Towner Art Gallery presents an exhibition of new and recent works by Simon Ling, the artist’s first solo presentation in a UK public institution. Best known for his vibrant, unsettling oil paintings of East London’s urban landscape and the disintegrating office blocks and shabby store fronts near his studio, Ling’s exhibition for Towner showcases a new series of paintings created over the last year alongside earlier works. These richly textured works are characterised, as in all Ling’s work, by a sustained and intense engagement with perception and the painting process.
The exhibition includes paintings of diverse subjects; slowly decaying logs, boats on a crowded waterway, anonymous segments of urban greenery, studies of a formally ambiguous object, or ‘portal’, constructed in the artist’s studio and paintings of skeletons. Throughout much of the work a method of conjuncture of separate parts combines to reveal a unique view of the subject. In this way Ling’s practice seeks to include the animated nature of perception, the movement and construction involved in looking, and the creative position the mind has in seeing the world. Although the subjects are seemingly diverse they lead to a deeper concern that unites them and an engagement with the world that seeks more than just an image.
This dynamic process of seeing, remembering and the act of painting is central to Ling’s work. His paintings resonate with philosophical questions concerning reality and the human mind, transcending the ordinariness of their initial appearance to suggest a transfigured world where the temporality of perception is as much the subject as the things of the world.
The artist is part of a generation of painters including Tomma Abts, Gillian Carnegie and Glen Brown, whose work reflects and exploits a tension between the represented image and its material construction through paint. He has exhibited across the UK and Europe, including Painting Now: Five Contemporary Artists at Tate Britain in 2013 and in his solo exhibition The Showing Uv It at Kunsthalle Bergen in 2015. He studied at Chelsea College of Art and Design and Slade School of Art.
Image: Simon Ling, Untitled, 2016, Oil on canvas