The Arts Club is thrilled to announce a solo show from Australian artist Jordy Kerwick, exhibited across the club’s newly renovated Members’ Lounge, Ofelia. Titled I Want You to Remember This, the exhibition presents a series of previously unseen, large-scale paintings illustrating Kerwick’s vibrant folkloric narratives and mythical cast of characters. Kerwick began his career in 2016, selling his first works via Instagram, from where he quickly acquired global recognition for his raw and unapologetic approach to painting. Closely following his exhibit Vertical Plane Me (2022) at Frieze Sculpture 2022 and a solo show at Vigo Gallery, the exhibition continues to mark a major moment for the artist in London.
Born in Melbourne, Kerwick currently lives and works in the South of France. Following a series of rough starts in business, he began making art as a stress reliever, becoming obsessed with it after his wife introduced him to painting. Self-taught and highly unique, since then he has gained a strong collector base, leading Artsy to identify him as the second most in-demand artist worldwide in September 2021. Kerwick’s approach to making new works remains intuitive and spontaneous, seizing inspiration both from media, such as books and music, as well as his personal life, to create drawings that are later worked up into his signature-style paintings. In particular he cites Henri Matisse and Bob Thompson’s use of primary colours as key influences, as well as literary figures such as Charles Bukowski for his plain-speaking storytelling ability. Sharing this value for narrative and character, his subtly moralistic tales told through mythical figures question humanity through his colourfully fictional lens.
I Want You to Remember This sees the return of Kerwick’s folkloric characters, including unicorns, tigers, snakes and mermaids, as well as motifs of masks, native feather arrangements and flowers, developed over the course of his artistic career. Duality is a recurring theme in his work, with paintings like Untitled (2022) depicting three different double-headed beings holding council. Some, such as the two-headed snake character, first evolved as an allusion to Kerwick’s sons as an embodiment of youth. Read accordingly, the two-headed wolf, a sharp-toothed allusion to mortality and death, barricades this symbol of life. The tension between these two figures becomes overt in You swing and you swing and you swing (2022), with the characters positioned in confrontational opposition. Splitting the background – the bottom half filled with flame-like oranges, reds and yellows, while the top is shaded with heavenly blues and lilacs – the battle plays out in a kind of purgatory of wills. Using whimsical icons that resemble characters found in children’s storybooks, Kerwick creates a playful push and pull of conflict between wonder, fear, life, death, goodness and evil, inviting the viewer to step into an alternate, illustrative world underpinned by existential contemplation.
Aurore Ankarcrona Hennessey, Director of Art at The Arts Club, says: ‘Jordy’s striking works are the perfect way to inaugurate our new Ofelia Members’ Lounge, with his fresh and adventurous vision echoing the start of a new chapter for the club itself. Walking the line between playful and menacing, his otherworldly paintings must be seen in the flesh’.
The exhibition is curated by Amelie von Wedel and Pernilla Holmes of Wedel Art, with special thanks to Vigo Gallery.