Wetterling Gallery proudly presents Alexis Soul-Gray's first exhibition at the gallery and in Sweden, titled Screen Memory.
The British artist’s practice - primarily painting, drawing and printmaking - revolves around a speculative questioning of the memorial, nostalgia, and commemoration, which brings together a conjecture of imagery taken from public archival materials. Soul-Gray begins with a figure – mother, child – from a source which may comprise the sheet on which the image is realised. Compelled to collect the cheap imagery of idealised family life in the twentieth century, she consumes and appropriates family manuals and photograph albums, knitwear catalogues filled with studio-shots of posing mothers and children unlikely to be related, biscuit-tins and sugar-sweet adverts for the well-run home ripped from magazines. These reference materials – where family is often faked but also individually and unpredictably felt –are torn by Soul-Gray, tarnished and defaced, before being transformed. Cut-out girls, removed from their first contexts of smiling family parties and mother’s arms, are held instead by the colour-soaked, tear-streaked work of art. There is violence in this gesture but also, ultimately, infinitely tender loving care.
In Soul-Gray's own words:
There are multiple voices and modes of working within my practice, each one as necessary as the next. Like structural pillars that underpin a bridge, without them the creative journey cannot be made. My works may read as being made by a different artist, perhaps muddled and disjointed but this is deliberate. They are a direct manifestation of a shattering and destructive personal trauma, creating a lexicon of possibilities that attempt to speak of the universal experience of loss, the fragmented, broken recall of memory that trauma induces.
I use appropriation, detournement and the re-ordering of paper ephemera and found objects to explore the fluid nature of recall, allowing intuition to lead the work through various states of exploration until reaching a final resting place. Images are continuously intersecting, abrasive, harmonious, removed. The saccharin and the abject sit in a purposefully contradictory language.
The exhibition title - Screen Memory - refers to the term coined by Sigmund Freud, used to describe a recollection of early childhood that may be falsely recalled or magnified in importance, and that masks another memory of deep emotional significance. As such, Soul-Gray seeks versions of memories that function as screens. The found images becomes a way of blocking challenging emotions, but also a manner of re-writing, of finding an alternative ending.
Soul-Gray will graduate from the prestigious MA Painting programme at the world-leading Royal College of Art, London, in 2022. She holds an MA from the Royal Drawing School, London (2007) and a BA from the Camberwell College of Art, London (2003). She was the overall winner of the Delphian Open in 2021, and recipient of The Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation Grant in 2021 and 2022. She was invited for an important residency at The Artist House Kadenowka, Rabka, Poland (Studio Paulina Olowska) in the summer of 2022. Soul-Gray’s work is in collections across the world.