Green Rest, Oil on Canvas, 2018

The World Without Us

APT Gallery, London / UK

October 25–November 10, 2019
September 24, 2019

Opening: October 24, 6–8pm

APT Gallery
APT Gallery
6 Creekside, Deptford
London SE8 4SA

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Phillip Allen, Sally Kindberg, Maja Godlewska, Andrew Leventis, Christiane Pooley, and Soheila Sokhanvari 

Few things are more commanding than our own image—after all, the wealthy and the influential have demonstrated the power of an iconic portrait century after century. But what of the digital era and its effect on the painter and, in particular, our image of self? In the past, the aristocrat or the ruler might assert their dominance through a commissioned portrait, surrounded by carefully staged possessions and symbols. Today, the contemporary cultivation of glamour is instantaneously related through the filters of Instagram as electronic devices carve new divisions for potential class categories. The sublime now becomes the backdrop of the selfie, and easy access to quick image making means that essentially everyone can mimic what the traditional painter constructed slowly and deliberately through physical material.

How do painters respond to this? What is the role of the painter in this era? Do painters still maintain a separate and special perspective to examine culture in such circumstances? The infiltration of the digital is unavoidable and The World Without Us pays homage to this. Running from October 25–November 10, 2019 at APT Gallery, London, it examines these issues through the works of six contemporary painters: Phillip Allen, Maja Godlewska, Sally Kindberg, Andrew Leventis, Christiane Pooley and Soheila Sokhanvari.

Each artist shares an interest in how reality is fabricated across media, whether exemplified in the exoticised paintings of Tiepolo, or in the sterilised and diagrammatic environments of Jacques Tati. They borrow imagery that is already a reiteration of reality, drawing on everything from telephone cameras and snapshots from film and television to family photo archives, and even clickbait advertisements. The resulting works reconfigure contemporary mass media into painting as reimaginings of their instantaneous counterparts.

“The theme is topical, and perhaps more urgent than ever for painting, as more of painting is created digitally through tablets, Instagram filters, iPhones, etc,” says Leventis. “How does traditional painting respond to—or have a dialectical relationship with—these technologies? How do these technologies change the content, style, and feel of traditional painting? How would Luc Tuyman's paintings look, for example, if he didn't use CCTV and low-grade video and photo references?”