The three artists in Spirit Levels share a fascination with line and form, though each of them balance their interest in abstraction through differing acknowledgements of cultural and social realities.
Tony Cruz works mainly with drawing, including large-scale geometrical pieces, wall drawings and collected sequences of images. The more abstract images are offset with smaller figurative motifs referencing Puerto Rican life, such as baseball and Salsa music. Adele Todd’s work employs domestic materials and techniques such as thread, embroidery, felt and trapunto. These ‘soft materials,’ as she puts it herself, are used to outline abstract forms across a space, but often they are grounded in specific social concerns, such as the stereotyping of both boys and girls coming-of-age in Trinidadian culture.
Remy Jungerman shares this approach to the abstract, though he focuses more on the exchange of knowledge between cultures and on concepts of trans-nationality, reflecting his own global shift from Suriname to the Netherlands, where he has been living and working since the late 1980s.
Spirituality is another element that flows through these artists’ works. Both Cruz and Jungerman, for instance, explore aspects of Santeria and Winti, religions that syncretise African gods and Christian saints and which play a key role in Caribbean and Latin American culture.
In this exhibition, the artists challenge the capacity of contemporary art to absorb elements of spiritual life at a time when parts of the art world itself are dominated by secular materialism. Equally, the exhibition raises questions around the importance of race, colonialism and the transmission of ideas from local positions to international arenas.
With thanks to the Royal Over-Seas League.
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