Arts contributor Lizzie Kaye reports from the opening of new show Urban Expressionism and other stray talent at the Knight Webb Gallery on Atlantic Road.
The Knight Webb Gallery has already proved its dynamism with a florescent launch party in January, and its latest show is equally exciting and original. Urban Expressionism and other stray talent aims to capture the raw and eclectic talent of Brixton.
The gallery’s front window is filled with the remarkable Tower from local artist Lesley Hilling. Tower is fascinating in its intricacy, constructed from found wood with a few clearly recognisable pieces. I mention this to gallery owner Rufus Knight-Webb. “Yes, though there is a lot of piano in that piece,” he smiles, “It’s very formal for her, some of her other work is much more free-form.”
An example of Lesley’s more free-form style can be seen hovering above the gallery desk, a small sculpture using wood and what appear to be magnifying glasses. It is different to Tower, which is so big and solid-looking. I’m surprised to be told it comes apart in five pieces when transported. It looks like an impenetrable fortress, with an almost mathematical quality to its construction.
Once I’ve dragged my attention away from Tower, I’m drawn in by the curious portraits from Juliane Hundertmark. Berlin-based Juliane, a gallery-owner herself, has previously exhibited with Rufus, and the gallery was very happy to be able to include her odd, but not disturbing, portraits of whimsical creatures in this exhibition.
Juliane’s pieces work well with Lesley’s art, their childlike charm playing off the dollhouse quality of Tower. Together particularly captures my heart, the sweetness of the composition making me smile. Small lines of text are visible only up close, and that attention to detail lifts this work beyond being simply charming.
Exhibiting artist Adjani Okpu-Egbe was busily painting a door in the middle of the gallery at the opening. His displayed paintings as well as the one he was working on are bold, eye-catching, and full of life, working well with the more delicate pieces from Juliane. You can read more about Adjani and his work in our interview with him.
The final pieces on display are from Rufus himself, with two large canvases from his Light series. There is a controlled organic quality about these pieces, with clear lines and delicate shades fading from dark teals to pale blue to pure hessian canvas. This particular series is to be displayed under a black light, with UV pigment mixed in with the paints. In this exhibition there are no lights, but the pieces more than stand up to that absence, remaining utterly mesmerising.
The Knight Webb Gallery can be found at 54 Atlantic Road and Rufus is always interested in chatting to local artists and art-lovers. Head to the website for more information.