GRIMM presents The Kingfisher’s Wing, a group exhibition curated by Tom Morton drawing together paintings by Gabriella Boyd, Varda Caivano, Louise Giovanelli, Matthew Krishanu, Francesca Mollett, William Monk, Ryan Mosley, Christian Quin Newell, Mary Ramsden, Tim Stoner and Phoebe Unwin. The exhibition is the third collaboration between GRIMM and Morton, following the exhibitions Recent British Sculpture and Recent British Painting presented by the gallery in Amsterdam in 2011 and 2012 respectively.
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The Kingfisher’s Wing takes its title from a motif in TS Eliot’s Burnt Norton (1936), a poem that is concerned with how we might live in the present moment, when it is both haunted by our memories of the past, and is forever merging seamlessly into the future:
After the kingfisher’s wing
Has answered light to light, and is silent, the light is still
at the still point of the turning world.
In the exhibition, these lines are offered as a spur to thinking about the peculiar temporality of the (still, restless) painted image, and the fugitive nature of color, form and meaning. Featuring works by eleven contemporary artists, each of whom has a strong connection to Eliot’s adopted homeland of Great Britain, The Kingfisher’s Wing sequences a set of distinct painterly propositions, attending to their echoed moods and preoccupations, and to their contrapuntal play of atmospheres, imagery and themes—the way they answer “light to light”.
Across the show, we encounter figuration and abstraction, the domestic and the mythic, landscapes and dreamscapes, bodies in motion and at rest. Here and there, we glimpse traces of painting’s long history and perhaps auguries of its possible futures. What emerges is not an argument for the medium as a “still point” in a “turning world” (it belongs, inescapably, to time), but rather as a repository of present-ness, and as a realm in which the moment lingers and thickens.
If Eliot’s kingfisher is a herald of sorts, here in the exhibition this bird—with its flashing blue and orange feathers, its uncommon, compact charisma—functions as a totem of our encounters with painting. Kingfishers are found almost everywhere across the Earth, aside from at the poles and in the very driest deserts. Nevertheless, to chance across one always feels something of a blessing, a modest little miracle.
Tom Morton is a curator, writer and a Contributing Editor for frieze magazine, based in Rochester, UK. His previous exhibitions include The City & The City & The City at Frestonian Gallery, London (2020); Äppärät at The Ballroom Marfa, Texas, USA (2015); Panda Sex at State of Concept, Athens, Greece; British British Polish Polish: Art from Europe’s Edges in the Long ‘90s and Today, CSW Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw (2013, co-curated with Marek Goździewski); and British Art Show 7: In the Days of the Comet, Hayward Gallery London and touring (2010-11, co-curated with Lisa Le Feuvre).
Installation view, The Kingfisher’s Wing, curated by Tom Morton at GRIMM, New York, July 21 - August 19, 2022. Photo: Greg Carideo