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Life is a Maze Which We Never Escape

Koshiro Akiyama
Erna Mist
Areena Ang
Luke Silva

10 August - 10 September, 2022

Daniel Benjamin Gallery is pleased to present Life is a Maze Which We Never Escape, a group exhibition of paintings by four London based international artists: Areena Ang, Koshiro Akiyama, Erna Mist and Luke Silva.

The exhibition explores the imagination language of each artist and their depiction of their thoughts on the canvas based on personal struggles, trauma and dealing with today’s chaotic world.

As evident in each painting, there is almost no use of any warm colours found in the works of the artists and even in the case of Silva or Akiyama’s paintings, the beaming colours have been painted in deep and vivid tones to give a stronger feeling of sorrow to the viewer.

To have a better understanding of the exhibition’s objective, we need to have a basic understanding of each artists’ practice and subject matter:


Areena Ang (Malaysia. b.1999): is Interested in the juncture of Malaysian sensibility with Western art history, Ang resists the dominion of style - instead favouring creating a range of registers They draw from their ‘internet upbringing’ as a form of adolescent identity forming in the Global South, such as Tumblr, American media and sartorial subcultures. Through the language of cartoon and archival imagery, Ang’s compositions are recast into works of autofiction. For example, in “Hiding Place” The queer subtext in this painting, aided by the title's invocation of the closet, again, uses nature as a metaphor for human forces stifling freedom or autonomy of other living beings. The suburban life takes on more realism, which is carried on later in Ang's paintings of domestic objects coming alive but also references the artist's upbringing.


Koshiro Akiyama (Japanese, b.1994): Creates an idealistic landscape that reflects on a psychological condition that deals not only with utopian ideals but also morbidity. In the mind there is a constant shift between tension and relaxation, which weaves its intimate narratives and a sense of ambiguity into the work. Using a phenomenological and simple process he depicts deeply private and intimate spaces, with a sense of compassion. Influenced by the writings of Simone Weil (called by Susan Sontag "one of the most ... troubling witnesses to the modern travail of the spirit"), Koshiro’s work is grounded upon a melancholy rumination originating from the moment of his mother’s death. This event gave rise to both his melancholy and an impulse for escape from the inevitable fact of death.

Erna Mist (Iceland, b.1998): paintings feature subjects from western rituals, modern clichés and topical stories. Depicting human figures in dreamlike scenarios, Mist uses allegory and historical events to engage with the cost of wealth, prisons of power, and the allure of getting lost in the maze of the mind. Fundamentally, her paintings are attempts to capture today's dystopia into a work that is both unsettling and familiar, prompting an audience to reflect on their own complexities of contemporary life."

Luke Silva (British, b.1999): Luke Silva’s work takes the traditional medium of watercolour and launches it into the contemporary with techniques which are stylistically his own, creating a unique language of recognisable forms coupled with sweeping gestural mark-making. Silva predominantly creates a safe environment, formed out of fictional spaces which are used to push away the chaos of reality while ‘real-world’ objects act anchor-like, ensuring a return to reality is possible. This is directly linked to the artists personal trauma of a fire at his family home, his experience of mental illness within his family and the subsequent deterioration of his family unit. While the natural beauty of the fire is compelling, the destruction it ultimately caused is a reference Silva returns to; to marvel in the force of nature while also taking the opportunity to reflect on how a future might enfold following such an event. Silva is also known to incorporate video game references (e.g., Riverside Path, Tomb Raider). Often focusing on the background landscapes or small details of the games, these loose renditions reflect on childhood and the distractions we often turn to in light of trauma; the vivid colours acting as the perfect distraction and escape from reality.


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