The Lazarides Gallery, just a stepping-stone from Oxford Street, is not particularly big and on a busy Thursday night, it’s overflowing with people. Only with plenty of “excuse me”, a lot of determination, and several attempts to reshuffle people blocking canvases do I get a glimpse of the work on the walls. It’s good that I do. What I find are images of London re-imagined in broad brush-strokes, highly textured surfaces, and the occasional collage/installation. Brett Amory from California has done well.
Over the last few years, he has made a name for himself with the Waiting series, in which he focuses on observing people who travel, work, or wait together but fail to interact in any meaningful way. In “Twenty-Four in London” he undertook the challenge of charting out 24 locations in London over 24 hours of the day, from East to West and North to South.
The result is 12 paintings and 12 films exhibited on 12 old-school TVs. His paintings are a wild mix of Hopper aesthetics, Rothko-esque texture and faceless figures that remind me of the Soviet artist Felix Lembersky,whose work I saw at the Pushkin House in Bloomsbury last summer. The images are powerful because Armory brushes over detail, particularly in regard to facial expressions. He captures the lack of engagement that he wants to comment on by depriving us of the whole picture – the reactions he saw, the interactions that occurred.
…more like a bad joke than part of a meaningful collage…
Unfortunately, random artifacts that Armory collected on his trip, from empty sweet wrappers to broken glasses, are arranged on the floor under the paintings, interrupting the beautiful semi-abstraction. The display of random objects is more like a bad joke than part of a meaningful collage. Far more interesting, although still not entirely necessary, are the 3D additions he makes on and around the canvas and wood he paints on. The roof on “West End Lane” creates the illusion of looking into a corner shop when it’s 3 am, you’re walking back from the club, and the alcohol in your exhausted system blurs everything (it occupies the “11 pm” slot but we’ll let that one slide).
Twenty-Four London is a lovely collection of modern paintings displaying exquisite technique and a vivid understanding of our ephemeral personal interactions today. Armory’s work is old-school American realism with tinges of modernization through collage. The former was executed to perfection; the latter could use some tweaking. Overall, a wonderful representation of situations we, as Londoners, see every day.