Change is the constant that ripples through the work of Zina Karaman and Xanthe Soning and the title of this ‘in memoriam’ show, dedicated to the two artists’ friend Armando Zamparini who tragically passed away earlier this year.
Coming to terms with the endless ebb and flow of life and death is, particularly in this present moment, a challenge that art, whether figurative or abstract, poetic or plain text, is perhaps uniquely able to contain. Indeed, change may be the very well spring of art. Humanity’s attempts to frame the moment or capture the impermanence of it ‘all’ a provocation that begins with the first blown pigment of cave art; these handprints that somehow span both a few inches and many millennia describe the arc of presence and mortality, space and time.
There is something of the primal in Zina Karaman’s ‘Time’ (2021) where green and gold seams glisten, the geological scale flash-frozen. Forests of azure dominate ‘Future’ (2021), where the overall impression is of a chemical expressionism captured, accretions developing at imperceptible rates. In ‘Magic Forest’ (2021) and ‘Purple Rain’ (2021) an almost crystalline structure is revealed to us – ultra-violets, infra-reds and luminous splashes of sulphurous yellow detail Gaia’s magical ability to mimic itself in myriad ways.
Flowing films of water are found in the puckered, aqueous skin covering Xanthe Soning’s distorted figures. ‘Reflection 1’ (2021) is life viewed through a darkling mirror, blood trickling down the philtrum to the lip an all too fleshy flowstone; imprinted here a scarlet ichor, petrified in canvas. ‘Underwater’ (2019) plunges us into surreal territory – traces of Dorothea Tanning seep from the immersed buildings surrounding the flying swimmer in the centre of this sky-sea and in ‘Tallulah’ (2020) a distorted reality is glimpsed in a rippled puddle of reflection. Likewise, an unnerving hinging of the natural world and humanity’s increasingly unnatural presence here is captured in ‘Leopard Coat’ (2020): extinction and rebellion sitting together uncomfortably in the frame.
Though unconnected – except through college studies – both artists are joined in bringing light to hidden potentials in the deceptive planes of their work: Karaman’s chaotic plastic vestibules – the titular ‘Changes’ (2020), ‘Memories’ (2021) – report an explosion of place, one expelled from the confusion of dreams, similarly Soning’s occulted ‘Salem’ (2019) and sinister ‘Looming’ (2020) are brightly marbled with the threat of revelation. Overall the metamorphosis that lurks beneath these surfaces is ancient as days and more than skin deep: luring it into view, as Karaman and Soning do here, in their vastly different approaches, is no mean feat: or as David Bowie had it, ‘turn and face the change’.
Text Dave Dorrell
“I watch the ripples change their size
But never leave the stream
Of warm impermanence
And so the days float through my eyes”
Changes (1972) – David Bowie
ZINA KARAMAN & XANTHE SONING CHANGES Friday 17TH Dec– 5TH Jan 2022 at Gallery 46 GALLERY46.CO.UK
PRIVATE VIEW Thursday 16th December 6-10PM A Londonewcastle Project Space Investing in Arts and Culture