Putting an uplifting spin on a turbulent time for the UK, a new exhibition at Unit London in Mayfair this month celebrates diversity and focuses on what connects rather than divides us.
Beyond Borders features work from 14 artists from varying backgrounds, nationalities and political stances, all exploring themes as familiar as love and fear, and as complex as quantum physics and our relationship with history.
Hiba Schahbaz, a Pakistani artist living in New York, explores the stories of marginalised women throughout her work, with portraits that beautifully reclaim their history. Since migrating to the United States, her practice has expanded from Indo-Persian miniature painting to human-scale works on paper – with black tea as her favourite medium.
The materials used in Beyond Borders are as diverse as the themes, such as the build-up of textural surfaces that compose Michael Staniak’s works, David Spriggs’ plexiglass sculptures, or Jason Seife’s concrete canvases.
Works by Seife, meanwhile, fuse traditional techniques from his Middle Eastern background with modern materials, making the old craft accessible to a younger generation. For example, in Holding on Together, he revives traditional Persian rug weaving by hand-painting the pattern with acrylic onto a concrete canvas.
The balance between unpredictability and control is echoed in the work of Aaron Johnson, whose hallucinatory paintings comment on societal ills. Watery bleeding colours clash with a hard-edged brushstroke, with themes exploring a wide range of the human experience that audiences can empathise with, both grotesque and humorous.
Beyond Borders runs from 28 November 2019 until 11 January 2020 at Unit London in Mayfair.