A windy and rainy night kept openings on Vyner Street rather quiet this Thursday. In the latest instalment in a series of dual Solo exhibitions at Fred Gallery, Martin Brown and Guy Richards Smit had a room each to display their current projects.
Martin Brown is showing a series of beautiful little paintings, a sort of modern day version of Dutch 17th century domestic images with perhaps a hint of Victorian portraiture in their too. They are highly detailed, capturing faces brilliantly and some so small they are the sizes of a normal photograph print. Having moved from Australia in 2003 perhaps it is his keen eye as more of an outsider to London culture that has given him such a great insight. Snapshots of individuals, perhaps his friends, a group of fairly young Shoreditch types and landscape scenes of local spots such as the canal near Vyner Street and ‘Catch’ the bar on Kingsland road produce a gentle representations a modern (East London) life.
Alternatively Richards Smit’s work is far from realistic or in anyway tasteful. In fact it is totally the opposite. His main project centring on bizarre videos in the name ‘black comedy’ which although mildly amusing could also be filed under misogynistic soft porn with the artist making pouty young women take their clothes off while he oogles and doctors performing some peculiar examinations on young Asian ladies. You are free to make up your own mind. Paintings and drawings taken from the videos are also shown and a humming sound track accompanies the odd display. At the entrance to the room is a video and drawings dramatising army troops ‘hot body robbin’ – stealing jewellery off the chard remains of a dead bodies. But any real message (if there is meant to be one) is subtracted by the rather pointless main body of work.
It has to be said that one artist offsets the other which is probably the point of sticking the two together but with mixed results from Richards Smit’s work. Worth going along to see Brown’s little discerning masterpieces though….