New Gallery Payne Shurvell brings a touch of Mayfair class to East London

by Katie on June 13, 2010

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The thing that most impressed me about new gallery, Payne Shurvell, as well as the excellent location near to Liverpool Street station, is the fact that this is a touch of Mayfair chic hybrid of Scream Gallery and White Cubism in the midst of East London. A bold and distinct touch is the specially commissioned work by Mary Yacoob, of a burnished gold representation of The Chartres Labyrinth. (In the middle ages, to walk this path was a pilgrimage, a questing, searching journey with the hope of becoming closer to God).

I’m not the biggest fan of the East End of London. I spent too much time in my early career working there in cheap office space in the midst of old pubs and older run down warehouses before the nouveau ironic fascination with big hair, skinny jeans, All Saints and brothel creepers on androgynous youth. Not new. Not earth shattering. Oh dear, I sound old but I don’t care.

Anyway, the fact exists, there’s a tremendous new gallery space with brilliantly curated works mixing new artists with established, all adding their own idiosyncrasies but shown together, these are works that push boundaries. This particular collective, ‘A Bright and Guilty Place’ includes artists based in Berlin, New York and Toronto who have never shown in this country alongside artists whose work James Payne & Joanna Shurvell believe should be seen by a wider audience. Payne Shurvell aims to bridge the gap between an artist-run space and a commercial gallery. This and future exhibitions will be a mixture of work from emerging artists and mid-career artists.

The current show, ‘A Bright and Guilty Place’, curated by Dermot O’Brien and James Payne, comprises thirteen international artists working in mixed-media, interpreting the notion of mapping and ‘place’. The works deal with place, time, personal geographies and means of location. Most of the artists featured are not from one ‘place’ or even based in one ‘place’. This is common for artists with their peripatetic lifestyles. It is this complex circuit of movement that inspires many of the artists in this show.

Works that impressed include Andrew Curtis’ dark print of a large monkey puzzle tree, sprawling and intense in front of a normal terraced British suburban home. It mixes the exotic with the ordinary of everyday life and hints at life behind the facade. Anka Dabrowska’s series of small intricate buildings looks like a child’s simplistic notion of how we live; bars, hamburger joints and homes stand side by side hinting at life in post war urban Warsaw.

Spiegel im Spiegel (mirror in the mirror) is a simple work by Dermot O’Brien that is forthright and direct as is his striking work of jagged stalactites and stalagmites in black, placed to great effect; a bold work that was gentle but confronts the viewer. On eof the most thoughtful set of works is by Aidan McNeill who documents the invasion of non native plant and animal species to the UK; A huge portrait of a beautiful, delicate root in black and white draws in the viewer. When told it is of Japanese Knotweed the invasive weed that is destroying much of Britain’s natural woodland and its native species and you think differently about the beauty of the work. The juxtaposition works.

Lucy Wood’s work involves a handcrafted map on animal skin, illustrating the experience of the economic migrant.

‘A Bright and Guilty Place’ runs until 24th July. Oh, and in case you’re wondering, the title is taken from Orson Welles’ Lady of Shanghai in which the classic hall of mirrors climax sequence intertwines the virtual and the actual. So there.

Watch out for other challenging collectives and retrospectives from this gallery. It may help to change my opinions of East London.

PayneShurvell 16 Hewett Street, London, EC2A 3NN UK Open: Wed- Sat 10am to 6pm and by appointment. Admission Free. Tube: Old Street, Moorgate, Liverpool Street, Shoreditch High Street
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