True Colours brings together three emerging artists – Helen Beard (b.1971, Birmingham), Sadie Laska (b.1974, West Virginia) and Boo Saville (b.1980, Norwich) – that, despite using paint in very different ways, all share an interest in exploring the possibilities of colour. Featuring over fifty works, the show is the largest exhibition to date for each artist.
Helen Beard uses a vivid rainbow palette to create interlocking arrangements of bright primary colour, which combine to describe explicit sexual encounters. Working from found images, Beard’s work explores themes relating to gender, sexual psychology and eroticism. Situated part way between abstraction and representation, her figures are reduced to concisely defined fields of vibrant colour, on which a myriad of varied brush marks remain visible. Including a number of new works, one of which is a monumental diptych (The Mirror, 2018), each canvas measuring 3226 x 2743mm, the exhibition spans eight years of Beard’s practice.
New York-based artist Sadie Laska creates dreamlike compositions using paint and collage. Evoking the rebellious post-Pop aesthetic of New York, Laska often incorporates recycled waste materials and found objects into her paintings, sometimes reworking parts of earlier canvases entirely. In Untitled (Pepsi Shape), 2017, the canvas is carved up into contrasting areas, which are roughly painted with acrylic. The resulting amorphous shape evokes the distinctive colours of a can of Pepsi. A member of the underground drum-based band I.U.D., Laska’s paintings are filled with a similar improvised expressiveness and irreverent spirit of performance as her music.
The exhibition features a new series of Boo Saville’s colour field paintings, which are shown in dialogue with a number of black and white canvases. Known formerly for her figurative works in oil on canvas, as well as using everyday materials including biro and bleach, Saville has – since 2014 – been producing large-scale abstracts, made up of flawlessly gradating shades. Saville, whose work investigates mortality, applies up to forty layers of paint to achieve this extraordinary effect, erasing any suggestion of her own mark-making in spite of the emotional tenor of the works. The colour fields are inextricably linked to her black and white canvases, the subjects of the latter – sparingly painted so as to retain the appearance of the canvas weave – resulting from internet searches that occur to her whilst working on the abstracts. She notes: “The black and white paintings are purely about the surface of momentary thought and the colour fields are about the depth and vault of emotion and memory layered on top of each other.
About the artists
Helen Beard was born in Birmingham in 1971. She graduated from Bournemouth and Poole College of Art and Design in 1992. After graduating, she worked as a stylist and art director in the film industry for fifteen years, while continuing her art practice. She works in various mediums, including paint, collage, needlepoint, sculpture and installation. Beard’s work was the subject of a solo exhibition at We Are Cuts, London (2010) and has featured in group exhibitions including ‘The Term Reality’ at Paul Stolper Gallery, London (2010) and ‘Simulation/Skin’ at Newport Street Gallery in 2017. She lives and works in Brighton and London.
Sadie Laska was born in Prince, West Virginia, in 1974. She received a BFA from West Virginia University in 1992 and an MFA from Bard College, New York, in 2014. Laska’s solo exhibitions include ‘Left Hand’, Galerie Bernard Ceysson, Paris (2012); ‘Play it as it Lays’, Galerie Bernard Ceysson, Geneva (2014); SAROJANE Kerry Schuss, New York (2014); ‘Plain Air’, Galerie Bernard Ceysson, Luxembourg (2015); ‘I Clouded’, Canada, New York (2015); ‘A Foot, Some Guns, A Boot, Some Hands, Some Lips, A Breast, & A Snail’, 56 Henry, New York (2016); and ‘Rock Solid’, Office Baroque, Brussels (2016). Laska is one half of the New York band I.U.D., formed in 2004 with fellow artist Lizzi Bougatsos. They have performed at venues including the Whitney Museum of American Art, PS1 MoMA, and the New Museum. She lives and works in New York.
Boo Saville was born in Norwich in 1980. She graduated from the Slade School of Fine Art, London, in 2004. Saville was a nominee for the Sovereign Painting Prize in both 2007 and 2011, and in 2008 she worked on a residency at the Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris. Saville’s solo exhibitions include ‘Laid Bare’, Martin Summers Fine Art, London (2008), ‘Idolum’, Studio Giangaleazzo Visconti, Milan (2010) and ‘Chimera’, Davidson Contemporary, New York (2017). She has received four separate solo shows at TJ Boulting, London, including ‘Polycephaly’ (2014), and was included in the group exhibition ‘Simulation/Skin’ at Newport Street Gallery in 2017. Saville’s work has been acquired by collections including the Museum of New and Old Art, Tazmania, and Soho House. She featured in Francesca Gavin’s books ‘Hell Bound: New Gothic Art’ (2008) and ‘100 New Artists’ (2011), and published an edition of etchings, ‘Ghost’, with Other Criteria in 2009. She lives and works in Margate.
Photos © Helen Beard, Sadie Laska and Boo Saville