Cob Gallery is proud to present a new solo exhibition of work by Tahnee Lonsdale: twelve oil paintings whose swooping angularity fuses an intimate sense of personal vulnerability with an awareness of emotional experience as a form of public rite. Ode and tonic to this year of upheaval, they mark a moment of our collective re-emergence.
Populated by forms that seem to be both discrete figures and abstract configurations of limbs, Lonsdale’s compositions emerge from a practice of intuitive sketch-making in response to particular emotional states. The self, turned outwards onto the canvas, sometimes divides into multiple bodies entwined with or superimposed upon one another, whose sculptural appearance of three-dimensionality is at tension with a striking graphic presence.
The layering of colour within restricted palettes amplifies this effect, establishing depth through blocks and textures rather than gradations of tone. Water, too, is key: as elsewhere in Lonsdale’s work, it carries a dual significance as luminescent space of both meditative calm and possible danger. The safe space of the womb, the site of real and symbolic rebirth, is also one of drowning.
Though the show’s title alludes to Botticelli’s ‘Birth of Venus’ and a divine image of the feminine, the art-historical echoes traceable in Lonsdale’s paintings are less the product of reverential deference than intuitive thematic resonance. The shell in which Botticelli’s Venus stands becomes one way of imagining the layers of social conditioning that can form a kind of armour around us, the exoskeleton within which our anxieties dwell on a soft cushion of disquiet.
A graduate of Byam Shaw School of Art, Lonsdale has exhibited in solo shows in London, Hong Kong, New York and Los Angeles, where she is currently based. ‘Now You See Me’, her most recent exhibition, opened at Mine Project in Hong Kong in February 2021; her work was shown with Night Gallery (LA) at NADA Art Fair Miami 2020 and Frieze Los Angeles 2021. Lonsdale will also present a solo exhibition with Night Gallery in 2022.