We must love one another or die - W.H. Auden
The language of love has been pulled in many different directions, with phrases and symbols becoming stand-ins for the feeling - a heart, a rose, a fixed star. Such clichés become stale as each unique and incomparable beloved is represented in such a way. The overwhelming number of generic gestures of love - the dozen red roses, the heart shaped balloon, the box of chocolates - becomes sickeningly sweet, like having cake for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Soon you feel the need for something more natural, less extravagant. This is where The Lovers, our new group show curated by Hayley Theyers, waltzes in. The exhibition abandons these overused gestures and sayings, except, of course ‘love is all you need’, in order to explore other modes through which the multifaceted emotion can be expressed or experienced.
The free and the constrained contrast yet move together.
Rachael Burke and Vicki Charles both explore themes of self love, a concept that is forcefully muted around Valentine’s Day. Charles’s work looks inward to personal strength, while Burke explores perceptions of identity by ripping away beauty’s supporting structures to reveal vulnerability.
Kirsten Smith’s animated work and Linda Gilbert’s painting contrast in messages of the ends of love. Smith’s short animated loop, full of tension and otherworldliness, describes the aftermath of a love affair with tragic consequences. Also otherworldly, Gilbert's painting imagines a love affair between art and science, a match made in heaven
Time and space are crossed. Hayley Theyers’ photographic series is inspired by the liberated gay disco art world of ‘70’s New York; at once glamorous, seedy, creative, and ambivalent. Conversely, Louise Greig’s painting St Mary Magdalene (The Bride of Christ) was inspired by her obsession with 17th century Spanish and Napolitean paintings, and intimately presents the biblical figure in grief and love.
Other works in the exhibition by Christopher Young and Theo Richards explore love in a family context. What happens when the constraints of marriage surpass love? Is it possible to shed light on a father’s unexplained absences simply by recreating key life moments?
The artists included in the show work in a variety of media, to explore and unravel unique forms of love. Stepping away from clichés, instead these artists create works on loves quiet moments, as important as the loud, the grand gestures and the small touches, the freedom and the restraint, the obligations and the surprises.
Also included in the exhibition are works by Pascal Harris, Kate Rampling, Hannah Melville, Sophie MacDonnell, and Stuart Broughton.
St Valentine’s Day is particularly special this year, as this is when The Lovers previews at Black Asterisk, so come in for an especially romantic rendezvous, complete with harp player. The show then runs from Friday 15 February to Tuesday 5 March. Gallery hours are Tues to Fri 12-5pm and Sat 11-3pm. If music be the food of love, The Lovers is an appetizer.