group show

The Islanders

09.01 – 21.02.2015


Galerie Mikael Andersen is proud to present the exhibition The Islanders with artists Tom Anholt, Billy Childish, Ryan Mosley and Rose Wylie.

The Islanders brings together the work of four English painters, each representing a different generation. Besides their nationality, the four artists share in common an interest in the British land and seascape; both physical and psychological. Stereotypes such as 'the English eccentric', 'the Explorer', 'the sportsman', play their part in contributing to this perception of what we might call: 'The Islander' mentality, which has given rise to some of the idiosyncrasies associated with the 'British character'.


The English poet, John Donne, famously claimed: 'No man is an island', but writer Neil Gaiman argued that he was very wrong: 'If we were not islands we would be lost, drowned in each other's tragedies. We are insulated (a word that means literally, remember, made into an island) from the tragedy of others by our island nature, and by the repetitive shape and form of the stories.' The significance of the relationship between the individual with the land and sea is heightened when viewed in the context of the notion of the island. Taking up Neil's argument, it shapes our very being; it is always there, maybe not at the forefront of our minds, but in our make-up and our history.

There is a dream-like surreal quality that marks out the works of Anholt, Childish, Mosley and Wylie. Though each painter is distinct and unique in his style, motivation, and perspective, there is a shared fluidity in their use of line and gesture. We can find echoes of the free-flowing paintings of the Masters of late 19th and early 20th Century Expressionism. Story telling is also a shared concern. Wylie often turns to subjects such as football players, or film, that are accessible to everyone in order to facilitate what she calls a 'contemporary bonding' with her viewers. Mosley addresses the carnivalesque, even the grotesque - but interestingly, like Wylie, he has also tackled the subjects of the circus. Anholt's characters appear to exist in a fantastical world, that is convincing in its familiarity, and consistency, but nonetheless feels like a waking dream. Childish draws inspiration from the Kent landscape where he has lived and worked all his life.


The landscapes of Anholt, Childish, Mosley and Wylie are balanced by a fresh immediacy (that in Wylie's case is also especially evident in her drawings), a strongly individual approach to their art making and a decidedly British, ironic sense of humour. Again this plays into the notion or stereotype of the 'Islander' mentality: defensive, at times provocative, but always able to see the funny side of life, even if the humour employed is dark and sardonic. Sometimes it is the protagonists depicted in the paintings and drawings who are humorous - cartoon-like even - at other times, the references are more subtle, latent rather than obvious but nonetheless there, just as the awareness of being on an island - slightly removed from the rest of the continent - could be said to run deep in the psyche, history and folklore of a nation and all the individuals islanders who inhabit it.


Jane Neal


A catalogue will be available at the opening with images of works and a text by Jane Neal. 

Photo credits: Jan Søndergaard