Take A Dose Of Magical Realism At All Visual Arts

This exhibition brings together three international female artists specialising in depicting the mythical and fantastical. All the works have a dark side to them, and some are overtly sinister, such as a woman dragging along a net full of dead rabbits to place next to a pile of deer corpses.

Julie Hefferman’s work has the greatest fantasy art feel to it, with bright colours and a Baroque style. Yet her subject matter is anything but light — even a stream of people with torches heading towards a town has a troublesome air to it. The ominous nature of her work reminded us of the otherworldly paintings of John Stark, a favourite artist of ours.

Haruko Maeda takes an unsubtle approach to death, choosing to confront the viewer head on. There’s no missing her portrait of a skeletonized Elizabeth I who remains posed in her finest regalia.

Despite the visual impact of the aforementioned two artists, the scene stealer in this show is Dolly Thompsett. Her swirls of bright colours ensure all her works have a phantasmagorical element to them. A stately home is full of circling spectres while soldiers sit at the foot of the stairs nonchalantly taking it all in. It doesn’t entirely make sense, but then again it’s not supposed to.

Thompsett is able to use searing colours to create new worlds. Whether it’s a jungle of reds, pink and greens that parts to reveal an Aztec-style step pyramid, or plants sporting eyeballs.

This isn’t an exhibition of subtle works, it hits you hard as soon as you enter and your senses are overwhelmed throughout. The forthright nature of this show is likely to divide people but if you like your paintings bold, brash and darkly surreal, then this is definitely for you.

Magical Realism is on at All Visual Arts, 2 Omega Place, N1 9DR until 3 August. Admission is free. Also on at the gallery is Alastair Mackie’s Multiplicity exhibition.

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