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London Group, Old Parcels Office

The London Group of artists was formed in 1913 by an amalgamation of the Camden Town Group and the English Cubists. Early members included Walter Sickert, Jacob Epstein and Wyndham Lewis and the founding goal of the group was to create and exhibit work against the stranglehold that the Royal Academy had always had on the London art scene. This exhibition in Scarborough was the first time in over 100 years that the group had exhibited in the north, hence I was understandably excited about seeing the work.

The gallery is a wonderful space and first impressions were of a skilfully curated show, however I was generally underwhelmed about the work. Some demonstrated high skill with materials and processes but others were a real struggle. I am very supportive of contemporary art and I love to see artists pushing their limits and challenging the viewer with a new perception of the world but I had higher expectations of what is touted as the premier artist cooperative in contemporary British art.

With that said, some of the work was profoundly clever and aesthetically unique, in particular the distressed, multilayered paintings had depth and timelessness that I really enjoyed. I think what I observed was a group of artists making bold experimental works and attempting to open doors to a new understanding of the world in terms of form and colour, so this is to be loudly applauded. Maybe this is a lesson in lowering my level of excitement to better meet my expectations.

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