Out of the Darkness, Into the Light

Overview

The end of Winter means the beginning of Spring and the emergence from darkness into light, a natural cycle that finds expression in myth and folklore as well as in the story of Easter. ‘Out of the Darkness, Into the Light’ explores how this seasonal change informs some of our most basic narrative ideas – of good versus evil, of the arc of the hero, of sacrifice, struggle, and redemption – through the work of two contemporary artists: the Irish painter Mark Connolly and the Colombian sculptor Carlos Zapata.

Mark Connolly’s paintings look at the narrative of good versus evil and ask whether such a dualistic mode of thinking is relevant for today’s world. His playful painting style has a naive air that nonetheless captures how fundamentally powerful such narratives can be. Much like his themes, in this exhibition Mark’s paintings are all epic in scale. A comet hurtles through the sky above a triceratops in an image depicting the cusp of cataclysmic conflict. A figure floats above Charlton in South London, a hero raised up from the mundane. A huge self portrait sat in contemplation on a train in Belgium is echoed by a same-size portrait of the TV wrestler The Undertaker, the black and purple menace suggesting how the narrative of conflict permeates both private thoughts and popular entertainment. In the fifth work, a knight battles a many-headed demon in an image of the hero’s climax, the confrontation and defeat of darkness. The energy and power of Mark’s imagery suggests a raw truth: that the battle of good and evil is fundamental to imagination.

Carlos Zapata’s sculptures speak of his Colombian roots, of the legacy of colonialism and a syncretic identity shaped by both European and indigenous cultures. Many of his works echo Catholic icons but with a raw, elemental aesthetic. A series of intimate altars here each describe a chapter in the narrative cycle of birth, death, and rebirth: a naked Madonna hand-in-hand with a young child; a criminal whose misdemeanours hang like ex-voto offerings beneath him; a condemned figure, cast down and contorted in agony; and a contemplative portrait looking onto a blue flame as if rekindling hope. Carlos references the Easter narrative and Christian imagery but with the human firmly at the centre. The largest sculpture of a prostrate figure hewn from wood is blue-tinged as if already departed on a journey of rebirth. An accompanying torso and a small carved head depict gods as if imagined in man’s image. This human focus and their intimate scale lend Carlos’s sculptures a deep sense of empathy. They suggest how the narrative of conflict, struggle and rebirth is essentially one of hope and redemption.

‘Out of the Darkness, Into the Light’ opens on Thursday 7 March, 6:30 – 8:30pm. To receive the the PDF preview catalogue shorly before the show opens please register via the ‘Request PDF Catalogue’ link above.

Artworks

Carlos Zapata | Prayer Ex-Voto
Carlos Zapata
Prayer Ex-Voto
Carlos Zapata | Madonna Ex-Voto
Carlos Zapata
Madonna Ex-Voto
Mark Connolly | Battle under moonlight
Mark Connolly
Battle under moonlight
Carlos Zapata | Frailty Ex-Voto
Carlos Zapata
Frailty Ex-Voto
Carlos Zapata | Inner
Carlos Zapata
Inner
Carlos Zapata | Rise
Carlos Zapata
Rise
Carlos Zapata | Criminal Ex-Voto
Carlos Zapata
Criminal Ex-Voto
Mark Connolly | Dreaming
Mark Connolly
Dreaming

Out of the Darkness, Into the Light

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