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Artsy & W1 Curates transform Flannels London into an exhibition celebrating young black British artists. - FAD Magazine

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Artsy & W1 Curates transform Flannels London into an exhibition celebrating young black British artists.

Adébayo Bolaji Knowledge & Wealth, 2021 Courtesy of the artist and Beers London

Artsy has collaborated with public art platform W1 Curates London for a site-specific activation. As part of Black History Month in the U.K. and coinciding with Frieze London, Artsy and W1 Curates have transformed the exterior of Flannels London, on Oxford Street, into a public art exhibition in celebration of young Black British artists represented by London galleries.  

Sahara Longe Edwina, 2020 Courtesy of the artist and Ed Cross Fine Art

Three UK-based artists have been selected to take part in the large-scale public art exhibition, which will see their works presented on 8K LED screens across the iconic flagship store’s facade. Among them, Lee Simmonds, a recent graduate of Ruskin School of Art in Oxford, creates theatrical canvases that invite the viewer into a world of illusion that exists somewhere between the familiar and the strange. For Simmonds, the creative process typically begins with an object or character around which he develops an abstract narrative that simultaneously intrigues and eludes. Sahara Longe’s large-scale canvases offer a distinctive approach to figurative painting. Having been awarded a scholarship to the prestigious Charles H. Cecil Studios in Florence, Italy, Longe employs Renaissance techniques to explore art historical traditions of portraiture, reenvisioning Old Master tableaux by foregrounding  Black figures into a markedly white visual history. Adébayo Bolaji is a multidisciplinary artist whose practice considers the role of the individual within a connected society, whether that be through the lens of anthropology, religion, history, or popular culture. Rich with references, his use of a vibrant,  metaphorical visual language is a crucial element of his work and invites the viewer to uncover intricate narratives.  

Discussing the exhibition and initiative, Everette Taylor, CMO of Artsy, commented:


“Artsy is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusivity. Through this exciting partnership and public activation with W1 Curates during Frieze Week in London and the U.K.’s Black History Month, we’re thrilled to be able to champion and showcase the work of three extremely talented young British-born Black artists. Artsy’s mission is to democratize and expand the art world, and this partnership is one of the  many ways we’re achieving this goal.” 

Lee Simmonds Element: Ether, 2020 Courtesy of the artist and Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery

Founder and Managing Director of W1 Curates, Mark Dale, added:

“With clear synergy between our  visions of making art more accessible, we are really excited to be collaborating with Artsy on such an  important subject.” 

In publicly celebrating the accomplishments of these exciting young artists, the project aligns with  Artsy’s mission to expand and democratize the art world, and the aim of W1 Curates to ensure that artistic masterpieces are not only seen by the privileged few, but displayed on the high street for all to see. Passersby will be able to enjoy the works on view 24 hours until  Sunday, October 17th.  

Works by these artists are available for purchase online at Artsy. With special thanks to Kristin  Hjellegjerde Gallery, Beers London, Timothy Taylor, and Ed Cross Fine Art.  

Works on show:  

Lee Simmonds | The Iridescence Taxonomist, 2020 | Element: Ether, 2020 | Big Nose Horseplay, 2021 Adébayo Bolaji | Alagbara, 2021 | Wealth, 2021| Knowledge, 2021 Sahara Longe | Sally and Amadu, 2020 | Edwina, 2020 | Artists, Green and Red Sketch, 2021

About the Artists

Lee Simmonds’s ethereal, pastel-hued paintings draw power from the way they pair mundanity and absurdity, playfulness and sadness. The British-born artist, who graduated from the Ruskin School of  Art at Oxford in 2019, has exhibited at galleries across the United Kingdom. In 2015, Simmonds was selected for inclusion in the National Portrait Gallery’s BP Portrait Award exhibition, and the following year, he was awarded National Open Art’s MS Amlin Young Artist Award. Simmonds, who is also an active playwright and actor, incorporates the rhetoric of the stage into his work, homing in on particular props and characters in order to explore his chosen subject matter, which is most often the all-consuming boredom of his suburban upbringing.

Adébayo Bolaji is a multidisciplinary artist living and working in London, England. At the centre of his practice is the dialogue of change and the focus of the individual within a connecting society whether that be anthropological, religious, historical or popular culture. The use of the vibrant and metaphorical language, is a crucial element in his work, helping to narrate a different story within each painting allowing for the viewer to take an active role in the works. Bolaji has exhibited internationally in  London and Zurich, with artist residencies in New York and Margate, including an Artist Residency with Yinka Shonibare MBE Guest Projects. 

Sahara Longe is a British artist who lives and works in London, U.K. In her portraiture, Longe reexamines visual hierarchies and art historical traditions in the context of contemporary reworkings of  Old Master paintings. Vibrantly coloured and often large in scale, Longe’s paintings are deliberately flattened and soft-edged. Selected shows include Young Artist Partnership, London, 2018; Heart of the  Matter, Gillian Jason, Norwich, 2021 and IRL (In Real Life), Timothy Taylor, London, 2021. In  October 2021, Longe will attend the Palazzo Monti Residency, and present a solo booth at 1-54  Contemporary African Art Fair with Ed Cross Fine Art.

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