Ant Carver: Paradise @ The Hoxton Basement

https://beautifulbizarre.net/2016/12/02/ant-carver-paradise-hoxton-basement/

Allie Schaitel

December 2, 2016

This upcoming December, artist Ant Carver will be exhibiting works at The Hoxton Basement in London. The work he’ll be showing is just about as bold and graphic as it gets, with direct references to a distinctive street art style. With all the political turmoil in the world, this London-based artist is creating a space for viewers to rest their brains and focus their eyes on beauty and exquisite artistry. The portraiture Ant creates showcases a wide array of faces and personalities, all on large-scale canvases with exceptionally bright, eye-catching colors. These portraits show people of different backgrounds, cultures, and identities in an effort to celebrate diversity and inclusivity.

 

If you’re in the London area, be sure to swing by this show to check out what Ant has put together!

Paradise

 

Opening Reception:

Friday, 2 December | 6-9:30pm

Exhibition Dates:

2 December – 4 December

The Hoxton Basement

12-18 Hoxton Street  London, N1 6NG

For purchasing and availability, please contact the gallery directly: hoxtonbasement@gmail.com

Press Release:

Street Artist seeks slice of ‘Paradise’ with new London Exhibition

Fresh off a mini street-art tour of New York and Philadelphia, 25-year-old Artist Ant Carver will be exhibiting works in a solo London exhibition at Hoxton Basement, from 2nd – 4th December, 2016. In the past few years, Carver’s distinctive spray and oil paint portraits have become a familiar feature on walls throughout East London and in street art events including UpFest in Bristol and Birmingham’s City of Colours festival. For his latest pop-up show, titled ‘Paradise’, the Hackney Wick based painter has chosen to look further afield for inspiration.

From December 2nd, Carver will showcase a series of new works depicting people from all over the world. Retaining his characteristic combination of graffiti techniques and detailed oil paint portraiture, Carver’s latest exhibition further develops his ambition to create beautiful art. Like previous exhibitions, there are still a fair few paintings of models. Looking at the preview pieces though, it’s clear that the idea of beauty presented in these works has progressed from his earlier exhibitions. Painting subjects include two Indian Sadhus, Gangadas Baba and Yogi Baba, and an Ethiopian woman from Hamar.

‘I’m always trying to improve my art technically,’ Carver explains. ‘I’m not creating art that needs three sentences of text to make sense. Hopefully people respond immediately to the image, the detail, and the colour.’

That’s not to say the current political and social climate hasn’t had an impact on the young artist’s work. Carver hopes to create a positive, uplifting experience for visitors to the exhibition. ‘I wanted to produce paintings where the visuals bombard the viewer, to create a momentary distraction from all the anxiety and fear that’s around right now. That’s a kind of paradise I think we could all do with.’

Ant Carver’s latest London solo show will run from 2nd – 4th December, 2016, in Hoxton Basement, 12-18 Hoxton Street, London, N1 6NG.

Friday 2nd December: 6PM – 9.30PM

Saturday 3rd December: 11AM – 7PM

Sunday 4th December: 11AM – 7PM

About the Gallery:

“The Hoxton Basement is a multi purpose venue available for hire in the heart of London’s East end. The space boasts one hundred and fifty square metres split over two rooms. At this size we can cater for two hundred and sixty stood or one hundred and seventy five seated guests comfortably. Our main room has white washed walls, natural light and stunning original features such as a huge oak sliding door leading to a Victorian lift.  This room lends itself to dance parties, pop up eateries and shops as well as gallery, video, photo and corporate events. The second, slightly smaller room has exposed brickwork and makes for a great area to hold a bar, green room or chill out area. The decor throughout is minimal yet tasteful – really allowing for the identity of the events we host to breath.”

 

 

Allie: How did you go about getting work together for this show?

Ant Carver: The work for this show is a continuation of my work over the last few years. I’ve been interested in exploring the theme of portraits of people from different places and backgrounds. For this show I wanted to push the idea further and produce a series of portraits of people from all over the world, especially looking at different cultures like in the paintings of the Ethiopian Tribes woman and the Indian Holy Men. It’s been pretty non-stop painting for the last 6/7 months.

What first inspired you to bring your graffiti style indoors for traditional art shows?

My introduction to art started with graffiti, but I think fairly quickly I became interested in producing work both indoors and out. I like to think the style of my work is suited to both and for me it felt like a natural progression. In a way my studio work and outdoor work are similar, although when you’re working on the street the work has to be produced a lot quicker compared to the studio work which can take a couple of weeks to finish each painting. It’s nice to be able to change between producing work on the street which is a lot quicker and looser to then getting in the studio and really getting to concentrate on the painting and the details.

I think sometimes that there can be a negative view of both indoor and outdoor work from different people. People talk about street artist’s work not being the same if you take it off the street and put it in a gallery and things like that. For me, I’ve never seen myself specifically as a street artist or gallery artist. I’d always just say that I’m a painter who happens to work on different mediums.

Producing work in the studio for exhibitions can be quite isolating as you’re spending hours working on your own, so it’s always good to get to paint on the street where you get to meet people and see peoples immediate reactions to your work.

 

How do you go about choosing who you paint?

It varies depending on what I’m working on. For this show, I needed to find people from all over the world, which obviously comes with its own challenges. It really comes down to doing a lot of research and looking for people who I think are going to work for the series of paintings.

You said in your press release, “I’m not creating art that needs three sentences of text to make sense. Hopefully people respond immediately to the image, the detail, and the colour.” Can you expand more on this and the idea of presenting a simple message?

I want the message to be subtle rather than simple. I think there is a deeper message in the work, but the initial response is equally important. I want the audience to have an immediate reaction to the visual impact of each painting, as well as looking at the body of work as a whole and the meaning behind the series. For me the way something is painted, its look, the colours used, the detail, is what draws me in and makes me stop and think what its message is.

I think with this body of work especially, the theme and message is quite clear, but that encourages the viewer to come away with their own conclusions.

You want to create a positive, uplifting experience for visitors of the exhibition. Why do you think this is particularly important in today’s world?

There’s a lot of negativity in today’s world and I think sometimes people could just do with a bit of enjoyment or even just a break. Art can be used in lots of positive ways like raising awareness of issues, but it can also just be used as a way to escape. This series of portraits is all about diversity and inclusivity. There are lots of different people and cultures throughout the world, but we should be celebrating those differences not pushing them away.

 

Do You Fear (For Your Child?) by Johnie Thornton

https://beautifulbizarre.net/2016/09/12/do-you-fear-for-your-child-by-johnie-thornton/

Allie Schaitel

September 12, 2016

The United States is going through some interesting political times. It seems as though the presidential race is a reality show of sorts: two of the least liked major party candidates in recent history are battling for the position of Commander in Chief. Americans, world leaders, and citizens of other nations are watching this political storm rumble before their eyes, waiting to see what November’s election will bring. It could be said that the country is at a breaking point: corruption, racism, discrimination, economic inequality, a failing education system, and a constant threat of terrorism are subjects heavy on the minds of American citizens and popular in political discourse. Many people have been searching for solutions to these issues, looking to either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton for answers and most of all, hope.

Artists have the ability to use their art as a platform, act as catalysts for change, and be a voice for the voiceless. While there is a group with the ideology that artists should make pretty things that are soothing for the eyes, there is another school of thought, which urges artists to provide a social commentary on current events and speak on social and political issues in a creative way. When pieces are made that exhibit a thoughtful and clever execution, people really notice and listen to the message. Whether they support that depiction or concept or not, they are still engaging with the work.

 

Johnie Thornton is a Los Angeles artist adding to the political commentary with his piece Do You Fear (For Your Child), a sassy depiction of the upper portion of Adolf Hitler’s face (his blue eyes and signature hair) and the lower portion of Donald Trump’s face (his pursed lips and jowls). This piece packs a powerful punch visually, as Johnie captures each figure’s likeness while showcasing his cool style. While the concept is simple in nature, viewers are aware of the point that Johnie is trying to get across. Both characters have exhibited some characteristics of racism and have been major players as leaders. Both Hitler and Trump have called for the mass deportation of a group of people, used fear mongering as a tactic, and used their political platform to divide instead of unite. Both ‘leaders’ believe in and promote a glorified past where their prospective countries were once great and only they alone can make them great again. Bolstering nationalism became more of a priority than human rights, in both cases.

Johnie’s artist’s statement about the piece:  

“The decline of humanity begins with a single man and his desire for distinction. “I alone can save you” is a motto we should have learned to stray from by now… Yet somehow, many people are still predisposed to desire, or even require a savior to find reason in their existence. Desperately hoping for salvation. Today the U.S. Presidential race has begun to take on tones of Germany in the 1920’s. We have a “leader” pitting “us” against entire races, blaming them for “our” problems. We have a “leader” who encourages violence, hate, and segregation. We have a “leader” who says our country is broken, and he is the only one who can fix it! We have a “leader” who wants to deport people of a race that is becoming the new majority. All of these ideas have been tried and tested. They have failed miserably, taking many, many lives along the way. These fear tactics have been used throughout history to keep people in submission. This behavior and treatment of fellow humans has only proven disastrous in the past. However, the healthy reception of these ideas among many U.S. citizens is what the true concern should be. I have faith that we will not elect such a tyrant to office, yet the ugly underbelly of the U.S has shown it’s face. We can see that racism, segregation, hate, and bigotry are alive and well here in the U.S., and that is what should be truly worrisome.”

 

Firstly, you mentioned being attacked online by Trump supporters. What kinds of things did they say to you? How did you respond to them? 

It started with people just saying the painting sucked or I was an idiot, but then people started getting horrible… One guy said I was a disgusting failure of a human and a terrible artist, several people told me to kill myself, I was called ugly, I was called a faggot, I was called a lunatic liberal, and I was threatened physically. Any common internet insult you can think of was slung at me. It was very interesting to me as the insults were very juvenile and emotionally charged, and mostly aimed at me rather than my work. Funnily, so many people attacked me for being a Hillary supporter, which I had never made a mention of, or any political stance for that matter. I was just making an observation with this piece. Only one person actually tried to debate with me on my statement intelligibly, but even he ended up resulting to insults at the end. My first instinct was to respond and explain my work, but after trying to engage with these people, I realized they are fanatics and radicals and are basing their opinions on falsities and propaganda. So I just started deleting insults and attacks and posted an open invitation for a private debate via email for any attackers interested, disappointingly yet not shocking, no one emailed me about it.

What was your gallery’s response to wanting the piece shown?  

It’s funny because as I was finishing it I also had a few shows coming up and offered it up to several galleries. No one said they didn’t want to show it, it was more in subtle excuses as why it didn’t work for the show or dancing around the subject. I can understand the concern. It’s a bold piece and there is a lot of madness going on surrounding this presidential campaign, and it could potentially be dangerous to show. After seeing a female artist get sucker punched by a man yelling “Trump” just because she painted Trump in a negative (but very comical) light, I understand the concern! Luckily, the fearless ladies at Future Tongue were more than glad to show the piece in their upcoming group show “Extraction” in DTLA on Sept. 8. I think it is important to get it out there and not hide out of fear of retaliation.

Were you at all hesitant to show this piece to the world, since it can be seen as controversial?  

In a way yes. I was hesitant to paint it. I have a “slight” addiction to WW2 documentaries and I was paying close attention to the news on the presidential race, debates, etc. I started seeing so many similarities between the actions of Trump and the history of Hitler’s reign in Germany. I started feeling very strongly that regardless what I wanted to do, I needed to make this piece.

What is your relationship with political pieces? Do you explore contemporary issues often? 

I do touch on contemporary and political issues in most of my work, but this is the first time I have been so “in your face” with my ideas/opinions. Most of the politically charged ideas in my work are very subtly introduced and the viewer is left with more of something to reflect upon on their own. This is the first time I have painted something so spoon-fed, but I thought it appropriate and necessary in this case. History will repeat itself if we do not learn from the mistakes of the past. This piece is reflecting on the actions of two men in positions of power, one man that created one of the largest blemishes on humanity and one man is recklessly following in his footsteps, using fear and hate to gain momentum and personal gain. That is the dangerous behavior and the reason I titled the painting “Do You Fear (For Your Child?)” I know that Trump hasn’t killed millions of people as its one of the only true statements made to me about this piece, but Hitler didn’t start with mass murder either, he started with mass deportation and segregation.

Be sure to check out Johnie’s Facebook and Instagram.