Art Review: Interface @ Rook & Raven

Galleries tend to cluster together whether it be in Mayfair or Shoreditch. However, Rook & Raven bucked this trend by establishing itself in 2010 just off Oxford Street amongst the retail outlets and tourists.

It has established itself as a gallery that is markets popular and edgy contemporary art. Its latest exhibition is a group show featuring four very different artists.

Cain Caser’s retro psychedelic canvases sear the eyeballs while Pam Glew’s flags superimposed over portraits give her a unique style where the face and flag blend seamlessly. So much so that a vertical Kenyan flag makes the subject appear as if he’s behind bars.

James Dawe takes photographs of models and distorts them to form something grotesque yet interesting. We initially thought this was an attempt to reveal the ugliness that lies beneath the vain exterior but the artist told us that his art is more about revealing and embracing our imperfections.

The star of the show has to be Nick Gentry whose imaginative use of floppy disks and photograph negatives produces brilliant and detailed portraits. The disk labels blend seamlessly into the face of a subject who is deliberately androgynous and robot-like.

When we spoke to the artist there was an instant bond as he also grew up with a Commodore Amiga and disks of classic games are used in his art. Gentry considers his work to be “social art from the obsolete” and he’s always looking for donations from others – most people may not have use for photograph negatives any more but Gentry is always on the hunt for more.

The great parallel is that a portrait is a snapshot in time while disks and negative also capture a specific moment. This combination brings a greater sense of permanence to his art.

These are four artists with wildly contrasting yet distinctive styles but they all have an instant visual impact and draw the viewer in.

Interface is on at Rook & Raven, 7/8 Rathbone Place, W1T 1HN until 3 August. Entrance is free. 

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