In: Jake Wood-Evans

Inclusivity vs. exclusivity and talent vs. elitism are some of the core values of The Unit London Gallery, located on the trendy Wardour Street. Continuing with their goal of bringing real talents closer to the public, the gallery is proudly presenting the first major London exhibition of Jake Wood-Evans, a Hastings-based artist whose works evoke faded memories and spectres of a past time, and often depict disintegrating and dissolving entities.

Born in Devon in 1980, Wood-Evans studied Fine Art at Falmouth University and was subsequently awarded a scholarship from the Royal Academy to study at the Prado Museum in Madrid. Previously based in Brighton, he currently lives and works in Hastings. Very attached to the paintings that inspire him, Wood-Evans does consider himself a figurative painter, and I would also call him an educator.

Jake Wood-Evans, ‘Lady Sunderland, after Reynolds’, 2016. Oil on linen, 220x135cm. Image: jakewoodevans.com.

This exhibition, entitled Subjection & Discipline, not only introduces Wood-Evans’ work, but also that of the two painters who inspire it: Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792) and Henry Raeburn (1756-1832). Taking inspiration from 18th-century painters, Wood-Evans’ unique, historically ambiguous style produces images that are both unsettling and beautiful. Stressing the complexity of the feelings that his referents arise in him, he adds a new layer of heavier sensations and understanding to those paintings. He blurs the boundaries of figurative painting and drawing, creating a sort of beautiful accident that has a framed purpose.

“Faces are defiled and figures appear as apparitions. Subjects range from a ghostly vision of a society lady to a fading portrait of a once proud general and grotesquely disfigured admiral. Viewed together, the body of work is eerily reminiscent of an art collection of a great estate in the early years of the British Empire, but while the haunting redactions of once-heroic subjects might suggest the correcting gaze of a postcolonial sensibility, Wood-Evans’ interest lies more with the original artists and process than with the specific subject.” (The Unit London)

Jake Wood-Evans, 'Portrait of Sir Duncan Campbell, after Raeburn', 2016. Oil on linen, 147x118cm. Image: jakewoodevans.com.

Jake Wood-Evans, ‘Portrait of Sir Duncan Campbell, after Raeburn’, 2016. Oil on linen, 147x118cm. Image: jakewoodevans.com.

As I slowly walked from the first to the last painting, I felt as if the past had been affected and infected with scratches of present time. The figures in the artworks seem to be fading under the surface, as if paint wanted to hide information from the human gaze. “Eighteenth Century Ship II” and “Eighteenth Century Ship III” are the only non-human figures invaded by a human tool. Perhaps because the sea carries the present and the past, without contradictions, just like art does.

“Portrait of a Woman in Red” almost transcends into reality and exudes the perfume of elegance, flesh, reality and oil paint. The past is alive and tangible in Wood-Evans’s paintings. My favorite was “Lady Bampfylde, after Joshua Reynolds”, but the one that most impressed me was “Lady Skipwith”, after a portrait by the same painter. Romanticism seemed macabre for a moment, and the present was, indeed, nothing but a scribble of the past.

Jake Wood-Evans, 'Eighteenth Century Ship 2', 2016. Oil on linen, 163x122cm. Image: jakewoodevans.com.

Jake Wood-Evans, ‘Eighteenth Century Ship 2’, 2016. Oil on linen, 163x122cm. Image: jakewoodevans.com.

By scrubbing, scratching and erasing certain areas while building up others, Wood-Evans’ paintings are physically pushed and pulled out of the canvas. Thick layers of paint contrast with saturated oil on canvas, often laying the grain bare. His powerful use of light emerges from a loose and instinctive application of paint. Each work bears the marks of his journey and are just as fascinating when viewed up close as they are when viewed in their entirety. Wood-Evans’ haunting works are both reminiscent of the pillaged originals while uncovering a psychological depth which encourages the viewer to look beyond the surface of the canvas and question the records of history.

Jake Wood-Evans. Subjection & Discipline. The Unit London Gallery. 19 August-11 September 2016. Monday-Sunday, from 11am to 7pm.

Here is our list of top 5 exhibitions to see in London this August and how to spend culturally your time indoors if it rains (and we’re talking London here):

Ragnar Kjartansson at The Barbican

This is the first UK survey of the Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson, internationally known for his multi-channel film installation “The Visitors” (2012), also present in the exhibition. The artist channels a “bad boy” image, while drinking beer, playing guitar and signing in Icelandic in the first piece in the Barbican show. Such notions as comedy, irony, and tragedy are all merged together in Kjartansson’s work. Both controversial and deeply amusing, Ragnar’s works sympathize every visitor.

On view at The Barbican through September 4. £12

Jake Wood-Evans at Unit London

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Unit London, the young but well-established contemporary art gallery in Soho, presents its largest project to date, the first solo show of the UK-based artist Jake Wood-Evans titled Subjection& Discipline. Inspired by Old Masters’ paintings, the artist showcases a unique approach to canvas with figurative but rather unconventional technique. Get ready to be awed and mesmerized by Jake Wood-Evans’s unique style.

On view at Unit London August 19- September 11. FREE

Unseen at The Ben Uri Gallery

Unseen London, Paris, New York, 1930s-60s: Photographs by Wolfgang Suschitzky, Dorothy Bohm and Neil Libbert is a group exhibition bringing together such masters of photography as Wolfgang Suschitzky, Dorothy Bohm and Neil Libbert. The exhibition tends to present artistic responses to three great cities throughout three disturbing decades. The photographers try to present not only the greatness of the cities in a political and social arena, but also capture the beauty of them. If you’re into black-and-white photography this exhibition is not to be missed.

On view at The Ben Uri Gallery through August 27. FREE

Terence Donovan: Speed of Light at The Photographers’ Gallery

Terence Donovan, French Elle, 2 September 1965 © Archives Elle/HFA

Terence Donovan, French Elle, 2 September 1965 © Archives Elle/HFA

This is the first major retrospective of a well-known English photographer, Terence Donovan (1936-1996). Donovan was a pioneer in the new fashion, and later advertising and portrait photography in the post-war period. He was famous for capturing actors and well-known people in the scene. A mix of vintage prints is on view, together with previously unpublished works, artist’s cameras, sketches and diaries.

On view at The Photographers’ Gallery through September 25. FREE before 12pm; £3

Under The Same Sun: Art From Latin America Today at SLG Galleries & Fire Station

Installation view: Under the Same Sun: Art from Latin America Today, South London Gallery, 10 Jun - 4 Sep 2016. Courtesy: Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation & the South London Gallery. Photo: Andy Stagg

Installation view: Under the Same Sun: Art from Latin America Today, South London Gallery, 10 Jun – 4 Sep 2016. Courtesy: Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation & the South London Gallery. Photo: Andy Stagg

The exhibition, curated by Pablo León de la Barra, Guggenheim UBS MAP Curator, highlights the new acquisitions by the Guggenheim Museum of 15 contemporary Latin American artists. The show features 40 works with mediums including painting, installation, video, sculpture and photography. The exhibition strives to showcase the artists’ responses to contemporary realities influenced by colonial and modern histories, economic and social instabilities and regional economic developments.

On view at The South London Gallery through September 4. FREE