The Wick - Tim Walker

Discover Tim Walker

Flowers are a constant presence in the fashion photography of Tim Walker, by turns evoking whimsy, fantasy, romance and lust. Existing in a surreal realm somewhere between a dream and a nightmare, Walker’s storied images invite you on a journey of imaginative discovery. Nothing is ever quite what it seems.

Walker says inspiration for his compositions comes from ‘anything that any one of us has seen – high, low, mid – and then I mix it all up.’ This celebrated image of model Siobhan Finnigan holding a fulsome bouquet of flowers was taken in London in 1998. As with many of Walker’s images, we are drawn into a meticulously crafted scene that prompts as many questions as it answers.
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The Wick - Discover Kudzanai-Violet Hwami, Antennae to the Ancestors, 2018

Discover Kudzanai-Violet Hwami, Antennae to the Ancestors, 2018

Kudzanai-Violet Hwami is one of the hottest artists in London right now. The young Zimbabwean held her first solo show at London’s Tyburn Gallery in 2017. In 2019, at just 26 years old, she represented Zimbabwe at the 58th Venice Biennale, and in December last year she made her auction debut, with her psychedelic mushroom trip portrait Eve on Psilocybin selling for $252,000, more than six times the high estimate.

Now she’s enjoying her first solo exhibition at Victoria Miro London. On display are a selection of her bright, energetic canvases celebrating the complexities of diasporic identities, gender and sexuality. Among them is this painting, Antennae to the Ancestors (2018), which features Shona sculptures behind a digitally manipulated plant. ‘There was a spiritual meaning behind that painting,’ the artist once said. ‘Plants have become symbolic gateways.’
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The Wick - Discover Thandiwe Muriu

Discover Thandiwe Muriu

Thandiwe Muriu’s playful work is impossible to ignore. A witty celebration of the young Kenyan’s culture, her Camo series is characterised by bold, brilliant colours and exuberant patterns ‘with an almost psychedelic quality’ that confuse the eye. Thandiwe trademarks feature throughout, among them architectural hairstyles, ebony skin and fabrics and accessories from everyday life.

But a barbed critique simmers beneath each glossy surface. The series is ‘a personal reflection on how I felt I can disappear into the background of my culture,’ she has said. Camo also challenges standards of beauty in Kenya — notably the culture of skin bleaching and hair straightening. She wants Kenyan girls to see these images of dark-skinned models with natural hair wearing recognisably African fabrics fashioned in modern, funky ways and say: ‘That’s me’.
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The Wick - Lubaina Himid, Navigation Charts 
Spike Island, 2017

Discover Naming the Money, Lubaina Himid

'Naming the Money' is the largest installation to make use of her signature ‘cut-outs’ — paintings made on freestanding, shaped board allowing viewers to walk amongst them — and it tells the story of not only the eighteenth-century slave but also the emigre and the asylum seeker of the present day. Each figure has a real name and a soundtrack gives them a voice, speaking of their fluid identities that shift between their original African names and trades and the new ones imposed on them in Europe. Himid has explained that the work was not about money, but about how the monied classes spent their wealth and flaunted their power. The work has been exhibited several times; at Hatton Gallery, Newcastle in 2004, and again in 2007 at the V&A and Harris Art gallery, Preston. In 2017 Naming the Money was shown in a solo exhibition at Spike Island, Bristol. Himid won the Turner Prize in the same year.

Born in 1954 in Zanzibar, Tanzania, Turner Prize-winning artist Lubaina Himid studied Theatre Design at Wimbledon College of Art before undertaking an MA in Cultural History at the Royal College of Art. Tackling questions of race, gender and class, her work is politically critical, considering issues of labour, migration and creativity through both painting and installation. Himid is also Professor of Contemporary Art at the University of Central Lancashire.
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The Wick - Discover Matthew Wong, River at Dusk

Discover Matthew Wong, River at Dusk

Matthew Wong was one of 2020’s breakout stars at auction. Twenty-three works by the late Canadian artist were offered in sale rooms from New York to Hong Kong, raking in a whopping $24.7 million. And for good reason. His first solo show at New York’s Karma gallery in 2018 drew rave reviews, with The New York Times describing him as ‘one of the most talented painters of his generation’.

Painted mostly from his imagination, Wong’s vibrant, stylized landscapes, forest scenes and still lifes call to mind the works of Vincent van Gogh, Henri Matisse and David Hockney. But their ebullient palette frequently belies undercurrents of loneliness and what the art critic Eric Sutphin describes as a ‘melancholic yearning’. River at Dusk (2018) is no exception. Flanked by lush, luminous foliage, the river flows towards a golden sky descending into darkness — perhaps a reflection of Wong’s life-long struggles with depression.
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The Wick - Dream Vincent van Gogh, Café Terrace at Night, 1888

Dream Vincent van Gogh, Café Terrace at Night, 1888

Ablaze with brilliant oranges, yellows, greens and deep, dark blues, Café Terrace at Night captures the warm energy of an alfresco evening in Arles. The funnel-like perspective draws the eye along the cobbled street to the populated terrace, the shadowy tower of a former church and beyond to the star-filled sky.

Executed in September 1888, it’s the first painting in which Van Gogh experimented with bewitching starry backgrounds. Interestingly, for some, it also references Da Vinci’s Last Supper. (Look closer and you’ll see multiple cross-like shapes and a long-haired figure surrounded by 12 individuals.)

This religious allusion is not uncharacteristic. Born to a Protestant minister, Van Gogh would always struggle with the fervency of his faith. ‘When I have a tremendous need for — shall I say the word —religion’, he wrote to his brother, Theo van Gogh, in the autumn of 1888, ‘I go out and paint the stars.’
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The Wick - Discover Pauline Boty, The Only Blonde in the World, 1963

Discover Pauline Boty, The Only Blonde in the World, 1963

Along with her peers David Hockney and Peter Blake, Pauline Boty spearheaded a second wave of British Pop, capturing the rebellious energy of the Swinging Sixties through new techniques such as collage.

She brought a female perspective to the fledgling movement and addressed contemporary issues, including gender, identity and sexuality in her bold, vibrant Pop pieces.

This striking painting shows Marilyn Monroe — the ultimate sex symbol of the 1950s and early 1960s — pinned between two fields of abstract forms. Dare you say your instinctive, first response?

Largely forgotten in the decades after her death (Boty died of cancer, aged only 28), her work is now enjoying an uptick in interest. It’s gratifying that Britain’s first female Pop artist is finally getting the widespread recognition she deserves.
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The Wick - Discover Jennifer Packer, The Body Has Memory, 2018

Discover Jennifer Packer, The Body Has Memory, 2018

The art of Jennifer Packer, which includes portraits, interior scenes and flower paintings, has been addressing contemporary issues, from Black representation and systemic racism to the privilege of viewership, since she graduated from her MFA programme at Yale School of Art in 2012.

The Body Has Memory (2018) depicts a man in a hooded sweatshirt sitting alone on a sofa, with hands clasped, ankles crossed and solemn, downcast eyes. Its intimacy takes you completely by surprise, draws you in and stirs your soul.

For Packer, clothes and objects are more than decorative distraction. ‘I’m interested in signifiers and how they function historically,’ she has explained. ‘I want them to have an equal presence, a power.’
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The Wick - Discover Peter Doig, Island Painting (2000-2001)

Discover Peter Doig, Island Painting (2000-2001)

Known for canvases of striking and often haunting beauty, Peter Doig is an artist who captures the magic of place. His paintings explore the relationship between myth, memory and landscape, reflective perhaps of Doig’s own multi-national movement: born in Scotland and raised between Trinidad and Canada, he now divides his time between London, New York and Düsseldorf.

Canoes and kayaks often appear as central motifs in Doig’s work. They symbolise the recurring themes of voyage and exploration, as well as the transportive power of Doig’s canvases. ‘Island Painting’ (2000-2001) embodies this: as a solitary figure looking directly at us floats amid a wild, colourful landscape, the artist lulls us into an enchanting yet mysterious narrative.

The intrigue of his paintings is often beyond articulation. ‘I am trying to create something that is questionable,’ says Doig, ‘something that is difficult if not impossible to put into words.’
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