From Tuesday 20 July there will be a number of new works to view at the Contemporary Art Society’s exhibition space at Mount Street. Ranging from important new voices to senior figures of the British scene, as before, the factor that unifies them all is our relationship to the artists – all of whom we have bought for museums in the UK in the past.
The younger artists on display are Emilie Taylor and Jade Montserrat – both consigned by Bosse and Baum gallery in South London. Emilie Taylor’s tall, elegant ceramics use traditional slipware and lustre technique, combining this with a sensibility informed by her work as an art psychotherapist. With a particular focus on the female experience, Taylor’s pots are decorated with scenes drawn from her experience of living and working with communities in Sheffield, Yorkshire. May Day, May Day, I and II show dancing figures, their bodies arched upwards – either in distress or the ecstasy of dance, echoing the ambiguity of the titles. The Contemporary Art Society purchased work by Taylor in 2016 for the Williamson Art Gallery in Birkenhead.
Jade Montserrat is based in rural Yorkshire and her connection to the natural world is a key element of a practice that explores her identity as a Black British woman, through research, performance and painting. Montserrat’s intense, small scale watercolour paintings on paper often use the outline of the female torso as a means to reference the subjugated body and histories of enslavement. Short texts float over – or entwine with – the image. Evocative snippets of description, The Sound of Bells in a Christian Country for example, give her works a critical and conceptual reach far beyond their physical dimensions. In 2019 the Contemporary Art Society bought a group of nine works on paper for York Art Gallery from her solo exhibition at INIVA the same year.
Mona Hatoum is one of the most important sculptors working in the UK today. Last year we were proud to be able to commission a new work through our Great Works scheme: Electrified (Variable) III was donated to the Hepworth Wakefield and will be on show there early in 2022. For Mount Street, the artist and White Cube have made available a small piece that relates directly to the Electrified series, which employs familiar domestic objects and kitchen utensils to elaborate narratives of displacement and unease. No Way IV, 2013 is an upturned colander, bristling with steel screws, transforming an innocent household item into something disturbingly threatening.
Frith Street Gallery have very kindly loaned us two works on consignment: an exquisite Callum Innes, Exposed Painting Paris Blue, 2019 and Finger Crab, 2011 by the inimitable Dorothy Cross. The first painting by Callum Innes that we purchased was back in 1997 for the Towner Art Gallery in Eastbourne, shortly after he was nominated for the Turner Prize. The Exposed Paintings are perhaps his most well-known series, combining meticulous processes of adding and then removing layers of paint from the canvas with turpentine. The results are luminous veils of intense colour, always contained within a rigorous abstract scheme, with an element of chance being admitted through the action of the running solvent.
The Contemporary Art Society has bought work by Dorothy Cross for three different museums over the years, both sculpture and film pieces. Based on the coast of County Galway in Ireland, Cross casts in silver and bronze from objects found in the landscape or seashore around her home. Cross conjures up chimerical entities that uncannily incorporate elements cast from her own body. A profoundly poetic and allusive visual language, Cross’ works also communicate a profound concern with the consequences of human actions on nature.
Also on display for the last few weeks of our residency in Mount Street will be a magnificent, free-standing painted piece by Lubaina Himid, a signature work by doyens of British Art, Gilbert and George, and a group of new paintings on paper from a new body of work called Family Ruin by Michael Landy, consigned by Thomas Dane. With his eye for the subject that is at once melancholic and humorous, Landy has painted small-scale portraits of cottages in rural Ireland, all of them slowly disintegrating and returning to the land. Each cottage takes on a slightly anthropomorphic quality: the empty windows like eyes, the grass growing from the roofs a head of dishevelled hair; these ruins of a former age are a familiar sight in a location defined in part by depopulation.
The CAS at Mount Street, 16 Mount Street, London W1K 2RH. Open Tuesday-Friday 10.00-18.00. Exhibition continues until 31 August 2021. www.contemporaryartsociety.org/mount-street