BEHIND CLOSED DOORS features Barbican

ianberryrIan Berry Exhibition

Barbican residents please note the new exhibition by Ian Berry (curated by Catto Gallery at 14 Percy Street W1, runs 16-30 November) and the fact that some of the pieces portray the iconic Barbican building and its surrounds.

Ian says: ‘I love the Barbican building and it seems like most of the occupants have similar taste and like mid-century modern furniture, even though it was built after that time.

‘I like the way the complex is laid out as well as people’s individual apartments. There seems to be a community there, people know one another. It’s a good compromise, really urban living in such a desirable location with some of the best views of London I’ve ever seen.’

His depiction of urban life in London stretches from east to west, taking in everything from launderettes to houses and apartments. Further details of the two strands of the exhibition ‘Behind Closed Doors’ and ‘My Beautiful Launderette’ are below in the press release.

Ian is an artist to watch, voted one the 30 artists under 30 by Art Business News magazine, he is now 32 and this is his first exhibition since he won that accolade. GQ and The Observer magazine have both covered the upcoming show and BBC London news will be filming there.

Brand new short video – https://vimeo.com/cattogallery/behind-closed-doors

BEHIND CLOSED DOORS

The inspiration for Ian Berry’s eagerly awaited new show (more accurately, two shows) began in the Museo Reina Sofia in Madrid in 2014. Ian was in Spain to discuss a commission, one of many overseas trips in a whirlwind year for the in-demand artist. He admits it was a disorienting time. The hectic schedule, the constant travel, the days away from his family – all of it nagged away at him.

“I found myself thinking more and more about what home means. At times I didn’t even know where home was,’ he recalls.

Then he walked into that gallery in Madrid, which was hosting a show by photographer Chris Killip. The first image he saw was of Huddersfield, the town of his birth. The next was of the small town of Easington, where his grandma’s family originated. The coincidence jarred him. Immediately, the idea for a series of new works coalesced. He would explore what home means, and how urban dislocation is re-shaping its definition for huge numbers of people.

Two years on, the twin exhibitions – Behind Closed Doors and My Beautiful Launderette – are complete. Without doubt, they mark a huge step forward for the artist. In his sparkling career to date, Ian has wowed art lovers and collectors with his foundational idea:

making collages purely from denim. No paint, no bleach. It’s instantly appealing. Add to this the ingenuity of his technique and you get sell-out shows, glowing reviews, global TV interviews and glamorous commissions (Georgio Armani, The Ayrton Senna family, Debbie Harry and others).

The truth is, it’s easy to get carried away with the novelty of the medium and forget that, first and foremost, Ian Berry is an artist with something to say. Well, in this two-part show he is speaking loud and clear.

Behind Closed Doors comprises a series of interiors. Opulent interiors, mostly. And in nearly all of them there is a woman alone. But what’s really going on here?

What is the truth behind the glossy exterior? “There’s always this gap between perception and reality,” says Ian. “Some people sometimes look at my life and think it’s quite glamorous. I might look at others and think the same. But the truth is always more complicated. In my new works I was thinking about these ideas.”

While Behind Closed Doors expresses Ian’s interest in life inside the home, he also has lots to say about home on a more societal level. Which is why he produced a companion exhibition: My Beautiful Launderette, located in a separate gallery.

As a newly arrived resident of London (he has been based in Sweden for many years and last year was based in Amsterdam), Ian is well aware of the crippling cost of living in the city. And he’s observed the effect this is having on communities.

“Creative  people  and  artists  have  helped  to  make London what it is. People want to come here because      of that energy. Now, it’s going away,” he says. While searching around for an emblem of disappearing community,  Ian  settled  on  the  launderette.  “They’ve been places where people could meet and talk and get    to know each other. Now, they’re disappearing. I wanted  to capture that. They can also be beautiful in their own  way,  which helps.”

Ian’s portraits of launderettes in Bow, Poplar, Holloway Road and Ladbroke Grove are beautifully wistful.

They also reveal the best of his astonishing technique. Ian admits he relishes the challenge of emulating metallic surfaces in denim. Here, he excels himself.

It’s not surprising. Ian has been working in his favoured medium for over a decade. He knows what he’s doing. He started after a clear-out session at his childhood home yielded a big pile of unwanted jeans. The rich ‘palette’ of the denim, and the memories associated with it, gave Ian the idea that has brought him global renown. His work has sold across Europe, America, the Middle East and Australasia, and has been featured in art and fashion magazines from Style to GQ. He was also named a top 30 under 30 to watch in the World  by Art Business News.

Ian’s new works will certainly expand his fanbase.

Their technical brilliance and emotional complexity mark a new phase in his career. Wherever your home is, it should certainly have one.