Grove Collective is pleased to present the upcoming three-artist exhibition History’s Shadow Marks the Beginning, featuring UK-based artists Conor Murgatroyd, Mitch Vowles, and Alfie White, on view at Grove Collective’s Battersea space, as well as online in virtual reality through the Grove Collective website. This is the first time that these artists have exhibited together, and marks the first time that Grove Collective has worked with any of these artists.
The roots of this exhibition lie deep within the ineffable; linkages across theme and tone draw together the practices of Murgatroyd, Vowles, and White, but the nature of those bonds can be difficult to parse. So varied are the artists’ practices that any claim to similarity on a purely visual basis crumbles almost out of hand. Likewise, generalised biographical commonalities belie much stronger contextual disparities; for each artist, the conditions of production prove radically different. However, something still lingers below the surface. The viewer can still note that which is difficult to name but easy to feel, melding the universal and personal to create something that is both familiar and radical.
Therein lies perhaps the clearest connection between the artists’ work: While Murgatroyd, Vowles, and White together have practices steeped in the art historical, they all diverge notably from said canons, injecting otherwise staid approaches with their own personal identity and flair. Conor Murgatroyd’s penchant for still lifes and typically British iconography is offset by an influx of highly contemporary and personal references, while Mitch Vowles works from traditions of readymade sculpture and video stemming from the early twentieth century and the late 1980s respectively, only to intertwine them with a deep connection to his personal history. Furthermore, Alfie White brings a youthful, sensitive, and reflective eye to a humanist street photography tradition beginning with the work of Henri Cartier-Bresson, inflecting his hand-printed black and white photography with an energy native to South London. Together, they indisputably bring something new and vibrant to what has come before them, while paying homage to that same history on a trailblazer path of their own.
In turn, History’s Shadow Marks the Beginning extends upon the range of practices that Grove Collective has engaged, including photography in the gallery for the first time. Additionally, this turn towards the personal and past expands the scope of themes the gallery has considered. Having previously focused on the body alongside largely abstract compositions, this show marks a clear step towards a more figurative and historically-minded approach; an approach Co-Directors Jacob Barnes and Morgane Wagner will look to expand upon in the coming years.