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Peter Michael | Holly Thoburn

We are pleased to announce Metropolis, an exhibition exploring London in the Facebook era – a time of virtual relationships and neglected physical environments – portrayed through the work of two artists: Peter Michael and Holly Thoburn.

Peter Michael paints portraits of online acquaintances – the anonymous people we walk past daily in the street, and yet only interact with over the internet. His portraits remove the characters from any trace of visual context, setting them in a vacuum that emphasizes only their own physical qualities in an almost sculptural way – isolated and cut off from any other reference points, his characters stand defiant,. poignantly full of personality, and carnally human. His central subject, Mhya, has an almost piercingly crystalline gaze that shows both resilience and vulnerability that characterises the experience of disconnected communities of 21st century London.

In contrast, Holly Thoburn’s paintings focus on the walls and surfaces that make up the spaces the virtual world has left behind. Focusing exclusively on the walls of N1 for this show, her works depict the worn and neglected physical environment left to rack and ruin, bearing silent witness to the million-and-one stories that have passed their way in the past. One of her paintings, “The Earl and the Duke”, focuses on one Islington street where a fashionable organic gastro-pub, The Duke of Cambridge, exists cheek-by-jowl with an old-school Islington boozer, the Earl of Essex. The marks, scratches, grit and erosion of the surfaces exude the myriad of stories that have taken place in both places, and the tension between their different clientele. Holly’s paintings treat the city’s walls like a storybook into its past, and a poetic metaphor for its present.

Bringing these two painters together, Metropolis tells the story of how our fascination with virtual life has an inevitable impact of our physical world and relationships, and of the strange, alienating, and yet somehow character-building effects this has on its people.