Emma Richardson’s debut solo exhibition has generated a lot of excitement. The bassist/vox from Band of Skulls, Southampton’s most successful alt-rock outfit, was trained as a visual artist, and has returned to painting after a six-year hiatus, and with the luxury (or perhaps hindrance) of being an established musician.
Londonewcastle’s Project Space on Shoreditch’s Redchurch Street is an intimidating venue for a solo show, but Richardson surely has the steely attitude from making it in the music industry in order to take it in her own stride. Her large-scale, abstract paintings are carefully and academically executed (Richardson studied art at Winchester, and was encouraged to continue at Wimbledon, a school renowned for its prestigious course in painting, but band commitments and tours kept her from completing her degree), indebted to Twombly, Freud, and Pollock, all elusive abstract forms, and suggestive, sensual colours. While in form the works are clearly those of a natural visual artist, their titles reveal a propensity for music – such as the swaggering, cigarette-puffing, self-ironic, “Hotwire My Heart”, “You’re Not Pretty but You Got It Goin’ On” and “This Is So Nice it Must Be Illegal”.
Though Richardson seems slightly shy in her practice – the eight works in paint are censured and delicately composed, enticing - but somehow not polemical or experimental. The impression is that Richardson is still tentative, self-deprecating, and searching for a strong autonomous voice as a visual artist. But this debut declaims she is a serious and gifted painter, with great potential.
All images courtesy Londonewcastle Project Space
Images: Cruising for a Bruisin', Installation View, Londonewcastle Project Space, Photo by Hannah Lake