'ORDINARY BODIES, ORDINARY BONES'
11/5 - 16/6/2018
“How strange that as I’m dying, you’re calmly alive.”
Taijun Takeda, The Outcast Generation
Anima-Mundi is delighted to present an ambitious solo exhibition of painting and sculpture by British artist, Andrew Litten (born 1970). Ordinary Bodies, Ordinary Bones, includes large-scale, gestural and impasto, oil painting shown alongside energetic works on paper and a handful of raw sculptural works, all made over the past three years. Each work emphatically casts light on the artists intense and introspective fascination with the universal mundanity and complexity of everyday existence acknowledging that life is made up of a paradoxical combination of deeply meaningful and utterly insignificant happenings and states of being. Themes such as isolation, addiction, love, sex, paranoia, empathy, fear and death are all visited and shared. Ordinary Bodies, Ordinary Bones is an exhibition full of tales, each challenging yet compelling, the combination creates an emphatic, universal tableau of the unguarded human condition. We look forward to sharing it with you.
(The Exhibition Introduction can be viewed below)
ONLINE CATALOGUE (click below)
What could be more ordinary? It happens to us all. We are born... We die. We all fumble to shape the in between as best as we can. Aided by something or someone other. Liberated or suppressed by invitation or trespass. We rub against in passing, and sometimes stop and intertwine. Held, dependent, soothed or smothered. Life’s solitude breached. Sometimes scars remain. Soft blemishes and jagged tears. Conjurers of dormant joy and tears, comfort and fears. We all have to dance although we sometimes try to hide in the corner. We take turns to be led and then to lead. This becomes our journey, so we follow its path. We Skip, trip (tripped?), fall, huddle, hide, lift (lifted?), repeat… until...
It is our personal yet shared tribulation to come to terms with the juggle and link between our inner accumulated psychic complexity and those everyday occurrences that are happening to us and around us all the time until our approaching end. Our bodies and our minds soak up, but our bodies and our minds also leak. How impolite and embarrassing. We are all spilling out, although of course we try to button up and contain ourselves whilst we can. We’ve got to have some clinging and grasping order amongst the whirling chaos. However - this art says otherwise, because the truth says otherwise. I think Andrew Litten’s unique paintings are extraordinary. It takes enormous courage for honesty to out, for our nature to be stripped bare and for the artist and the audience to be left un-guarded. Litten’s strength as an artist is in this intense vulnerability and his idiosyncratic ability to encapsulate what is ostensibly, ordinary.
The raw, brutal yet patiently honed, human-scale paintings remind us of the timeless and unparalleled capacity for paint (when used appropriately) to suggest both the physical and metaphysical. Gestural expression is manifested in the mass of paint and emphasis of mark, containing within it pure human emotion. Reflecting both our psycho-state and external and internal bodily physicality. The visceral, viscous traces contain life, making these paintings intensely behavioural. Smaller works on paper feel more blistering by comparison. Vaporous and rapid, like stretched skin or fleeting thought. Yet there is a shadow that remains stitched. An ephemeral moment creates an evaporating yet punctuated image. In addition Litten has also made a number of significant small scale sculptural works. Rather than reflecting the mediums capacity to suggest weight, mass and rootedness, these raw yet sophisticated sculptures, appear animated suggesting struggle, movement, contortion and liminality alongside deep connectivity.
Litten states that “creativity is empowering and empathy is powerful. I want to create art that speaks of the love, anger, loss, personal growth and the private confusions we all experience in our lives. Perhaps subversive, tender, malevolent, compassionate, the need to see raw human existence drives it all forwards.” As he drives forward we have no choice but to follow, whether we like it or not. Life’s complex, rich and fleeting journey awaits us taking us all the way to the end of the line.
Joseph Clarke, 2018
Andrew Litten is a British artist, born in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire in 1970. He currently works from his studio in Fowey, Cornwall.
His dynamic and gestural figurative paintings express a strong interest in the universal complexity of everyday existence. Dealing with humanistic themes such as love, sensuality, fear, anger, loss, nostalgia, mundanity, personal growth and perceived identity normality or disturbance. Paintings are created with an unguarded, empathetic attitude, like so many expressionistic artists, a rawness of approach combined with an often viscous application of paint is also key to the extreme experience felt from the work. Gesture and nuance inspire extreme emotive reading, perhaps subversive, tender, passionate, ambivalent, malevolent or compassionate, our response becomes one of allure or repulsion.
Litten is a self-taught artist leaving art college as a teenager having found it to be too restrictive to his aspired method of working. For a decade he created mostly small-scale works using humble domestic or found materials (including envelopes and assembled furniture parts). The work made at this time deliberately challenged ideas of art elitism and art as commodity. He then moved to Cornwall in 2001 and chose to begin exhibiting. Early success came when his work was included in an exhibition titled ‘Nudes’ in New York City, (along with Jacob Epstein and Pierre-Auguste Renoir), where his work was highlighted and reviewed by the New York Times. Shortly after he had four consecutive solo exhibitions each of which included publications at Goldifsh Fine Arts in Penzance, Cornwall. Other notable exhibitions included ‘Move’ at Vyner Street, London, during Frieze Art Week 2007, where his work ‘Dog Breeder’, created as a twisted and emphatic anti-art statement, was exhibited. He was also included in ‘No Soul For Sale’ at Tate Modern Turbine Hall, London in 2010. In 2012 he held a major solo exhibition at Millennium in St Ives, Cornwall and that year was given a guest solo exhibition at L13 Light Industrial Workshop, London. He has also held large-scale solo exhibitions at Spike Island and Motorcade FlashParade in Bristol. Ordinary Bodies, Ordinary Bones was conceived with support from The Arts Council, UK and will be exhibited at Anima Mundi in 2018. Works have been included in numerous international curated mixed exhibitions in Berlin, Dublin, Siena, Milwaukee and New York City and in Venice during the 54th Biennale. Most recently paintings have been exhibited in four major museums in China. Andrew Litten paintings feature in numerous international private and public collections. He is represented by Anima-Mundi.