Grove Collective is pleased to present the upcoming group exhibition A Body of Work, featuring artists Tomas Harker, Emily Kraus, Tom White, and C. Lucy R. Whitehead, on view at Grove Collective’s Battersea space from February 10th to March 5th, 2022. This is the first time that Grove Collective has worked with Harker, Kraus, and White, and marks the first time that all of these artists have shown together.
When an artist paints their subjects, what is their relationship to the bodies they depict? Of course, it varies from artist to artist – one artist may choose to paint from life, while another from memory, and still a third from photographs. But as a given work takes shape, how can one articulate the relationship between that body and painting, as the image is transmuted through the eyes of the artist? Further still, the bond between the person and image is made more tenuous through potential mediation; much as a painting is not a person, a painting of a photograph of a person is no more that person themselves. But does the artist hold the capacity to almost bring this ontological stretch closer to full circle? As in the work of Tom White, can a painter painting from a photograph capture the essence of their sitter, perhaps better than the photograph itself? Similarly, as in the work of C. Lucy R. Whitehead, can the sensuality of a body be explored through its magnified curvature and tones?
Still, there remains the question of the body at work. If the body of the subject is the focus of a given piece, it is brought into being by the movement of another body, that of that painter. In turn, the work turns into the product of a delicate dance, leaving traces of one body, while erasing, or dislocating, the marks of another. It is in this vein that we approach the work of Emily Kraus: in two of these works, Kraus uses her mark-making to create dual images, one of her creation, and the other created through the drippings of the former. As such, these images reflect both presence and absence. The marked canvas is intentional but rendered incomplete by its mate, with the mate, that of the drippings, echoing an absence that is complemented by the creation of the marked.
From here, we think about the work of Tom Harker: tongue-in-cheek references to mediation, extending notions of emotional or social proximity while short-circuiting the viewer’s sense of the corporeal. As we see so clearly, a painting of a mediated picture can still make us feel a visceral, bodily sense of presence with the subject. The exhibition, as such, becomes subject to a send-up, with intimacy and closeness being traded for uncanniness and a wry, if proverbial, smile.
For Grove Collective, A Body of Work is the first exhibition of the year to open in the gallery’s Battersea space. Additionally, this exhibition is the first for which C. Lucy R. Whitehead will appear as represented by the gallery; Whitehead’s previous exhibition with Grove Collective, Fragmented Intimacy, alongside Amy Beager, was her first. However, the opportunity to work with the likes of Harker, Kraus, and White comes as a point of excitement – after a successful first year, the shepherding of new London-based talent into the gallery is cause for celebration. Moving forward, the gallery hopes to incorporate these and other artists of this year’s program into the momentum of 2021, continuing to explore pressing topics with a widened group of practitioners.