A group of artists respond to the human form in startlingly different ways
Our relationships with bodies (our own and those of others) are central to our understanding of the private and the public world. The human form as allegory, as an expression of identity, and as a way of depicting our similarities and our differences, have continued to fascinate artists over time.
In the modern age – which looks toward a future of augmented reality – it’s easy to feel adrift from a visceral aspect of the body. A new exhibition, titled FORM, showing at the Cob Gallery reminds us of the raw beauty – and oddness – of us humans.
NEW WORK: FORM, SUBJECT, MATERIAL is the first in a series of three exhibitions that will be shown at the north London space over the year. FORM is the debut show, and features 14 emerging international artists working across a number of disciplines, which include including painting, sculpture, photography, digital art and mixed media, to engage with the elemental, symmetrical and biomorphic aspects of form.
The trilogy’s format is inspired by curator Richard Bellamy’s programme at the Green Gallery in New York during the 60s. For five years, Bellamy showed the works of the artists that he believed were redefining what art was, and pushing it into new directions by using materials and forms in ways rarely seen before.
NEW WORK includes arts by Danish photographer Asger Carlsen, who began his career working as a crime scene photographer but is now best known for his composite photographs of distorted human bodies. Carlsen digitally manipulates his subjects, rearranging, removing or duplicating limbs, faces and features until they become confusing but compelling sculptural forms. “HESTER 10” (2012) is characteristic of this recurring fascination with bodies and transforming the classical nude with a Francis Bacon-esque surrealism.
Carlsen’s “Black Digital” (2015) also shares the same macabre, unsettling quality of his human figures, but its subject is a digitally printed sculpture – half martian rock formation, half grotesque organism – created by fusing together images of flesh, clay pressed into unusual shapes, city streets and bathroom floors.
Like Carlsen, Danish artist Katja Angeli’s work also considers malleability of the human form. Her assemblage “Nightclubbing 29 (Big Buzz)” (2018) explores the body in motion, transforming the moving figure into a surreal, carnivalesque configuration of colour and form.
Distinct from many other works in the exhibition, Spanish artist Cristina BanBan’s depiction of the body is more literal. But, in a style that’s reminiscent of early modernist movements, BanBan distorts female forms in “Señoritas II” (2018) by exaggerating particular physical properties, creating caricature Robert Crumb-style figures of excess.
FORM, as part the 2018 series NEW WORK: FORM, SUBJECT, MATERIAL is running at the Cob Gallery from 14th February – 10th March. You can find out more here