HRL Contemporary in collaboration with Degreeart.com present:
Return to Reason
“Painting is dead! Long live painting! Long live beauty!”
Society is obsessed with unattainable beauty. It pervades our advertising, our media, our culture and our minds. And yet ‘Beauty’ is a dirty word in the contemporary art world. It is seen as an abuse or even exploitation. This cannot stand.
Return to Reason has been organised as a reaction to the excesses of contemporary conceptual art and post-modernism which have deemed beauty to be an invalid and corrupt subject. Beauty is essential to our society whether we like it not. It is the spirit of our times. It is of our making. And thus in our art we must not turn away from it in disgust, but embrace, question and confront it. Taken critically, the subject appears as one which remains vital, fascinating, pertinent and challenging.
In this exhibition the notion of beauty not only applies to subject but method also. Every artist in this exciting group show has been hand-picked because of their devotion to technical proficiency in oil painting and photography, some from exhibitions in major national institutions such as the current Eastwing VIII show ‘On Time’ at the Courtauld Insitute of Art, or the 2008 BP Portrait Awards at the National Portrait Gallery. The painters in this show insist that painting will NEVER die, whilst the presence of photography reinvigorates the dialogue which lead to the original proclamation of painting’s supposed death. Their work addresses themes of memory, movement and time – themes which painting has often struggled to convey in a manner as satisfying as the younger medium. These artists know that to communicate what is most important to our society, technical ability is fundamental.
The conceptual roots of this show are firmly embedded within the curator’s interest in the work of the contemporary American painter John Currin, an artist deeply involved with his medium (oil), art history and beauty. His work comprises an elaborate examination of the human body, its interpretations and its images. Like him, the artists chosen for ‘Return to Reason’ exhibit a natural inclination towards similar interests. From the outset the exhibition has been conceived as a reaction to trends in contemporary art which disdain an interest in technical accomplishment, art history and beauty. It seeks to demonstrate how more traditional notions of aesthetic and painterly beauty still remain entrancing yet thought-provoking.
The exhibition features 13 very exciting emergent artists: 9 painters, 3 photographers and 1 sculptor. They are Michael Ajerman, Benjamin Cohen, Lorna May Wadsworth, Johan Andersson, Andy Short, Dan Proops, Jennifer Martin, Lachlan Goudie, Ulrika I. K. Andersson, Debbie Scanlan, Lisa Byrne and Laurie Freeman
The exhibition is presented by Henry Little the founder of HRL Contemporary in collaboration with DegreeArt.com. Henry Little, graduated from Cambridge University in 2008 with a first class degree in the History of Art. He is a current Masters student at the Courtauld Institute of Art, and plans to begin a Ph.D. studying cultural history at King’s College, London, in September 2009. www.DegreeArt.com, which was founded in 2003, is an innovative company selling and commissioning the finest artwork created by the students and recent graduates emerging from the most prestigious art establishments.