The Arts Club presents two spring exhibitions by Ida Applebroog and Reginald Sylvester II
Ida Applebroog: Birds and Reginald Sylvester II: feel blue. March 23 – May 15, 2022
The Arts Club London is delighted to announce two exhibitions, Ida Applebroog: Birds and Reginald Sylvester II: feel bluecurated by Amelie von Wedel and Pernilla Holmes of Wedel Art and presented in the club’s Drawing Room and Ante Room.
Ida Applebroog: Birds
The Arts Club presents an exhibition by 92-year-old American artist Ida Applebroog, focusing on works from the recent Angry Birds of America series. A pioneer of the American and international feminist movement since the 1970s, the exhibition illustrates Applebroog’s extraordinary use of animal portraiture as a means of political investigation and critique.
Applebroog has challenged multiple artistic mediums to address themes of politics, power, mass media and sexuality for over six decades. In 2016 she developed an interest in ornithology, in particular the work of artist and ornithologist John James Audubon (1785 – 1851) who brought art and nature together. Applebroog began collecting taxidermy birds and related books, and through this inspiration continued to produce his own designs and models in plaster and paint.
The Arts Club selection offers a solid insight into the Angry Birds of America series, which Applebroog began directing in 2016. Created in a year that also saw the start of Donald J. Trump’s US presidency, an explosion of nationalism and anti-immigration policies, and the rise of #MeToo movement, the works echo the broader social turmoil of the moment. Depicting bird carcasses, Applebroog evokes the connection between beauty and violence in the natural and man-made worlds. At the same time, she immortalizes these creatures through her works, bringing their lives back into view. In doing so, Applebroog forms a metaphor for contemporary political life in America and a powerful call to action.
The Arts Club exhibition coincides with the artist’s major solo exhibition at Hauser & Wirth Somerset. The Arts Club and Wedel Art thank the artist, his studio team and Hauser & Wirth for their enthusiasm and for the great works that make up this exhibition.
Reginald Sylvester II: feel blue
The Arts Club is delighted to announce an exhibition of paintings by American artist Reginald Sylvester II: feel blue. A rising star in international contemporary art, Sylvester’s radical abstract works are reminiscent of artists like Elaine de Kooning and Joan Mitchell, but with a frenetic energy and singular pictorial vocabulary that places him entirely in the present.
Sylvester’s works are informed by a range of experiences and research that belie his young age. His sensibility draws on the sense of media acquired from his time as a graphic designer, an in-depth knowledge of contemporary fashion and his historical grounding in abstract expressionist practices. Sylvester conceptualizes painting as a matter of finding, rather than spontaneously generating images, working in the realms that oscillate between the material and the spiritual. Its surfaces are a multi-layered sum of paint, each layer offering a story, a philosophy and a connection to parts of Sylvester’s biography, while also inviting the viewer to experience the paintings through their own subjective point of view.
Focusing on Sylvester’s recent blue paintings, feel blue sees a departure from its usual warmer palette in favor of cooler tones, inspired by Portishead’s 1994 avant-garde trip-hop album Dummy. The blue background of the painting recalls the iconic album cover, which features lead singer Beth Gibbons imposed on a cobalt blue background. Among Sylvester’s blues, brilliant whites, browns and purples are bursts of red that combine to create a lively and moving painting. On the top and bottom edges of the canvas, the abstract strokes have been covered with a linear wash of paint, reinforcing the geometry of the picture plane. More organic washes of sky and navy blue cascade throughout the piece, complementing the gestural strokes.
The Arts Club and Wedel Art are extremely grateful to Reginald Sylvester II for producing and exhibiting these tremendous works, and for the invaluable assistance of his Maximillian William Gallery, London.