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Curated by 

  John Bunker & Ken Turner

(a contemporary) phantasmagoria

10 May – 27 June 

We might understand the word ‘Phantasmagoria’ as conjuring up the magic-lantern shows of darkened eighteenth-century drawing rooms; or, in its more recent incarnation, as Walter Benjamin’s term for the fractured, kaleidoscopic nature of the experience of modernity. This show, ‘Phantasmagoria’, looks to enlarge the scope of Benjamin’s definition, the better to take the measure of our fragmentary, collagic, screen-mediated contemporary reality.

Here, painting and sculpture are invested with a startling and raucous materiality, twinned with meticulous craftsmanship. Collage and abstraction are used to open up or pulverise both picture plane and sculptural object, rendering them as sites of complex disruptions, antagonisms and mutations formed from disparate ideas from the history of art and the (de)materiality of the life we are living now. Delicate, fragile, improvisatory processes that harness painting’s polarities, chaos and control, in figurative, narrative terms, celebrate draftsmanship, visual storytelling and the power of illusion.

(a contemporary) ‘phantasmagoria’ reflects ironically on the sense of loss, frailty and failure by which our era, the ‘High Anthropocene’, might one day come to be defined; but it also seeks to show how current artistic practice channels the multifarious, ineffable ways in which a contemporary phantasmagoria can act upon us, thereby becoming a catalyst for change.

Alison Aye
John Bunker
EC
Matthew Collings
Karen David
Matt Dennis

Paul Dewis
Deborah Gardner
Carrie Grainger
Emma Lilly
Joni Spigler
Ken Turner

Alison Aye

Aye is an artist motivated by popular culture, politics and consumerism. She works primarily with hand-stitch. Originally from North East England, she studied at Goldsmiths’ College in London, where she now lives and works. She was a finalist in the Evening Standard Art Prize (2018) and the Brixton Art Prize (2022). She is administration and social media consultant at Tension.

 

 

EC 

EC is a London born painter of Italian descent who lives and works in London. EC received his BA in 1996 from The Cass, London Guildhall University. Whilst there he was one of the recipients of an Owen Rowley fine art prize for her paintings. Since then EC has exhibited regularly in the UK, US, Italy, France, Japan, had solo shows in the UK and has work in private collections abroad.
EC has written essays for abcrit and instantloveland.com.
EC has also worked in collaboration with musicians on visual material, photography and sleeve design for record labels including Ronnie Scott’s Jazz House, 33 Records, Killer Shrimp, Jonathan Gee and Damon Brown. Commissioned by Channel 4 films to provide paintings and set designs for a Nick Hornby short for the 1996 London Film Festival. 

John Bunker

 

Bunker is an artist, writer and curator living and working in London. Bunker’s work is characterised by an obsession with those twin disruptors born of Modernism: abstraction and collage, and their continuing powerful presence in contemporary art. Bunker plays with the friction generated between these two modes, conjuring captivating and psychologically charged abstract images from a startlingly diverse range of materials.

 

Matthew Collings

Collings is an artist and writer. He is the partner of mosaicist Emma Biggs. Together they produce collaborative abstract paintings based on patterns, which are in collections worldwide. Matthew has written many books on art and has won awards including a BAFTA for his TV programmes. He’s currently preparing a book of his ongoing series of drawings and paintings, “Alternative Art History.” He was born in London in 1955 and lives in Norfolk and France.

 

Karen David

 

David holds a PhD from University of Worcester (2024). Her practice explores fiction as method, mythmaking in popular culture, and materiality. Exhibitions include Liquid Crystal Display (2019) at MIMA and Site Gallery, and writing for the Journal of Contemporary Painting (2024).

 

 

Matt Dennis

 

Dennis lives and works in North London. Alongside his studio practice, he co-edits instantloveland.com, a platform for writing about abstraction, with John Bunker.
He is a Lecturer in BA Graphic Design and Programme Leader for MA Printmaking at Middlesex University.

 

 

Paul Dewis

Dewis works with print to make complex, multi layered, vibrantly coloured prints and paintings. Like the subject; fences, barriers, boundaries, surfaces which separate, demarcate, create a point where one thing ends and another begins, the works occupy a liminal space. Although casually referred to as paintings, the works exist somewhere between the processes of both painting and print.

 

 

 

Carrie Grainger

Grainger’s work explores cultural superstitions, symbolisms and ritual practices  through multiple forms such as mask making, sculpture, documented performance and film. She draws from different histories, occurrences and belief systems largely based around connections to the land and engages with and recycles themes surrounding mysticism and folklore and how they translate into pop culture.

 

 

 

Deborah Gardner

Gardner is a fellow of the Royal Society of Sculptors, a member of Yorkshire Sculptors Group and the network LAND 2. She is a lecturer at the University of Leeds. Current work focusses on the processual in practice, speculative hybrid human forms and material adaptability. Networks and body architecture are structural devices in this practice. Recent work explores the potential in repurposed materials, such as electrical waste, to create new meanings.

 

 

 

 

Emma Lilly

Emma Lilly is curious about the imaginative act of looking. She grew up in the north-east of England and now lives and works in London. She studied at Central St Martin’s and Turps Art School. She makes non-representational paintings mainly in acrylics and mixed media, with some oils and recycled non-art materials, inspired by the interplay of materiality, touch and perception.

Joni Spigler

Spigler is an American artist living and working in France. In her recent works, she responds to high modernism, the history of art, and the object-world in general, by creating mobiles, models, or housewares using found objects and scrap materials. Her work is informed by her studies in fine art practice (AA), philosophy (BA), and the history of art (BA, ABD for PhD), as well as a lifetime enamoured of the materiality of things.

Ken Turner

 

Artist and curator; Turner sees his practice as performative, questioning the authenticity of expressive mark making through mixed media. He studied BA Critical Fine Art and MA Contemporary Photography Practices and Philosophies at Central St Martins. He is curently studying on the MFA programme at Goldsmiths, his research interests include the primordial origins of mark making and abstraction. He is Director at Tension and his work is held in private collections.

 

 

 

 

Tension does not accept unsolicited submissions or proposals

We are an artist run gallery dedicated to showcasing the work and raising the profiles of emerging and mid career local, national and international artists. We show a mixture of contemporary & experimental art that questions what art is and what art could be.

135 Maple Road
London
SE20 8LP

NEW OPENING TIMES FROM 9th MARCH

Friday - Saturday
11am - 5pm

or

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