Galería Pelaires presents ‘Pounding The Pavement’, a group exhibition curated by London-based art historian, writer and curator Hector Campbell. Featuring ten UK-based painters, the majority of whom are exhibiting in Spain for the first time, the exhibition acts as a survey of a vibrant artistic ecosystem. Interpretations of the exhibition’s idiomatic title are twofold. Literally, it references Campbell’s extensive gallery-going, dogged documentation of the London art scene and persistent search for the freshest artistic talent, while more metaphorically it relates to the diligent and determined pursuit of something such as a painting practice or creative career, that can be strenuous, solitary and rarely offer reward. All of the artists included have demonstrated a continued commitment to the strive for painterly perfection, often alongside their supportive peers, and this exhibition serves to spotlight the importance of an interconnected creative community, encouraging social circles and close artistic friendships.
Lydia Blakeley and Minyoung Choi both exhibited as part of Campbell’s earliest curatorial project, 2018’s ‘Young London Painters’ at the Arthill Gallery in West London. The former, a graduate of Leeds College of Art (BFA, 2016) and Goldsmiths (MFA, 2019), turns to traditional British eccentricity, pageantry and cultural identity for inspiration, with previous bodies of work depicting dog shows, race days, celebrity chefs and suburban streetwear. While the latter, a graduate of Seoul National University’s College of Fine Arts (BFA, 2010 & MFA, 2013) and the Slade School of Fine Art (MFA, 2017), creates uncanny surrealistic scenes populated by often oversized anthropomorphic animals, each imbued with an imaginative narrative that echoes her penchant for poetry and impeccable lighting.
Charlie Billingham, Lewis Brander, Natalia González Martín and George Rouy have all previously exhibited with Collective Ending, an artist-led initiative and collectively run studio and gallery complex in Deptford, South London, founded by Campbell alongside eleven others in 2019. Billingham, a graduate of The University of Edinburgh and Edinburgh College of Art (MA Joint Honours, Fine Art and History of Art, 2008) and the Royal Academy Schools (Postgraduate Diploma, 2013), mines Georgian and Regency-era satirical prints for subject matter that speaks to either a personal or shared experience, before recomposing, recontextualising and redefining the imagery to create 21st-century appropriations. Brander, a graduate of Goldsmiths (BFA, 2018), captures fleeting moments and fading memories in compositions that approach sentimentality as a subject in and of itself, depicting crumbling Greek colonnades, lounging lovers or listless London and Athenian skies. González Martín, a graduate of City & Guilds of London Art School (BFA, 2017), paints on wood panels with soft washes of diluted oils, her empowered maidens an amalgamation of personal preparatory photographs, stock internet imagery and historical or religious references evident of the artist’s connection to the Catholic iconography of her upbringing. Rouy, a graduate of Camberwell College of Arts (BFA, 2015), combines the artistic lineage of the nude with contemporary socio-cultural considerations surrounding gender, sexuality and the body in portraits defined by their expressive gestural mark-making and use of hand-mixed paint and hand-ground pigments.
Benjamin Spiers, a graduate of both Falmouth University (1991) and Goldsmiths (1992), pairs methodical skills with a mastery of surrealism, abstraction and cubism in paintings that exposes our innermost fears and fantasies. Featuring figures seemingly at ease with their unconventional appearance, they welcome the viewer to a distorted world of magic and mystery. During his time as a tutor at City & Guilds of London Art School, Spiers taught the likes of exhibiting artists Brander, González Martín and Oli Epp. Epp, a graduate of City & Guilds of London Art School (BFA, 2017), creates cartoonish caricatures that reflect our contemporary consumer culture, complex relationship to technology and social media, and tragicomic existence in the 21st-century’s identity and aesthetic-obsessed society. Campbell serves as a tutor on The Plop Residency, an artist-run residency co-founded by Epp and curator Aindrea Emelife in 2018 that provides studios, mentorship and exhibition opportunities to international artists as part of a supportive wider community.
Similarly, in 2019 Campbell hosted an evening In Conversation with Emma Fineman, to accompany her solo exhibition at Public Gallery in London. Fineman, a graduate of both the Maryland Institute College of Art (BFA, 2013) and the Royal College of Art (MFA, 2018), produces paintings over prolonged periods that still retain an immediacy, with figures emerging from thick impasto, defined by short, sharp brushstrokes amidst gestural swathes of colour that approach abstraction.
Finally, Gori Mora, a graduate of both Barcelona University (BFA, 2015) and The Glasgow School Of Art (MFA, 2018), has been perfecting his unique process of painting on perspex for the past seven years in order to better represent and replicate those omnipresent screens that increasingly govern our everyday lives. Campbell recently contributed an essay to Mora’s debut monograph, to be published by Galería Pelaires, that explores the artist's presentation of the male body as an object of affection or device of desire, a gaze underrepresented in contemporary culture and often avoided in art today.
Campbell would like to thank Lewis, Natalia, George, Oli, Lydia, Emma, Minyoung, Ben, Charlie and Gori; Fede, Eva, Neus, Silvia, Xavi and Begoña at Galería Pelaires; Carlsen Estrategia & Communicación; Riccardo, Charlie, Hannah and Diana at Hannah Barry Gallery; Niru and Georgia at Niru Ratnam Gallery; Arthur, Phoebe, Stefano and Cecily at Saatchi Yates; Inés, Silvia and Carla at Travesia Cuatro; and all at Collective Ending.