Whispers of Immortality in Stockholm

Six young British artists mix morbidity and sensuality at the Natalia Goldin Gallery.

by Rebecca Stevenson
"Whispers of Immortality," the sublime group show opening in Stockholm's Natalia Goldin Gallery, takes its title from a TS Eliot poem. But the theme can be expressed more succinctly by Phillip Larkin's description of death, "Most things may never happen: this one will." Moved by this awareness, the six young British artists on view mix morbidity and sensuality with arrestingly beautiful results.

Rebecca Stevenson calls her subversively precious porcelain sculptures "Carniflora," a word she created to express how her gorgeous gothic sculptures show foreshadow flesh's eventual transformation into earth and then into plants. Equally enticing are the deceptively delicate intricate images by twenty-three-year-old Sam Branton. In Branton's softly applied and sweetly colored pencil, Branton draws adorable happy faces on the heads of man-sized penises clothed in properly gentlemanly attire and portrays scenes of beautifully dressed genitals playing, fighting and frolicking with an abandon that the Marquis de Sade would envy. The heads of Hubba-Babba squeeze toys replace gossiping ladies' lovely faces, or appear shocked at the antics of fellow mythic characters. Branton even shows friendly testicles sprouting from the collar of a young squire's costume. Puckishly taking inspiration from bawdy Baroque, Renaissance and Rococo paintings, Branton inserts his own cast of suggestive alien characters to create vast orgiastic scenes of deranged, witty and ultimately life-affirming beauty.
More Arts+Culture