Duke of York’s HQ
1 to 14 September, 2019.
Times: 10am to 6pm, 7 days a week
Mind Zero presents a new body of works by British artist Nancy Cadogan, and marks her first solo exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery. Nancy’s paintings reward those who look deeply and with care; they capture the joy of thoughtful observation, of delighting in the things we surround ourselves with. With this exhibition Nancy develops this beyond the observational in an attempt to reveal the inner workings of her mind through imagined compositions.
The paintings ask the viewer to engage in mindful contemplation and explore how we inhabit a space, and how one’s mind flits between places, things and memories. There is an emphasis on colour and movement rather than clarity of outline, and optical effects are achieved through the balance of colour instead of perspective and shadow. More sensory than literal, the scenes suggest the way a wandering mind slips over things perceived, the way ideas are connected by objects and how thoughts spill into each other. The paintings collapse boundaries and the conscious and unconscious are simultaneously present, in the real and imagined. “In a way they are about how I respond emotionally to the place I live, how my mind collects images, how I analyse or ruminate on my response, then turn to painting for resolution,” says Nancy.
Some of the works touch on the theme of Japonaiserie (a term coined by Vincent Van Gogh to express the influence of Japanese art in his work) in their smooth surfaces and pleasing ukiyo-e arrangement of forms. The work speaks of taking pleasure in the beauty of the everyday: a chin resting on a book, mugs of tea, scented lilies, splendid foliage and flowering potted plants. The arrangement of things is dreamlike but not surreal, echoing the way our surroundings often become unfocused when deep in thought.
Colour is also used vividly; bold sections of cerulean and blue, magenta and emerald green carry the immediacy of Nancy’s joy in painting. She takes pleasure in process and composition in a way that is reminiscent of David Hockney’s celebratory landscapes. “This is home, this is where I paint, and I am ready to share that now,” Nancy says. “We gain so much pleasure from the environments we create, the gardens we sow, the things we collect. It is often in the small details of domesticity, or in the order of our work and materials, that we find the most joy.”
Mind Zero follows the success of Nancy’s 2017 solo exhibition, Still Reading at Shapero Rare Books in conjunction with Sladmore Contemporary, which presented a series of intimately scaled still-life paintings, each featuring a closed book paired with an emotive object. In these, she created works that stimulated ‘slow looking,’ now increasingly popular with museum curators such as Mathew Gale at Tate Britain, and encouraged the viewer to take their time. In this exhibition Nancy pushes this further, asking the viewer to take pleasure in the act of looking, and share her joy in the order and chaos of the place in which she creates
Philippa Adams, Director of Saatchi Gallery, says:
Nancy’s works delightfully capture the sensation of being lost in one’s own thoughts.
Their joyful exuberance brings a moment of reflection and calm in today’s uncertain world.