Mimi Hope’s latest solo exhibition, ‘Stars and Skies’ with Alex Vardaxoglou, witnesses the debut of the artist’s Stars series, exhibited alongside works from her ongoing Clouds series. Hope, a graduate of Chelsea College of Arts and previous Bloomberg New Contemporaries exhibitor (2018), embraces the modus operandi of Pop Art to investigate and interrogate distinct elements of contemporary culture which employ sights and signifiers from the natural world to appeal to the imaginations and predilections of the public.
Originally conceived in 2017 as part of a larger body of work exploring the notions of desire attached to The National Lottery, Hope’s Clouds series presents idealistic imagery of fluffy white clouds rolling across bright blue skies. Often associated with aspirational advertising tropes or ‘blue-sky thinking’ marketing jargon, where we are encouraged to think and dream big with disregard for real-life limitations, judgements or consequences, Hope’s Clouds are removed from not only their previous commercialised context but also from any conception of perspective, scale, location or time. Utilising lenticular printing, a technique popularised by the advertising industry, these seemingly static depictions are activated by the curiosity and engagement of the audience as they navigate the boundless heavens. Therefore, whilst they effuse an alluring feeling of freedom, of possibility and potential, upon moving closer the clouds begin to drift away from the viewer, offering a stark reminder of life’s unreachable perfections, unachievable goals and unattainable aspirations.
Inspired by her time at The Mountain School of Arts in Los Angeles, Hope’s new Stars series presents proportional carpet-tile replicas of the recognisable five-pointed terrazzo and brass stars that adorn the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Emblematic of the dominance of celebrity culture and the cult of personality, when rendered in carpet material more commonly associated with offices, classrooms and waiting rooms, the stars lose much of their shine. Here, Hope exposes the legendary lure of Hollywood and it’s spurious promises of fame and fortune, as well as the outdated belief in the American Dream, doused by the mundanity of everyday life and the unavoidable realities of existence.
There are obvious inescapable interconnections with the American flag, addressed through the exhibition’s titular wordplay, as well as the lineage of artistic engagement with the Star-Spangled Banner (Johns, Kruger, Wringold, Hammons). Indeed works such as Alpha 553/Urban Xtra Red and Urban Xtra Red/Rocket 504 elicit all American attachments to Ralph Lauren and Captain America. However, through utilising multiple colour palettes and colour combinations within the Stars series, Hope also proffers subtle consideration and critique of wider American cultural, social and political concerns, with select colourways evocative of product barcodes, concrete sidewalks, highrise skylines, black and white cinema, the Green Book and US military combat uniforms.