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Afshin Naghouni
1 June - 27 June 2015

Iranian by birth, artist Afshin Naghouni (Ash) now lives and works in London. Considered a child prodigy, Ash had won a number of regional and national painting competitions between the ages of 9 and 12, but arrived in England with nothing after an accident that left him wheelchair bound. Finding support initially through the Prince’s Trust, Ash was mentored by John Ritchie and worked for five years in setting himself up. He went on to study at London Metropolitan University and has been exhibiting his work ever since.

Today, his vast canvases are the foundation for layers upon layers of oil, resin and glossy photographic imagery. Western women flaunt themselves in various stages of undress while Eastern women peer out modestly from burqas. We are forced to consider the nature of exploitation and oppression in Ash’s heightened visions. Like the dance of the seven veils, the technique uses many layers of resin with photographs and painting between each to expose the naked truth. The appropriately contrasting mediums of photo/paint are at times difficult to distinguish between, blurring the line that divides reality and illusion.

Ash is drawn to painting the female body. As he explains, it’s a subject that lends itself well to his concepts and the kind of contradictions that he likes to explore in his work. His nudes are not just nudes, they are most of time the portrayal of “female beauty” according to media images. The figures, the way they pose and the way they look at you sometimes, even the composition of his canvases are in line with those in glossy magazines. The situation of women in the West and in the Islamic world seems very different which is true in most part, but there are profound similarities too. In both we have this image of “perfection” projected onto the society which dictates how women should look, dress and behave, to the point that nothing else is accepted. The only difference is in the portrayed image.

Peter Henryk Blum
'At Eye Level'
1 June - 27 June 2015

Blum is one of the most exciting German figurative artists of his generation. Using the Old Masters techniques of layer and glaze painting, his scenes are muted, selective with colour, like silent film reels and tinted sepia prints. Gentle diffusions of light are met by the devilishly sharp details of Blum’s technical brilliance. The unreality of the real world with its desires, alienation, loneliness and illusion is presented in a deeply lyrical style.

Peter Henryk Blum was born in 1964 and seen as an artistic prodigy from an early age.

His uncle, founder of the avant-garde ‘EL’ gallery in Poland, recognised and encouraged this burgeoning talent. The obsessive determination with which Blum picked up the techniques and compositions of da Vinci and Caravaggio led to his first professional exhibition- at just fourteen years old.

At the Academy of Fine Art in Kassel, Blum studied under Prof. Kurt Haug, advocate of North German Realism and member of the Zebra group. Although Blum was the youngest assistant in the academy’s history, he already had by far the most experience. Graduating with distinction in 1991, he gained the sought-after scholarship awarded by the district gallery of Fulda, the “Kunststation Kleinsassen”, where he lived from 1991-94 before finally settling in the Rhön region.

Gentle diffusions of light are met by the devilishly sharp details of Blum’s technical brilliance. The unreality of the real world with its desires, alienation, loneliness and illusion is presented in Blum’s deeply lyrical style as he steers us away from the rational subjective self into the strength of the collective. His characters are heartbreakingly earnest in their wordless attempts to communicate with us, and these mimes verge on Theatre of the Absurd, much like the Orator’s indecipherable speaker in Ionesco’s play The Chairs.

His new solo exhibition at the Hay Hill Gallery is entitled "At Eye Level", as this title is a precise expression of what he perceives and attempt to illustrate through his painting: his models are not smarter, better or taller than the people observing them, and they have not been treated with kid gloves, as in the case with the majority of images that we deal with today, regardless of medium.

His pictures are realistic in the radical sense of the word, without the models being exposed in the process. Quite the opposite: they confidently allow themselves to be observed. In other words, they are at eye level with the people who are looking at them.

Hay Hill Gallery also presents a sculpture collection which features works by Eleanor Cardozo, Nicola Godden, Richard L.Minns, Andy Cheese, Jamie McCartney, Ian Edwards, Gianfranco Meggiato, Alfonso & Massimiliano Cacchiarelli Principi, David Mayer, Roland Piché, Palolo Valdés, Sam Shendi, Ruurd Hallema, and Oleg Prokofiev.


E-mail: info@hayhillgallery.com