Spotlight

Spotlight artist Celina Teague

Championed by gallerist Kristin Hjellegjerde
The Wick - Celina Teague
The Problem With Humanity 2, 2023 Oil on canvas
150 x 130 cm
59 x 51 1/8 in
Above  Celina Teague The Problem With Humanity 2, 2023 Oil on canvas 150 x 130 cm 59 x 51 1/8 in
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The Wick - Celina Teague
Above  Celina Teague
Interview
Celina Teague
25 January 2024
Interview
Celina Teague
25 January 2024
A cactus sprouts ears and an eye flutters lashes of flowers in one of the surreal works in Celina Teague’s solo show, It’s Not Me, It’s You, at Kristin Hjellegjerde’s Berlin gallery. On the surface, the London-born artist’s trippy visions appear a departure from her previous paintings driven by current affairs, suggesting a desire to escape to a place where the natural world and humanity are one. But a darker sentiment soon takes hold.
Lashes of flowers are swapped with brightly coloured pills in another work – a nod to addiction, and how our hunger for social media stops us seeing the beauty of nature – while text pieces take aim at the passivity of armchair activism.

It’s Not Me, It’s You (on view until 10 February) is Teague’s sixth solo show with Kristin Hjellegjerde, who has championed the artist since the inception of her gallery in London nearly 12 years ago. The gallerist’s keen eye for spotting talent has since seen her open a second space in London, as well as galleries in Berlin and West Palm Beach in Florida.

Hjellegjerde says: “Celina’s work pulsates with energy and original thoughts. Her practice has a strong focus on environmental and political current affairs, and while her work is often direct in its messaging, her unique perspective always results in surprising and complex compositions. Her show in Berlin is an example of this, featuring an exciting new body of work that demonstrates her extraordinary ability to combine humour with social critique, bold imagery with nuanced ideas and to show us new ways of looking at the world.”

Teague draws inspiration from a wide array of sources: current affairs, the natural world and her travels, including extensive periods spent in Mexico and Berlin.

She says: “With the paintings in my current show, I tried to break away from the news-driven works of the past and disappear wholeheartedly into the weird and wonderful world of nature. In part, I failed. Though some of them feel quite a departure from previous paintings, the realities of the unstable and cruel human world creep into these pieces.”

In “For Better or For Worse”, for example, opium poppies, Fentanyl lollipops and pills sprout from a chair’s fabric, while a disembodied mouth licks its lips – hungry for more substances and information. Our appetite for more is all pervasive, it seems.

Teague sees her longstanding partnership with Kristin Hjellegjerde as one of her greatest career achievements – “a second marriage” of sorts, held down during the mania of juggling work with raising young children and multiple animals.

“Do I get credit for pinning down two long-term relationships?” she asks. The Wick thinks so, particularly when the offspring from her Hjellegjerde relationship is so sweet.

After her Berlin show, you can also catch her work at Expo Chicago in April and a group show in Schloss Goerne, Hjellegjerde’s seasonal space in Germany this summer.

About the champion

The Wick - Spotlight artist Celina Teague

Since founding her eponymous gallery in 2012, Kristin Hjellegjerde has gained a reputation for exhibiting a bold roster of international emerging and established artists. In 2019, she curated ‘Kubatana’ at Vestfossen Kunstlabortorium, the largest exhibition of African artists’ work to be held in Norway, and the gallery has expanded to include two spaces in London and one in Berlin and West Palm Beach, as well as a summer space in an 18th-century German castle.

“Her practice has a strong focus on environmental and political current affairs, and while her work is often direct in its messaging, her unique perspective always results in surprising and complex compositions.”

Place of Birth

London, UK

Education

Trinity College Dublin, Humboldt University Berlin, Central Saint Martins in London

Awards, Accolades

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in the Netherlands brought a particularly bonkers painting of mine. A career highlight.

Current exhibitions

It’s Not Me, It’s You at Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery, Berlin, 12 January – 10 February 2024

Spiritual guides, Mentors

My family and other animals (not the book). My husband, mother and sister Vanessa are my visual sense checks and give me an effective sign-off on each work – or not. My great friend and fellow artist Marthe Zeevenhooven helps unpick my mind when it’s tangled. A nod to Frida Kahlo too – I just love her.

Advice

My favourite tutor at Saint Martins, Alex Landrum, once commented on how unfashionable my works were. At the time, painting was considered pretty much a dead art – let alone narrative paintings such as mine. He told me to stick to my guns, keep honing my technique and that my time would come. If it was a throwaway comment, it stuck. I never worried about appealing to anyone else’s tastes. To have done so would have been a distraction. In short, go your own way.


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Dates
12 January 2024 — 10 February 2024
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