Resurrection is an online-only exhibition on the theme of Easter.
Easter-time marks the arrival of Spring and the start of the Nature’s cycle of renewal in the northern hemisphere. This theme of rebirth has for centuries been interwoven in religious stories, mythology, and cultural imagery. ‘Resurrection’ brings together a group of works that echo and explore these themes.
Carolein Smit’s ceramic sculptures reference mythology, religious iconography, and art history to explore the contradictory themes of beauty and mortality. The work in this show is a ‘Man of Sorrows’, as referred to in the Old Testament:
“He is despised and rejected of men, a Man of Sorrows, and acquainted with grief. And we hid as it were our faces from Him; He was despised, and we esteemed Him not. Surely He hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions; He was bruised for our iniquities. The chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and with His stripes we are healed.” Isaiah 53: 3-5
This is a version of the ‘scapegoat’, literally an ‘escaped goat’ from the ancient tradition that when one animal was sacrificed to a deity, another was set free into the wilderness to take the community’s sins with it. The archetype informed the biblical story of Jesus as a figure to take away all sins, which then takes shape with the story of the Resurrection that Easter celebrates in Christian religion. Carolein’s theatrical sculpture captures the image of the reviled man with a gloopy gruesomeness, an almost volcanic being of molten earth covered in platinum drippings.
Carlos Zapata is an artist whose carved wood sculptures echo the devotional object as a means of addressing contemporary themes. The sculpture in this exhibition, ‘Boy’, is reminiscent of the heads of saints in the Holy Week processions in Catholic culture, where patron saints are paraded throughout cities as part of religious ritual. Often these sculptures are pristine and flamboyant, marking a distance through their aesthetic between earthly imperfection and the spiritual ideal. But in Carlos’s work the organic roots are left clear to see. The wooden base is left roughly hewn while the metaphorical new being springs from the tree, an image that encapsulates the hopes of Spring and new beginnings. Accompanying this sculpture are two paintings on wood of the concept of the saint, a theme that echoes the sense of a new life and rebirth after passage through ordeal. Rather than being specific to a Christian story, Carlos’s saints have the air of ancient idols in the pre-European era of his native Colombia, suggesting the enduring universal appeal of such figures and their narratives.
Iain Andrews is a painter who explores how the established narratives of art history and religion relate to the chaos of lived experience. His works often reference Faery Tales and Old Masters paintings into which he embeds gestural, chaotic, and sometimes cartoonish markmaking to show how such references serve as a containing structure for the turbulent reality of imperfect lives. In a similar vein to Carolein Smit and Carlos Zapata, one of the paintings here looks at the resurrection motif of both the Man of Sorrows and the saint through a focus on St Anthony as a hermit, removed from society and existing in the desert as a voluntary scapegoat to undergo a rebirth through trial by temptation. The accompanying painting, Conla and the Fairy Maiden, is based on a Celtic fairytale in which a woman becomes bewitched by a yearning for another world, desiring rebirth into a new life as if it were a kind of spell. In this context, the narrative of resurrection and nature’s renewal becomes a channel through which ideas of hope for personal development and change are expressed.
Michael Boffey uses bronze to create contemporary versions of Vanitas, with flowers representing the fleetingness of life in an artistic tradition that was particularly popular in Dutch painting of 1600s. His bronze casts are unique and exquisite. Presented as wall panels, they describe short-lived floral compositions with a dusty, sandy finish. Their seemingly sun-baked surfaces are like an old dry riverbed where these arrangements have been captured for perpetuity. In the process, the moment of promise, of the blossoming to come, has also been caught in time. The superb level of detail, where even the tiniest florets in the head of a daisy are described as completely as the leaves and the stems, further the sense of becoming in these works. Yet this state of transformation is contradictorily captured in the permanent and solid medium of bronze, giving the sculptures an air of decadence and decay.
Please note that this exhibition is online only and will not be physically on show at the gallery.