Cob has hosted London based residency initiative PLOP for five month-long residency programmes from August 2021 to March 2022 in the gallery's on-site artist studio space. Fifteen residents were selected in total, which included six international artists.
Summer Residency 2021
Autumn Residency 2021
Winter Residency 2021
International Residency 2021
International Residency 2022
PLOP Residency was founded by artist Oli Epp and curator Aindrea Emelife in 2019. PLOP is a residency run by artists for artists and has provided free artist studios, mentorship and industry visits to 48 artists from over four continents. The artists that took part in PLOP created communities where ideas, thoughts and opinions could be freely shared. Previous artists who have taken part in the residency include: Sarah Slappey, Andrew Pierre Hart, Stine Deja, Hunter Potter and Cathrin Hoffmann. They have gone on to have international and solo exhibitions, and forged long-standing communities that cross continents.
International Residency 2
Tim Irani b. 1989 Orange County, CA / lives and works in Los Angeles. He earned his degree in Architecture from the University of San Francisco before working as a mobile product designer. These skills, along with a strong interest in the sciences, inform his artistic practice which contains visual elements of computer-generated imagery and pop art. Irani’s art showcases a playfully distorted, plant-clad built environment where technology and the natural world coexist in careful balance. Solo and duo shows include, Double Vision, Voss Gallery, San Francisco, USA (2021), Alternative Renderings, Glass Rice, San Francisco, USA, (2020) and Plants and Machines, Voss Gallery, San Francisco, USA. Selected group shows include: Locals Only SF, Mirus Gallery, San Francisco, USA (2020), Community, Glass Rice, San Francisco, (20200, and Through the Looking Glass, Voss Gallery, San Francisco, USA (2020). Tim Irani will present a solo booth with Carl Kostyál at Marfa Invitational, TX in May 2022. He will have a solo exhibition at Carl Kostyál London in 2023.
Debbi Kenote, b. 1991 is a New York based artist who received her BFA from Western Washington University and her MFA from Brooklyn College. She has shown her work throughout the U.S. including Page Bond Gallery, Peep Space, SPRING/BREAK Art Show, Peekskill Project and Deanna Evans Projects. Kenote’s work has been published through Elle Magazine, The Hopper Prize, Art of Choice, Page Bond Gallery, Otra Vox and Curina.Kenote has been an artist in residence at the Cob x PLOP Residency, Vermont Studio Center, DNA Residency, Nes Artist Residency, and CAI Projects. In 2021 she was shortlisted for the Hopper Prize. She has curated exhibitions at Open House and the 2018, 2019 and 2021 SPRING/BREAK Art Shows.
Mathew Zefeldt (b. 1987, California) is Associate Professor of Painting and Drawing at the University of Minnesota. He received his MFA in Studio Art from UC Davis in 2011 and his BA in Art from UC Santa Cruz in 2009. He has had solo exhibitions at The Hole, NY; Celaya Brothers, Mexico City; Hair + Nails, Minneapolis; Big Pictures, Los Angeles; 5-50 Gallery, Long Island City; The Soap Factory, Minneapolis; Circuit 12, Dallas; Verge Center for the Arts, Sacramento; Minneapolis Institute of Art, Minneapolis; Hap Gallery, Portland; and Santa Monica Museum of Art, Santa Monica. He has exhibited in group exhibitions at Joshua Liner Gallery, NY; Lisa Cooley, NY; MOHS Exhibit, Copenhagen; Left Field, San Luis Obispo; The Minnesota Museum of American Art, Saint Paul; Akron Art Museum, Ohio; Currier Art Museum, New Hampshire; and The Oklahoma Contemporary, Oklahoma City.
DK: I did my undergrad in painting and installation, and my Masters in sculpture. While at grad school, I found myself making three-dimensional paintings, or thinking about my sculpture work as three-dimensional paintings. When I graduated, I started painting again, but this time I wanted to use acrylic instead of oil. I also started art handling. This gave me a perspective on what makes a good structure for a painting. And as I worked, I became interested in manipulating that. Most painters think of the work as just on the surface, but through sculpture I think about the form a little more. I think most artists’ visual language comes from early on. I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, in a tiny town, on a small island, surrounded by nature. It was a deeply rural childhood, and I was home-schooled. I didn’t have access to museums and art galleries. I observed nature and others’ interpretations of nature, through illustrations and interpretations of nature through local wood carvers. I grew up on 50 acres. The area is wild. You can’t look through forests because they are so dense. It’s magical. It was a complete ushing of source material. I’m not able to describe the allegorical meaning of that, in the way you would use a lexicon or some kind of language. It’s more intuitive than that. With abstraction, there is a feeling I am trying to get out of a viewer. When I’m moving shapes around, they’re saying something, but not something that can be captured in words.
MZ: Your work has a lot of editing in it. It evolves, even if you use an initial drawing. That’s something that has been exciting about being next to you: seeing that intuitive process and careful looking.
DK: I do it old school. I paint everything as a whole, by hand. I’m trying to use less colour because I love colour. When something isn’t quite working, rather than look at a colour theory book on a Master Renaissance painter, I’ll refer to my previous work to see how I solved it before.
MZ: I fell in love with painting at college. A lot of my references are 1960s art history: Pop Art, like James Rosenquist, photorealism, and a slightly colder approach to painting that occurred post-Abstract Expressionism. Gerhard Richter posited his painting practice as an extension of the photographic process. From camera, to dark room, to canvas, to paint. I am trying to apply some of these ideas to video games. They are huge within our day-to-day lives, and yet are not explored within contemporary art. Right now, I am painting exclusively from Grand Theft Auto. I’m trying to think of myself as a virtual en plein air painter or virtual Impressionist. The paintings are a kind of worm hole between the digital and physical worlds. I’m drawn to GTA because it parallels our own so strongly. It’s a place that feels familiar and because of that, uncanny. While I play the game, I am playing a near identical avatar of myself, which I have curated. There is endless customisation and self-expression through consumerism – another eery parallel with out world. I misplay the game. I will do repetitive actions, like driving my car off a cliff twenty times in order to capture the right angle for a painting. I also might do a virtual nature hike, which feels more peaceful and meditative. It’s amazing how much there is to do in the game – to position yourself as an artist, making images exclusively from that game. I found it’s always helpful have these parameters in creative practice. You can’t just to anything, it’s helpful to have set rules for yourself. This game has been that.
TI: I studied architecture at college, and after that worked in Tech for a little bit, doing UX design. Growing up, I was always a major doodler, but I didn’t pick up paints for a long time. I got into art because I saw some that I wanted, but I couldn’t afford it, so I started making paintings for my room. My work has a built quality to it. There’s a lot of wood, which comes from my architecture background. The way I paint flat paintings also has a built method, where often I do more cutting than painting. I use the same software I used in school for architectural drawings. What bothered me about architecture were the physical limitations – you have a budge, you have to be realistic. Whereas in my artwork, I can go crazy. The aesthetic comes from my obsession with the digital realm. I was a big computer gamer, like Mathew. I lived in these worlds for a long time as a kid and into early college.
MZ: I was thinking, during this conversation, that all three of us are concerned with what worlds we want to be in through our art.
TI: It’s definitely an escape for me.
MZ: This work Blending In, is from a vista in Grand Theft Auto. I grew up at the base of Mount Diablo in the Bay Area, and there’s something about this image that reminds me of that. I gave myself the parameter of trying to stand in the same place for an extended period of time, watching the light change. 24 hours is the equivalent of 48 minutes in the game – every 48 minutes there’s a sunrise, a sunset, a noon. I divided that timeframe into four, taking screenshots every few minutes. Here, there are four images that relate to four different kinds of light. There’s a Caspar David Friedrich reference of a third person viewpoint of a vista. There’s also Monet’s Haystacks – I am looking at the same object in different lights and studying how light changes colour, but through a digital lens. Also, I’m wearing camouflage, which isn’t something I wear in real life but is something I feel I can wear in the game – I am interested in assimilating into that world through camouflage. This becomes a metaphor for everything being made of the same material: everything in the game is a polygon, just like everything in our world is an atom. And everything in the painting is paint. It’s all the same stuff but just different recipes or amounts.
DK: This is called A Mountain Could Be a Diamond, the second in a series. It is a playful title, one that speaks to the idea of potential and growth. This relates back to natural forms and childhood. I think about how we interact with the world around us as children, through play and make-believe. I’m interested in how imagination is something we consciously put away and make less of a priority as we age. But what if we revert to that way of thinking? A shape can be anything. A diamond is a heavy-handed object within society, but really, it’s just a rock. This painting is called Many Moons, and it’s a good examples of something I do often, which is to take an image and flatten it. Both include the same tree shape, but in Many Moons, I have switched the palette and reframed the image. Whereas in A Mountain Could Be A Diamond it holds its form. It goes back to this idea that anything can be anything, it’s all how you see it. Mathew and I share rules: using our canvases like filters. Tim and I share a graphic style, choosing a shape and cutting it out in space. All three of us tap into a kind of nostalgia for things that happened before we can remember. Colours that were popular during our childhood or scenes from movies. They all sit in our peripheral vision. The nostalgia they feel for video games is what I feel, for an isolated childhood in nature.
TI: I wanted to do something site specific to London, incorporating an American’s view of coming to London for the first time, bringing things that I view as quintessentially British. As well as things I like and have observed from walking around here. For example, the barricades, cones and road signs, which are colourful and plastic. They remind me of playmobile toys as a kid. Lately it’s been very windy, so the barricades are toppled over everywhere. They don’t do anything. They’re hazards. Then there are pansies – I saw a lone one in someone’s front yard, and it stood out to me. This one is called Fish and Chips. The puffer fish comes from a previous work, I’ve shoved the chips in its mouth, like a bouquet. It’s under a willow tree and the fish is in a Camden rubbish bin, with the Camden logo. I’m straightforward with the names because I work with these objects so much that I become familiar with them, thinking that everybody knows what they are, but it’s not that obvious. I paint by hand, using the exacto plane. I tape over and I cut out all the shapes, pretty much one by one. A lot of them are tiny. I try to get rid of most of the human imperfections but if they were all gone the work would just look like it’s printed.
TI: We’ve made connections that will go further than here.
MZ: We’re West Coast, Midwest, and East Coast. So we cover the US. It will be nice to reconnect after this.
DK: It’s been so productive. I’ve enjoyed seeing other people’s ways of working. we’ve all been able to talk about things in the art world that are challenging that you don’t get to talk about freely often. Like pricing. Locations. Efficient ways of painting. Other artists that we’re interested in.
MZ: It’s been cool sharing the space. That’s something I haven’t done since being in school. Here, having someone nearby, who you can grab to get a second set of eyes on work has been great. Being a painter can be isolating. You often just go to your studio, close the door, and put your headphones on. It’s been amazing being able to be creative and productive, around others, feeding off each other’s creative energy. I think all of us realised in the first week that we are workaholics.
TI: I wouldn’t even say we push each other to work harder, it’s more we work hard, together, in solidarity. I have a pretty big studio now but I started making art out of my room, which is smaller than this.
MZ: It’s another parameter. You have to find a way to be creative within it.
International Residency 1
Bianca Fields is an artist living and working in Kansas City, Missouri. Her work has been showcased in the Armory Show with Steve Turner LA, Ruttkowski;68 Paris, L21 Gallery and Dragon Crab Turtle Gallery St. Louis.
Fields introduces paintings that explore and challenge the depiction of the black female body in action. Utilizing a candid mix of her portrayed primates with that of her very own likeness and realm, Fields’s paintings flatten the traditional concept of beauty.
“I like to paint as if I have a burning cake in the oven,” Fields states. Considering herself an “athletic” painter, she makes frolic moves between a bravado of mark making; polluting the viewer’s sense of space. Additionally recalling pop cultural phenomena and vintage cartoons, the deliberate selection of protagonists in her work each contribute to the tension that holds her highly charged imagery together. This system is considered Fields’s tangible embodiment of experiences and imagination through the medium of paint; seeking to investigate the unresolved, vicious cycle of understanding of how women of color should comport oneself.
Agostino Iacurci is an Italian-born, Berlin-based artist. He studied Visual Arts and Etchings at the Academy of Fine Arts in Rome. His practice embraces a wide range of media, including painting, mural, sculpture, drawing, and installation. Often driven by a site-specific attitude, in his practice, Iacurci collects heterogeneous materials, reworking and manipulating them. He does this in order to generate visions and perceptions in which cultural history and personal memories, literary references and vernacular tales are freely narrated and associated.
Agostino Iacurci has shown his work in solo and group exhibitions including; In Between, Crossing Art Gallery, New York (2021); Premio Termoli LXII, MACTE, Termoli (2021); Tracing Vitruvio, Musei Civici, Pesaro (2019); Talent Prize 2019, Mattatoio, Rome (2019); Gypsoteca, M77 Gallery, Milan (2018); Graffiare il presente, Casa Testori, Novate Milanese (2018); Trompe l’oeil, Celaya Brothers Gallery, Mexico City (2017); Urban Art Biennale, Völkinger Hütte, European Centre for Art and Industrial Culture (2017); Cross the streets, MACRO Museum, Rome (2017); FADA, House of Madness, The Watermill Center, New York (2016); 16° Premio Cairo, Palazzo della Permanente, Milan (2015).
Since 2009 he has been creating monumental wall paintings and installations for public and private institutions. Recent commissions include Ludwigs-Hack-Museum, Ludwigshafen (2021); Life is Beautiful, Las Vegas (2021); Principal Place, London (2020); Yakutsk Biennale, Yakutsk (2017); Distrito Tec University, Monterrey (2016); Govind Puri Metro Station, New Delhi (2016); Istituto Mario Penna, Belo Horizonte, Brazil (2014); Fubon Art Foundation, Taipei (2012).
He was the recipient of Premio New York 2020 promoted by MiBACT, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Italy, Italian Cultural Institute of New York, Italian Academy – Columbia University, and ISCP. In 2020 he was the recipient of Cantica21, Italian Contemporary Art Everywhere Prize, with the project Hortus for Centro per l’Arte Contemporanea Luigi Pecci, Prato. He has developed collaborations with international brands and publishers, including Apple, Adidas, Hermès, Einaudi, Herman Miller, Penguin books, Starbucks, The New Yorker.
Horacio is based in México City. After working for several years in advertisement industry, Horacio began his self-taught painting career in 2013. He graduated in Graphic Design from Universidad Iberoamericana, and following this worked for nearly twelve years as Creative Art Director for various renowned international advertising agencies, such as Publicis México and Zeta Advertising. In 2013, driven by a passion for the visual arts, Quiroz decided to leave behind advertising and devote himself entirely to artistic activity, to somehow reconnect with the spontaneity of his childhood. Thus, over the last six years has launched himself on a new career path.
Just 3 years after starting his artistic career he was selected in the XVII Rufino Tamayo Biennial of Painting. Horacio’s artistic proposal has been exhibited in different venues, galleries and art fairs in Mexico, Australia, United States and Europe. His work has been published in blogs and magazines in the United States, Canada, Denmark, UK, Germany, Spain, Chile and Mexico among others.
Horacio’s painting is an exploration of the concept of polarity inspired by the texts of hermetic philosophy of The Kybalion, Carl Jung and the Tao. He uses the human body as a tool for representing movement and change. Quiroz states that ‘it is through the body that we are learning to “be human” since we are constituted as beings by polarity itself, the flesh, the visible, the tangible and the spirit, invisible and intangible.’
BF: I am from Cleveland, Ohio, where I studied my BFA at the Institute of Art, before moving to Kansas City, Missouri. My work is an open self-examination – a little bit like the ‘Operation’ game – that explores different parts of my interiority. I’m interested in how we move between childhood subjects; tapping into my generation’s particular nostalgia for youth. There has been a dark shift during my lifetime with the development of technology. Happiness changed from being something you experienced to something you consumed. The images we consume tell us how to be, what to wear, how to talk. I’m interested in that – in being my age and growing up during this change. What kind of girl am I today? What does that mean? When I was younger, I engaged with images, pictures, noises, colour, books, and television in a way that made being an artist more exciting and robust. Alongside this darkness, there’s humour to my work. Some of the images are from popular culture, like Tom and Jerry. My work draws on the energy of the show, capturing the kind of frenetic humour that erupts when someone gets knocked on the head. I’m also interested in expressing real life emotion and pain through animals. I am particular about why I choose them, but they exist only in the context of my work; I don’t know what they eat or what their lifestyle is. By combining depictions of animals with cartoons, I want to create whirlwinds in my work. I want to see what type of being emerges out of that whirlwind.
HQ: I was born in Mexico City. I was raised in a Catholic family in Mexico City. My studio practice is in Mexico City. All my life has been in Mexico City. I worked in advertising for twelve years before quitting to paint. Initially, I was frustrated from so many years of not making art, or rather, making art for someone else. My early paintings depict distorted bodies. They were like tumours coming out of me: I had to investigate my dark side. These works were a catharsis for me. I am self-taught, and my work was initially detailed and realistic. It was important to me to know how to paint a hand, an eye, a human body, for artistic validation. Now I know that I can do that, I want to go somewhere else. I don’t want to paint beautiful bodies in a realistic way all my life. It’s boring. I am experimenting with new ways of painting. I want to explore and somehow to know myself through the canvas and through what I’m painting. At school you are taught that the sky is blue, and the grass is green, and the sun is yellow, and the clouds are white; But what happens if you put them in a different order? I am searching for freedom: in myself and in my painting.
AI: I have been painting for fifteen years. I worked as a mural painter, alongside studying at the Academy of Fine Arts in Rome. Following this, I travelled and set up my own studio practice. There is a continuous interchange between my studio practice and mural paintings. My work outside is site specific. I try to find the subject within the history of the architecture by talking to people and hosting workshops. When I was younger, I focussed on the human figure – bringing this to the outside. And when I worked inside, on my studio practice, I brought the architecture and the landscape from outside to my paintings. I like to work in series and each work has an internal story. I’m interested in deep time and the movement of history through time. We are taught that the Ancient World was white but, in reality, cities like Rome and Pompey would be covered in paintings and colour - they looked more like Walt Disney. I feel connected to the fresco painters from this era – their relationship to the outside and the opaque quality of their paint. I am doing something similar, but with modern technologies. I expanded this idea in a body of work for four years, and created an exhibition around Vitruvius’s book, the original treatise on architecture. My work is the opposite of me: it is sharp and meditative while I am chaotic. But it is a way for me to find a sharper perspective. I want to freeze a moment in the stream of reality, to find clarity.
HQ: Since January, I have been focussing on a body of work that explores new ways of painting and new topics. I am still concerned with the human condition. My paintings reflect my psychological processes, but now it is represented differently. I want to paint because of the joy of painting. Because I didn’t go to art school, I have never had time for exploration. Initially, my palette was reduced because I didn’t know how to manage colour. The topic of the work was dark, and I had to find a balance between colour and image. Now, I am exploring colours, colours, colours! When preparing the palette in the studio, I saw that great things happen. Also, when I cleaned the colour palette at the end of the day. It was very organic – these beautiful shapes emerged from the mixed colours and I wanted to bring that onto the canvas. I started with small exercises, and then I decided to paint rocks. Rocks can be any shape or texture. They have the flexibility for me to explore this freedom I am searching for. I’m interested in the question: what are we made of? We are the same; everything in the universe is created by the same chemical elements. So, what do I have that this chair doesn’t? Why can I talk? There is also the question of balance in my paintings: the sense that everything is about to fall down.
AI: This is a new body of work that is informed by my reading on plants and my interest in horti picti, the tradition of painting gardens. I was preoccupied with alien plants – to me ‘alien’ also means new; It relates to inventing plants. I read Goethe’s Metamorphosis of Plants, in which he searches for the archetypal plant in Sicily; he believed there was a mother of all plants. While this was rejected by the scientific community at the time, it was embraced by the poetic world. It was a very idealistic idea, and, in my work, I am always trying to find an idealistic concept. My work is utopian, but in an ironic way. One way of reading Goethe’s text is as a guide to the plant system: how the signing process for decoration works. There is a straight line, and you build around that; I started from this idea. All the paintings in this body of work began with a symmetrical line and I invented the shape around it; It’s very spontaneous. These works connect all my interests in a very clean, synthetical way. Abstraction and figuration come together. The outside and the inside fuse. Meanwhile, there is an interchange with my other practice; I am also a sculptor and that sense of balance, axis, and poise feeds into my paintings.
BF: Prior to the residency, I was worried about not being able to work in the way that I usually do, but while here, I have produced so much. Creating these works has been like a tornado. It feels like each work is an entire painting; there is no narrative. There are little things happening, but I feel like each work is one punch, one moment of energy. During this residency, I have expanded how I relate to the surface of the painting. It has been exciting to put everything on the canvas – to combine all my mediums, ideas and images. Usually, I am more calculated in my approach, but here I really let go. I am working towards having even less on the surface. I want to conjure a noise in the work and once I achieve this on my own, then I will create a body of work where each painting is spray painted gold and all you can see is texture. It’s not about what you’re looking at, but, rather, the distractions underneath the surface.
HQ: I am so grateful to have worked with these two. The energy in the studio has been concentrated and focussed. This is my first residency and I loved it. I’m curious about what will happen when I go back to Mexico, although I don’t want to think about the future yet.
AI: This was my first time sharing a studio since art school. It has been great. We found each other because we have a common approach. I came here with lots of ideas and no plans. When I arrived, I started doing everything. I saw that Bianca was doing the same and that was comforting. I’m also sensitive to the light and colour that surrounds me; I can see the feedback between our work.
BF: That purple and green? I love that colour combination. Boom, you can see it here in my work. This was also my first residency. It’s nice working alongside people who are bold in their studio practice: whether you’re making work or just being here sitting, it’s energising. If anything, it’s just a matter of running out of space because I like to see everything on the walls!
Anne Von FreyburgUntitled, 2021
Anne von Freyburg is a Dutch artist based in London. She studied her MA Fine Art at Goldsmiths, graduating in 2016, and her BA in Fashion Design at Hogeschool voor de Beeldende kunsten Arnhem, Netherlands, graduating in 2001. She is the winner of The Robert Walters UK New Artist Award 2021 exhibited at Saatchi Gallery and shortlisted for the 2021 Ingram Prize. In 2019 she was awarded a residency at the Florence Trust in London, and in 2016 was shortlisted for the Art Gemini Prize. Anne has exhibited in London, the Netherlands, Germany, and Spain. Her work has been published in Art Scope magazine (US), Embroidery art magazine (UK), Textiel Plus magazine (NL), Art Unplugged UK, Art Verge, PAN and the dream magazine (US) and many others. Von Freyburg’s work is in several private collections all over the world.
William GrobFinsbury Parks Megatropolis, 2021
“I was an artist before I could talk. When I was a child I had a severe speech disorder which shaped my whole life, as I could not verbally express myself until the age of seven. Art became my mother tongue, using colour and form to express my happiness or frustration which is now, subconsciously, deep-rooted into my practice. The majority of my work comes from that place. All I consciously try to create is a sense of understanding and expressions understandable to anyone.”
Lost Millennials started as a medium to try and understand the social situation of todays and yesterday’s generation. Rather than try and depict scenes of friends and family I choose to create scenarios, distant lands that seem familiar but come from a place unknown to myself and the spectator, this is where memory and fantasy come together. Memory comes with its own disadvantages, it changes. We can easily modify a memory to better suit our current headspace, we can also be influenced into a false memory, this is something I find very curious, as a white lie we believe in, which connects to a time we had forgotten. Take for example a old childhood story which someone tells of your past, you have no recollection of the event then time goes by and all of a sudden you’ve claimed it as your own memory and can see it vividly. In a way dreaming plays a similar game and fantasy is the conscious dream. Fantasy and dreams come, the majority of the time, from real situations which we expand. Taking from millions of images and senses that we record in our subconscious conscious life.
We live in a time of uncertainty, mystery has evaporated and we are left with rational and false truths, millennials are the generation 1980 – 1996, and with some weird harmony there is no official start and end time for the millennial, which sounds about right.
It’s the generation of salt lamps and avocados, we were told we could do anything and be anyone, we went to school we achieved degrees and for a large part left unemployed. Those that are employed dare not save as what’s the point. A huge part of a generation left lost, no god to follow no new news to read. The paintings create an environment to allow the subject the space to reflect the emptiness that came from the abundance of information. When you strip down the information and leave the viewer in this neo figurative world, where the characters and location seem familiar, we leave behind our own weight, we empathize with the painting to try to relate ourselves within the scene. It’s a similar sensation as when you walk past a random ‘moment of chaos’. We try to dissect the scene and understand the series of events to get us to this moment. The beauty of this moment is that everyone’s vision is different. This effect is echoed within the paintings, as there are multiple perspectives layered within the works. As if you’re looking up and down without moving your head.
I know all this sounds like a dark perspective, but we should always see the light within the dark. The paintings are never empty, there a commune of such within each piece as the characters sit calmly, at peace surrounded by their everyday life. The fundamental aspect of the work is to create a world which reflects the times we live in. Not by exaggerating the scenario nor pulling the viewer to bleakness but by looking down an empty road and seeing some light at the end, so we walk forward, blindly, to continue the journey of fulfillment. Lost millennials is as much a way of life as a demographic the curiosity is, how will they end up.
Ania HobsonFire and Smoke, 2021
Ania Hobson born in Worcestershire U.K. 1990. Living in Wyre Forest Kidderminster then moving on to Suffolk. She spent her formative years drawing and painting. Initially developing and fine-tuning a technical skill by painting her surroundings such as landscapes, she quickly started focussing solely on portraiture. She studied portraiture painting at the prestigious Florence Academy of Art. After completing this, she soon abandoned a very schooled style for a more personal, contemporary one. Working from preliminary sketches, sometimes from life, by which she creates scenarios and situations imaged or re-created from memory, which have a strong story-telling aspect. She deepens the atmosphere by working on often very large canvasses with organic colours in oil, thickened with impasto. Ania won the Young Artist Award with the BP Portrait Awards at the National Portrait Gallery in 2018. Last year she exhibited in Venice with the GAA Foundation at one of the official collateral events of the Venice Biennale at the ECC. Ania recently had her first London solo show last year at The Catto Gallery and is working towards another for 2022. She continues to work in between her Suffolk and London studio.
Ania aims to discuss and portray scenarios and situations, often through the use of her own personal experiences. Creating characters is her way of exploring the human form and often working from personal memories enables her figure to become more abstracted, less anatomically correct and unquestionably more expressive. Ania aims to engage the viewer with her exaggerated features and characters. This states ‘acts as a platform for communication and enables the viewer to draw parallels to their own experience and form deeper connections to the narrative within the paintings.’ Perhaps alluding to why most characters are depicted looking into the ambiguous background in which they are depicted. This references a continuation of narrative and leaves the viewer wondering where the characters are looking and what they might be seeing, suggesting the story continues outside the painting’s composition.
WG: I have seen myself as a painter for the last four years. Before that, I was a photographer, someone who liked to capture images. But in these past few years I have been developing a new form of communication, and most recently, through my series Lost Millennials. It is my way of depicting the times we live in; of understanding the world around me. I want to show the bleakness and the brightness. The title connotes something slightly desolate, but in each painting, there is a moment of uplift: a figure dancing or sat by a river or in contemplation. The series embodies a polarised world, where you have both the good and the bad, the lost and the found. My process is accumulative. I go to pool rooms, or cafes or sit outside, drawing, filling sketch books, trying to absorb the information. Because we live in a world saturated in information, particularly visual. I create a micro-database of this, and then when I get to the studio, I regurgitate it. The works don’t come from photographs but, rather, memory, or fantasy. I’m interested in how memory evolves over time – how it creates a foundation of the event but how the story itself changes. Like when your mum tells you a story about when you were young, far too young to actually remember, but that story becomes embedded in your psyche until you really believe you remember being there, in that moment. I am playing with this idea within short-term memories. All of a sudden there is someone dancing on the table.
AH: My last show was called I See You and in it, I focussed on facial expressions: the eyes, the contours of a face, the skin, the eyebrows. I am interested in how you can communicate with so little: without language and with a limited range of movement. I exaggerate features as a way of amplifying this. I love people watching, I have since I was a kid. Wherever I go, in a bar or a restaurant, I’m captivated by people, by their faces. I study how people use their body language in certain ways. We can read so much in small expressions – and the same expression can mean lots of different things. Like a smile, for instance, someone can smile when they’re nervous or happy or when they’ve done something bad. I watched a documentary that studied the body language and facial expressions of murderers: they spoke about smiling with and without your eyes. How the two can disconnect and how you can look deeper into that. Similarly with my use of colour – red can mean lots of things, anger, sadness, love. In my earlier work I looked at the angular shapes a body could make, and this focus on composition has also translated into my current work. So I’m trying to bring all these elements together – expression, composition and colour. I use myself as a subject – I’m interesting in capturing the nuances of the skin, and I’m always available.
AVF: For the past year and a half I have creating textile paintings, which are reconstructions of Rococo portraits by Fragonard and Boucher. As well as this I have been looking at Venus images. I started making one, inspired by Fragonard’s Toilette au F. before the residency, which is partly finished. It can be read as a celebration of femininity but, at the same time, I am critical about its construction. I use a mixture of found and bought materials, some of them vintage tapestries and others fashion fabrics, the over embellishment and use of excess in my work is to draw attention to the fast fashion industry and consumerism. My work also engages with ideas of taste: what makes high art, what low art? I want to blur the boundaries between fine art, conceptual art and craft. I did a BA in fashion design a long time ago and while I have moved away from that, my awareness of the body, fashion and fabrics remains. I’m interested in the theatre of fashion, in the performance of dressing up, and in the excess of consumption. I am drawn to materials – they are something I communicate with and criticise. There’s an irony to my work, something playful.
WG: During the residency I am continuing my Lost Millennials series but with English, instead of German, subjects. They should be similar, and yet there are many minute things that change. The rooftops, the clothes, the gestures. At the same time there is an ambiguity to them, which makes them hard to locate. One of my paintings is set in Primrose Hill, but it could be Central Park, or anywhere. I took a photograph at each stage of my Primrose Hill painting and yesterday, Ania and I were looking through them, and it’s like the painting embodies the shifting landscape itself. Because the painting has changed so much – a figure is there, then gone, the leaves fall then rise to the branches again, the sky changes – it’s feels like a park.
AH: There’s a story within the painting itself.
WG: They’re not very controlled. I always allow the paintings to change – there might be a drawing that is the core but the painting never stays fixed because that’s not how life works.
AH: As a figurative painter, I’m interested in the limitations of my medium. I’m always working toward capturing something human, of the quality of the skin and the nuance of an expression. But because I use myself as a subject, I hope to open that out. It’s both personal and universal. Before I came on the residency I was in a block. While here, I’ve been trying to focus on elements in the work outside of expression. Trying to get a bit more action within the painting. Often the paintings are quite static, and I want to instil more emotion and movement in them. Usually, I paint quite fast and begin with the face; on the residency, I have slowed that down, and begun with the background. Situating the figures within a scene so that there is more of a story. Like including a letter in one of my paintings.
WG: Throwing in some ambiguous triggers – not giving anything away, but including more hints of how someone can read the paintings.
AVF: I have, for a long time, wanted to make soft sculptures that zoom in on the shapes that I use in my textile paintings. Usually, I take the original painting by Fragonard or Boucher and, in photoshop, I exaggerated the paint strokes, to create images that are dissolving into themselves. Which mimic the way paint swirls. I thought it would be interesting to create three dimensional ambiguous shapes that derive from these textile paintings and from the curls seen in Rococo ornaments. Since the work is about beautification, physical display, excess and even plastic surgery, I wanted to make something that was more bodily then the textile paintings. That uses bodily shapes but mixes these with alien and plant like features to create something that becomes like a fetishized object. Things grow out from one another in these sculptures and they are more ambiguous than my textile paintings. These are my first attempts and I’m pleased with them, but they are small pieces and mark the early stages of my overall ambition. I’d love to create a large-scale installation, which becomes an almost physical experience for the viewer. Where the excess spills out.
WG: What I love about Anne’s red sculpture is that it feels like a heart. There are elements that remind me of blood vessels. I have really enjoyed watching it grow, because that’s what these sculptures do, they grow.
AH: It’s been exciting to see you experiment with something new – seing you move into a three dimensional world.
AVF: Our work complements one another – even though mine isn’t painting, there is something that comes back into Will and Ania’s work. And how Ania’s paintings evolve organically. Watching her work from memory, or from the heart – how easily she transports a drawing onto the canvas – is inspiring. Whereas Will fights with the painting.
AH: It’s like watching someone in conversation with a painting. I admire how he sticks with it: he has made a huge work, and it has changed so much. Watching him battle with it, wipe it away and create something new.
WG: At the beginning there is a tension. You put so much weight on yourself, but in the last week that has loosened.
AH: Initially there’s a pressure to create, but now it’s just like being in your own studio, and that’s the whole point. To learn how you work and share that. I’ve been feeding off everyone else’s energy. I really needed that because I felt lost when I first arrived.
WG: There are multiple times when I’ve come to both Ania and Anne for advice. When I’ve made a mark on a painting and thought, ‘Have I ruined it?’ They have both given me the right criticism. When you’re working alongside your peers there’s an honesty and bluntness that you don’t get in a more academic environment. Having someone there who doesn’t have an agenda, just their own aesthetic sensibility, who can see more than the normal eye, it’s been invaluable.
AVF: For me, doing something completely new, and being in the company of Will and Ania was really helpful. I could voice my ideas and get immediate feedback. It speeds up the process – you’re not alone.
AH: We’ve all learned from each other. I’ve taken my work in a slightly different direction and will continue that outside of the residency.
AVF: Same. The conversations around the work, around life, around technique – I’ll be taking those with me.
WG: If we’re going to be cheesy, what we get out of the residency are long term creative friendships.
Eve StaintonPunctured Hauntings 1, 2021
Eve Stainton is an artist interested in the politics of uncodeable queer presence and its intersections with race and class. They create multi-disciplinary performance worlds that hold movement practices, digital collage, and welded steel, and other invisible forces like waves, imagination and drama. These forms work together to create live ecologies that are discordant, multi-layered and psychedelic. Stainton is interested in the production of conflicting states and textures to unravel essentialist thinking, with intent to create more expansive understandings of the lesbian identity, non-gender/variance, and perceptions of the ‘real’.
Notable presentations include Dykegeist at the ICA in September 2021 (UK). Commissioned work with Florence Peake for Venice Biennale 2019, Block Universe (UK), The Place (UK), Nottingham Contemporary (UK), Crac Occitanie (FR), Sadler’s Wells Lilian Baylis (UK), La Becque (SE), LCMF (UK), CCA Glasgow (UK), Tangente (CA). Features include AQNB, FACT Mag, Dazed Beauty, Twin Magazine, Art in America, This is Tomorrow. Work for other artists include Anthea Hamilton, Tai Shani, Last Yearz Interesting Negro, Sonia Boyce, Malik Nashad Sharpe, Holly Blakey, Goldfrapp, Compagnie ECO international tour, Vivienne Westwood, Claire Barrow, Art School, Molly Goddard, walking for London/Shanghai/Paris Fashion Weeks.
Natalia Gonzalez MartinMoonlight (2), 2021
Natalia Gonzalez Martin (born in Madrid 1995) is a London-based painter. Natalia graduated from Fine Art Painting in 2017 from City & Guilds of London Art School. Through the use of traditional painting techniques, Natalia's language merges historical references with a surreal approach to convey universal gestures. Heavily figurative in nature, her work offers a different way of looking at a slightly distorted and overly detailed reality.
Her work has been included in several group exhibitions internationally, including Always Winter, Brooke Bennington gallery (London), Old Friends New Friends at Collective Ending (London), Frozen Time at Annaruma Gallery (Napoli). Her first solo show I Saw Something Else Under The Sun is currently on show at Sebastien Bertrand Galerie and she is now preparing for an upcoming solo exhibition in LA with Steve Turner Gallery.
Madinah Farhannah ThompsonTo weave water , 2021
Madinah Farhannah Thompson is a visual artist and writer whose work explores Black British experiences. She is particularly interested in the misrepresentation of the Black female body and the projections that are placed on individuals – namely the extreme polarities foisted on Black women where they are expected to be both hyper-visible and invisible. Within her performances she often places herself as an object, to explore ideas of fetishisation. What does it mean, on a day to day basis, to exist within a context of objectification? Her work is research and text led and incorporates poetry, memory and film. Most recently she has been examining how Black people exist in rural spaces in the UK. She grew up in Norfolk and is concerned with how one can feel attached to a land that in turn rejects.
She studied at The Cass School of Art receiving the Owen Riley prize for best in show for her BA final show performance No Black Girls Sorry. She completed her MA at Goldsmiths University where her final show film Saliva & Tears/ Underneath You went on to win the 2020 Ingram Collection Young Contemporary Talent Prize. She has had residencies at the Venice Biennale, Hestercombe House and Gardens and the Cob x Plop residency in London. She has exhibited and performed at The Mall Galleries, Wellcome Collection and Camden People's Theatre in London. She has been published in Social Work?: Open, Shades of Noir and on the British Council Website and co-facilitates Prism Writers, a writers group for black women and non-binary people in London.
ES: I come from a movement and performance background. I work to resist rigid contexts and structures and exist in multi-disciplinary spaces, exploring ideas of queerness and liminality. In the last five years I’ve been doing digital collage using an app on my phone, trying to understand what my choreographic practice is in a digital realm. Most recently, I created a performance piece, Dykegeist, for the ICA. I understand it as world-building, where movement practices are held in between structures and objects. I’m interested in the atmosphere that can be created between things. Movement, because it’s something energetic, which comes from within and spirals outwards, is in conversation with things in the wider world. I was uncomfortable with how the aesthetics of queer performance became recognisable: malleable, slippery things, like gunge or an octopus. To me, that went against the innate idea of queerness as something that can’t be coded or defined. And while I enjoy and support the thinking behind such aesthetics, there isn’t space for those whose physicality relates to something more brittle. So, I have given myself permission to explore that through the prism of queerness.
MFT: I am interested in how Black womanhood is both invisible and visible. My work explores what it feels like, on a granular level and on a day-to-day level, to be objectified and fetishised. I place myself as an object in the centre. It is usually research and text-led; I write poetry. My BA performance piece No Black Girls Sorry was inspired by a man’s Tinder profile. It blew my mind – nothing has changed. I’m still an object, either a Mammy or Jezebel. More recently, I have been researching the experience of being Black in rural UK spaces. An alignment was made between Black people and urban areas: in the States, people moved from the South to the North, in order to reach cosmopolitan areas where they could be freer and safer. But that’s not all Black people are. There are Black people who live in rural spaces – I grew up in Norfolk, we do and must exist. I am examining feeling disconnected from this land, thinking about the sensory access to nature available to me when I am rejected from that space. When I go for a walk on the beach and people make comments, how do I get past that barrier in order to connect myself to what feels intrinsically important? I dislike the word microaggression because no aggression is micro. It builds up. How do you exist, as a person, when you have those push and pull factors impacting your soul?
NGM: I am a painter, but I am trying to expand my practice into space through installation. I want my work to exist out of contemporary time. I have rules for my paintings, one of them is to not include anything that can be linked to today. In this way I’m trying to create a universal language, that includes symbols anyone can relate to. In part, these references are obscure but, at the same time, they are rooted in the history of Western Art, especially medieval or late-medieval representations of how people live. I’m interested in the rules, the commandments and the religion, specifically Catholicism. And in ideas of shame and punishment that come with that. It’s interesting how each action in our day-to-day lives can be related to those religious rituals; even drinking echoes the Eucharist. I use myself to find the figures in my work. During the pandemic, I would take weird photographs of myself in different poses, it wasn’t a conscious choice but I didn’t want to bother my flatmates. That is why all my characters are women, posing alone. And why the perspective between painting and painter has been collapsed: looking at the hand in the painting, you could be looking at your own hand. It’s never far away. You’re in the scene, but also not.
ES: It’s interesting understanding this intimate relationship between yourself, the digital camera and selfie-culture, moves into your paintings, with the depictions of religious iconography. It’s like a performance.
NGM: They are all, in a way, self-portraits, but I’m not that interested in myself. Maybe I’m trying to find a universality through my own experience.
ES: Usually my work begins from a place of imagined performance; I knew that material practices were emerging in the background, but I haven’t had the time and space to focus on them. I have made digital collages and printed them on neoprene: I was excited to think about what these pieces could be in a gallery space. Because I didn’t go to art school, I have never had the time to get granular – what is the materiality of the fabric, what does it mean in relation to the stapling, and then in relation to these relic-type metal objects? Images have been carried over from Dykegeist: the spider relates to phobic symbols, teeth evoke feelings of visceral fear, and the 90s sunglasses reference the disguise I wore. Each relates to the projections that are put on the ‘predatory lesbian’. I was also researching ‘hauntology’, which was originally coined by Derrida, and which, in my creative understanding refers to a displacement of time. Through the figure of the ghost, the past and present and future merge and linear time collapses. This relates to philosophies of movement: what are the histories that I carry through my body? And then again, what new lives can objects take on, what seeps through? Like these metal relic-type objects and these images – both of which have come from my performance.
MFT: I have been working intuitively on the residency, making collages, which is a departure from my usual process. The collages are printed on tracing paper and incorporate texts that I wrote at the beginning of the month. They exist in a body of work titled Call when you reach which is something my paternal grandmother used to say. It means, ‘call me when you get home safely’. I am trying to find where home is. In the collages, my body references a diagram of submissive BDSM positions – I’m interested in what I’m submitting to and whether I can be that vulnerable. What that means from my political position. The thread that runs through all the work is my grandmother. The understanding of mortality that I have comes from holding her hand when she died. It was the most incredible experience of my life. It gave me a different insight into my vulnerability and my capacity.
NGM: I am making installations. I wanted to give context to my work, to gain autonomy over it. My paintings are heavily based in narrative, and I want to communicate that. The installation is moving towards ideas of the chapel: the curtain references those of a small church, used to hide an altar. The petals relate to the natural detritus that is often found in these old spaces. The fountain references holy water. The work is like a Giotto painting, because the space is too
ES: It has been a critically engaging and active space, and that has been inspiring. I feel like I have learnt from both Madinah and Natalia just through the conversations we have had about our work, and about life.
MFT: It has also been supportive, being able to ask each other’s opinion on something. The energy too: both caring and productive. We all want to do a lot, to push ourselves. And that energy has helped me keep going.
NGM: I like how different our work is. It has been eye-opening witnessing different modes of creation. Madinah starts with words and Eve is experimenting with digital materials – how often to you get to see other people’s approaches to making art? You learn a lot and start unconsciously incorporating their processes.
MFT: When we applied, none of us had studio space.
ES: I was trying to make things in between my bedroom and my housemate’s bedroom.
MFT: Natalia was painting in her room. It’s inspiring to think how our practices have changed both since applying to this residency and while on it. The work that we’ve made is a diversion. It’s a space that has allowed us to explore and push our practices.
Desire Rebecca Moheb-Zandi
Desire Rebecca Moheb-Zandi integrates personal history and cultural identity in her large-scale, sculptural tapestries. Drawing from memories of her childhood in Turkey, where she passed hours watching her grandmother weave on a loom, Moheb-Zandi meshes traditional techniques with modern motifs and media. In addition to including rubber tubing, acrylic dowels and synthetic netting in her work, Moheb-Zandi fashions the loom as a sort of analogue computer, where the code is her pattern, and her manipulation of the pattern creates optical resonance and movement. The diversity of material and fabrication techniques that Moheb-Zandi uses function on formal and conceptual levels; her work is visually dynamic and it serves as a record of the artist’s life and journeys.
Anna Kenneally is a London based artist, represented by Fredericks & Freiser New York. Anna’s recent shows include Frieze New York and Four Artists at Fredericks & Freiser. Anna studied Fine Art at Bath School of Art & Design, graduating in 2017. Anna was also part of Mall Galleries ‘In the Studio’ programme and selected for multiple awards and residencies, including The Ashurst Emerging Art Prize, Unit 1 Gallery & Workshop Radical Residency and The ACS Studio Prize 2018 and 2019. Anna has a solo show at Fredericks & Freiser, opening January 2022.
Okiki Akinfe is a painter studying at the Slade School of Art. Initially her practise explored body language within human social interactions, to better understand archetypal behaviour. Drawing on the Animus Projection, Carl Jung’s theory that the unconscious self is formed by the opposite sex, she questioned, subverted, and disproved these stereotypes. More recently, she has been focusing on creating space within her work and practice, as an independent endeavour. She seeks to go beyond the ideal of simply existing as Black British and, rather, introduces theories of ‘fictioning’ to create her landscapes. These environmental landscapes exist as characters themselves, reflecting human behaviour and the psyche, and contributing to conversations around presence. Within them, figures are both invisible and un visible; space has been carved out for them to now exist in a non-social geographical world.
OA: My paintings show people phasing in and out of landscapes. Through them I question my diasporic experience – being both British and Nigerian. They are both allegories and realities. Each painting has a story to tell and as the viewer looks into them, her own nature is revealed. I want to spark curiosity. I want people to question the purpose of these legacies. The large painting has a biblical reference, but it is also grounded in Solange’s music videos. Solange talks about her experience as a black woman in the art world, not just making songs for herself but, rather, making art for people to consume. I am playing off this idea. I want viewers to feel like they’re intruding on the scene. The Old Masters’ paintings draw people in: you feel like you’re inside a secret. That’s what I want my paintings to do.
DMZ: My practice uses a traditional medium and pushes it in an unconventional way. It is rooted in my family. Growing up with my grandmother and learning about textiles, I developed my tactile sensibility. I communicate through that, telling different stories with the materials. The word ‘textiles’ has the same root as ‘text’, meaning ‘to weave’. It’s as if I’m writing when I’m weaving. The materials themselves have different metaphors and are from different places. I brought most with me to the residency and some I found in a hardware store in Camden. How I relate to colour is, in some senses, painterly, but at the same time, it is more than visual for me. I hear colours and I dream about weaving – it’s synaesthetic. My works have a humour to them – bulbous forms that explode, fly, trip, with little antennae. I want to play with and through my work, and so, hopefully, spark joy within the viewer. I see these pieces as extensions of myself, a release of feelings. They are emotionally-charged, material expressions of a non-verbal language. The works I have made on the residency are my first small-scale series of sculptural pieces and I’m excited to explore the space beyond the gallery wall with them.
AK: I am interested in portraying subcultures like goth and grunge in my paintings and being in Camden has been stimulating for this. How do you paint dark subjects? What are the influences that tie these subjects together, and how do you translate that in paint? Whether through a colour palette or erratic brush marks. During this residency, I have looked at imagery first-hand, which is new for me. More and more, the subjects of my painting are friends and people I have met. That is something I will continue to explore, after the residency. I have become more interested in how the outside affects my work inside the studio: through conversation, ideas, people.
AK: Being in the studio with people has breathed life back into my practice and made me re-evaluate how I use my time. Being able to bounce ideas off Okiki and Desire has been vital – whether that’s what to do next, or what colour to use or whether something is finished.
OA: It’s nice to know you’re not painting alone. Being able to hear someone behind you – sigh or mutter – someone who is also unsure about a colour. Knowing I can stop and talk to Anna and Desi, gives me a second wind. It’s the moral support that I missed over lockdown and what I have loved about the residency.
DMZ: I crashed at my mum’s and grandmother’s in Turkey over lockdown. It was a blessing for me, at the time, because I could make work uninterrupted. But now, being with people again is exciting and stimulating. I love feeling Okiki’s high energy. Or watching Anna completely paint over one work. It’s fascinating.
OA: I have learned a lot from watching these two make work. I have never seen an artist use tapestry like Desi. Before I came to the residency, I assumed that her pieces were made from patchworks, but then I saw how she weaved. Everything I thought I knew about tapestry was flipped on its head. The works feel so lively; I get a physical reaction when I see them.
DMZ: Okiki always dances when she is near my work! Some say they are sexually charged.
OA: I’m very physically attracted to them.
AK: Desire taught me how her larger works are based on the language of coding. There’s a whole world of understanding beyond our little painting palettes. At the same time, her pieces link to painting: the way she picks colours, the compositions, the textures of her materials.
OA: I am amazed at Anna’s productivity. Being able to watch the whole process, from start to finish, has given me a new understanding. Her colour palette, her consistency and her attention to facial detail are fascinating. She does a great subtle smirk and a smize.
DMZ: I love watching Anna paint. She uses an eclectic, idiosyncratic colour palette that has harmony; and there is a rhythm to her brush strokes. Her movements are dynamic, but her details are fine: her faces speak to you, their eyes look directly at you. I’m also fascinated by her research method, going through old magazines and posters and shooting close friends. There is an intimacy to her process that translates to the work.
AK: Okiki turned me onto Transparent Oxide Red. Her immediate use of materials resonated with me – she moves from the seed of an idea to a painting so quickly – and how she makes such intricate and complicated compositions with very few colours. A reduced colour palette. Restricted almost. I find that fascinating.
DMZ: There is something dreamlike to the way Okiki layers her colours. The fluorescent pink base is almost lurid, and the red on top has a mineral quality. There is a rawness to her materials: unstretched canvasses whose fabric is exposed. Watch her at work and you will see her physical relationship with the paintings – she is a force of nature. Being with both Anna and Okiki has been wonderful. This space has felt like home these past four weeks and these artists, like family.