Grove Square Galleries makes a bold entrance on London’s art scene
Launching during Frieze Week with a show by artist Christopher Kieling, new gallery Grove Square Galleries is dynamic, collaborative and forward-looking
Frieze Week might be going ahead without the usual fanfare surrounding its Regent’s Park tents (though the ever-popular sculpture park is proceeding as usual), but there’s still cause for celebration as a number of galleries are looking forward and boldly carving out new spaces in London – among them a brand new venture, Grove Square Galleries, launching in Fitzrovia.
Heading up Grove Square Galleries is art director Serena Dunn, who will oversee a dynamic exhibition and talks programme in addition to an independent art advisory service. And while the Covid-19 pandemic has created a precarious set of challenges, Dunn has a confident outlook. ‘As a new space, it is an exciting opportunity to help create the new norm without the baggage of “how things have been done in the past” – we haven’t had to unlearn old habits.’ Instead, she explains, there’s an opportunity to ‘forge a new path’.
The world has changed radically since Dunn received the keys to the Fitzrovia space in February. Galleries are pivoting towards online viewing rooms and establishing hybrid platforms to connect audiences with their artists. ‘The general move within the art world to an emphasis on digital has also opened up various avenues, and we genuinely believe that if a new gallery can open and be successful during this time, we’re here to stay,’ she says. ‘While the method of sharing [our artist’s] stories may have changed, our compulsion to do so hasn’t. The pandemic has caused a significant problem for a lot of artists, and we think supporting them is more important than ever.’
‘As a new space, it is an exciting opportunity to help create the new norm without the baggage of “how things have been done in the past”’ – Serena Dunn
Grove Square Galleries will open with a solo exhibition by artist Christopher Kieling, comprising new works created during lockdown in his Berlin base. The paintings, Sierra – named for his girlfriend and muse – evolved out of a series of figurative studies at the beach the artist had been working on immediately before quarantine. ‘I revisited these studies and found a way to capture my new circumstances by removing my protagonist from an open environment and placing her into a confined one that more closely resembled my new reality,’ Kieling tells us.
The paintings are tinged with a heady sense of nostalgia: Sierra languidly reclines in retro one-piece swimsuits, evoking ‘a notion that has become fairly synonymous with the lockdown – wanting to be somewhere’, reflects the artist. ‘Our environment was reduced to the walls and objects in my apartment, so we (and the dog) explored ways to add complexity to my compositions. Drawing on [Hungarian mathematician] Pólya’s paper on crystallography and deep-diving into tile and wallpaper design, I built a system of intricate geometric patterns to add a sense of symmetry to each piece.’
Citing the Euston Road School of painters and MC Escher among his inspirations, Kieling works with a mix of acrylic and oil mediums to create his compositions, using the former to sculpt his protagonists at ‘layer by layer at high pace’ and imbuing them with a fluid quality. ‘Oil serves as the contrast,’ Kieling adds. ‘The textural butteriness keeps everything in place, adding weight to balance out the composition.’
The Central Saint Martins graduate joins an international roster of emerging and mid-career artists at Grove Square Galleries that includes Elena Gual, Marc Standing, Crystal Fischetti, Tao Han, and Harry Rüdham. Dunn adds: ‘When looking for new artists, our criteria is simple: artists who have a unique voice, a story to share, and a desire to succeed in a collaborative setting.’ §