This April, Cob will present an ambitious, and immersive installation from Marseille-based artist collective Southway Studio – bringing their rapturous, neo-gothic, fantasy ‘universe’ to the gallery as their London debut. The exhibition is curated by artist, writer and art historian Emmanuelle Luciani.
Southway Studio is comprised of six multi-discipline artists who work across ceramic, metal, glass and stone sculpture as well as textile and painting, video and performance. Alongside their regular installations and sculptural interventions, Southway Studio invites like-minded artists from around the globe to live, work and collaborate as artists in residence at the Pavilion Southway – a villa, studio, and gesamtkunstwerk in Marseille, France.
The works of art produced by Southway Studio are defined aesthetically in an approach that collapses the past with the present – with each singular work created from a gamut of art historical influences. Works are rooted in historical fantasies and uchronias, drawing on ancient and medieval forms and popular culture, from fantasy to car tuning, while eschewing any inclination toward classical purity.
Since its foundation, Emmanuelle Luciani & the Southway Studio artists have been driven by the objective of reflecting on the interactions between art and craft; decoration and design. Those that gather within Southway Studio mostly design and produce works of art for the domestic setting. As such, Pavillon Southway embodies Southway Studio’s ‘total work of art’ project, where artworks and objects, as well as decoration and furniture form a coherent whole, an everyday art. The entire Marseille villa is decorated and furnished by the artists of Southway Studio.
History of Fantasy: Part II will feature new work from Southway studio artists Alison Flora, Jenna Kaës and Étienne Marc as well as a prominent display of new sculpture from artistic duo Bella Hunt & DDC. Artwork from a group of seven previous Southway Pavilion artists in residence will complete the installation from- Hadi Alijani, Émile Barret, Jenny Hytönen, Jacopo Pagin, Léa Porré and Jordi Theler.
History of Fantasy: Part II pays ongoing homage to the preoccupations of British, Victorian art historical artists and movements – holding William Morris and the Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood as their defining inspirations. Southway Studio consistently reinvigorates the philosophical concerns of the modern fantasy genre expounded by William Morris – this most obvious in the overarching impact of Medievalism that defines Southway Studio’s work.
In History of Fantasy: Part II, the works can also be attributed to some of the objectives of the Futurist movement, which proposed an art that celebrates the modern world of industry and technology. For this exhibition, Bella Hunt & DDC have conceived a suite of ceramic and metal sculptures that compare and contrast automobile design with tropes of the Medieval – binding the visual language of both these worlds. A knight’s helmet has been conceived from the bodywork design of a car; vessels and vases fluctuate between the appearance of antique urns and that of car racing trophies; heraldic shields are reminiscent of the logos and motifs of modern-day car brands; sculpted racing flags are interchangeable with diaphanous drapery associated with the sculptures of antiquity. Throughout, ceramic glaze and textile draperies from French textile house Metaphores take on the look of metal – this material ambiguity is playfully exploited at every opportunity.
Like their predecessors, Southway Studio attest to a revival of working in traditional materials, the elevation of decorative arts and importance of collective creative collaboration as crucial to a better society.
PARTICIPATING ARTISTS: Alison Flora, Jenna Kaës, Étienne Marc, Bella Hunt & DDC, Hadi Alijani, Émile Barret, Jenny Hytönen, Jacopo Pagin, Léa Porré, Jordi Theler and MoodoÏd.
History of Fantasy: Part II, 5th April – 6th May 2023, Cob Gallery, 205 Royal College Street, London NW1 0SG Exhibition Opening Preview: Wednesday 5 April, 6-9PM
History of Fantasy: Part II will be supported by the display of two historical paintings courtesy of The Farida and Henri Seydoux collection by Surrealist Félix Labisse (1905-1982) and Symbolist Painter Boleslas Biegas (1877–1954) as seen above.
The installation is kindly supported with fabrics from French textile house Métaphores.
ABOUT COB GALLERY
Since its initial founding in 2011 as an artist-led project space and adjacent studios, Cob has committed itself to embolden and nurture UK emerging talent. Cob gallery began representing artists and attending international art fairs in 2016 continuing its dedication to young or mid-career artists with its gallery programme that presents contemporary voices in traditional mediums such as painting and drawing. With a strong curatorial backbone, Cob’s core programming centres around a roster of UK-based artists; whilst simultaneously inviting international practitioners to exhibit in London, often as their UK debut. Cob supports artists through experimental off-site projects and installations as well as editions and publications.
Today, Cob has built a strong reputation for its UK debut solo exhibitions that identify new talent early on, and a programme that focuses on female-identifying artists. Cob has given important early showcases for artists including Diane Dal-Pra (2020) Olivia Sterling (2021) and Shadi Al-Atallah (2022).
Cob has developed a full-time residency to host four artists annually in bespoke on-site studios, culminating in curated exhibitions to form a parallel thread in the gallery’s programme. This international residency will launch Spring 2023 with an accompanying award committed to the development of emerging and multimedia practices.