Two solo-exhibitions which have opened this week are of the work of the Italian artist Diego Perrone at MDC in Mayfair and of Bristol-based Ian Francis in The Outsiders in Soho where both artists are investigating, in different ways, contrasts in our lives.
Diego Perrone was born in 1970 and lives and works in Milan where MDC has its original gallery. Working in a variety of media, his work is highly polished but mysterious, with a recurring theme of contrasts, for example between light and dark, between baroque and minimalism, between solid and void in his new glass sculptures said to have been inspired the late Alexander McQueen’s iconic armadillo shoes and between presence and absence in the row of empty office chairs, of which he says “I was fascinated by the chair as it is an object that is born empty”.
As the Gallery says ““Diego Perrone’s universal vision and poetics is deeply rooted in Italian values: it is drawn to a certain mysterious allure of provincial and suburban lives. The artist tiptoes in and out of the shadows hidden behind apparent flawless existences. In the same way his work is visually delicate but slightly unhinging as it sheds light on the fragility and dark side of life.”
Across town at The Outsiders, Ian Francis is showing “Endless Summer” where his work threatens and disturbs the normal tranquillity of a walk in the street or a meeting in an office to illustrate the “ever-changing fragility of modern life and contemporary issues facing the human condition”
Francis uses both abstraction and realism in his landscape or interior settings and in the figures he portrays, where there is a threatening destructive force which has been stopped in time, as if the “pause” button has been pressed on the scene. What is going to happen next? Are things as bad as they look? The viewer is left in suspense…….
The Gallery says “By creating a series of disparate contemporary moments Francis continues his fascination with the idea of ongoing permanent utopia vs dystopian collapse, whilst referencing both sensationalist media and oversaturated online imagery. Intrigued by the circumstances enabling random selected images and ideas to coexist, the interdisciplinary artist questions the result of this fragile cross-section in time, whether they align or fall apart and their reference point in history in relation to our past and future.”
In Milan, MDC has a modernist building; in London the gallery is in a generously-proportioned Mayfair townhouse built in 1859/60, retaining period features, where it uses the first floor, ground floor, and the basement, the last less successful due to the structural restrictions of the original building. The Outsiders is located in Greek Street in the heart of Soho in a cramped terraced building dating back to 1731, typical of its type, being only two windows wide with a shop on the ground floor and a front and back room on each floor. The Gallery occupies the ground floor and basement and provides a cocoon-like space, with little natural light and a concrete stucco finish in the basement, all suited to the street art which it displays.
Two exhibitions of artists who in different way are investigating contrasts in our lives at two different styles of galleries, each of which compliments the artist on show.