The central theme of this exhibition is to bring out film culture’s influence on contemporary painters. Arguably, it would be easier to make the link the other way round — after all, painting as an art form has been around for much longer, and while there is a limit to what can be filmed, paintings are free to explore the surreal, abstract and representational.
To further bridge the gap between cinema and art, one of the curators of this exhibition is the multi-talented Hollywood A-lister James Franco. He even painted one of the works on display, which will be auctioned off for charity.
There are big name artists here as well, including Yayoi Kusama, Peter Doig and an impressive tumultuous work by Chris Ofili. Some of the works clearly have a link with films, such as the vulnerable portrait of actress Jessica Chastain, but for others the link is more tenuous. Further exploration of the exhibition results in the thematic link between the works falling away, and it becomes more a collection of paintings rather than a cohesive exhibition.
That said, there are plenty of pieces on display and some that really stand out. The previous exhibition at this gallery displayed the excellent distorted paintings of the fall of man by Barnaby Furnas, and we’re glad to see that one of his works has remained in the gallery. David Harrison is another artist who stands out for us, with his moonstruck rabbit radiating energy in an evocative nocturne.
The highlight of the exhibition is a brilliantly surreal Inka Essenhigh work that depicts a nightmarish vision of the sun god Apollo giving chase to the nymph Daphne as she transforms into a tree. The painting’s surreal representation of lust and fear provides a novel take on the classic tale of unrequited love.
The sometimes clumsily applied theme aside, the variety, number and quality of the paintings on display mean that most visitors will discover some great artworks they can engage with.
Cinematic Visions: Painting at the edge of reality is on at Victoria Miro, 16 Wharf Road, N1 7RW until 3 August. Admission is free.