Day and Knight
Katia Kesic - Alexis Teplin
Curated by Nina de Maria
5 May - 8 June, 2023
Daniel Benjamin Gallery is pleased to present Day and Knight, a two-person exhibition featuring artists Katia Kesic and Alexis Teplin.
Sculpture and abstract painting come together in narrating lived experiences and the collected traces of bodily sensations in relation to surrounding landscapes and the domestic space. In the works of the two artists, the body’s relationship to landscape, where ‘landscape’ is intended as every environment and place, even the walls of our homes, deeply influences personal identity and inner subjectivity.
Alexis Teplin is interested in the politics of domesticity and the proportional relationship of bodies to landscape. The experience of being raised in Northern California and living in Los Angeles has deeply influenced her approach to paintings’ relationship to landscape, abstraction and its cultural and political context. Teplin has consistently researched and investigated the relationship of colour and materiality, and more in general the practice of painting as it relates to performance, installation, film, sculpture and other conditions of expanded practice.
The four paintings exhibited are the beginning of a new body of works developed around a sense of physical displacement and the tactility of landscape as an autobiographical memory. The pigments and palette define the structure of the paintings, using a baseline of dusty burnt yellows, browns, pale green, pink and bright blue. Penstemon takes its name (and the tones of dark purple) from the plant endemic to North America, incorporating it in the colours of a British Garden. Untitled (curve) borrows the curved shape of the canvas from a memory, that could be a body’s gesture, the arc from a Sol LeWitt painting, or a negative cut out in fabric. Opposite is Come, stare, she makes a gesture, the palette of which seems to reference the fleshiness of bodies as well as landscape. Untitled (still life) is a smaller, more conceptual work, analysing colour and form as a theoretical strategy. It plays with both a formal consideration of still life and pattern and resonates as being both in and out of focus at the same time.
In a similar way, Katia Kesic explores the human body as a memory vessel, collecting traces of her reality as well as her imagination. Processing her intercultural experience and the outer world with a personal inner subjectivity, the artist creates her own mythology. Vessels are often associated with the act of conjuring, thus bearing a connection to rituality. Her sculptural objects non-hierarchically merge various narratives together creating speculative assemblages of different worlds, while their three-dimensionality adds a textural and visceral dimension that grounds her process, experience and work firmly in the present.
Let me tell you what happens next is a particularly significant work, being an early experimentation with the medium. Kesic uses the vase as a circular unfolding of a narrative, where the beginning eventually meets the end. Displayed are also four sculptures from the Everyday Affirmation Series, a body of work started towards the end of the coronavirus lockdown in 2020 vividly expressing a will to break free. Affirmation 5. Take the courage to be seen and Affirmation 6. Name your fear dialogue with each other and with Affirmation 7. I feel safe and secure whenever I am, referencing allegorical objects in 17th Century Dutch still-life paintings. The hands of female knights return carved in the wood of Affirmation 1. Everybody enjoys what feels good. Opposite is A swim with a blue plankton. Both hanging works are an attempt to recall a feeling of a moment in the past, experienced on the beaches of Montenegro, a landscape close to the artist’s heart. Redirecting our attention towards the sculptures is Mission Blue. This piece has been inspired from the practices of researcher Emma Kunz and artist Hilma af Klint and their geometrical abstraction, in a moment where the artist was exercising on the recollection and transposition into the works of day and night dreaming. The helmet visor, made in stained glass, has a strong symmetrical composition, recalling the partitions and proportions of butterfly wings.
Daniel Benjamin Gallery thanks Haworth for providing us with their Tijo boxes to display the sculptures.
Katia Kesic (Russia, b. 1986) lives and works in London. She graduated Chelsea College of Art (UAL) in 2013, completed a Master’s Degree in 2014 at London Metropolitan University and received another Master’s Degree from Stroganov Moscow State Academy of Arts and Industry in 2015. Her works have been presented in in two solo exhibitions: ‘When personal becomes vernacular: Mythology of Everyday’, Shtager Gallery, London, UK (2021); ‘Quartet ‘-online series of solo shows, Daniel Benjamin gallery, London, UK (2021). Recent group exhibitions include ‘Becoming a Body of Water’, David Kovats gallery, London, UK (2023); ‘Primaveral’, Unit 1 Workshop gallery, London, UK (2023); ‘Winter Garden’, A.P.T. Gallery, London, UK (2023).
Alexis Teplin (b.1976) is a Californian born artist based in London. She received her M.F.A. from Art Centre College of Design, Los Angeles in 2001 and was the Starr Fellow at the Royal Academy Schools in 2002. Recent solo exhibitions include; ‘It’s My Pleasure to Participate,’ Bluecoat, Liverpool, UK (2019), Painted Costumes, New Art Centre, Roche Court, East Winterslow, UK (2019). Recent group exhibitions include: ‘Abstract Hallelujah’, Lundgren Gallery, Plama de Mallorca, Spain (2022), ‘Nasturtiums and Hollyhocks’ mural, Summer Exhibition, The Royal Academy, London, UK (2021), Drawing Biennale, Drawing Room London, UK (2021). Teplin’s work has been featured in notable publications such as Frieze Magazine, Artforum and The New York Times.