A Thing for the Mind at Timothy Taylor Gallery
Summertime is notoriously sticky in the art world. Reminiscent of school days, whereby the entire month of August is one lazy, relatively empty, amorphous memory, everyone tends to pack up, or put on some form of 'best of' group exhibition featuring gallery artists. 'A Thing for the Mind' does not fall into these habits, and with a high calibre of artists exploring domesticity, intimacy and the city, the show is a real treat in the blistering heat.
Situated in a gorgeous multiple-storey building in Mayfair, there is ample space for each piece to breathe its own voice into the narrative, the nature of which is largely an assessment of the legacy of twentieth century artist Philip Guston. While the exhibition is rooted in this reverence, I enjoy the fact that the gallery have only decided to exhibit one of his works: 'Story', from 1978. Allowing us to see the journey that has taken place since Guston's career is exciting, especially with the promise of works bearing a "muddled dreamscape of fears and anxieties as well as of society's worst impulses." Bring it on.
Upon entering the space on the ground floor, we are greeted, fittingly, by Guston's painting. It is warm in its simplicity, with atomised objects recognisable in fairly mundane lived experience on a peachy pink background, all the while retaining the wonderful texture of oil paint on canvas. Despite it being a painting produced over forty years ago, it still feels fresh and very much at home with the contemporary works on display. Next to 'Story' is a frankly breathtaking work, 'False Window' by artist George Rouy. While huge in size, it is the smooth use of acrylic in a murky grey palette that is particularly captivating, with its reluctance to show the subject in great detail, preferring a slurry of colour, creating a feeling of dreariness and solitude. Despite moody painterly techniques, there is something darkly comforting in its relatability.
Upstairs we find a small but punchy piece by Antonia Showering, who is fast becoming the art world's latest darling. It is incredibly easy to see why, as her work is distinctive and inviting; it was a treat to encounter 'Plus One', the smallest piece I have seen by the artist so far. With the feeling of summer romance about it, a tentative intimacy and warm palette, I couldn't help but be drawn in. I love that it feels as if it is part of a bigger scene, yet we only have access to these two faces meeting somewhat awkwardly.
Each piece in the exhibition is worthy of some analysis, but in the interests of holding The Internet User's attention, I am compelled to be succinct in my discussion of Woody De Othello and Daisy Parris. The former is the only artist in the entire exhibition showing a sculpture, but it stands out for so much more than merely its medium. Perhaps more than anywhere else in 'A Thing for the Mind', the work 'Sometimes things don't change' invites pause for thought and a moment of reflection. Aside from perhaps the Dali reference and a slight Lewis Carroll evocation, the piece is not a point of amusement, instead we cannot help but think about Black Lives Matter, the overturning of Roe v Wade, and the violent transphobia that is raging loudly at the present moment. The questions "what am I doing to help?" and "exactly why have things not changed?" spring to mind.
I have seen Daisy Parris' work in several places prior to finding 'Hold Me In The Palm Of Your Hand' on the first floor, facing De Othello's sculpture. Much like Showering and Rouy elsewhere in the show, their work has such a defined authorship and soothing distinctive style, perfectly meeting itself equidistant between personal anecdote and stylistic, symbolic meaning. I had a hugely emotional response to their solo exhibition 'I see you in everyone I love' at Sim Smith earlier this year, and seeing their work again brings these sensations back to the surface.
This perfectly scaled exhibition shows the magic of the mundane, the dreamworlds that might lie in the domestic. After the past few years, we have a renewed love for our homes and our comforts, and know better than to take them for granted. Whether it is through titillation, texture, meaningful reflection or technical awe, these artists highlight the special, and often intimate moments of sharing space with each other.