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SMART OBJECTS presents Isle, a two-person exhibition of new works by London-based painters Lewis Hammond and Rafal Topolewski. 7.14 – 8.18

Lewis Hammond’s paintings offer fragments of a world that is both familiar and unknown. These are images that have gently come into being just before our eyes, and likewise, feel as though they could be burnt to the ground or turned to stone. Disfigured and obscured, they hide, they come to life. In these works, sense of place and history is forcibly dislocated, suspending the paintings in a territory of disquiet. Perceptually this enhances that which is expressed visually: the impossibility of self-knowledge, the sorrow of violence and human vulnerability in the face of death. Though this subject matter is often raw and painful, it is regarded always with acceptance and tenderness. Hammond uses paint thinly, allowing softness and radiance, exposing the contact and movement of his hand on the surface of the canvas. It may speak of isolation, though it extends towards us in a way that is redemptive, offering solace in the face of destruction. Soft edges; a seed of hope.

Rafal Topolewski’s paintings likewise avoid reference to specific places or moments in time, playing with our cognitive interpretations of what may be taking place before us. While Hammond’s work alludes to being part of an unfolding narrative, Topolewski’s paintings are microcosms unto themselves, or as the artist has stated, “hermetically sealed.” It is rarely clear where the light in his paintings is coming from, and if it is apparent, as in the beautifully rendered hair of Marianna, the uniform of soft grey in the background quickly dispels this illusion. This creates a sense of stillness, of completeness, where the antipodal sensations of banality and inquietude are measured by the same hand of quiet intensity, of dispassionate longing. Here we find echoes of the confession box used in the Catholic church, where the confessions of sinners are contained and neutralised. Topolewski’s reticent and poetic work confronts the artificialities inherent in personal and political structures, having direct pertinence in today’s era of post-truth.

Lewis Hammond (b. 1987) lives and works in London. Graduated from the Royal Academy Schools in 2017. Recent exhibitions include Liste Art Fair 2018, Basel, Switzerland with Arcadia Missa Gallery, June 2018. Condo New York 2018, Lomex Gallery New York with Arcadia Missa Gallery, June - July 2018. Monstrous / Ordinary, Lilac City, Sydney, Australia, July 2018. Room to Crawl two-person show with Eva Gold at Becky’s, London, June 2018. Forthcoming shows Share of Opulence; Doubled; Fractional, Curated by Cédric Fauq at Sophie Tappeiner Gallery, Vienna, Austria, September 2018. Two-person show with Jack Burton, London, UK, October 2018. Group show at Galleria Wschod, Warsaw, Poland, October 2018. Solo show with Arcadia Missa, London, UK, February 2019.

Rafal Topolewski (b. 1983, Grudziadz, Poland) previously studied Fine Art the Royal Academy of Arts and at the Manchester Metropolitan University and Architecture at Wroclaw University of Technology. Recent exhibitions includes Terraforms at The Concept Space (London), Fully Awake at Blip Blip Blip (Leeds), Royal Academy Show at the Royal Academy Schools (London), Premi- ums at the Royal Academy of Arts in London, Vivarium at the Model gallery (Liverpool), Tip of the Iceberg at the Contemporary Art Society (London), Unspecific Objects at the Malgras|Naudet (Manchester).

Press Release written by Georgia Keeling