tamed,” and that, “everything, from producing better houses to using atomic energy, points to matter becoming domesticated at all levels.” As thin layers of paint appear to evaporate and expose the natural fibers of the linen substrate, the instability or submission of matter is suggested. Effects such as these in Popova’s paintings serve as metaphors for the progress, defeat, and competition involved in Modernist dialogue.