Ra Tack and Florence Peake | and as always, the end is everything.

IMT is thrilled to present a new display of works by Ra Tack and Florence Peake in a duo show about tension and dialogue, and how we make sense of the world. Curated by Jack Smurthwaite.

Art Exhibition currently on at IMT Gallery in City of London, United Kingdom.
From Friday 01 September 2023 to Sunday 01 October 2023
Launch Thursday 31 August 2023, 7-10pm

Body, landscape, narrative.

We are prone to see ourselves reflected in the world. There is a fragile and precarious dance between internal and external landscapes; each side inflicting pressures on the other. Through windows and screens, seasonality, flux, and renewal are mirrored in the sweeping and sometimes inexplicable and indefensible shifts of our emotional weather charts. These two landscapes are predicated on balance, both within themselves and with each other. There is a reconciliation to be made, a bargain to be struck, whether through force, inaction or dumb luck.

IMT is thrilled to present a new display of works by Ra Tack and Florence Peake in a duo show about tension and dialogue, and how we make sense of the world.

Both Tack and Peake’s works deal in the bodily, the embodied, the material. Stretching how these terms are interpreted, both Tack and Peake approach issues of placement and rootedness in different ways – they allow us to question where we are and how we interact with the world. They are not explicitly or dogmatically ecological, or even environmental or naturalistic. Their works are formal but not figurative, they don’t show the world as it is, or will be, they show a feeling, an interaction – chemical, emotional, personal or social processes. And in this way, they are poetic – as viewers they challenge us to think beyond or between the strictly material relations between our bodies and where they are placed. Not quite idealist and never approaching reduction.

Peake has spoken about how she “investigate[s] the ontology of objects, beings, humans, and encounters in the world” and these words could encompass the entire presentation.
Tack’s canvases are constellations of marks formed from hours of looking outward across Iceland’s dramatic landscapes and inward to trace the emotional journeys one goes on. Steeped in the atmosphere of the fjords, Tack’s paint seems to rise out of the earth. Stem- like streaks dance on an oversaturated cadmium yellow horizon while punches of optimistic floral reds exhale across the canvas, elsewhere dense mycorrhizal nests fester.

Many canvases hold these conflicting states within them, as we all do, making them like characters, Tack avatars, that take on the atmosphere of the room they are in.

On floor, laid prostrate on a clinical white sheet, like a shrunken topographic model or hardened shallow grave is Peake’s seminal ceramic STAGE (2017). Composed of 28 ceramic titles, STAGE is a rhapsody of reference and collaboration. Formed through a choreographed performance, when the dancer Rosemary Lee wildly thrashed in tons of raw clay and was buried into the sticky stage. The work was glazed with community groups and fired in CASS Sculpture’s ‘functional sculpture’ wood-fired kiln. The work is painfully tense, presenting itself as a lease of life that conceals a body’s energy yet that is almost alchemically held in a suspended state of transformation. It is a field, a grave, a stage, a world, and a body all at once.
Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring and Peake’s body of work is built around a simple but effective folk tale: a virgin dances herself to exhaustion and sacrifices herself to bring about the changing of the seasons, from winter to spring. Wrapped up in this one line are myriad themes – the bodily, the land, seasonality, change, age. As with many folk histories, what it also does is open up a space for the most human way of making sense of what we struggle to understand: telling stories.
Tack’s works, often produced in series, are narratives all of themselves. Reading the landscape, the colours, reflected in the intensity of layering of paint are imprinted onto the works but don’t depict them. To look into the paintings, to look slowly, is to notice how they swell, staccato marks erasing past pleasures, paint redefining emotional journeys. For Tack, painting is an act of survival and these paintings are personal testimony to that. Their titles, I Took Back Your Hand and Crawling on the Floor to Be Near You could be read at either end of a relationship’s pendulum.

In all these elements: landscape, earth, emergency, biography, embodiment, relationships, there is a sense of the tragic. In Peake’s work there is trade off, the compromise and synthesis from pity and fear as the death gives way to renewal, and in Tack’s work it is the excruciating honesty that these relationships, forged in oil, were never destined to last. We tell stories to make sense of the world, to align the interior and exterior landscapes, if only for a second.

and as always, the end is everything. is accompanied by a soundscape running throughout the exhibition and an essay by the curator further exploring the exhibition’s themes, available in print at the gallery and online.

Art Event published by IMT Gallery on Tuesday 01 August 2023.
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