The Wick - Wendy Red Star, Apsáalooke Roses, 2016

Discover Wendy Red Star

Wendy Red Star draws on contemporary art as well as her Native American heritage for inspiration, and her 2016 Apsáalooke Roses pays homage to her Crow culture. The striking print comprises portraits of the artist and her daughter taken decades apart, at the same age and at the same cultural event. ‘Apsáalooke roses symbolise Crow womanhood and the matrilineal line connecting my daughter and myself to our ancestors,’ she has said.

Born in 1981 and raised on the Apsáalooke reservation in Montana, Red Star upends the romanticised notion of Native Americans as ‘noble savages of the past’, while also celebrating Crow life, history, culture and identity. In contrast to the stoic, idealised images of Native Americans taken by the 20th-century photographer Edward Curtis, for instance, Red Star’s work, spanning photography, video, sculpture and performance, brims with playfulness, humour and irony. ‘Humour is healing to me,’ she has said. ‘To have that element in my work is quite Native, or Crow, and I’m glad that it comes through.’
The Wick - Charming Baker, The Enemy Within (Small), 2021

Discover Charming Baker, The Enemy Within (Small), 2021

Charming Baker shot to fame in the noughties for his witty take on well-trodden themes such as love, life, death, joy and despair. Solo shows at the Truman Brewery in 2007 and the Redchurch Street Gallery in 2009 were followed by critically acclaimed shows across the pond and a collaboration with Paul Smith for the 2012 Olympics.

His practice, which spans painting, sculpture and print, challenges you to ‘sit up and examine your conscience,’ as the art critic Edward Lucie-Smith so aptly put it. One of Baker’s most recognisable images, The Enemy Within (Small) features a clutch of chicks against a dusky pink background, emblazoned with golden vines. The incongruity of the image and the artwork’s title is typical of Baker’s irreverent humour. At just £295, this silkscreen print is a bargain.
The Wick - San Cristobal, René Burri

Discover René Burri

The Swiss photographer René Burri is perhaps best known for his black-and-white work and piercing portraits of leading cultural and political figures including Pablo Picasso and Che Guevara. Indeed, his 1963 image of the Cuban revolutionary leader has become one of the most iconic images of the 20th century.

But his lesser-known colour compositions are just as compelling. ‘They have a different language than his black and white photography,’ says Mélanie Bétrisey, curator and supervisor of the René Burri Collection. ‘There is something more emotional, less calculated about them.’

This brilliant shot of San Cristobal’s stable, horse pool and house, designed and built by the Modernist Mexican architect Luis Barragán, is one such example. Taken in Mexico in 1976, it reflects Burri’s mastery of light, shadow, angle and geometry. The composition is dominated by two large walls — one red, one pink — that stand in striking contrast to the vivid blues of the pool and sky. What strikes, says Bétrisey, is ‘the play of flat areas and depth of field of colour with clear diagonals, the play of lines.’ No question, it will draw you in, transporting you in time and place.
The Wick - Claude Monet, Leicester Square, la nuit, c. 1901

Discover Claude Monet

Between 1899 and 1901, while staying in London at the Savoy Hotel, Claude Monet produced some of his most famous paintings, including his Charing Cross Bridge, Waterloo Bridge and Houses of Parliament series. In these works, his principal concern was to capture the changing light patterns over the Thames caused by smog. ‘Without fog London would not be beautiful,’ he claimed.

It was during his 1901 visit that Monet most likely painted this exuberant night scene of Leicester Square, located just a stone’s throw from his hotel on The Strand. It was then — as it is now — a hub of bustling activity. Using rapid brushstrokes and daubs of brilliant colour, Monet deftly captures the square’s nocturnal energy, transforming it into a near abstraction of colour and light. The result is quite simply mesmerising.
The Wick - Olafur Eliasson, Earth perspectives: The Earth viewed over the Great Barrier Reef, Australia, 2020

Discover Olafur Eliasson: Earth perspectives

To mark Earth Day last year, the Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson unveiled a new participatory artwork on Instagram, Earth perspectives, comprising nine orange and pink coloured images of the Earth with a dot in the middle. Each of the nine images features a different view of the planet, as taken over such celebrated natural wonders as the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, the Ganges River in India and the Simien Mountains in Ethiopia.

Eliasson asked viewers to stare at the dot for about 10 seconds and then gaze at a blank surface where an afterimage in complementary colours appears — literally a new view of the world. Using a simple optical illusion, Eliasson prompted his audience to reflect on their relationship with the planet. ‘I want to advocate — as on any other day — that we recognise these various perspectives and, together, celebrate their co-existence.’

Earth perspectives was commissioned as part of the Serpentine Gallery’s 50th anniversary Back to Earth initiative, which featured works by artists, musicians, scientists, designers, filmmakers, architects and poets made in response to the climate emergency. Eliasson’s series of nine Instagram posts have since been viewed by around 100,000 people. Watch and share if you haven’t already.
The Wick - Frank Bowling, Dan & Them, 1972

Discover Frank Bowling, Dan & Them

Sir Frank Bowling OBE RA is one of Britain’s foremost colourists. ‘My art is not about politics,’ he once said. ‘It’s about paint — the way that colour washes, spreads, bleeds and runs across the canvas, and the way that paint-colour emits light.’

Over the course of his six-decade career, divided between London and New York, Bowling has moved from figuration to abstraction, experimented with the materiality of paint, colour and geometry, and explored autobiographical, symbolic and socio-political concerns on canvas. He’s also been elected to the Royal Academy, enjoyed solo shows around the world and been knighted by the Queen.

Dan and Them was produced shortly after the completion of his celebrated Map Paintings in 1972. Ablaze with brilliant layers of magenta, pink and orange, it features repeated imagery of Bowling’s eldest son Dan, who died suddenly in 2001. It is a beautiful example of his works from the early 70s: still abstract but now marked with personal memories.
The Wick - The Raising of Lazarus, Chris Ofili (2007)

Discover Chris Ofili, The Raising of Lazarus

Chris Ofili gained celebrity in the 90s for such bold and controversial works as No Woman, No Cry (his homage to murdered London teenager Stephen Lawrence) and his black Virgin Mary, featuring elephant dung and angels shaped from porn magazine clippings.

There is a huge variety and range in his work, but nearly all of it explores Black culture and Black experience. The artist draws on everything from political, biblical and cultural references to hip hop, jazz, exoticism and racism.

In 2005 he left London for Trinidad, where his art took a bold, new direction. He abandoned the things that had made him famous — the glitter, the dung, the dots of paint, for instance — in favour of simple, pared-down forms that are arguably harder to read. The Raising of Lazarus (2007), now held in the MoMa collection in New York, exemplifies this radical creative shift. ‘I liked the idea of having only paint and a surface,’ he told The Guardian in 2017. ‘And I think it is working for me.’
The Wick - Jim Naughten 'The Gibbons'

Discover Jim Naughten, The Gibbons

This enchanting image forms part of the Jim Naughten’s ‘Eremozoic’ series, which will be exhibited at Grove Square Galleries in support of Fauna & Flora International. The collection name is inspired by biologist E.O. Wilson, who suggested that we are now entering the Earth’s Eremozoic period — an age of loneliness following the mass extinctions caused by human activity. With these images, the artist explores the inextricable relationship between humankind and nature, examining how humans have attempted to capture and contain the natural world and simultaneously proven incapable of understanding its full power and complexities.

Trained in both photography and painting, this ‘Gibbons’ image — as with all in the series — extrapolates photographs of dioramas of animals from natural history museums and digitally reimagines them in saturated colours and unnatural palates. By seeing the natural world through this artificial lens, Naughten manifests our rose-tinted view of the future of the natural world and our tendency to think of the environment that we have put at risk as a distant fantasy land. Through his medium of digital painting, Naughten challenges our sense of illusion, evoking a magical realism style to question the view of nature we are given through these dioramas, and the consequential blurring of our much-needed sense of responsibility to the world.
The Wick - Yinka Shonibare, Robot Painting, by Rob and Nick Carter (2020)

Discover Rob and Nick Carter, Yinka Shonibare, Robot Painting

This AI portrait of Royal Academy Summer Exhibition curator Yinka Shonibare was painted by a bright orange robotic arm called Heidi. Programmed by artists Rob and Nick Carter, the six-axis Kuka Robot ‘feels very life like as she moves,’ they said. ‘Our robot has no eyes and the idea that she can paint so beautifully without seeing anything is remarkable.’ It took Heidi just over 46 hours to complete the work, with 11,404 strokes of acrylic paint.

The work, which is part of the artists’ Dark Factory Portraits series, is inspired by the rise of ‘lights-out manufacturing’ where factories can operate in darkness as robotic systems don’t require light to function. ‘We would like people to embrace robotics and not be afraid,’ the artists added. ‘We are proud to have managed to bring this technology into the context of the art world.’

Yinka Shonibare, Robot Painting is currently on display at the Royal Academy, and is the first painting by a robot in the Summer Exhibition’s more than 250-year history.