Rachel Howard’s 14 large-scale paintings went on display last week at The Newport Street Gallery.
Her series takes inspiration from the Stations of the Cross as ‘Via Dolorosa’ was the path taken by Jesus to Mount Calvary. The exhibition ties into a long history of artwork depicting the Stations, but ‘Repetition is Truth’ also offers a broader commentary on the unfortunate universality of abused human rights.
Rachel Howard: Repetition is Truth – Via Dolorosa
Religion, repetition, mortality and violence are influencing themes in Howard’s work. Alongside her paintings, is a 2005 photographic study of Ali Shallal al-Qaisi, the Iraqi detainee whose torture was documented while at the hands of American soldiers in Abu Ghraib prison in 2003. When the images were released to the public, Howard took particular note of one in which Ali Shallal al-Qaisi was hooded, standing on a box in a cruciform position.
‘The box is almost like a plinth – I was thinking about the cross, the Crucifixion, and how it related to this box as a twenty-first century place of horror, humiliation and human rights atrocities, and I couldn’t help but connect the two.’ – Rachel Howard
In order to create these semi-abstract paintings, the artist applied swathes of household gloss paint to the canvas. Howard allowed the pigment and varnish to separate in the paint can and then let gravity do its work as she poured layer after layer of paint. The form of each painting was thus determined by a combination of the paint’s weight and viscosity, as well as precision and chance.
Until 28 May at Newport Street Gallery, Newport Street, London, SE11 6AJ; Free entry for all exhibitions Tuesday – Sunday 10am – 6pm.
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