Opened this week at Simon Lee Gallery in London, 'Faux Amis' is anew exhibition that sees 18 artists exhibit alongside, and in dialogue with, the work of an inspirational artist of their choice – the only stipulation being that the chosen artist must forge a relationship with their own practice.
'The idea for this exhibition came to me when I encountered Joseph Beuys’ Torso (1951) and thought of its similarities to a Louise Bourgeois,' says the exhibition's curator Stephanie Schleiffer. 'It’s interesting how artists can produce visually similar works while the thought processes behind them can come from different places entirely.'
Both varied and revealing, the results highlight the discourses that can exist between artists of divergent practices and generations.
'I have been interested in Schiele's work for such a long time, and only now I realise that it's not because of his subject matter, or anything to do with the female nude, but a certain attitude I am attracted to,' says American painter Sarah Crowner of her chosen 'fake friend', Egon Schiele, whose reclining pencil and charcoal nude from 1918 sits in contrast to the angular lines and vibrant blue hues of her abstract acrylic piece. 'His work is obviously about desire, and I read this in his lines and paint application, as well as saturated colour and absence of colour. In my own work, I think about the sensual, about pleasure, and what attracts a viewer to move closer to a painting.'
Elsewhere, the visual connection is more obvious: stacked rows of colour in English op artist Bridget Riley’s 1973 painting Sound echo the perfect geometry of Angela Bulloch's Stack of Five Pixels installation, while Mel Bochner and Matias Faldbakken's pairing prompts comparisons between their differing use of text and image.
'What’s interesting about this exhibition is that it’s a show by our artists, for our artists,' explains Schleiffer. 'Not only displaying their work, but also asking them to participate in the curatorial process by selecting a conversation piece – a ‘Faux Amis’. In many ways, it’s a show of 21 mini shows and the outcome for each has been both exciting and revealing.'