This week, Unit London is thrilled to announce the opening of two new solo exhibitions with Oh de Laval and Cydne Jasmin Coleby. Wild Things Happen in Stillness is Laval’s debut solo exhibition and Queen Mudda appears as Coleby’s first solo show in London. We are extremely excited to bring the work of these two exceptional artists to the attention of our audience. Both exhibitions will be open to the public from April 12th.
Oh de Laval
Wild Things Happen in Stillness
Oh de Laval is the alias of Olga Pothipirom, an artist of half Polish and half Thai descent. In her debut solo exhibition, Laval brazenly captures the joy of everyday existence and the unrivalled power that art can have to give pleasure. Wild Things Happen in Stillness is principally concerned with human behaviour, examining the decisions we make, or wish we could make, and why we make them. Laval views these decisions as windows into our very characters and even our repressed emotions. For the artist, painting is a space of pure imagination able to produce infinite possible scenarios. As such, Laval’s works reflect her unapologetically joyous outlook on life, acting themselves as windows into her personality, her desires and her imaginings. In the face of an often severe art world, Laval’s paintings persistently resist politicisation and intellectualisation, choosing instead to let excitement reign. Constantly eluding the limitations of specific meaning or analysis, Laval’s works can be linked together through their trademark sense of humour, their reappearing motifs and their recurring cast of unique characters. Above all, Laval’s works express an unequalled sense of exhilaration.
Writer and curator, Tom Morton, on Wild Things Happen in Stillness:
“Sex and violence (and often money, too) are the animating themes of de Laval’s paintings. The world she depicts is a place of endless leisure, peopled largely by gilded, physically attractive youths – somewhere that despite the occasional contemporary detail has an early 20th century feel, a cross between the Faubourg Saint-Germain of Marcel Proust, the Long Island of F. Scott Fitzgerald, and the West London of Evelyn Waugh’s Vile Bodies (1930). This privileged, dream-like realm is not without its hazards. Now and then, these have a fantastical quality, whether its divine (the mischievous sea god in Young Poseidon, 2020) or apocalyptic (the fire that falls from the sky in The End of the World). Mostly, however, the challenges faced by de Laval’s characters stem from something far closer to home: each other’s baser appetites, and their own unruly ids.”
Cydne Jasmin Coleby
Cydne Jasmin Coleby’s first solo exhibition in London, curated by Natalie Willis of the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas, is an unabashed celebration of Black women of all ages. The artist’s vibrantly coloured graphic collages pay homage to the matriarchs who are the backbones of family lines. With the use of Coleby’s own family history, Queen Mudda is an intimate and personal exploration of matrilineage.
As Natalie Willis highlights in her curatorial text:
“The hyper-embellishment and patterning of the work are an act of love indeed: the time intensive cutting of crepe paper for Junkanoo inspired fringes, of laying paint to canvas in someone’s image. They are, also, an act of rebellion and most importantly of visibility. In a world oversaturated with digital and social media presence – that we are all painfully aware of at present in this pandemic – to “be” is to appear. Coleby’s act of heightening the visibility of her family – often dressed in their best, poised, elegant, radiant images of the ideal of the feminine -is partial protest to the historic exclusion of Black women in classic portraiture. It also contains the rebellion-roots of Junkanoo, a culturally significant street celebration with elaborate costumes constructed of cardboard, crepe paper, and feathers that has its origins in the subversive protest of enslaved Africans. In many ways, through Coleby’s excellent use of color and patterning in ensnaring our vision in this very weary attention economy, “these forms translate approaches to visibility, namely the efficaciousness of the effect of light and the prestige of the frame of representation.” (Krista Thompson, Youth Culture, Diasporic Aesthetics, and the Art of Being Seen in The Bahamas). She forces the eye to gaze upon these women, who would be deemed “ordinary” under many global standards, to see the richness of spirit residing in each and every one of them. No longer are they only revered or loved by their family, they are now presented to us in near-debutante fashion for us to look upon and offer up appreciation and praise.”