Past Exhibitions

the time is now

27.01.11 – 26.03.11

“And I will be your sun and the only light you’ll see, pull up your head, your fight has started. You will need all the courage you have. You will need to forget all your fears in order to feel. It is not easy to see. It is not easy to understand. Nothing has ever been easy. You will have no time because your TIME is NOW.”

Forgetting our fears, we can begin to embrace the pleasures of life. That which was written previously remains in the past, what count is the present, opening the door to our future. Within this space, four young artists begin their fight, illuminating these four walls in a search for their light. Opening our doors to this merciless light, it invades, alive and fearless, unveiling tomorrow from the shadows of today.

La Scatola is pleased to announce “The Time is Now” a group exhibition with artists Maddalena Petrosino, Sarah Tew, Pauline Thomas and Wilfrid Wood.

Thursday 27.01.11
6 – 9pm


The Time is Now, la Scatola launch event.
1st February 2011 James Brewer

Among the shiny business towers of the Bishopsgate area, just before the City peters out into Hackney, a new gallery at accessible ground level has opened its clear glass doors to the public. Manager and curator, the exuberant Valentina Fois, has made the transition from initially the Italian fashion design scene and later event co-ordination, to London to pour her enthusiasm for contemporary art into La Scatola, the Italian word for The Box.The choice of gallery name reflects her origins and signifies “a large container of emotions. I think of the gallery as a gift box made for its visitors,” she told us. It relates “to the idea that not all things must be understood immediately.” She was working in public relations in Rome, when a cultural association asked her to run three events, photographic, sculpture and sound and video “which made me decide that that was the life for me. A lot of people take a long time to make up their minds what they want to do, but I knew straight away what I wanted. “I have so many projects that I do not know where to start. My philosophy is that as long as you can imagine you are alive.” Of her achievement in setting up a gallery in this prime location, she says: “Life is a matter of talent and luck. I have been really lucky, and I am lucky to be able to give something back.” This she does through unstinting support for her selected artists, and in launching a workshop project to bring children closer to art, which “is something that I really wanted because it makes me sad to see how art is primarily a luxury for rich people. Art should be for all. “Children must interact with art and have the opportunity to develop their creative personalities.” For a small charge, the gallery will welcome with cakes and tea 10 kids on one Sunday a month, and they will get to know a different artist each time, providing all the materials. Valentina’s first show brings in four artists who are quite different from each other, but somehow complementary. “A common theme? I do not believe in that,” says Valentina. “The link is that these are international artists, but relatively unknown. They are young, and now is the time to shine, and I want to give them the opportunity.” So the opening exhibition is called Now Is The Time. Global Newsbox met the four charismatic artists.

Maddalena Petrosino is a photographer based in Rome, and her work is an enigma until you realise the priority she transparently gives to emotions, and how she gives her heart in all she does. She seeks to rediscover what she lost along the way from childhood. In the country one cloudy day she came across a very ordinary shed that somehow reminded her of her early days, connecting mind, body, and soul. The owner of the land, almost 40 years old, is dressed childishly and begins running about like a mad guy. It takes her back to when she was six years old.

Sarah Tew plunges herself body and… body into her paint as she works – just watch her video on when the paint sloshes all over the place, and over her. Tipping another gallon of water into her tempera powder, she revels in creating the material as the paint sprawls across the floor, mercifully on to adhesive film, and on to pieces of paper, so they are at play horizontally and then vertically. Ahead of the opening night, through the wide windows of the gallery she could be seen every evening for a week, from 5pm to midnight, creating a work en scène. She enjoys the vibrancy of it all, seeing “the physicality of me, and pushing the boundaries of myself by setting up these processes.” The workshop kids will enjoy this! Her inspirations include the no-holds barred French writer Georges Bataille (1897 –1962)a rival to André Breton; he questioned the stability of values and identities in modern life, as Sarah questions the limits of the canvas and puts her work into remix. In complete contrast, look at the fine work of her pencil character sketches, and the landscapes of her native Lake District.

Wilfrid Wood is on the cusp of illustrative and fine art. “Sometimes I worry I should be one thing or the other but I know I naturally sit in between,” he says. His small-scale sculptures dazzle with a designer’s flair which makes it no surprise to learn that he once had a spot at the TV show Spitting Image. Today his heads and figures often look like they are part of a recognised story, but they all come from his imagination. He has worked on book jackets and advertising, “but most of the time I sit in my studio with lots of drawings and ideas.” Using plasticine, he shapes some roughs, going on to create a wire-covered framework for polymer clay which he bakes in an ordinary electric oven, airbrushes and varnishes. The results are brightly coloured, cocky figures in the throes of action or reaction. There is the bantamweight boxer, pale and bashed up at the end of a very exhausting fight. Close by are Mrs Whippy, the imagined wife of Mr Whippy the soft ice cream icon, and Mr Chocolate Smooth Move, “the brilliant name” of a type of laxative in the US. An ambiguous creation is Leslie, which can be a male or female name, and who is a hermaphrodite crossed with a Siamese twin. And here comes Lord Clapton Carpets, modelled on a photo of a carpet magnate who looked like Jim Prior (a former Conservative Cabinet minister, now Lord Prior) or the late former prime minister Edward Heath. Ambiguous interpretation is never far away: in an impromptu flash of wit, a figure catalogued Cowboy was dubbed Penis Orchid by one of the guests at the private view.

French conceptual artist Pauline Thomas shows a selection from the 123 portraits she has taken of necks, using her Nikon D200 SLR. As she did so, she “discovered another face” of the sitters. Indeed this is another dimension – we instinctively protect our neck, as a highly vulnerable part of the body, when threatened. Inspiration for Pauline’s project came from her learning to sing, which made her curious as to what goes on in the throat. Necks pose an interesting gender question: can you tell feminine from masculine? The blurring in some of the photos eliminates masculine or feminine, apart from one showing a stubbly chin, and the angle of shoot and dark background helps produce a masculine eroticism in all these necks. Her photos were taken over two years, but in one mass neck-in, or should that be neck-out, some 50 people were asked to sit, or rather crane their necks, for her during a weekend party. This is far from pure photography: it is a way of seeing human beings, and as with many oil paintings, the perception changes as the viewer moves to a new position. The prints are on fine art paper, mounted on Dibond, a lightweight composite aluminium material.

The Time is Now, featuring Maddalena Petrosino, Sarah Tew, Pauline Thomas and Wilfrid Wood, runs until March 26 2011. La Scatola Gallery, 1 Snowden Street, London EC2.

The Time is Now, la Scatola launch event