From New York cool to London hip to the otherwise esoteric but nevertheless fly Basel, Opus Art is as peripatetic as ever these upcoming months, busying itself with a number of exciting and evanescent events across the world.
But before we delve into what is on show, a very slight introduction is perhaps needed for those who are not so familiar with the name. Opus Art is a contemporary art gallery situated in Milburn House, an understated triumph of art nouveau architecture on Dean Street. Having moved there only last year after a period in Gosforth, it’s a perfect base to not only showcase its collection of art, but an equally meaningful place to operate its business from given the Quayside’s repute for its thriving arts scene. Established in 2005, they’ve rapidly developed as an innovative arts organisation, who, through such ventures like Kounter Kulture, are testing new approaches to how contemporary art reaches wider audiences, especially in a digital age.
Anyways, back to the matter at hand. At the beginning of March, Opus will be returning to SCOPE’s flagship art fair in New York, where they will be showcasing new work from Kim Baker, Charlotte Bracegirdle, Hector de Gregorio, Hush, Abigail Fallis, Linda Lencovic, Andrew McAttee, Geraldine Swayne and Karl de Vroomen. Given that SCOPE attracts some of the finest artists, curators, and galleries to its show, the faith Opus puts in its roster of artists is one that can only be determined by their ability to recognise and promote the crème de la crème of new cutting-edge art. Therefore, it’s as much about the gallery’s vision and prescience as it is about the artists’ and their respective work that the attendees are interested in, after all, greater collaboration globally between all stakeholders is a trend very much typified by this art fair’s very inception and success.
Luckily, for those of us unable to make the flight to the Big Apple, Opus is presenting a Karl de Vroomen solo exhibition of new work entitled This is The First Thing at The Gallery in London during May. A painter, Vroomen is largely “inspired by man’s fractious relationship with the natural world”, characterised by landscapes that are often full of suspense and empty and uneasy imagery. An example is Host, which, in a style that alludes to expressionism, is of a tree-stump that has come to its current cropped state through the cruel hands of man. To me personally, it’s not a visual tour de force, though thematically it does suggests interesting things, namely death and resurrection, the latter tellingly hinted in the form of a twig emerging vertically from its centre. That said, there have also been some very sweet offerings from Vroomen to balance the seriousness of his work, like, for example, the silently beautiful portraits of wildlife that have been liberated from the earth, caught midway in the air as if they have been catapulted by a trampoline. Looking like they have been diligently drawn and shaded in pencil, the minimalist black ink paintings of these falling animals are smile-inducing pieces of art. Catching the eye of Saatchi’s Associate Director Rebecca Wilson for inclusion in their online exhibition Northern Stars, it’s worth keeping an eye on Vroomen, if not investing in one of his paintings yourself.
Last on this medley of offerings from Opus is the incendiary printmaker Hector de Gregorio, whose installation of new work shows at Kaserne Basel in mid-June. Known for his ‘labour-intensive’ approach to art – he often researches extensively, creates costumes, digitally manipulates the images he shoots and then finishes with a myriad of oils, waxes, gold leaf and vanish – his often sexual and mysteriously juju portraits evoke a medieval, ritualistic and religious time, with a hint of circus freak sideshow entertainment that titillates our curiosity when we ogle at these supposed abominations of nature. It’s rude not to stare in this case.
So there we have it, a trio of artistic happenings all-around the world from the cool, hip, and fly Opus Gallery, whom I now hope you have become acquainted with. And if all of the above prove to be out of your means both geographical and financially, you can always check out their latest exhibition in Newcastle, Seeing is Believing, which is on now.
Karl de Vroomen is at The Gallery, Cork Street, London from 23rd May till 28th May
SCOPE, New York is at the Lincoln Center from 2nd March to the 6th March
SCOPE, Basel, is at Kaserne from 14th June to the 19th June
Seeing is Believing at Opus Art till the 21st April
Published in Narc Magazine