The Great American Songbook
10/02/24 - 01/03/24






Part of the Scenery
A Group Exhibition featuring Auudi Dorsey, Elmer Guevara,
Ivana Štulić, Hannah Wilson, and Tommy Xie
24/11/22 - 21/01/23
Grove Collective
London, UK

Grove Collective is pleased to present the upcoming exhibition Part of the Scenery, a group exhibition featuring Auudi Dorsey, Elmer Guevara, Ivana Štulić, Hannah Wilson, and Tommy Xie, on view at the gallery’s Battersea Space, from November 24th, 2022 to January 23, 2023. This marks the first time the gallery has worked with all of the artists, and the first time these artists have shown collectively.

Portraiture has always required a delicate negotiation of context. In its most widely recognisable iterations, context becomes a means of expressing stature or personality; location, props, and dress all become key factors in communicating something greater than likeness. Perhaps most famously, Velázquez incorporates the conditions of this negotiation in Las Meninas (1656)—the significance of likeness is shaped by the places and process from which it is born.

Accordingly, Part of the Scenery looks to examine context as a key means through which to understand portraiture and other highly figurative works. Thinking about the work of New Orleans-based painter Auudi Dorsey, for example, context (and its unreality, as Dorsey subtly abandons the geometrical rules of perspective) becomes a key means through which to simultaneously celebrate individuals and communicate a community. The work Big 3 and Big Wheel (2021), for example, depicts the scene of a three year-old’s birthday, the subject perched on their freshly unwrapped tricycle; (in)famous red solo cups on the adjacent picnic table are both a suggestion of a more adult celebration, while also a tribute to the community invoked by, and a product of, raising children. But while the work is ostensibly depicting a specific child, particularities are abandoned in favour of atmosphere; the scene becomes dictated by a temporal and geographical specificity to which the child is merely party.

Contradistinctively, Elmer Guevara employs recurrent motifs that recall a melding of past and present. Using elements of magical realism, Guevara’s subjects become temporally fluid as both representative of the individual they represent, but also stand-ins for who those figures become. Thoughtful, delicate interjections help clarify this point: many of Guevara’s works feature height lines, often drawn on the walls of family homes to chart children’s growth. As such Guevara at once gives the viewer a literal temporal and spacial marker, while illustrating how discordant, or thematically isolated, that marker can be with the rest of the image. Some Shit, It Never Change (2022), with its 2019 marker scrawled in white above the child’s head, is a wonderful example of this technique.

Ivana Štulić’s work, in turn, utilises dialogue and absence as key modes of expressing both the body and their context(s). While much of her figurative work borders on photorealistic, Štulić’s contribution to Part of the Scenery expresses the disquieting synthesis of catharsis and emptiness: her first image, Cut (2022), depicts a woman cutting her own hair, seemingly with reckless abandon, while her second image, Window (2022), depicts simply a portion of window, with perhaps the edge of an institutional bed frame sneaking into the bottom left corner of the canvas. When placed together, the viewer is invited to created thematic linkages that suggest perhaps a sense of franticness. Accordingly, Štulić highlights context’s ability to form meaning around individuals, even outside of the initial image itself.

Hannah Wilson, in often drawing from film, uses the framing capacity of the camera to at once heighten the effect of the reference material, while suggesting the possibility of new meaning. While their images will often portray individual film scenes, they may not be clear as such to the viewer — the result is the opportunity to mine two separate meanings, one from its original context, the other from the recreated image itself. Often, a kind of middle-ground is formed; Wilson will find new points of interest in even the most recognisable of films, drawing out the artist’s ability to capture and re-articulate meaning.

Finally, Tommy Xie’s draws from his upbringing to investigate interfamilial relationships and the ways they intersect with or reflect contemporary Chinese culture. In his images, semi-autobiographical figures are shaped by a host of motifs that open as many avenues of thought as they clarify. Recurrent references hint at both micro and macro social structures that bring meaning to the central subjects: ghostly nudes take on a gravity informed by context.

For Grove Collective, Part of the Scenery offers the opportunity to work with a range of new artists from around the world. Indeed, no two exhibited artists work in the same city, drawing from locales as disparate as Los Angeles and Glasgow. The result is an exhibition that feels deeply original and generative; each new conversation is born out of connections that have not been made before. What’s more, the exhibition proves an opportunity to build long-lasting relationships with artists that may remain part of the gallery’s program moving forward. Replete with strong, talented voices, Part of the Scenery is a strong indication of the practices the gallery hopes to continue highlighting.

Installation Shots