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QUEERCIRCLE | Victoria Miro x OUT Collective

17th December 2021 | Guest Writer: Marianna Capelli
During the last couple of years, traditional exhibition spaces have been challenged by the ongoing Covid-19 outbreak. Consequently, it has been imperative to re-imagine the ways of navigating our day-to-day and professional life. In this way, many institutions have embarked on new projects choosing alternative approaches to displaying art and emerging artists, namely funding online exhibitions.

It is the case of the exhibition by Victoria Miro in collaboration with OUT Collective, now available on Vortic until the end of December 2021. The show highlights the work of eight painters: Shadi Al-Atallah, Ana Benaroya, Kyle Coniglio, Nash Glynn, Kudzanai-Violet Hwami, Doron Langberg, Sola Olulode, and Didier William. They were partly selected by the Queercircle’s board members Russel Tovey, Kudzanai-Violet Hwami and artist Doron Langberg, who both, in turn, contributed to the show with their work.
Other reasons reside in the craft of the featured painters. Shadi Al-Atallah’s work especially stands out for its use of mixed media and the contrast between dark figures and bright backgrounds. But what strikes a chord is their relationship with painting itself, “Paint is the perfect medium for archiving consciousness. It intensifies or hides aspects of memory in a way that mirrors the process of remembering. Painting and remembering both are attempts at reconstructing our imperfect perceptions.”[1]

The concept of imperfect perceptions of reality opens a whole new level of expression in painting, which gives way to vagueness in the representation of bodies (i.e. genderless and androgynous figures).

Shadi Al-Atallah, your highest tide, 2021, mixed media on unstretched canvas, 150 x 210 cm. Courtesy the artist. Photo: Victoria Miro
Shadi Al-Atallah, to propagate his vision 2021, mixed media on unstretched canvas, 210 x 150 cm. Courtesy the artist. Photo: Victoria Miro
Nash Glynn, instead, talks about the process of self-determination that comes with the act of painting. By extension, establishing one’s identity unapologetically is intrinsically queer, which could be a crucial reason for the employment of figure painting. Glynn’s work presents bigger-than-life figures towering over either classic American landscapes or artificial backgrounds.

Nash Glynn, Self Portrait with Robot, 2018, acrylic and fake blood on canvas, 61 x 91.4 cm. Courtesy the artist. Photo: Jason Mandella

In Untitled (Landscapes), the subject lays on her side and takes up the entire space, as in literal and figurative. “I use paint as I use my body, and as such the possibilities for manipulation and self-determination become inexhaustible,”[2] said Glynn to the Victoria Miro’s team.


Nash Glynn, Untitled (Landscape), 2021, acrylic on canvas, 91.4 x 61 cm. Courtesy the artist. Photo: Jason Mandella

Queer figurative art addresses the representation and role of the body, its transformative quality and its status in society. While queer people challenge the system by simply existing, their presence inside the normative institutions of museums and well-established galleries inherently creates disruption. It is then vital to fill such physical spaces, and so explicitly support queerness and queer artists: this sends a message to the audience, artists and institutions, and sets clear intentions for the future.

The choice to only feature Victoria Miro x OUT Collective on Vortic left a bitter taste in my mouth. Although I am convinced that queer art should be as accessible as possible to vast audiences, and therefore using an online outlet, I am convinced that an exhibition of this scale would have benefitted from being in a physical space.

Displaying queer art still involves making compromises, but this could hopefully be a step towards a real queering of space.

You can still catch Victoria Miro x OUT Collective online through the gallery’s website or directly on Vortic until December 31st 2021.
References:

[1] Shadi Al-Atallah in conversation with Victoria Miro, last checked December 2021. https://online.victoria-miro.com/queercircle-2021/
[2] Nash Glynn in conversation with Victoria Miro, last checked December 2021. https://online.victoria-miro.com/queercircle-2021/


About the Writer
Marianna Capelli was born in the middle of nowhere, Northern Italy. She moved to London in 2015 to study Asian Art History and Mandarin Chinese at SOAS University of London and fell in love with the contemporary art world.

Temporarily back to the provincial life, she spends her days burying her nose in a book (or multiple books, mostly). The rest of the time, Marianna likes being opinionated about things and writing about art, culture and everything queer.

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