Man made

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Self-Consciousness, 2010 Acrylic, Oil, Thixotropic Alkyd Medium And Spray Paint On Canvas 145 × 120.5 Cm © Courtesy of the Artist and Wilkinson Gallery
Table, 2010 Acrylic, Oil, Spray Paint And Graphite On Canvas 140 × 128.5 Cm © Courtesy the artist and Wilkinson Gallery
Warm Change, 2010 Acrylic On Canvas 183.5 × 153 Cm © Courtesy the artist and Wilkinson Gallery
Three Bananas, 2010 Acrylic On Linen 70.5 × 80.5 Cm © Courtesy the artist and Wilkinson Gallery
Interior Man, 2010 Oil And Acrylic On Linen 140 × 128.5 Cm © Courtesy the artist and Wilkinson Gallery
Swimmer, 2010 Acrylic, Pastel, Pastel Ground On Canvas 170 × 120.5 Cm © Courtesy the artist and Wilkinson Gallery
Man made

50/58 Vyner Street
E2 9DQ London
January 13th, 2011 - March 6th, 2011
Opening: January 13th, 2011 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM

+44 020 8980 2662
Wed-Sat 11-6; Sun 12-6


Wilkinson Gallery is pleased to present new paintings by Phoebe Unwin.

This exhibition encompasses Unwin’s curious approach to painting: at once a destabilisation  of expectations of style and form, coupled with a stern and enthused focus on realising a  subject in paint. She cares for a painting’s physical qualities of material and scale in a way a  sculptor might. These paintings feel part of our world, rather than a window to somewhere  else. Each is a new possibility, differing in mark, material, scale and subject, with no  repeated motif. With these formal interests and challenges, it may seem a perversity that  these are figurative paintings, however, it is how image relates to material that is fundamental  to the work.

Unwin references and explores a world we all experience visually, verbally and sensationally:  a figure infects and affects it’s space, as if thoughts are made into things; a grubby patterned  Underground seat blocks a view; the shape of a head is formed by a uniformed edge of toothpaste-like stripes; pictures of notepaper become a layered collected mass of white on  whites.

Colour is used to explore these perceptions of the familiar with a palette ranging from the  irreverent to the beautiful: monochrome chromium oxide green to wet-glossy black to  washed-out fuzzy fluorescents. The intrinsic materiality of Unwin’s chosen media is  acknowledged and celebrated within the paintings. For instance, the matte plastic quality of   acrylic paint differs from the sheen and subtlety of oil paint; the opaque colour and furry-edged mark of spray-paint has both industrial and urban qualities; powdered graphite makes translucent marks of slightly sparkly soft grey.

Connotations of colour combinations are communicated: the gentle, poetic, modern, dirty or  minimal. The application of these colours range from brushes to simple stencilling  techniques, achieving diverse results. Some paintings have a sense of its image having been  near-destroyed, while others appear to show a subject playfully found; one work might have a  feeling of layered time put into it, yet another is a lone economy of line.

In size and composition, some of these paintings might appear to reference the ergonomics  of design, while others probe the more intimate visual conversation to be had with a small  portrait form. All of the paintings are, in a sense, more about explaining, visually, what  something feels like, rather than what it looks like. It is because of this interest and aim for  the work, Unwin does not work from photographs or direct observation. Instead, she takes an  almost phenomenological approach to materials, often working with memory as an editing  tool to find the essence of a subject: both our physical and emotional navigation of it.

Phoebe Unwin was born in Cambridge in 1979 and lives and works in London. She studied at Newcastle University and Slade School of Fine Art. Currently her work is exhibited as part of  the British Art Show 7, a Hayward Gallery National Touring Exhibition. Recent solo shows  have taken place at Honor Fraser, Los Angeles (2009); Wilkinson (2008, 2006) and Milton  Keynes Gallery (2007). Group shows include: The Saatchi Gallery, London; IFF Gallery,  Marseille; CIRCUIT, Centre for Contemporary Art, Lausanne; MOCA, Los Angeles ( all 2010); Jerwood Space, London (2009) CCA Andratx, Majorca (2008) Thomas Dane, London (2007);  W139, Amsterdam (2007), Publications include: ‘Feelings and Other Forms’ solo exhibition  catalogue, Wilkinson, with a text by Jens Hoffmann (2008); ‘A Short Walk from a Shout to a  Whisper’ solo exhibition catalogue, Milton Kenes Gallery with a text by Max Henry (2007).  She was commissioned to create a work for the  Centre Pompidou, for inclusion in the  catalogue publication of their exhibition ‘Voids – A Retrospective’ (2009). Other publications  include ‘Younger than Jesus’, New Museum New York/ Phaidon (2009) and the forthcoming  ‘Vitamin P Survey of International Contemporary Painting’ Phaidon (2011/2012).