Now two years old, Sid Motion Gallery has become a hub of new art talent — from absurd portraits of millennial life to lensing the dark side of the American dream, Claire Marie Healy delves into some of the most exciting names to know now.
Back to sleep again (2017)
Bristol-born, London-based. Studies Fine Art at Central Saint Martins.
Appearing in a recent group show at Sid Motion Gallery, you wouldn’t have been able to tell that Charis Entwisle’s painted youths were hung alongside artists 20 years his senior. The Bristol-born 21-year-old is currently studying Fine Art at Central Saint Martins, just a stone’s throw from the Sid Motion Gallery, and the Imagined Characters exhibition where his work made such a splash in March.
On first glance, Entwisle seems to depict his achingly cool peers in a photorealistic style (think: faux fur coats, branded shellsuit-jackets and the brothel creepers and Dr. Martens that stalk the CSM student halls daily). But look again and a surrealistic flare emerges, in which the artist’s use of absurd accessories like Luche Libre wrestling masks, or feathered angel wings, means the kids always look like Entwisle has captured them either the morning after the party, or on the night they’re about to take off and save the world. It’s this sense of interrupted narrative which lends Entwisle’s paintings a feeling of cinema. This is perhaps not surprising, as the artist stages his compositions with models and props, building a world around the characters before he’s even put paintbrush to canvas.
This contemporary lens puts the young artist in league with a new generation of London painters for whom our hypermediated landscape can inject new perspectives into the tradition of oil painting. In this way Entwisle brings to mind other emerging millennial artists like London’s Tristan Pigott and Brooklyn’s Sam McKinniss.
Most recent show – The Crypt Gallery as part of 22-strong, intra-school student artist collective, Young Modulus.
She wasn’t even breathing… at all
Dublin born. Niall studied Fine Art Photography at the DÚn Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design & Technology
Niall O’Brien’s thoughtful process, in which he embeds himself within the local communities he depicts, shows a respect for slow photography. This careful consideration of the subject is more important than ever given the speed at which quick, unthinking snapshots move online, creating fake news and yet more misrepresentation of society’s most disenfranchised people.
One recent example, which showed at Sid Motion Gallery in the spring, is the Dublin-born photographer’s project Three Cities, for which he travelled to Silicon Valley. Instead of capturing Santa Clara’s apparently starry and slick surfaces, he zoned in on the forgotten poverty of the Valley, and the hidden homeless therein. The series brought the stories of two homeless individuals to the gallery’s corner of King’s Cross: Blake and Dana, the couple with whom O’Brien spent many months along Bascom Avenue, San Jose. The moments of optimism and beauty visible in Three Cities are testament to a practice in which, from cross-USA road trips to his celebrated series documenting London punks (Good Rats), the lens always offers a glimpse of a community’s inherent contradictions: many of which are disheartening, but joyful, too. Creatively fuelled by constantly moving around, from Havana to Louisiana to Barcelona, O’Brien’s images defy our pre-ordained cliches about a place and its people.
Most recent show – Three Cities solo show at Sid Motion Gallery.
Jennifer Louise Martin
So Near But Yet So Far (2015)
London-born + based. Studied Art + Design at Central Saint Martins and Fine Art at Byam Shaw School of Art
Unusually, Jennifer Louise Martin’s interest in painting truly began with her Psychology degree; a distinction which, perhaps just as much as her Central Saint Martins art degree, lends her work a point of view that has always sought to uncover the foggy depths of the human, feminine psyche through paint.
Martin’s most recent work, spotlighted alongside Charis Entwisle in Sid Motion Gallery’s Imagined Characters show, incorporates collage and intricate embroidery to recall the fashion and beauty imagery any woman will be ultra-familiar with. Except, in this iteration, the faces are removed altogether. These are portraits that remove the most key aspect of portraiture, replacing the face with a swirl of paint, a field of wildflowers or simple blank space. According to the artist, the idea is informed by the sensation of derealisation, in which a person will feel like they are not really present, and the external world seems somehow unreal — in the simplest terms, a sensation summed up by the series’ name, The Absence of Presence. Beyond that anxious artistic signature, however, Martin’s compositions truly stand out due to the prints and patterns that are behind their surface. The enigmatic figures wear hyper-real clothing crafted in bright and brilliant detail, the result of Martin’s own collection of prints from the 1960s and 70s. But as a viewer, you always return to the magnetizing force of the women’s apparently blank faces: they may inspire a sense of dread, but they also allow the viewer to fill in the gap with their own self, and their own story.
Most recent show- Imagined Characters group show at Sid Motion Gallery.
‘Tourists’, acrylic on wood panel (2018)
London-born + based. Studied at Wimbledon School of Art.
For Louis Caulfield, painting was never a serious career option. A drop-out of his fine art degree at Wimbledon College of Arts (who has spent the last 15 years as a lighting cameraman for films) he nevertheless rediscovered his interest in the craft and has found himself exhibiting his playful, kinetic works at places like Cob Gallery in Camden (in December 2016) and Sid Motion Gallery at the beginning of this year.
For the latter, he showed alongside fellow lovers of colourful blobs and squiggles, Alice Irwin and Morgan Wills, in a group show that emphasised ideas of repetition and rhythm in the painting medium. But blobs, squiggles, and shapes of all sizes possess meaning beyond the sum of their parts, with Caulfield’s paintings recalling endearing human forms via detached body parts and what appear to be googly eyes (or are they anemones, or cells of the body?).
Caulfield’s hyper-colourful world resists absolute definition, and that’s what makes it quite so fun. Viewing his work, you definitely get the sense of someone discovering themselves in the process of painting, with the repeated motifs gaining new attachments or iterations as the body of work develops. And despite the works’ titles hinting at some kind of narrative — like Tourists, Look Away and Doers and Thinkers, for instance — in the artist’s own words, any story one of his pieces evokes simply has to lie in the eye of the beholder. “It has a meaning for me,” he told Sid Motion in a podcast recording at the time of his show at the King’s Cross gallery. “But everyone can make up their own mind… right?”
Most recent show – Play on Repeat at Sid Motion Gallery.
This article first appeared in the summer 2018 edition of King’s Cross Quarterly magazine. Read more about the people and stories that make King’s Cross, or find out where you can pick up the latest copy of King’s Cross Quarterly below.