Gerry Judah : Fragile Lands
22 May - 22 June, 2016
235 Westbourne Grove, London, W11 2SE
From Baghdad to Bengal, St Paul’s Cathedral to the Imperial War Museum, the importance of Gerry Judah’s artwork should not be underestimated. Visually forceful and sensitively crafted, Judah’s poetic works engage with pressing geopolitical issues of conflict and climate change, while remaining deeply personal.
Following the success of Fragile Lands last year the much acclaimed exhibition is now reinstated in an exciting new exhibition context bringing together unseen works by Judah alongside a rare collection of the artist’s three-dimensional paintings and captivating sculptural series Bengal. During his illustrious career, Judah has exhibited internationally in spaces ranging from the Saatchi Gallery to the British High Commission in Delhi. His striking Great War memorial installation is currently on display in the nave at St Paul’s Cathedral, London.
‘Ruins hide things. Not just the memory of what they were, but the memories they still contain’ (Robert Fisk on Gerry Judah, The Independent).
Twice commissioned by the Imperial War Museum, Judah artfully documents destruction by creating artworks that both viscerally engage with the stark realities of war and evoke the ephemeral traces of traumas left in its wake. Judah’s ‘dystopian maquettes’ are made with the inevitability that they will be destroyed. With acrylic gesso on canvas, glue and foam board, the artist meticulously composes architectural representations of sites that have become metonymic of past and present conflict, before physically smashing them, leaving behind an abstract detritus of ruined buildings. Through re-appropriating media images of war-torn cities, from Beirut to Baghdad, Judah’s works self-consciously disrupts and complicates the apathy and voyeurism that too often comprise our response to destruction. They make physically present the ‘landscapes of loss’ with which we have become disturbingly familiar. The shattered fragments and spikes that form his painterly work make palpable the personal, whilst lending emotive weight to the collective narratives deeply embedded in the canvas. As Judah suggests, ‘It is the duty of culture to reach further than just the walls it sits on. It mustn’t be parochial, but rather stretch beyond items of war.’
Judah has previously worked in film, television and theatre, creating settings for the BBC, Royal Shakespeare Company, Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney amongst many others. His spatial sensibility can still be felt in the dramatic, emotive and physical scale of his recent artworks, which operate on a captivating boundary between painting, architecture and sculpture. In his recent Bengal series, Judah turns his attention to the slow devastation wrought by climate change in India, the country in which he was born and grew up. As in his earlier works, Judah’s engrossing visual spectacles encourage viewers to engage with the complex, the almost unapproachable; the histories of growth and loss, tradition and modernization that are layered in the country.
In his exquisitely detailed sculptures, the structures of temples, electricity pylons and religious artifacts are precariously balanced on rickshaws, a mode of transport that has come to symbolize India’s ingenuity and urban dynamism. Constructed in part from coal and ash, they performatively enact the environmental burden of human industry, while also representing communities’ inherently creative capacity to recycle, pull together and move forward. ‘These intricate, fragile and colourful works reflect the beauty of India amongst its degradation’ Jane Morrow, Curator Wolverhampton Art Gallery).
This innovative and thought-provoking exhibition is certainly not one to miss.
Private View : Thursday 2 June, 6:00 - 9:00 PM
Opening / Closing Times : Tuesday - Sunday, 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Directions : Nearest Station - Notting Hill Gate