Time Takes a Cigarette
Brandi Twilley, Celeste Rapone, Gareth Cadwallader, Genesis Belanger, Harold Mendez, Ian Davis, Kathleen Ryan, Oska Gutheil, Peter Shire, Rachel Maclean, Sarah Pichlkostner, Tau Lewis, Vicky Wright & Victor Seaward
12 February – 25 March 2021
Josh Lilley is pleased to present Time Takes a Cigarette, an exhibition of new, recent and historical painting and sculpture by 14 international artists. The show marks the first group exhibition at our expanded 40-46 Riding House Street galleries.
In the past year, art — particularly new art — has become very distant to our lives. We have not seen it and we have not shared it with other people. We have not been able to put our noses up against it and learn from it. There were no festivals; there were no fairs. There was no backdrop draped over the back of the stage. Art was a minor casualty of 2020, all told, but its absence coloured our lives.
In the past year, at the same time, we became more intimate with art. Extreme domesticity and extreme solitude, with all the good and bad vibes they’ve wrought, are conditions that have drawn us emotionally closer and more sensitive to what art does while the world rages outside. Art has answered the nausea of feeling frozen in place and adrift from time. It has offered us both somewhere to situate ourselves and somewhere to escape.
Crystals form on the inside of the cave that is our recent existence. Their twinkle provides light. As much as we currently understand anything, we understand this exhibition to be a prologue to a long negotiation with the world to come.
Seven painters: Gareth Cadwallader’s mysterious, vibrating world without flaws, in pressure-formed miniature; Ian Davis’ portentous epics of technological progress, might and masculinity; Vicky Wright’s internalized, incandescent painterly sci-fi; Celeste Rapone’s arabesques of femininity through art history; Brandi Twilley’s theatrical tableaus trapped in atmospheric amber both warm and cool; Rachel Maclean’s modern-day mutant pop, an art of intense total fusion, welded without seams; Oska Gutheil’s taxonomies of urban life and essence told in a gumbo of everyday details. The world depicted in Time Takes a Cigarette can feel neurotic or intensely granular, veering into the surrealistic, from uninflected to kinky and back again.
Seven sculptors: Genesis Belanger’s smooth romps of surface and life prickling below the skin of things, a boneless matter; Kathleen Ryan’s new American classicism, the yeoman’s work of craft and discovery; Peter Shire’s play at the limits of function, in objects that consider the role of life’s rituals; Harold Mendez’s markers for reflection, bewitched by poetry; Sarah Pichlkostner’s everyday alchemy, at play with molecules and units; Victor Seaward’s eerie verisimilitude, faithful to a nearby reality; Tau Lewis’ sculpture of animation through assemblage, attaching together and ‘growing’ the works into being. The sculpture in Time Takes a Cigarette is very near to us, among us in the world of tangible things during uncertain times.
Art in 2021 is thus, demonstrably, both further away and closer to us than usual. Time Takes a Cigarette is reflection of the way today feels. We marvel, edgily, at the distant weirdness of our moment, while taking comfort more and more in having the stuff of life close at hand, more potent and essential than before. The artworks in this exhibition serve as both vessels and maps — places to put our feelings to better feel them, and a picture of the time to observe at a distance. Do you get the sense you’re not totally in control? Time takes a cigarette, puts it in your mouth. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. These artworks can handle the power they’ve been given.