Louise Reynolds’ drawings on wood board reference a multitude of issues, ranging from social inequalities and political misdeeds to conspiracy theories and tabloid gossip.
Her unique form of magical realism takes inspiration from trending news topics, blending razor-sharp social commentary with dreamlike imagery and art-historical motifs. The evocative titles of her works often reference specific news stories, but the artist intentionally obscures the original narrative, which may only be deduced by the most media-savvy among us.
The exhibition’s title, Once Bitten, Twice Shy, refers to the erosion of truth and trust in a populace who has grown jaded from being manipulated, misinformed and misled by those in power.
Reynolds reflects on the arbitrary way in which stories trickle through our collective consciousness: trashy clickbait coexists with serious world events – and may even receive greater attention. These works reference the bewildering oversaturation of our media landscape, in which meaning must be pieced together from fragments and truth is often obscured by a constant barrage of information.
In the titular drawing Once Bitten, Twice Shy, the central tree becomes an avatar for the person who cocoons themself against the threats and foes (whether real or imagined) surrounding them. Similarly, in I Haven’t Ruled Anything Out Yet, the sheltered group receives a selective flow of information from on high that replaces the Virgin Mary’s traditional ribbon of inspiration.
Once Bitten, Twice Shy
59.5 x 42 cm
59 x 84 cm
Is The Feud Over? The Drama Explained
59.5 x 42 cm
At Least For Some
40 x 30 cm
My Absolute Innocent Innocence
21 x 29.5 cm
I Haven’t Ruled Anything Out Yet
40 x 30 cm
All That Glisters Steals Your Gold
50 x 63 cm
Recently returned from a residency in Florence, the artist takes inspiration from medieval paintings.
Traditionally, the large scale of figures such as Christ or the Virgin Mary indicates their outsized importance – a technique which is evident in At Least For Some. Here, the enlarged central figure is able to see over the high wall and has selected a single individual from the masses below to join this position of privilege.
At its core, Reynolds’ work considers how we construct meaning from a constant oversaturation of media and come to terms with a world structured by inequities.
Dystopian in its vision of our social structures, Reynolds’ work nonetheless contains elements of strength and resilience. The tree-figure in Once Bitten, Twice Shy glows with an inner light, while a ghostly hand reaches out to halt the powerful man evading justice in My Absolute Innocent Innocence.
The background context for Safe Passage is the inhumane treatment of migrants, and yet we remain hopeful that the travellers may reach their destination. Reynolds’ work ultimately contains a subtle undercurrent of optimism in its outlook – through individual action, we may be able to break the (media) cycle and take charge of our collective future.
Contemporary Hells: The Work of Louise Reynolds
Writer Eleanor Heartney considers the dilemma of contemporary consciousness in relation to art-historical hellscapes.
Louise Reynolds (b. 1998) is a figurative artist from Hamilton, Scotland who currently lives and works in London.
She recently finished her studies at the Royal Drawing School on their postgraduate programme, The Drawing Year, and graduated from Fine Art at the Glasgow School of Art in 2020.
The Trussell Trust
The Trussell Trust supports a nationwide network of food banks that together provide emergency food and support to people facing hardship, and campaign for change to end the need for food banks in the UK. They support and encourage food banks to provide compassionate, practical support to people in crisis to tackle the root causes that lock people into poverty and build people’s resilience so they are less likely to need a food bank in the future.