Anthony Cudahy "Double Spar" @ GRIMM Gallery, London
GRIMM and Hales are delighted to announce Double Spar, a dual solo exhibition by Anthony Cudahy, on view through November 11, 2023. Marking the artist’s first solo project in the UK, a new body of work will be on view at both GRIMM’s Mayfair location and Hales Gallery’s Shoreditch space. The exhibitions coincided with the opening of Frieze London last week and follow on from Conversation, Cudahy’s solo institutional debut at Musée des Beaux-Arts Dole (FR) and precedes his first US museum solo at Ogunquit Museum of American Art, ME (US).
Cudahy is a painter whose tender scenes reveal the nuanced complexities of life. His work speaks to the legacy of figurative painting and portraiture, deftly combining historic references with contemporary life and human connection. Looking to allegorical paintings with multiple readings, motifs become a part of his visual lexicon, creating a world for stories. The exhibition across both spaces, combines large-scale canvases, rich interplays and intimate moments. Accompanying the exhibition is a book of reference material, essays and an original written piece by Cudahy.
The show takes its title, Double Spar, from an Icelandic sunstone which causes the sightline through the crystal to appear doubled. Interpreted in medieval texts as a celestial vision, the stone speaks to an early kind of magic, both symbolic and physical. Cudahy explores this idea of doubling: subtle dual associations appear in companion paintings, as recurrent gestures and pairings of figures. Mirroring is used as a compositional and narrative device to expand the material potential outside the space of the scenes. Repetitions of the same figure at different times of day within a painting evoke astral projections, and a meta exploration of time extends across both exhibition spaces through companion paintings.
Cudahy continues to paint multiple iterations of the same people, who are sometimes ‘acting’ or sometimes ‘themselves,’ challenging the conventions and cultural understanding of portraiture. Still drawing from art history, Cudahy is now deconstructing scenes to expertly form elemental features, collaging ideas in his paintings. In Double Spar, a repeated foot without a shoe is a nod to a Breughel, a pose is borrowed from Perugino’s St Sebastian and details from a Titian are woven into the paintings. Contemporaneous artworks are referenced with a Billy Sullivan photograph and an EJ Hauser painting, displayed in domestic settings. Quoting from art history, the interpretation of subtle motifs is left open-ended.
In this new body of paintings, Cudahy has challenged himself to create spaces with a different logic — there is a more complex and varying application of paint, figures coalesce, coming together and dissolving just as easily. For Cudahy, how the paint is handled has its own narrative potential, in texture, brushstrokes, cropping and use of colour. There is a sense of multiple possibilities playing out within and outside Cudahy’s surfaces, encapsulating moments suspended in time.