Thursday, 22 October 2015

THE FUTURE CAN WAIT | Exhibition | 2015

Some of the artists' works that were exhibited:

BLACK PAINTINGS | Exhibition | 2015

Some of the artists' works that were exhibited:

DAS UNHEIMLICHE | Exhibition | 2015

Some of the artists' works that were exhibited:

Dominic Shepard | Bare Foot Prophet | 2015

 ‘To make sure of what I already suspected, I leaned out over the water and I lifted the lantern, and out of the black watery mirror a face peered up at me, a face with severe and solemn features and grey eyes, an old knowing face, and it was I.’ 
Hermann Hesse, ‘Flute Dream’

The bare foot prophet lives in the wilds, against the mainstream. Proto hippies such as Karl Wilhelm Diefenbach and Gustav Nagel lived by their own codes, intentionally positioning themselves against convention. Embracing nature; rejecting the institutional; reinterpreting the commonplace, the bare foot prophet finds truth in nature and formulates his own mythologies. 

In this exhibition Dominic Shepherd responds to the progress of our times, channelled via his own idiosyncratic circumstances. Edging towards the end of an idyll, where development has come to interrupt a fifteen year reverie, the artist states: ‘this new body of work has been made to the sound of chainsaws and burning of trees that glow in the night’. Shepherd’s paintings during this period have become a personal record of an attempt to live apart from everyday contemporary society, where the woods have provided a canopy wherein have lain dream, imagination, fantasy and contemplation. 

Shepherd’s method is to fuse life and work, refracting information from the ages with prismatic effect. Folkloric and cult cyphers are blended with the personal as Shepherd freezes time, casting his masquerading subjects in a fictionalized place that might just be real. There is a slippage of time and place where it becomes impossible to unravel reality from illusion. Shepherd’s paintings combine to elucidate a personal mythology populated by his very own deities, heroes, ancestors, and progeny. 

Please contact the gallery for images and further information

Thursday, 15 October 2015


Art Bermondsey Project Space, 183-185 Bermondsey Street, London SE1 3UW

THE FUTURE CAN WAIT returns to take its place as Frieze week’s longest running satellite event.

Established in 2007 by curators Zavier Ellis and Simon Rumley, THE FUTURE CAN WAIT returns for its 9th year as a collaboration with State Media to launch Olympus' Art Bermondsey Project Space at 183-185 Bermondsey Street SE1 3UW. Located adjacent to White Cube Bermondsey, the exhibition will take place over three floors of the former Victorian paperworks.

Presented to discover and promote London’s New Wave artists in a curatorial context, THE FUTURE CAN WAIT has featured almost 200 artists, placing many with prominent collectors globally as well as providing exhibition opportunities with international galleries. THE FUTURE CAN WAIT has taken place throughout London including the Old Truman Brewery, Shoreditch Town Hall and Victoria House, Bloomsbury Square.

Edition 9 will feature artists working across all mediums and all participants will show at THE FUTURE CAN WAIT for the first time. The artists are:
Eliza Bennett
Alexandra Berg
Bella Easton
Jamie Fitzpatrick
Mathew Gibson
Beatrice Haines
Dale Lewis
Kate Lyddon
Oliver McConnie
Andrew Salgado
Ben Spiers
Zhu Tian
Lisa Wright

The exhibition will run from 13-17 October 2015 with free entry. There will be an invitation only Collector & VIP Preview on the evening of 12 October.

For enquiries and further information please email or call +44 (0)20 7739 4055.


Curated by Zavier Ellis

Emma Bennett, Ian Davenport, Oana Farcas, Mathew Gibson, Konstantinos Giotis, Florian Heinke, Dimitri Horta, Luke Jackson, Sam Jackson, Zebedee Jones, Joe Machine, Hugh Mendes, Alex Gene Morrison, Gavin Nolan, John Stark, Gavin Turk, Tess Williams, Hendrik Zimmer

CHARLIE SMITH LONDON is pleased to present Black Paintings.

The project is a combination of three notions. Firstly, it is a curatorial response to the work of contemporary artists that gallery director Zavier Ellis has worked with, and has seen, throughout the years. Notably, there are many significant young painters who choose to paint with a restricted palette, or indeed only black, such as Florian Heinke and Luke Jackson. Others have investigated the black monochrome within their broader practice such as Ian Davenport and Zebedee Jones.

Secondly, the exhibition seeks to illustrate an inherent urge that many painters have: to master the black painting. On one hand it can be a liberation to eradicate choice, and on the other hand it is a test to limit the tools at one’s disposal. In combination, it is a seductive challenge to attempt to diffuse one’s intentions into a singular, albeit highly complex tone.

Finally, the exhibition will act as a response to fundamental moments throughout the history of art. From Goya to Malevich to Reinhardt and Rauschenberg, significant artists have continued to investigate the insistence and resonance of the black painting, and inevitably the artists in this exhibition will convey reference points, whether intentional or not, to that historical visual culture.

Please contact CHARLIE SMITH LONDON for images and further information


OPENING RECEPTION Thursday 17 September 6.00pm-10.00pm
EXHIBITION DATES Friday 18 September – Sunday 20 September 2015
EXHIBITION HOURS Friday 18 September 1:00pm-8:00pm Saturday 19 September 1:00pm-8:00pm Sunday 20 September 11:00am-6:00pm

CHARLIE SMITH LONDON and Galerie Heike Strelow present Black Paintings at Positions Berlin 2015. Their collaborative participation will feature emerging and established painting positions from Germany and England.

Black Paintings will be an evolving, internationally touring exhibition. The project is a combination of three notions.

Firstly, it is a curatorial response to the work of contemporary artists that Ellis and Strelow work with, and have seen, throughout the years. Secondly, the exhibition seeks to illustrate an inherent urge that many painters have: to master the black painting. Finally, the exhibition will act as a response to fundamental moments throughout the history of art.

From Goya to Malevich to Reinhardt and Rauschenberg, significant artists have continued to investigate the insistence and resonance of the black painting.

Emma Bennett
Sam Jackson
Hugh Mendes
Alex Gene Morrison
Gavin Nolan
John Stark

Please contact CHARLIE SMITH LONDON for images and further information



PRIVATE VIEW Thursday 3 September 6.30-8.30pm
EXHIBITION DATES Friday 4 September – Saturday 3 October 2015
GALLERY HOURS Wednesday-Saturday 11am-6pm or by appointment

In 1919 Sigmund Freud published his essay The Uncanny, which followed Ernst Jentsch’s 1906 text On the Psychology of the Uncanny. Beginning with a linguistic appraisal of the uses of the words heimlich and unheimlich in the German language, Freud outlines the roots and meaning of the terms. Heimlich, we are told, means the familiar, the homely. Its antonym unheimlich means unease, fear, horror, eerie or the uncanny. But heimlich can also be read to mean concealed or hidden, which is fundamental to the notion of the uncanny: to be something that is strange but familiar or hidden but apparent, otherwise termed as cognitive dissonance.

The selection of artists that we present here is based on the strong and underlying sense of the uncanny within their work. Combining painting, drawing, sculpture and video, the exhibition is curated in order to create an experience for the audience that is simultaneously compelling and unsettling, where the familiar is employed in order to unlock the peculiar.

Wendy Mayer’s small scale waxwork figures are illustrative of the proposition, leading on from the novelist E.T.A. Hoffman, that ‘intellectual uncertainty’ (the feeling of the uncanny) is ‘aroused as to whether something is animate or inanimate, and whether the lifeless bears an excessive likeness of the living’. But although as adults we might postulate a fear of the inanimate coming to life, Freud asserts that the feeling of the uncanny caused by waxworks or automatons actually derives from ‘an infantile wish, or simply from an infantile belief’ for the inanimate to become living.

Tessa Farmer also asserts an animate / inanimate anomaly. Insects, animal bones and carcasses are presented in combination with tiny winged skeletal humanoids that are handmade with incredible delicacy from plant roots and insect wings. We are presented with an imagined world where malevolent fairies seek to attack and overcome progressively larger prey. Instilling fear and curiosity in the audience, Farmer’s complex installations and animations echo the natural world, revealing the often violent fight for survival and supremacy that take place beneath our feet.

Freud goes on to discuss the idea of the ‘double’, where the self might be ‘duplicated, divided and interchanged’. He paraphrases Otto Rank, who ‘explores the connections that link the double with mirror-images, shadows, guardian spirits, the doctrine of the soul and the fear of death’. The idea of the immortal soul, in order to deny the power of death, is suggested as the ‘first double of the body’.

In Gavin Tremlett’s paintings beauty vies with deformity as his classically rendered, often mask-like visages both obscure as well as disclose. This rendering of face as mask is often coupled with abstract, painterly marks that serve to obfuscate the subject, thus interfering with the totality of an ideal self. There is a denial of the whole but also a doubling in process here, both physically and symbolically.

Performance group The Cult of RAMM:ΣLL:ZΣΣ (with Yang Younghee) harness much of the above in their performance and videos. Acting as a virtual cargo cult, The Cult of RAMM:ΣLL:ZΣΣ translate internet clips of New York graffiti history into physical ritual, in this case in collaboration with Korean calligraphy performance artist Yang Younghee and her performance artist daughter Hyeyoung Ku. Through the ritual The Cult respond to a YouTube interview with the late iconic one armed abstract graffiti artist Case 2, who in conversation with mass transit graffiti documentary photographer, Henry Chalfont (author of the graffiti bible ‘Subway Art’) professes ‘We’re like ancient fossils Henry- We don’t leave time- time leaves us’. The Cult channel the late nasal rapper and graffiti philosopher RAMM:ΣLL:ZΣΣ’s Gothic Futurist ethos of letter liberation into their performance at an abandoned Lido on the seafront, framed by the chalk cliffs of Margate, an abundant source of ancient fossils.

Marie von Heyl also refers to the ritualistic and repetitive in performance, video and other media but to vastly different effect. Her work derives from the poetic friction and productive misunderstandings that emerge when different models of reality collide, overlap or don’t quite fit together. Of particular relevance are objects that serve as mediators between different belief systems or carriers of sentimental value, such as cult objects, fetishes, heirlooms and souvenirs. Von Heyl uses drawing, collage, film and text to point tothe beautiful, trace the uncanny and explore the absurd. 'The Ease Of Handling' is a video installation that pushes the subject-object relationship that emerges from the process of taking care of objects. ‘You cannot know what an object really is until you dust it every day’, wrote Gertrude Stein in 'The Autobiography of Alice B Toklas', and by doing so suggested that knowledge can not only be gained through sensual interaction but has to be maintained or questioned through a daily care taking ritual. 'The Ease Of Handling' displays an object that is stroked by a pair of gloved hands - a performance that is evocative of art handling, care taking and pantomime and in doing so becomes overtly erotic.

Freud goes on to discuss how a living person can be called uncanny. Animism leads to genius which leads to insanity: ‘The uncanny effect of epilepsy or madness has the same origin.’ In the Middle Ages manifestations of insanity were attributed to the influence of demons, and Freud notes our unease at observing that in others we ‘can dimly perceive in remote corners of [our] own personality’. The pencil drawings of Eric Manigaud are devastating in their execution as well as their emotive content. Manigaud has collected 19th century photographs of asylum and hospital inmates and renders each piece in pencil on large scale paper. These awe inspiring drawings are alluring, poignant, unsettling and deeply moving.

Balanced delicately between beauty and the grotesque, Tom Butler works seamlessly over the faces of subjects in Victorian calling cards, where they become overtaken by hair; feathered or mottled surfaces; and more recently bandages or geometric patterns. Occasionally features of the subject remain unpainted, asserting the presence of the subject from beneath some parasitic growth that appears to emanate from within. There are clear allusions to a visualisation of the unconscious where the monstrous becomes apparent. Freud’s theories were contemporaneous to the use of cabinet cards, as was public interest in freak shows, and Butler recalls these areas of interest simultaneously.

Dominic Shepherd’s folkloric paintings illustrate perfectly Freud’s notion of cognitive dissonance. His paintings represent an idiosyncratic reappraisal of cultural history, signs and symbols that utilise familiar reference points in order to create a personal mythology. This clash operates within a landscape environment where figures and motifs dissolve into or emanate from the environment. We are urged, therefore, to experience an inconsistent place that is enveloped by familiarity, mystery, reality and illusion.



PRIVATE VIEW Thursday 30 July 6.30-8.30pm
EXHIBITION DATES Friday 31 July – Saturday 15 August 2015
GALLERY HOURS Wednesday-Saturday 11am-6pm or by appointment

CHARLIE SMITH LONDON announces its fifth edition of the annual juried exhibition Anthology.Selected and curated by internationally respected art world professionals, Anthology is a multi-disciplinary exhibition that reaches out democratically to artists worldwide. Presented at the CHARLIE SMITH LONDON gallery in Shoreditch, London, the exhibition will continue to be a key barometer of emerging and established talent. Consisting of ten finalists selected from 900 applicants, the exhibition will open on 30 July 2015. A cash prize of £2,000 will be presented to one winner by CHARLIE SMITH LONDON. The winner will also be profiled by State Media and Artlyst. The 2015 finalists are: Darren Coffield Gary Colclough Michal Cole Beatrice Haines Henry Hussey Sally Kindberg Oliver McConnie Christos Tsimaris Lisa Wright The 2015 jury members are Kurt Beers (Beers London), Paul Carter-Robinson (Artlyst), Christine Coulson (Private Collector), Zavier Ellis (CHARLIE SMITH LONDON / THE FUTURE CAN WAIT) and Mike von Joel (State Media).

Previous winners are Tom Ormond, Eric Manigaud, Robert Crosse, Florian Heinke and Ben Woodeson

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Emma Bennett | Several Small Fires

EMMA BENNETT | Several Small Fires
PRIVATE VIEW Thursday 25 June 6.30-8.30pm
EXHIBITION DATES Friday 26 June – Saturday 25 July 2015
GALLERY HOURS Wednesday-Saturday 11am-6pm or by appointment

CHARLIE SMITH LONDON is delighted to present Emma Bennett with her third one person show at the gallery. For this exhibition Bennett has created an exquisite set of intimate oil paintings on oak panels. Combining appropriated still life elements with beds, fire and landscapes; this is a significantly personalised series. Exploring the fleeting nature of experience and encounters, Bennett’s paintings are resonant and nostalgic. They also refer to the incomplete, fragmented nature of memory and thought:‘My recent paintings, like memories, contain small fragments of imagery - these are focused details surrounded by darkness and ambiguity. The imagery of the paintings locates memories in specific places and, as with memories, there are sharply focused details as well as inaccuracies and things that one can't quite recall.’ This fragmented or failed recollection serves to blur the boundaries of reality and imagination, and introduces notions of desire, absence and loss. The illogicality of apparently disparate figurative elements suggests ambiguities in time and space, whilst the intangible nature of the subjects represented intonate dream and flux. We are eluded by the transient nature of smoke, fire and water, and reminded of the impermanence of the corporeal. Please contact the gallery for images and further information

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Anti-Social Realism | Curated by Juan Bolivar & John Stark | 2015

Anti-Social Realism Curated by Juan Bolivar & John Stark Juan Bolivar, Dan Coombs, Graham Crowley, Karen David, Nathan Eastwood, Geraint Evans, John Greenwood, Sigrid Holmwood, Kate Lyddon, Maharishi x Rebecca & Mike, John Salt, John Stark PRIVATE VIEW Thursday April 2nd 6.30-8.30pm EXHIBITION DATES Saturday April 4th – Saturday May 9th 2015 GALLERY HOURS Wednesday-Saturday 11am-6pm or by appointment People try to put us down(Talkin' 'bout my generation - The Who, 'My generation', (1965) (1)Gustave Courbet once stated that he was ‘not only a Socialist, but a Democrat and a Republican, as well: in a word, a supporter of the whole revolution, and above all a realist, that is to say a sincere lover of genuine truth.’ (2) In T.J. Clark’s book ‘Image of the People’ (1999), Courbet is said to have disguised himself behind the mask of the savage in order to remain in the centre of the Parisian art world without actually being absorbed by it. Acting as a rustic invader and outsider at La Brasserie Andler, which Courbet frequented in the 1840's, he sustained his practice by gaining access to this glimpse of bourgeoisie life. This enabled him to comment on the social conditions of the time through his paintings of rural life. In ‘Image of the People’Clark asks us to question: 'What is revolutionary art?' - such as Courbet's - and 'What were the effects of a particular Revolution upon pictorial practice?'.The term ‘Anti-Social Realism’ is not one that is commonly understood. This exhibition attempts to pose new pictorial possibilities through artworks that tackle notions of contemporary realism and offer us a distant echo of a political reality. The wry misnomer of the exhibition’s title slips between many interwoven threads, simultaneously conjuring up images of 'anti-social behaviour orders' (ASBO’s); anarchist riots; or the solitary artist locked away from the world in a studio attempting to connect on a higher level. In this light, the exhibiting artists are presented as ‘social mystics’ (3) and it could be said that their work operates by a means of turning inwards to create social radiation. The other worldliness of social media and the ever present threat to notions of reality of the digital age (where almost everything and anything seems possible) define our contemporary reality, and by that definition, what it means to pursue social and anti-social practices. The search for a means to connect with an audience is relevant today, just as it was in Courbet's times, and the desire to present the enigma of peasant politics with the confusions and dangers of class systems continues. These artists are banded together in their conviction that art must remain intrinsically social, whilst preserving a duty to question the binds of the social structures it exists within. Please contact the gallery for images and further information

Friday, 20 February 2015

Tom Butler | Inhabitants

336 Old Street, London EC1V 9DR , United Kingdom | +44 (0)20 7739 4055 | | Wednesday–Saturday 11am–6pm or by appointment TOM BUTLER Inhabitants PRIVATE VIEW Thursday February 19th 6.30-8.30pm EXHIBITION DATES Friday February 20th – Saturday March 28th 2015 GALLERY HOURS Wednesday-Saturday 11am-6pm or by appointment CHARLIE SMITH LONDON is delighted to present Tom Butler with his second one person exhibition at the gallery. Earlier in the year a curator asked me if there was a limit to the number of my cabinet cards works. I said no, because it felt like I was growing a population of characters that continues to surprise and fascinate me. However, this was a new idea because I realised they were becoming a population or citizenship and more than just an ongoing series of characters. To let the population grow I started imagining an island (of sorts) where they could exist and I could continue to create them. It wasn’t until later in the year that I read H.G. Wells’ ‘Island of Dr Moreau’, where a shipwrecked man is rescued and brought to the shores of a mysterious island populated with beast-men who are created by Dr Moreau in scientific experiments. Wells’ island itself is unnamed, as is its strange population, only described in the book as: ‘the inhabitants’. In this exhibition Butler continues to evolve his ongoing series of appropriated Victorian cabinet cards. Painted with beautifully delicate gouache, each subject is laboriously transformed, being engaged by an inexplicable shape, pattern or species. The inherent character of the card, with its clear traces of the passing of time; and the appearance and positioning of the sitter, prompt Butler to instinctively decide how and where to alter the original object. This series introduces new motifs as well as new treatment of existing motifs, including geometric clouds, bisecting barriers, floral transformations and spiritual exhalations. Butler then pushes them in extremis, where the sitter might be entirely overtaken or conversely their features remain very much apparent. We are treated to a number of works where there is clear suggestion of interaction between the subject and a mysterious plane, force or aura, rendering the subject pre-occupied rather than overwhelmed. Butler has also introduced renditions of pairs, groups and families alongside his iconic single subjects. Using similar modes of modification, Butler toys with group dynamics, accentuating isolation or integration. At times sinister and always nostalgic, the notion of time past is even more evident here. The removal of identities implies death, and varied motifs within single pieces suggest the different direction that lives of individuals take. Once a group with shared interests, experiences and motivations, one is left to reflect on separation, loss, diversion and fulfilled or unfulfilled intentions. Please contact the gallery for images and further information

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Young Gods | London Graduates 2014

Young Gods | London Graduates 2014

Curated by Zavier Ellis

Gabriele Dini, Russell Hill, Tezz Kamoen, Hilde Krohn Huse, JoshuaRaffell, Zhu Tian, Newton Whitelaw


PRIVATE VIEW Wednesday January 7th 2015 6:30-8:30pm
EXHIBITION DATES Thursday January 8th – Friday February 6th 2015
GALLERY HOURS Monday-Thursday 10am-5pm | Friday 10am-4pm
ADDRESS The Studio Building, 21 Evesham Street, London W11 4AJ
CONTACT +44 (0)20 8424 3239 | |


EXHIBITION DATES Wednesday January 14th – Saturday February 14th 2015
GALLERY HOURS Wednesday-Saturday 11am-6pm or by appointment
ADDRESS 336 Old Street, London EC1V 9DR
CONTACT +44 (0)20 7739 4055 | |

Zavier Ellis identifies London’s best new talent to curate Young Gods at GriffinGallery and CHARLIE SMITH LONDON for the third year running.

Ellis’ annual selection of graduates from London art schools is recognized as a key barometerof the best new London artists.The exhibition has a proven track record of discovering vital new artists and introducing themto the international market. Previous selections have gone on to considerable success withgalleries, museums and collectors, including three artists from the 2013 selection beingplaced in the world renowned Saatchi Gallery collection.

This year sees a combination of painting, sculpture, installation and video by seven artistsfrom China, Italy, Netherlands, Norway & United Kingdom, illustrating the international natureof today’s London art schools intake.

Showing simultaneously at west London’s Griffin Gallery and east London’s CHARLIE SMITHLONDON, the exhibition will feature the same artists at both sites, enabling a differentcuratorial perspective at each gallery. Combined the exhibition will feature work that iscomplex, sensational, confrontational and absurd.


30 January - 7 March 2015
// The Cult Of RAMM:ELL:ZEE: Alexis Milne, Tex Royale, Lu Ma Oi, Eve Fainke, Chooc Ly Tan, Nuke Eden and Petro
// Zavier Ellis
// Cedar Lewisohn
Curated by Alexis Milne
PRIVATE VIEW > 30 January 2015
17.00h – 20.00h // JOEY RAMONE, Josephstraat 166 - 168
20.30h – 21.30h // WORM, Boomgaardstraat 71
With a shared exhibition, JOEY RAMONE and ROODCAPJE Radicals will present Cult Of The Concrete, an exhibition curated by Alexis Milne. Part one of this shared exhibition will be presented at JOEY RAMONE and will open on January 30th. The second part of this exhibition will be presented at the ROODCAPJE Radicals festival in April.
We are very proud to welcome you to the opening on the 30th of January, which also inaugurates JOEY RAMONE's new project space. The exhibition Cult Of The Concrete occupies both gallery and project spaces. From there we will all walk to WORM, where The Cult Of RAMM:ELL:ZEE will perform a ritual from 20.30h to 21.30h.
Cult Of The Concrete is an exhibition of artists responding to the overbuilt metropolis and its barrage of semantic disorder. Heavily influenced by decaying and layered street surfaces, graffiti drenched walls and psychogeographic theory the artists construct a primal collage from their urban surroundings.
// The performance collective The Cult Of RAMM:ELL:ZEE is driven by Alexis Milne, Tex Royale, Lu Ma Oi, Eve Fainke, Chooc Ly Tan, Nuke Eden and Petro. The Cult will present video documentation of their performances alongside The Book of Bitumen, a transcribed and mapped collection of past rituals (from 2011 till 2014) on densely layered kitchen lino used in roving performances through industrial ruins, an abandoned spy station, brutalist public housing such as The Heygate Estate, and squats in London, Sweden and Berlin.
The Cult utilize the Gothic Futurist teachings of the late 1970's rapper and graffiti philosopher RAMM:ELL:ZEE to carry out large scale group rituals of trans-letter liberation, by channelling elements of graffiti sub culture into new manifestations such as break-spraying and express preying on cut up sections of kitchen lino (a surface reconfigured for headspinning in the 1980's). These forms of breakdancing and devotional body movements are combined with dynamic spray painting to achieve a trance like fervour to a hynoptic electronica soundscape punctuated with freestyle rap flows and spoken word.
Hip Hop phrases are broken down and chanted, pointing to an obsessional affiliation with branded sportswear ("My Adidas!, My Air Jordanz!"). Adidas becomes the remixed god 'Zi-Dada' and Robert Moses — master architect of the Cross Bronx Expressway (the road partly responsible for the dystopian backdrop of 1970's South Bronx where Hip Hop began) — becomes the god 'Mozizizm'.
These elements are also echoed in the outfits and objects of the Cult. Discarded branded trainers are cut up (the soles removed) and used as talismans, futuristic shinguards and bulky sports padding are reconfigured into post-apocalyptic cult armour — reverberations of the exoskeletal samurai suits of the RAMM:ELL:ZEE.
// Zavier Ellis combines the use of text with painterly, collage, assemblage and photographic techniques that respond directly to the urban environment. Language is employed to obfuscate and open new possibilities. Street signs, misspelt graffiti, literature, coded language and obsessed over words are referenced by etching, collaging or painting. Narrative is implied and the audience is invited into a confused, fragmented dialogue with artist and artwork where the broken, derelict, incomplete and mistaken are embraced. Under the title 'The Arrow of Time', the content of Ellis' work draws on various personal, intellectual and historical interests, either fleeting or ongoing. Monumental historical events and themes including nationalism; revolutionary politics; myth & magic; art history; religion; and insanity are all research pursuits that develop into subjects in his work.
// Cedar Lewisohn samples the city through drawings, large scale wood printing and spray painted works. For the Cult Of The Concrete exhibition, Lewisohn will present new work made whilst spending a year at The Jan Van Eyck Accademie, Maastricht. This body of work uses imagery and symbolism the artist has encountered while in the Netherlands. The images range from art historical to public signage and are juxtaposed with fragments from seemly discordant narratives, such as African tribal rituals and Egyptian hieroglyphs.
// The Cult of RAMM:ELL:ZEE have exhibited and performed at the Saatchi Gallery, Modern Art Oxford, The Barbican, New Art Gallery Walsall, The Gasworks and International Film Festival Rotterdam.
// Zavier Ellis is a London based artist, curator and gallerist. He read History of Modern Art at Manchester University before undertaking a Masters in Fine Art at City & Guilds of London Art School. Zavier has exhibited in recent years at Museum der Moderne in Salzburg, Torrance Art Museum in California and Paul Stolper Gallery in London. His work is featured in many private collections including the Peter Nobel Collection in Zurich.
Zavier is the founder and director of CHARLIE SMITH LONDON, a contemporary art gallery in Shoreditch. He has curated exhibitions internationally including in Berlin, Frankfurt, Helsinki, Klaipeda, London, Los Angeles, Naples and Rome. Zavier is also co-founder and co-curator of the annual museum scale show THE FUTURE CAN WAIT, which in recent years has been organised in partnership with Saatchi's New Sensations. THE FUTURE CAN WAIT is the largest exhibition of its kind globally.
Most recently Zavier has published his first iArtBook 100 London Artists with renowned art critic and historian Edward Lucie-Smith.
// Cedar Lewisohn is an artist, writer and curator. He has recently been working on The Canals Project, a series of public art works for the waterways of East London. In 2013 he organised The Hecklers, a large scale group exhibition for The New Art Gallery Walsall. Between 2005 and 2011 he worked for Tate where he curated a number of large and small scale exhibitions and projects. He has published two books and is currently working on a new project for the Jan Van Eyck Academie, Maastricht.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014


Tom Butler 'Geoeb', 2014 Gouache on albumen print 16.5x10cm
Tom Butler, Susannah Douglas, Luke Jackson, Sam Jackson, Geraldine Swayne

Thursday November 27th 6:30-8:30pm 
336 Old Street, London EC1V 9DR

Friday November 28th Saturday December 20th 2014 
Wednesday-Saturday 11am-6pm or by appointment

CHARLIE SMITH LONDON is pleased to announce its final show of the year, Idolatry. This exhibition presents a group of artists who work fundamentally in miniature form. Image based, their work is informed by contemporary and historical visual culture, and undergoes a transformation as the artist intervenes with the found or appropriated. Taking ownership of the image, each artist reinvents the mechanically (or digitally) reproduced by returning it to the handmade. The choice of subject and method of application combine to create evocative works that are quietly subversive.

Tom Butler collects Victorian cabinet cards and works over the image in delicately rendered gouache. Using ever evolving motifs Butler seeks to conceal elements of the original subject, whilst projecting alternative characteristics on to them. Geometric abstract patterns; flora; hair; fur; or bandages might be employed to interrupt the original photographic image.  

Susannah Douglas makes impeccable drawings derived from found childhood photographs. Undoubtedly nostalgic, Douglas uses intelligent devices to jolt the viewer. Drawing on photographic techniques, Douglas might crop the drawing unusually; repeat an element to allude to spliced film; or subtly mirror an image, often having already collaged disparate source elements from which to make the drawing.

Luke Jackson draws on the political, social and philosophical to imbue his impasto paintings with an unusually weighty atmosphere. Often isolated within a space with only suggestions of an environment, Jackson’s figures suggest a Kafkaesque state of monotony, endeavor, disorientation and menace.  

Sam Jackson is recognized for his psychologically charged portraits and highly sexual nudes. Jackson’s newest paintings depict figures engaged in sexual activity in outside, rural environments. Whilst often being direct, these paintings have a gentleness that suggests the erotic rather than pornographic, and recalls 19th century en plein air painting.

Geraldine Swayne makes seductive, lyrical paintings in enamel on copper or aluminium. Swayne’s evident enthusiasm for the physicality and fluidity of paint is coupled with diverse and instinctive choices of subjects that are often surprisingly transgressive. Serial killers, murder victims and effete male models populate Swayne’s paintings alongside celebrities, friends and historical figures.      

Together with this exhibition we will present a new set of prints that was made to exhibit at the recent Saatchi Gallery exhibition ‘Cultus Deorum’, curated by gallery director Zavier Ellis. The series features etchings; offset prints; linocuts; lithographs and c-type prints by Florian Heinke, Sam Jackson, Reece Jones, Eric Manigaud, Alex Gene Morrison, Gavin Nolan, Dominic Shepherd and The Cult Of RAMMΣLLZΣΣ. Each is an edition of 50 and available at £250 + VAT.

Thursday, 30 October 2014


   'No Man's Land', 2014 Oil on wood panel 122x180cm

Friday October 10th – Saturday November 15th 2014 
Wednesday-Saturday 11am-6pm or by appointment

Above the waist it was semi anthropomorphic, though its chest had the leathery, reticulated hide of a crocodile. The back was piebald with yellow and black and dimly suggested the squamous coverings of snakes. Below the waist though, it was the worst, for here all human resemblance left-off and sheer fantasy began. H. P. Lovecraft - The Dunwich Horror.

CHARLIE SMITH LONDON is delighted to present John Stark with his third one person exhibition at the gallery. 

In this exhibition Stark presents a new collection of paintings that appear to depict a world divided, besieged and devoid of moral constraints. By opposing common assumptions based on Christian mechanisms, for example that prayer is purer than incantation; and by addressing the idea that modern civilisation uses Christian morality to legitimise its own violence, Stark seeks to go beyond centuries of doctrine and propaganda to express the reality of the horror that lies beneath western reason.

The centrepiece of this exhibition, ‘No Man’s Land’, Stark’s largest painting to date, includes numerous figures: witches, demons, satyrs, Greek gods, zombie soldiers and pin up girls who cavort and coagulate in various rituals and invocations. It is a place of metaphysical darkness where such perversions are permitted to exist. Recalling historical allegory painting by way of pulp horror and erotica, we are presented with a Bacchanalian depiction of indulgence, malevolence and empowerment that refers to the cyclical births, evolutions and downfalls of societies throughout history, everywhere.

But there is a deep underlying contradiction at the heart of these paintings, where the artist employs traditions and narratives in order to demystify and undermine those very same traditions and narratives. By embracing otherness Stark parodies the familiar and in doing so ensures his position remains ambiguous, with the viewer never quite able to make certified judgements, both morally and aesthetically. Our intellectual assumptions are challenged as we are forced to contemplate the contrary relationships between reality and illusion; modern and primitive; good and evil; sacred and profane; salvation and damnation. Stark tells us that these are not contradictions but interrelated aspects of a complex universe, where hierarchies are dissolved and polarities dismantled.   


'The Siege', 2014 Oil on wood panel 112x154cm

John Stark

Witchcraft & Warfare
Text by Jessica Lack | Flesh Remains

Highway 31 stops abruptly, ten kilometres short of the North Korean border. All roads north end like this, snipped off like short fuses waiting for ignition from a lighted match. Beyond is the Korean Demilitarized Zone, a pervasive void framed by a hazy grey mountain range. You can’t see much of North Korea from here, but it doesn’t stop tourists filming the open range. Their jerky panoramas accompanied by the timbrey whistle of a high wind on the microphone.

This no-go zone is the inspiration for Witchcraft and Warfare, John Stark’s new series of paintings on show at CHARLIE SMITH LONDON. The paintings can be divided into two parts. Those created while Stark was living in Seoul in 2013 and those made on his return to England earlier this year.

‘Prey’ and ‘Enter’ capture something of the old shamanic mysticism that still exists on the margins of the Korean Peninsula. It is a hidden world, rarely spoken of, but integral to the Korean way of life. These paintings are a continuation of an earlier series he made called ‘Field Work’, documenting the Haunted Mountain where the Shamans still operate.

Among the myriad of oddities that go hand-in-hand with being a dislocated expat in South Korea, Stark was frequently mistaken for an American soldier. Out of the Promethean shadows of this alienation came the paintings he made on his return to England which confront imperialism and the moral dilemma between East and West.

In ‘No Man’s Land’ a naked woman rises up out of a swarm of slatterns into a forked lunar light, a Mother Teresa horror show saint. Beneath her is a scene of unimaginable gruesomeness. Skulls hang from a tree; a woman with bloody stumps has a rope tied to her breasts, which is being pulled by her spinsterish companion. Their faces, pictures of middle-aged fatigue, resemble dowager aunts who should be exploring the back streets of Florence, prostrating themselves on the altar of Fra Angelico, not submerged in the dank waters of this Dantesque hell.

I’m not sure if Stark has read Alan Moore’s graphic novel Lost Girls, a mix of bawdy humour and pornographic de Sade depravity, but there’s a similarity in the way Moore’s sexual imagination runs riot while still retaining a strong moral agenda. Stark, like Moore has a prodigiously fertile imagination, yet the real drama in this painting exists not with the furies, but in the intense kryptonite eyes of the watchtower as it gazes out over no-mans land to a cool, silvery figure in the foreground.

That radioactive green, the colour of Fairy Liquid, resurfaces again in ‘The Lookout’ and ‘Conjuring an Armed Skeleton’, in the pensive face of the watcher and then as a freakish fire sprung from a grinning cauldron. There is something unearthly about the colour’s lurid artificiality, perhaps because it is also the green of night vision. A device first used to brutal effect during the Korean War, and now a familiar technique in low-budget horror movies ever since Blair Witch. I feel this paradox is not lost on Stark, an artist who has made a career out of re-working old masters in audacious new ways.

‘Conjuring an Armed Skeleton’ is a great piece of theatre in the manner of Goya. With its pig’s head, mock-Celtic symbols and mad-as-a-box-of-cats witch, it embraces a long tradition of undead cadavers dating back to early International Gothic. What happens when you call up a rotting soldier covered in seaweed and slime? Who knows? The women in the painting seem peculiarly uninterested in the results of their alchemy; the wraith is more ghoulish abstraction than cautionary tale. Skeleton soldiers rose up from the depths in Brueghel’s ‘The Triumph of Death’, yet Stark is also alluding to the West’s romanticism of Orientalism in fantasy films like ‘The 7th Voyage of Sinbad’. There are obvious references to gaming here too, particularly in the flatness of colour, reminiscent of CGI while those surfaces, as shiny as plastic wrap, say something about the rampant capitalism witnessed by Stark in South Korea.

The dead solider theme continues in ‘The Siege’ with a wounded GI staggering about in the shallows while Bacchanalian revellers party on. Stretched out on the shoreline is the blubbery mass of Silenus, tutor to Dionysus who, when drunk, became incredibly wise. For Stark this sated creature represents Western Enlightenment, except here his intellectual brilliance has been entirely eclipsed by Lara Croft’s buttocks. It’s a nice moment of balloon pricking.

Ultimately it is the shadow of war and its accompanying depravities that linger over these paintings – one cast with a vigour that has eluded the Chapman Brothers. The beasts and the witches, the muddled fumbling of satyrs and porn stars climaxing to a frenzy, are simply a microcosm of human vulnerability. Silenus believed that it was better not to be born at all, that the world of the dead was preferable to that of the living. Stark’s paintings, in all their degeneracy, are a humane call to arms, a seductive defence of the right to exist.