Notes on Everything
27 May – 26 June 2020
Josh Lilley is proud to present Notes on Everything, Berlin-based British painter Tom Anholt’s second exhibition at the gallery.
Notes on Everything considers the role of an artist in turbulent times. At a moment when current events and the speculative opinions that trail them are the primary agents of fortune in our lives, the world does not need another record-keeper. “If anyone is around to look back at art made during this time, I guess they’ll look for poetry,” Anholt ventures. “They’ll want to know how it felt.”
Over the past decade, Anholt has earned a reputation as a searching scholar-stylist for figurative painting of the present. Day by day, painting as life goes on outside the frame, Anholt combs a galaxy of pictorial strategies, finding his options. Sometimes he settles on the empathetic characterisations of Stanley Spencer, George Tooker or Alice Neel, humans reduced to the elements that pierce and tell. The history of perspective, the spatial tale of Piero through Poussin that carried art out of medieval times, comes into play in paintings that are equipped for pure formal equilibrium as well as wild whooshes into the distance, scaling up to tell bigger stories like RB Kitaj’s good stuff. Crumbly facets and chunked geometry show the march of modernism, Cezanne to Cubism and Mondrian standing at the pier, but also the flattening and frame-within-frame of Persian miniatures or, indeed, the unleashed collage hybridity of Jasper Johns. Anholt describes his painting practice as a spiralling journey: “huge loops that suck in 5,000 years of art history and rotate back to today.” History is a toolbox with which he hones and renders the pictures he sees.
Notes on Everything contains scenes of epic scale and sweep alongside domestic snapshots, trivial but freighted, and intimate portraits from the artist’s past, present and anticipated future. Atmosphere is intuitive and certain — Anholt is a colourist comfortable in the deep weeds of tertiary hue and radiant noon sunlight alike. Narratives have the energy of improvisation at times, stitched-together collisions of thoughts, but never fragmented. Lions, laptops and ancient adobe structures can fruitfully coexist as Anholt performs his loops, revealing eternal patterns of human behaviour alongside formal and painterly effects that do the same thing today as they did a thousand years ago.
Tom Anholt (b. 1987, Bath, UK) is a graduate of the Chelsea College of Art. He has been the subject of solo exhibitions at EIGEN + ART, Berlin and Leipzig; Hakgojae Gallery, Seoul; and Mikael Andersen, Copenhagen. Anholt featured in the 2018 recent-painting survey KNOWN/UNKNOWNS at the Saatchi Gallery, London, and has participated in two-person and group exhibitions at Derek Eller, New York; Galerie Crone, Berlin; and many others. Anholt has been represented by Josh Lilley since 2017. The artist lives and works in Berlin.