Alchemical Imagination

A Group Exhibition










and introducing




LIBRARY, Covent Garden
7 October – 6 December 2017

Private View 6 October, 6:30 pm - 11 pm

"Grounded in the natural philosophy of the Middle Ages, alchemy formed the bridge on the one hand into the past, to Gnosticism, and on the other into the future, to the modern psychology of the unconscious." - Carl Jung

Presenza and Artvisor are delighted to announce a new and exciting collaboration with an ambitious group show launching during London’s Frieze art week.

Marking the start of the collaboration, we are thrilled to present Alchemical Imagination — a group exhibition taking place in the eclectic private members club, L IBRARY .

With 27 works including painting, drawing, and photography, this multi-faceted exhibition encompasses art by some of today’s most talented emerging artists, among them: Jonny Briggs , Nicole Coson , Kathrin Hanga , Cyrus Mahboubian , Filippo Piantanida and Tom Poeet , pairing them with mid-career and established artists Shannon Finley , Johan Van Mullem , and N obuyoshi Araki . During the private view, Colden Drystone will present a sound performance piece.

In a world governed by advanced technologies, Alchemy is a ritualistic endeavour often associated with the Medieval times. However, some of the key aspects of this supposedly archaic tradition are very much present in modern life. Alchemical reactions involve people’s desires. The desire to convert, to make gold, to purify, liquefy. Set in Covent Garden’s LIBRARY, alchemic ideas take on a new meaning. The setting becomes a place of research, where symbolism, anatomy and mystery are contemplated and absorbed.

The artworks shown here are evocative of an alchemical imagination that is alive and well today. They transmute matter through processes that are intertwined with magic —t hrough the realm of chemicalised abstraction, the incarnation of mythological creatures, and the strange, ethereal and otherworldly nature of photography. The selection of works presented at LIBRARY shows various manifestations of artistic expressions that reveal a nuanced, sometimes unconscious reflection of alchemy.

Sometimes these experimental predispositions generate unique creatures whose presence is in, yet outside, the real world. For example Tom Poeet ’s imaginative portraits which appear to show a coming-into-form where a character’s existence is built before our eyes; whisked into the world. Or Kathrin Hanga ’s fantasmatic forms that appear to veer in and out of our reality. In her photograph, the pure imprint of reality transforms into something new, which at first appears unknown.

In alchemy, the term chrysopoeia means transmutation into gold. It symbolically indicates the creation of the philosopher's stone and the completion of the Great Work. Colden Drystone ’s performative work investigates the intangible and desirable. Dates and numbers, words and gestures, images and colours all share the space of either a golden clay ground or a reflective black mirror.

At other times, chemical substances compound to formulate new forms that are biochemical, rather than biological. After all, alchemy is accepted as the forerunner of modern chemistry. S hannon Finley ’s scientific acumen builds richly layered geometric canvases whose undertones emanate a luminescent glow. A clear gel applied to finish gives his works an ethereal presence, with reflections of shifting shapes and forms as one views his paintings from different angles. C yrus Mahboubian ’s attention to liquids and angularities bestows a sense of mystical movement and dis-orientation to his still lifes and landscapes.

Alchemy is concerned with metamorphoses, mutating one form of matter into another. N icole Coson uses the force of weight to flatten shape and matter. Through a printing process she distills a fantasmatic form that invades our tactile and physical world. Meanwhile, Johan Van Mullem ’s swirling portraits transform his sitters, distilling their mercurial spirits. Jonny Briggs ’s montage of multiple images clashes alternative visual realities and time frames, juxtaposing different ways of seeing, creating whole new and different worlds. Questioning the concept of normality, Briggs’s anthropological approach reinvents the absurd and the familiar. Filippo Piantanida ’s photography alters NASA captured images into intricate digital collages to create an eerie landscape. Finally, Nobuyoshi Araki ’s ritualistic experimentation with Kinbaku (Japanese bonding practices) results in a laboratory-like setting with the human form as the test subject. His use of organic and inorganic substances in making his images is further enriched through the artist’s penmanship and gestures that adorn his polaroids.

Taking its cue from Jung’s introspection on the topic, Alchemical Imagination places value on the symbolic nature of alchemy and its imagery in contemporary art practices today.


About the Artists

Nobuyoshi Araki (b. 1940, Tokyo, Japan) lives and works in Tokyo. He has published over 400 photobooks and is one of Japan’s most recognised photographers. Recent solo exhibitions include: Eros Diary , at Anton Kern Gallery, New York; Love on the Left Eye ; at Taka Ishii Gallery, Tokyo, Japan (2015). Nobuyoshi Araki: Negaeropolis and Uganbochi , Rat Hole Gallery, Tokyo (2015). Nobuyoshi Araki: Polaroids at Shane Campbell Gallery, Chicago (2015); ARAKI Ojo Shashu-Photography for the After Life: Alluring Hell at the Foam Photography Museum, Amsterdam (2014). Nobuyoshi Araki at Michael Hoppen Contemporary, London (2013). His photographs can be found in the permanent collections of prestigious museums such as Tate Modern, London; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Fotomuseum Winterthur in Switzerland.

Jonny Briggs (b.1985, Newcastle, UK) lives and works in London. He received his MFA from the Royal College of Art, London in 2011. Recent solo exhibitions include: Photoforum Pasquart Photo Museum, Switzerland (2017); Galleria Marie-Laure Fleisch, Rome (2015). Recent group exhibitions

include: From Selfie to Self Expression at Saatchi Gallery, London (2017). This Is Not A Curated Exhibition at Galleria Ramo, Lugano, Switzerland (2017).

Nicole Coson (b. 1992, Manila, Philippines) lives and works between London, UK and Manila, Philippines. She received her BFA from Central Saint Martins, London, in 2014. Recent solo exhibitions include: Skin at Finale Art File, Manila, Philippines (2017); How To Appear Without A Trace: Surviving Eurocentrism at Asia House, London (2015). Recent group exhibitions: Print Dept at Division of Labour, London (2017). Biennale Internazionale di Opera di Carta at Palazzo Fogazzaro, Schio, Italy (2016). Undisciplined at The Gallery On The Corner, London (2015).

Colden Drystone (b. 1984, London, UK) lives and works in Hastings, UK. Drystone holds a BA in Fine Art from the Chelsea College of Art and Design, London. Recent solo performances include: In The Making performance at Art Brussels, Belgium (2013). Future Primitive performance The Victoria and Albert Museum, London (2013). Ahead of Time (2016) and You See Me Like a UFO (2017) at Hannah Barry Gallery, London, are amongst his latest major solo exhibitions.

Shannon Finley (b. 1974, Ontario, Canada) lives and works in Berlin. Received his BFA at Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, Halifax, Canada, in 1999. Recent solo exhibitions include: INTERFERENCE at Carrie Secrist Gallery, Chicago (2016). Future Shock at Culture Circle Gallery, Hamburg, Germany (2016). Recent group exhibitions include: Colouring The Edge at 3812 Gallery, Hong Kong (2016). Takashi Murakami’s Superflat Collection at Yokohama Museum of Art, Yokohama, Japan (2016).

Kathrin Hanga (b. 1988, Vienna, Austria) lives and works in Vienna. Hanga holds a Mag. Phil in Theater, Film and Media Studies from the University of Vienna and attended Friedl Kubelka School for Artistic Photography in Vienna in 2016/17. Recent group exhibitions include: 16/17=47 at Fotogalerie Wien, Vienna (2017). POP at Point of Photography, Vienna (2017). Photo Vienna , MAK, Vienna (2017).

Cyrus Mahboubian (b. 1986, London, UK) lives and works in London. He received his BA degree from the University of Britsol in 2008. Recent solo exhibitions include: Murmur at Galerie Nivet-Carzon, Paris (2016); Muse at De Re Gallery, Los Angeles (2014). Recent group exhibitions: MIGRATE at Omeara, London (2017). Spaces, Contexts, Habitats at Palazzo Biscari, Catania, Sicily (2015).

Johan Van Mullem (b. 1959, Isiro, Democratic Republic of Congo) lives and works in Belgium. He holds an architecture degree from ISAE La Cambre (1985). Recent solo exhibitions include: 3 Espaces, 3 Univers at LOO & Lou Gallery, Paris (2017); DE ANIMA at The UNIT LONDON, London (2016); Recent group exhibitions include: Abstracted X ed #1 and #2 at Aesroplastics, Brussels (2017); Art Paris Art Fair with LOO & Lou Gallery (2016): drawing rooms #2 at PAK Gistel, Gistel, Belgium (2016).

Filippo Piantanida (b.1979, Varese, Italy) lives and works in Milan, Italy. He is known for his collaborative partnership with Roberto Prosdocimo under the name FRP2. Recent solo exhibitions include: Normal Generic Landscapes for the Unconventional Place for Art Project in Barcelona, Naples, Rome, Turin and Milan (2012). Arte Laguna Collection at Fornace di Asolo, Treviso, Italy (2010); Premio Arte Laguna Sezione Fotografia, Venice (2010), both under the FRP2 moniker.

Tom Poeet (b.? )is an artist whose true identity remains unknown. Of the little we do know of Poeet (pronounced po·et): he exhibited in the past in the 1950s and 60s under a different name, and is currently undergoing a creative renaissance which started in 2015. It has been suggested that the artist has been working from Italy in reclusion but this cannot be verified at the time of writing. Poeet’s imaginative abilities veer between anatomical dissections and fantastical abstractions of the human form. This is his first exhibition in recent history.



For access to the exhibition please email Anya Ovcharenko .

About Presenza
Presenza is a new curatorial platform that brings contemporary art to a unique public with exhibitions in locations outside the conventional gallery space. Presenza shows emerging artists to a global audience of art enthusiasts and collectors. In addition, its online platform allows users to view and purchase art works. The company promotes and supports young artists and galleries by exhibiting their works in site-specific venues. Each unique location creates a dialogue between the selected art and space, challenging viewers to gain insight into the art of collecting.

About Artvisor
Launched in 2016, Artvisor is a contemporary art advisory service. Through its online platform, Artvisor offers clients a bespoke consultancy service with a diverse body of contemporary artworks to choose from. The platform’s members are matched with art advisors free of charge based on their preferences who provide a personalised selection of artworks, and white glove service throughout the process of acquisition. Artvisor additionally offers corporate art advisory, and holds exhibitions in London and Italy.