WILL TEATHER AT THE UNDERDOG GALLERY – REVIEW

By Carmina Masoliver

Having grown up in Norfolk, Will Teather is an artist who has been firmly placed in Norwich, where he works as an Associate Lecturer at Norwich University of the Arts and occasionally takes up residencies, reaching as far as New York. His distinctive style combines traditional skills and imagery, with a psychedelic twist.

It was partly chance that brought me to Teather’s exhibition at The Underdog Gallery in London. Having had a Brazilian steak wrap at Maltby Street Market, and a honey beer at Hiver Taproom on the Bermondsey Beer Mile, I happen to be in the perfect location to peruse the exhibition.

Functioning as more of an evening bar hangout, The Underdog Gallery was vacant except for a scattering of seating, a silent drum kit and two chatting employees. Teather’s show, ‘Maximalist Banquet’ opened the previous night where his new band accompanied the private few of the artwork.

These examples show the ways in which painting as a medium can encompass other art forms such as sculpture, pushing the boundaries of what it can do.

The images on display are recognisable as old historical painting structures by the likes of Caravaggio and Manet – they are distorted by fragmented geometrical patterns to create completely original and unique pieces. Alongside these pieces, you can also see familiar faces of Tudor portraits such as Henry VIII. The show’s title has been said to refer to ‘the painter’s interest in excess and overloading his images with both subject matter, colour and symbolism.’

Highly imaginative, the exhibition also features large globes that Teather has experimented with painting on, and unusually formed canvasses that play with perspective. These examples show the ways in which painting as a medium can encompass other art forms such as sculpture, pushing the boundaries of what it can do.

Works of art are not always to be interrogated for meaning, and these can be some of the best kinds of art.

Although there is not much to critique from a feminist perspective – this is not artwork that aims to be overtly political – there is an equal number of women and women featured. Teather also paints powerful images of women such as ‘The Old Curiosity Shop’, where the woman featured in the centre looks down at us as viewers from above, or ‘To Enter The Bright Eye’, where a figure in yellow could be seen to fall, float, or fly like a butterfly or moth against a completely black background.

Works of art are not always to be interrogated for meaning, and these can be some of the best kinds of art. Teather’s paintings are aesthetically pleasing, and ultimately entertaining, the bright and luminous colours and play with geometrical shapes offering a kind of humour in subverting the traditions of the original paintings with contrasting colours and patterns. There are darker pieces too, such as the scene of hell painting in the head of Henry VII, or the blood-like drips of red above Elizabeth I.

The show runs until 25th September at The Underdog Gallery, 6 Crucifix Ln, London SE1 3JW.

Photo credit: Carmina Masoliver


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