Song of Songs
Unit London is delighted to present a group exhibition entitled, Song of Songs: Representations of the self, spirituality and states of mind in art – from modernity to the digital age, curated by Rachel Thomas, Head of Exhibitions at the Irish Museum of Modern Art.
The international group exhibition takes its name from a painting, Song of Songs, 1933, by the British Surrealist artist, writer and occultist, Ithell Colquhoun (1906-1988). The exhibition considers the role of how the self, the mind, and how spirituality evolves in the creation of abstract painting from its origins to the present digital age. Song of Songs embraces the many philosophical, material and ideological potentials which emerge when exploring the self in art. The exhibition includes a major and important presentation of over 12 master painting works by Ithell Colquhoun. They are hung in conversation with leading and emerging contemporary international artists such as; Linder, Bharti Kher, Anna Weyant, Elaine Hoey, Richard Malone, Grace Weir, Jesse Mockrin, Clare Ormerod, Matthew Stone, Stacey Gillian Abe, Suchitra Mattai.
Song of Songs focuses on painting, performative and research-orientated works that take forms as diverse as surrealist works, performative VR commissions, drawing, sculpture, embroidery, online practices and installations.
The title of this exhibition; Song of Songs, means the most important of songs, from biblical text and ancient Mediterranean religions. These verses have also inspired artists who, over the centuries, have produced visual depictions of these verses, such as Marc Chagall and Gustave Moreau. Ithell’s depiction is one that portrays asexuality, love and symbolism of nature. ‘This work then can be interpreted as precursor of her future artistic mastery, leaving behind the traditional heterosexual couple at its centre and instead working outwards from the fringes, learning from formations in nature rather than from the behaviour of humans.’ - Richard Shillitoe
This exhibition is rooted in collaborations with artists that are inspired by current themes of the self-image of the body, the mind and nature, and have investigated the meaning and resonance of transformation in their work and within society. Inspired by Ithell Colquhoun’s art as an art of transformation, this exhibition explores what it means to be human in a climate of chaos and change.
The exhibition focuses on three themes – chapters - in particular: the representation of the self and bodies in the digital age and their transformations; the relationship between the human mind, spirituality, sexuality and technologies; and the evolutions between nature and the subconscious in art. Instead of a linear relationship to the show thinking of time in a temporal format, this exhibition will disrupt those forms, offering glimpses, chances and times to offer a look at these various ideas and question related concepts and tensions of what it means to be human in the 21st Century. The exhibition takes us on a rite of passage, especially in these times of change and extreme of inner journeys of the mind and through transmutations of the mind; ultimately exploring humanity. These three chapters will encourage authentic enquiry about the subconscious, mental health and art, and promote the use of primary archival sources. The exhibition is in aid of Samaritans and Pieta House.
In keeping with Ithell Colquhoun’s philosophy of art and the cosmos, a Vedic chart has been commissioned to birth and open the exhibition.