Artists exhibiting in this new pop-up show, Rejects, may have had their work rejected for the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, but theirs is a proud heritage. Back in 2018, the Royal Academy panel rejected ‘Vote to Love,’ by one Bryan S. Gaakman, only to discover the artist’s name was in fact an anagram of ‘Banksy anagram’. They swiftly reversed their decision.
So Art Friend, founded by Shona Bland, is defiantly celebratory of rejection: ‘We’re embracing it in order for a new gen of rejects to glow, grow and thrive.’ It’s a small show – about thirty artists contributing – but it’s all great fun. There’s nothing here to startle the horses, but there are plenty of likeable, accessible paintings and screen prints and work by textile artists. And the great thing is that they’re all affordable.
There’s lots of variety. On the more representational end there are some attractive Hockney-esque paintings of swimmers by Lorelai Bere. A particularly striking screen print by Cassandra Yap appears to be a straightforward image of bold red lips. But on closer inspection, reveals its wit: the shiny highlights consist of a photomontage of famous figures. Gavin Dobson’s screen print ‘Over’ is a line drawing of an embracing couple, moving in its simplicity. Photographer and printmaker Craig Keenan does wonderfully imaginative things with cyanotype and x-rays of human skulls. T
here is some unusual embroidery by Emma Yeomans and a series of appealing images of birds by Fran Giffard, painted in watercolour, ink and gouache in her Moleskin diary. Very different images of birds are created by mixed media artist Lucy Stephens, who works with museum curators and ornithologists to produce her collages. In contrast, digital collage artist, Steve Mitchell builds up his work from found elements, labelling his style Neo-Victorian Maximalism. Alongside this are a number of abstract works, including Laura Parker’s ‘To and Fro’ and Shumaia Khan’s ‘The Biggest Risk I Ever Took’.
If you can find your way to this little show, hidden away off Bermondsey Street, it’s worth checking out.
Runs until 3 August 2023.
Unit 3, Larch Court, 156-170 Bermondsey Street, Royal Oak Yard, London, SE1 3GB