Category: First Thursdays — Published:

Art is back! Can you believe it? Alongside Whitechapel Gallery, several of our neighbouring East End galleries have re-opened their doors with an intriguing assembly of exhibitions this month.

For the last purely digital edition of First Thursdays, we partnered with Kate MacGarry, BEERS London and HOXTON 253, bringing you enough painting, sculpture and photography to make up for this past year.

Installation view of Rana Begum. Courtesy the artist and Kate MacGarry, London. Photo: Angus Mill.

Kate MacGarry

Rana Begum
30 April – 6 June 2021

The Kate MacGarry team join our First Thursdays excitement with their first solo presentation of Rana Begum. The show celebrates artist’s ongoing investigation into the interaction between colour, light and form and how this operates within both two and three dimensional space. A new collection of work reveals how Begum’s practice has both diverged and evolved, setting her precise minimalism against a new exploration into the amorphous and uncontained.

Ahead of her solo show, Begum worked in a metal spinning workshop with resident craftspeople shaping materials such as copper, brass and aluminium. She chose moulds of different sizes and forms to evoke Istanbul’s period buildings. Blue-green, vellum, water green, salmon and grey forms suggest the Marmara Sea, historical buildings and the city’s skyscrapers.

At Kate MacGarry her world absorbs and reflects varied densities of light to produce a sensorial experience for the viewer. A suspended installation investigates the three dimensional possibilities of galvanised mesh, through which the artist explores the layering process across different media including fishing nets, spray paintings and a new series of acrylic on aluminium panel paintings, which also feature in the exhibition.

Installation view of Rana Begum. Courtesy the artist and Kate MacGarry, London. Photo: Angus Mill.

BEERS London

Live! From Therapy
30 May – 3 July 2021

BEERS London argue that we have all undergone a revolutionary period unprecedented in modern times. The role of the artist in such a period, they suggest, is to react, reflect and record their experiences and materialise this process for the reception of the greater public.

In an ongoing solo show by Jonni Cheatwood, both the Covid-19 pandemic and Black Lives Matter movement have contributed to forming the basis of a new body of work. “My motivation here is to explore expressions in the social struggle, the nature of reality,” Cheatwood says from his home in Los Angeles. “It’s basically self-retrospective.”

The works are typical of Cheatwood’s growing oeuvre: self-reflexive, tongue-in-cheek, humorous and light-hearted, but also poignant and relatable, showing a human side of the artist’s personal struggle as a mixed-race black and Latino man in modern-day America. He states, “[I wanted to discuss] being a BIPOC, being in an interracial marriage, my own anxieties and struggles.”

Exploring his own family tree, the works presented in Cheatwood’s exhibition, Live! From Therapy, shed light on the artist’s feelings of dissociation and the task of “having to do a ‘code switch’ between black, Latino and white America”.

Jonni Cheatwood, Loner Phase, 2021, Oil, Acrylic Alkyd, Acrylic Polymer, Wood Stain and Digitally-printed Canvas on Cotton Sewn to Canvas, 172 x 140 cm. Courtesy of BEERS London.

Installation view of Jonny Cheatwood: Live! From Therapy at BEERS London, 30 May – 3 July 2021. Photo: Damian Griffiths.


Absolutely Augmented Reality
3 – 27 June 2021

In Absolutely Augmented Reality, American filmmaker, writer and artist Kuzma Vostrikov and Chinese multimedia artist Ajuan Song explore the intersection of fine art and photography through a series of saturated theatrical and symbolic images. Their photography presents a dream world of strange and alluring portraiture, accompanied by a host of archetypal images, hybrid creatures, quirky motifs, canonical postures, as well as inversions of iconic art historic references to Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol, Rene Magritte, Wilhelm Shenrok, Tom Wesselmann, Fernando Botero, Yayoi Kusama and more.

While Song’s widely exhibited work examines the lyricism of the human body, Vostrikov has a special interest in the interface of psychology, technology, and social media. Together their vision invites dialogue about ideas of contemporary art, authorship, technology and offers a newly subjective and visually intense view of the modern world.

Kuzma Vostrikov and Ajuan Song, Multiverse. Courtesy of the artists.

Kuzma Vostrikov and Ajuan Song, Synergy of Comfortable Circumstances, 2018. Courtesy of the artists.

On the first Thursday of every month, over 150 galleries in east London come together and run free events, exhibitions, talks and private views during a special late opening or online celebration. Find out more about First Thursdays here.