Exuberance is Beauty

For anyone weary of the Minimalism on display in many of the contemporary art galleries across London, a new exhibition at The Nunnery in East London may just provide a remedy…

Dame Edna Everage by John Walter


For anyone weary of the Minimalism on display in many of the contemporary art galleries across London, a new exhibition at The Nunnery in East London may just provide a remedy…

The show, titled Chopsticks Optional, is a collaboration between artists John Walter and Corinne Felgate, and brings together painting, photography, sculpture, performance and dance, and even included a fashion show that took place on the opening night. Restrained it is not, with the artists professing a desire to react against the current “Modernism and the Haiku-like conceptualism” which abounds in the London art scene.


An egg-like Gilbert & George by Corinne Felgate


Humour is at the centre in the exhibition, along with references to the art world, and a discussion of what it is to be an artist today. Some of the jokes are witty one-liners, as in a series of painted eggs by Felgate of famous artists, while a number of sketchbooks by Walter on display reveal an abundance of ideas and an insight into his working process, alongside drawings of how the show itself came together. On the walls above the sketchbooks are interviews with Walter and Felgate about the exhibition, which while informative, also seem a gentle mockery of the typical artist Q&A found in many contemporary art magazines.


Walter and Felgate photographed by Ollie Harrop


Collaboration is another theme, and the artists worked with photographer Ollie Harrop to produce a series of staged portraits of the duo as an immaculately dressed bourgeois couple, which are displayed as a slide show. Walter and Felgate also teamed up with eight performers from the London Contemporary Dance School for a performance on the opening night that was half catwalk show, half expressive dance, again with amusing results. All the outfits worn were created by the duo, with towering wigs appearing alongside delicate hats and a dramatic finale dress created from a number of Walter’s paintings stitched together.


Watercolours by Walter on display in the space


The show will be on at The Nunnery, part of the Bow Arts Trust, until January 24. In keeping with the more-is-more theme of the exhibition, there will be events held at the gallery this weekend – for more info, visit the website here.

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