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Taming the Chaos

The subjective nature of art certainly makes its true value hard to pin down, especially in the current state of financial ruin. But a recent Damien Hirst auction at Sotheby’s put it black and white that investing in art is a sure bet. Here, Danielle Almost scours exhibitions and galleries in hyper-trendy Shoreditch to find the next big thing.

Hoxton, located in the east end of London, is widely known as a very creative, ‘out-there’ quarter of the city teeming with the excessively fashionable, arguably talented and suspiciously entitled. It all began more humbly after the Second World War when many small industries moved out of Hoxton. And after a 30-year hibernation, young artists started moving in by the 1980s, attracted by the cheap industrial lofts where they could live and work. By the 1990s, the most well known artist in Shoreditch was Joshua Compston who had his own gallery called ‘Factual Nonsense’. The concentration of artists drew in other creative industries and the area is now known for having the highest concentration of art galleries in Europe. To give you a flavour what Shoreditch has to offer artistically, I offer this guide to some of its most interesting galleries. At least in my opinion.

Carl Freedman Gallery
Location: 44a Charlotte Street, Shoreditch

Curator: Carl Freedman, a close friend of Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin. He became very well known in the Young British Artist movement, which peaked in 1996 and 97 when he also was a regular contributor to The Guardian. In 2003, he opened the Carl Freedman Gallery, originally called Counter Gallery, and now holds around seven exhibitions a year.

Talk of the Town: An exhibition by Oliver Perkins and David Smith called Begin Again at the End. The exhibition is an investigation into monochrome art. Underneath each of the canvases is another stretcher bar, normally only used on the outside of the canvas as a frame to keep it taught. However here they have been used to create a 3D effect. Each painting has many layers of different coloured paint underneath it created experimentally to find the colour which is just right. Interestingly, in David Smith’s paintings, fluorescent tape has been used around the edges of the canvas to produce a neon glow. In another, he has used sediment collected from the bottom of used brush cleaning pots to create a unique colour.

GOM pick: Painting 4 by David Smith. The name doesn’t give away a lot but it was my favourite because of the fluorescent tape on the edges which lit up the wall it hung it on. Paintings in the exhibition vary from £2,500 to £5,000 in cost.

AOP Gallery
Location: 81 Leonard Street
Curator: Rachel Rogers, gallery manager

Talk of the Town: The current exhibition is centred on the theme of the future and features around 15 different photographs with a huge variety in style. The AOP Gallery has been running for 22 years and displays many examples of work by sought-after contemporary photographers.

GOM pick: My favourite picture in this exhibition was Computer Love by Gemma Booth. It certainly wasn’t the most expensive, however I was drawn to its sentiment. It shows a friendly looking robot in a secluded lake swimming as a woman watches. The photo combines the theme of the future with nature to create a wonderfully endearing photograph. I was also drawn to Where will it all end? by a photographer called Perou, who exemplifies the theme of the future in a daunting self portrait of himself now and at 70. Both of these photographs cost about £400 and the most expensive in the exhibition was a £550 piece by Zena Holloway who specialises in underwater photography.

Location: 82 Kingsland Road
Curator: Annie Conway and Matthew Flowers

Talk of the Town: A series of paintings by Patrick Hughes called Perspectivirtuoso really put this gallery on the map. A series of reverse perspective paintings creating “visual anarchy” break most of the rules about perspective using three-dimensional boards to cleverly create a changing visual illusion as you walk around the painting. Although when viewed directly front on the paintings seem to look two-dimensional, the effect is only created when you move. The exhibition was established in celebration of Hughes’s 69th birthday, showing some of his new works of art.

Another exhibition by Geir Moseid called Plucked also perks a lot of interest. The photographic exhibition displays work by this young photographer who recently won the HotShoe student award. The series of photos intend to be “an investigation into the duality of home, urban alienation, social segregation and human relationships.”

GOM Pick: Box of Love by Patrick Hughes. One of the smaller paintings in the installation but one of my favourites regardless. Using the iconic pop art ‘Love’ by Robert Indiana, the painting literally jumped out at me. Although Geir Moseid’s photographs were full of meaning, I prefer Patrick Hughes’s work for its uniqueness and visual interest. But the work is one of the most expensive in Hoxton, ranging from £9,000 for the smaller pieces to £100,000, not including VAT.

White Cube
Location: 48 Hoxton Square
Curator: Jay Jopling

Talk of the Town: Runa Islam’s exhibition of a 35mm film and two 16mm films inside a sculpture made by Tobias Putrih. In the films, Islam “questions what kind of image making can happen when the chief mechanisms of aesthetic decision are disabled.” Putrih’s work, on the other hand, is based on architecture, design and science and how these subjects relate to social systems. Islam is known for creating film and video installations that use overlapping layers of narrative. The work Putrih has done for Islam is designed to compliment her film Empty the pond to get the fish, using curved walls made from staggered strips of film.

GOM Pick: The Restless Subject, a 16mm film installation. The work features a 19th-century thaumatrope, which was used to create motion pictures; a device popular during Victorian times. With an image on either side, the two images merge when spun in an effect known as the ‘phi phenomena’. However if you can find it, the work is not for sale—yet.


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