‘Accordion Fields’ at Lisson Gallery unites painters inspired by London

‘Accordian Fields’ at Lisson Gallery is a group show looking at painting linked to London

painting of face from ‘Accordian Fields’ group exhibition at Lisson Gallery, London
Joseph Yaeger at Lisson Gallery
(Image credit: Courtesy of the artist)

‘Accordion Fields’ at Lisson Gallery looks at painting linked to London, bringing together artists who trained in the city, live here or are genuine born Londoners. The show seeks to highlight London’s reputation for artistic excellence and inspiration, somewhere people come to discover their potential, then take it elsewhere or stay and add to the fabric of the city. London has many personalities and many parts, a sprawl of little villages containing myriad identities that can offer anonymity or familiarity.

This isn’t a show about surface parallels, but rather about how the soul of a city permeates the work made in it, and how that manifests in paint by artists Varda Caivano, Sarah Cunningham, Dexter Dalwood, Pam Evelyn, Andrew Pierre Hart, Elinor Stanley, Tim Stoner and Joseph Yaeger. 

From the purely instinctive to the highly constructed and planned, from the abstract to the figurative, all these painters have different approaches to painting. The show raises questions rather than offering didactic, quick, clean hot takes on the medium it addresses. You can divide the work into abstract (Cunningham, Evelyn, Stoner, Caivano) and figurative (Stanley, Pierre Hart, Yaeger, Dalwood) but in this context, why lock them down?

blue abstract painting of two figures

Andrew Pierre Hart

(Image credit: Courtesy of the artist)

Dexter Dalwood, who dubbed himself the grandfather of the exhibition, grew up in Bristol and lived and worked in London before moving to Mexico City. He is showing three works, including one, striking large work inspired by the history of Mexico, which he started in 2018 as part of a show there. 

‘It was my connection with an interest not only in Mexican history, but in Mexican painting,’ Dalwood explained over video chat. ‘I worked on that painting for nearly two years. If you can see the six panels where those marching feet began, everything was like a grid across the whole surface, and things just moved around.’

Instead of six panels, there are now three, of historical uniformed, marching feet influenced by a range of historical paintings including the Edouard Manet painting The Execution of Emperor Maximilian, 1867, which is also constructed of panels on a neutral background.

painting on gallery wall

Dexter Dalwood

(Image credit: Courtesy of the artist)

‘The execution of Maximilian, which again, is a very, very small part of Mexican history, is also an important point. The gunshot which killed him was the end of any attempt to colonise Mexico – after that, there was never another foreign power that tried to enter,’ Dalwood says. ‘It was like this idea of the present and of the past and  the idea of the resistance.’

Dalwood, who has his first solo exhibition with Lisson in September 2024, after joining the gallery in autumn of 2023, praised the mix of artists in the show and the focus on artists making art. ‘I suppose it's very much a physical painting show, artists standing in front of the canvas making the marks and making the work themselves.’

Pam Evelyn, who makes large, gestural, abstract paintings, is a young female painter making waves in this traditionally male-dominated area of painting. Her work is entirely intuitive and is densely layered onto the canvas. Sarah Cunningham, perhaps the youngest artist in the show, also works with abstract gestural painting. Her work is founded in the physical relationship to the painting while she is making it.

Pierre Hart’s deliberately out-of-time imagined compositions are inspired by jazz experimentation and sound, delicately painted; they have a different feel to the gestural work in the show that is founded in the same openness and exploratory thinking. Hart’s work is in conversation with the textures of Varda Caivano’s lightly painted but deep and cleverly constructed paintings.

‘Accordion Fields’ is best seen in person, and experienced, as the paintings take on new meanings and dimensions in real life.

‘Accordion Fields’ is on show at Lisson Gallery, London, until 4 May 2024



Dexter Dalwood, An Inadequate Painted History of Mexico IX, 2020, Oil on canvas

(Image credit: © Dexter Dalwood, Courtesy Lisson Gallery)

Amah-Rose Abrams is a British writer, editor and broadcaster covering arts and culture based in London. In her decade plus career she has covered and broken arts stories all over the world and has interviewed artists including Marina Abramovic, Nan Goldin, Ai Weiwei, Lubaina Himid and Herzog & de Meuron. She has also worked in content strategy and production.