Rose Wylie: Quack Quack at Serpentine Sackler Gallery
Cinema, comic books, sport and food: these aspects of everyday life provide the inspiration for Rose Wylie’s quirky and irreverent paintings. The result is spirited and spontaneous work that has a child-like energy to it. To some, Wylie’s paintings might themselves seem childish, but their immature charm belies the sophistication of composition employed by the artist.
With this exhibition at the Serpentine Sackler, Wylie joins the ever-swelling ranks of female artists who have only received appreciation much later in their careers. Quack Quack marks Wylie’s first solo institutional event in London, and although she is in her 80s, she shows no signs of slowing down.
But age is really only an afterthought in this show. Wylie claims that she wants to be known for her paintings, not for the fact that she is old, and her work really does speak for itself. The pieces on display at the Serpentine Sackler are based on the artist’s reminiscences about growing up in nearby Bayswater during the Blitz. Old and new come together in these paintings, which feature fighter jets alongside Hyde Park’s more recent visitors, such as dogs and football players. The exhibition’s title, Quack Quack, recalls both the noise of the ducks on the nearby Serpentine and the “ack-ack” noise made by planes flying over London during the Second World War.
Wylie’s work is deeply concerned with memory and how we recall our impressions of a place or time. The messiness of recollection is partly why visual references to Quentin Tarantino films such as Kill Bill can be found alongside a self-portrait of the artist eating a biscuit, a depiction of Queen Elizabeth I, and a shop-bought bottle of olive oil. Although these works might appear to be simple, they set off a complex chain of associations that is fundamental to the viewing experience as well as to the artist’s process.
Thoughtfully curated and making good use of the Serpentine Sackler’s beautiful gallery space, Quack Quack is guaranteed to brighten up a chilly winter day, and certainly makes a more palatable alternative to the Winter Wonderland down the road.
Featured image: Rose Wylie, Installation view, Quack Quack
Rose Wylie: Quack Quack is at Serpentine Sackler Gallery from 30th November 2017 until 11th February 2018. For further information visit the exhibition’s website here.