Friday, 3 December 2010


Josephine King's October Riflemaker show entitled 'Life So Far' proved to be another intriguing hit for the Soho gallery. Regularly receiving over 200 visitors daily (respectable numbers for such a small space) with over 400 on the show's best day, King's work reportedly left some emotional punters in tears.

The vibrant ink paintings on paper present a series of reflections on the artist's own bi-polar condition - musings often frightening in their intensity and honesty - decoratively framing each image (below). King's utilisation of bold, occasionally contrasting block colour and two-dimensional, naive style of portraiture establishes an unexpected dichotomy with the dark, often disturbing content of the text. 

This series of paintings clearly reference Frida Kahlo primarily through the themes of illness, hospitalisation and medication, within a style of confessional self portraiture. King herself acknowledged the similarity and confessed a love of the Mexican artist in a lively discussion with Riflemaker's director (below). Framing (Kahlo's curtains to King's words) and animal motifs again create parallels between the two artists, as well as the idiosyncratic sartorial style both women adopted within their respective imagery and real lives. 

King also brought along some beautiful examples of 400 sketchbooks produced over her prolific artistic life. Much of this output documents her time spent travelling in exotic locations such as the evocative images made in India below. These paintings very successfully infuse King's unique, flat, two-dimensional style with a sense of the fluid forms, rich colours and traditional aesthetic of the subjects and atmosphere surrounding her in these inspiring far away lands.   

The artist herself was remarkably open and forthcoming about her work, happily posing for photographs and offering to email groupies hungry for further discussion of her output. She was also quite forthright about her discomfort with London's Frieze art fair being 'too conceptual', an opinion to be applauded, along with the suggestions of too commercial/corporate/mainstream/wanky etc etc. There goes my invitation to next years event. Wotevs.

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