25 Jan – 22 Mar 2020

Nature in the 21st century re-imagined by artists working in the age of a digital wilderness.

Curated by Iwona Blazwick, Director of Whitechapel Gallery

Salvatore Arancio
Alice Channer
Andreas Eriksson
Diane Howse
Dan Perfect
Amy Stephens
Jonathan Trayte

The painters and sculptors in this exhibition bridge nature with culture to create new forms of abstraction. Flora and fauna are transfused with cartoonish iridescence; landscapes fragment; biomorphic forms erupt and mutate. The detached state of the digital is balanced by an immersion in materiality, texture and the pleasure of making.

Our physical experience of the natural world is being replaced by an optical one. New generations are engaging with reality via their screens. The finger may swipe and tap; but the hand is being replaced by the eye. The exhilaration of this virtual world is tempered by our acute awareness of the fragility of the natural world and how we compromise its survival.

Sculptors Arancio, Channer, Stephens and Trayte combine cutting edge technologies of thermoplastics or 3D printing with the ancient crafts of modelling clay or carving wood.

Salvatore Arancio's extraordinary polychromatic glazes bring a sci-fi lustre to his biomorphic ceramics. Alice Channer's extruded forms that rise in space or spread across the floor use metals and plastics to mimic animal skins or geological structures. Amy Stephens' poetic combinations of metal and wood, rock and plastic hover between geometric abstraction and still life. While Jonathan Trayte's neon lit tropical ensembles use the eye-popping colours and shapes of 1950s design to create plant forms and imaginary landscapes.

The intense monochromatic abstracts of painter Diane Howse echo mountains and skyscapes that brood on the edge of the sublime. Dan Perfect's canvases are like energy fields of light, colour, line and form; like mirages of alien landscapes they are also edged with darkness.

With brushstrokes that mirror the action of water on stone and interlocking fields of pastels which echo the palette and perspectives of wilderness, Andreas Eriksson's paintings evoke the slow time of geology.

The aesthetic cosmos of the digital shrinks the world into a screen and then expands it into infinity. Colours are luminous, hallucinogenic; form is animated and mutable; figure ground relations are over-turned as perspectives may be aerial, subterranean or kaleidoscopic. The screen is a portal onto a vast library of knowledge but also of exploitation, extraction and barbarity, exposing the darker regions of human consciousness. These abstract sculptures and paintings create a vital link between an artificial world of the imagination and the tactile and material qualities of the natural world.

Psychotropics is curated by Iwona Blazwick, Director of the Whitechapel Gallery and curator, writer and broadcaster.

The exhibition was conceived by Blazwick specifically for NewArtCentre.; illuminating the artistic interventions in nature throughout our Sculpture Park and exhibition spaces.

Salvatore Arancio, Untitled, 2017
Amy Stephens, Rocking all over the world, 2018. Courtesy the artist
Diane Howse, Psychotropic 3, 2019
Dan Perfect, A Hundred Years, 2019
Alice Channer, Synthetic Fibres, 2014
Jonathan Trayte, Pink Hot Solar Buzzer 1
Diane Howse, Drawing 8, 2014
Dan Perfect, Desert of Ice, 2019