The Arts Club London is pleased to present Let Me Tell You A Story, a group show of international contemporary artists whose powerful figurative paintings explore a range of salient topics effecting us today, from race, gender, and war, to love, privacy, policy and social media.
In recent years, the art world has welcomed an extraordinary resurgence in figurative painting. Let Me Tell You A Story will present works from Mequitta Ahuja, Derrick Adams, Celeste Dupuy-Spencer, Lubaina Himid, Maryam Hoseini, Sanya Kantarovsky, Aliza Nisenbaum, Faith Ringgold and Christina Quarles. Collectively, the artists reveal intimate stories, both fictional and real, which invite their viewers to engage with contemporary narratives from around the world.
Artist and activist Lubaina Himid won the Turner Prize in 2017 and was awarded an MBE for services to art in 2010. Her work has, for decades, celebrated black creativity and shines a spotlight on institutional invisibility and misrepresentation of people of colour in the British media. American artist, curator and cultural agitator Derrick Adams playfully studies and reshapes racial identity in his work, seen in his Floaters series, featured in the show, which depict and celebrate the black body at leisure.
Also featured is the highly influential American artist and social activist Faith Ringgold, who was instrumental in fighting for the representation of female artists and artists of colour throughout the 1960’s and 70’s to present day with her paintings and narrative quilt works. Tar Beach 2 (1990-1992) addresses memories of community life in Harlem, where in the heat of summer people took to the ‘tar beach’ of their rooftops at night, mixed with Ringgold’s own fictional characters and their dreams.
Celeste Dupuy-Spencer’s stories of American life often feature scenes from her native upstate New York, an inventory of memories and moments drawn from scenes with her friends, family, lovers and local community. Sanya Kantarovsky’s satirical paintings use a cartoon-like figuration to explore social realities such as personal anxiety and power dynamics.
Christina Quarles, who identifies as a queer, cisgender woman of mixed race, uses figuration to explore the intersectional desires and anxieties that come with identity, and Iranian artist Maryam Hoseini also tackles current constructs of gender inequality to create new spaces of inclusion.
Merging the roles of artist and subject, Mequitta Ahuja’s monumental paintings depict the artist engrossed in various stages of her artistic process, often within the clearly defined space of the artist’s studio. In comparison, New York-based Aliza Nisenbaum turns the subject of her figurative paintings outward. Her intimate portraits of mainly Latin American families were produced after spending several years working with undocumented immigrants in the US.
Together these artists present a compelling survey of how it feels to be alive now, commenting on the messy, polarised, fast-changing, hyper-connected and often overwhelming moment in which we live. Via its diverse applications by these contemporary artists, the medium of figuration attains a timelessness through which the socio-political stories central to the artworks are sustained long into the future.
14 January – 14 April 2019. Wed & Sat, 10am-12pm, by appointment only.
The Arts Club, 40 Dover St, Mayfair, London W1S 4NP
Photo: Christina Quarles, For a Flaw, For a Fall, For the End, 2018, Acylic on canvas, Courtesy of the artist and Pilar Corrias Gallery, London