A FOCUS ON PAINTING
ALVARO BARRINGTON | MANDY EL-SAYEGH | RACHEL JONES | DONA NELSON Curated by Julia Peyton-Jones, Senior Global Director: Special Projects
This September, Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac is delighted to be showing A Focus on Painting, curated by Julia Peyton- Jones. The exhibition features four artists from different generations and at different points in their careers – Alvaro Barrington, Mandy El-Sayegh, Rachel Jones and Dona Nelson – three of whom have never previously exhibited at Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac.
The individual artists’ presentations throughout the gallery demonstrate some of the wide-ranging possibilities of painting today. They explore themes such as the formation of identity, the communication of meaning and the subjectivity of interpretation, as well as the boundaries between personal expression and collective experience.
With materials ranging from yarn to newsprint to poured colour, the processes these artists use and the forms of their final works are compellingly diverse. Mandy El-Sayegh and Rachel Jones explore what appears to be abstraction, however at its core is an investigation of the human body and the formation of identity, while Alvaro Barrington and Dona Nelson play with form and materials not usually associated with painting.
For this exhibition, Alvaro Barrington has created a series that engages with his relationship to the history of painting. He references the linear concept of the gallery’s hallway and the line as a tool of making that, in Barrington’s works, evokes both a physical journey as well as the intersecting strands formed through the action of weaving.
Mandy El-Sayegh’s installation, which includes a ‘rug’ on the hand-laid latex floor, investigates the possibilities of materials and language through the layering of found images and text. El-Sayegh employs the grid as a structure to weave together disparate remnants of memory, history and discourse.
Although Rachel Jones has eliminated any literal depiction of self or the body, her work is a continual exploration of form as an expression of abstract concepts. The barely discernible presence of a mouth or teeth act as signifiers for the body as a whole, rendered in a bold palette and rich textures.
Dona Nelson allows chance to influence the final composition, working on both sides of the canvas so there is no ‘right side’ from which to view the finished painting. The final work is often exhibited on a stand, as opposed to hung on the wall, blurring the lines between painting and sculpture.
It is very exciting to look at the work of four painters, from the established to the emerging, and to see how each engages with the medium in widely different ways. Alvaro Barrington has created two new pieces comprising thread, paint and burlap, one of which is made up of numerous parts; Mandy El-Sayegh has conceived an all- embracing installation across the gallery's walls and floor; Dona Nelson blurs the lines between painting and sculpture; while at the core of Rachel Jones's seemingly abstract work the representation of the body is explored through exuberant colours and textured surfaces. – Julia Peyton-Jones, 2020
Alvaro Barrington (b. 1983, Caracas, Venezuela) has risen to international acclaim in recent years with his multidimensional practice ranging from solo presentations of his work to collaborative street parties, concerts and floats for Notting Hill Carnival. He is currently teaching at Slade School of Fine Art in London and will have a solo exhibition at Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Paris in Spring 2021.
Barrington presents two new paintings conceived specifically for this exhibition and informed by an ongoing commitment to a wide range of practices – including the visual arts, music, fashion, education and philanthropy. Experimenting with and adjusting to the ‘logic’ found within other artists’ work in relation to his own, these new works consider different approaches to abstraction through simplified palettes, the application of the grid and the expressive potential of bold brushstrokes.
When you look at my paintings, you’re encountering parts of my identity. I grew up in a culture where it was really about erasing hierarchies, where we’re all participating in cultural production. – Alvaro Barrington
Painted in the artist’s London studio during lockdown, these works continue Barrington’s interest in dialogue, interpersonal histories and the logic of abstraction, expanding his reflections on and embrace of contemporary digital culture and his ongoing interest in music. Using torn sheets of burlap as canvas and presented in custom- made wooden frames, the works reference the artist's personal and cultural ties to the Caribbean, where cacao beans are packed in burlap bags, while their woven structure offers a physical representation of the intricacies of the ever-expanding World Wide Web.
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