press release

The Agency is pleased to present Naked Cities a curated group show of paintings featuring four international artists. The artists are Dennis Hollinger (IR), John Timberlake (GB), Jochen Muehlenbrink (G), and Virginie Bailly (B). The works’ common thread is the filmic element in their work. The paintings function like sets and are loaded with the narrative that might unfold in them. Naked Cities sets out to re-examine the painterly representation of cities influenced by film and photography. The exhibition focuses on the city as a space of loaded architectural and social references, a metaphor for realist, psychological as well as utopian visions. Two of the artists, Timberlake and Bailly do not work with paintings exclusively, but utilise the medium both independently as well as a starting point for conceptual works.

Hollinger paints with precise hyperrealism, derived from photographic studies. His engagement with London is one of alienation and melancholy, the urban landscape in his work is derelict and oppressive. His treatment of the city reveals a deeply personal engagement with London through his viewpoint as a Northern Irish citizen. He juxtaposes the hyperrealist technique with a subject matter, which is indebted to romanticism. “Where do the children play?”, oil on linen, is one example. A row of derelict houses, realistic and unforgiving, becomes imbued with the melancholy of the title by the use of soft focus in partial areas of the painting. This is a realism, which goes beyond the possibilities of photography.

Muehlenbrink engages with the architectural repetitiveness of urban housing estates and creates a filmic feel through his dramatic use of shadow and light. Technically he mixes opaque surfaces with thinly covered areas, loosely integrating raw canvas and plain primed areas. His work is suspended between abstraction and realism. The presence of humans in these environments is represented by rows and rows of satellite dishes on hundreds of identical balconies. Muehlenbrink’s “Highrise” series highlights how the triumph of architecture takes priority over mankind. He remains ambivalent towards the effect of this, as his paintings represent both a celebration and critique of mass urbanization.

Bailly uses painting as well as installation and public sculpture in dealing with the urban environment. She has created large-scale interventions with light rods in city squares. The use of light reappears in her paintings in a vibrant acidic colour scheme. She uses acrylic paint with thick brushstrokes to achieve a layered and expressive result. The cityscape is reduced to a small proportion within her paintings, obscured by the dark palette of evening and night. Her abstracted lines appear like artificial light when captured on long exposure film. The paintings are at once eerie and poetic.

Timberlake has always utilised his paintings as the basis for his photographic works. Painting is a medium that enables him to create views of post-apocalyptic cities and fictional landscapes with nuclear clouds, which he then photographs to achieve a different level of realism. For this exhibition we will be presenting an oil painting from 1997 of a futuristic city view, as well as more recent works. The piece is influenced by pop painting and has a nostalgic comic strip feel. Timberlake can be described as a modernday romantic. Unlike Hollinger, who represents the here and now Timberlake focuses on sci-fi iconography, which is both realist and fictional.

The exhibition will tour to OneTwenty Gallery in Ghent during mid-August.


only in german


mit Dennis Hollinger, John Timberlake, Jochen Muehlenbrink, Virginie Bailly