Adam Zoltowski, contemporary sculptor and Bloomberg New Contemporaries exhibitor (2014), installs four of his newest works in a solo show in Bethnal Green (242 Cambridge Heath Road). Ends Friday 10 February 2017.

“Punk materials” veer between “enthusiasm and irony”

Foreign Bodies” is an exhibition of new works by Adam Zoltowski, who typically manufactures larger-than-life sculptures from materials commonly found in the local building supplies store, such as styrofoam, fibreglass, wood, and spray-paint.

Four faces (or masks) make up this solo show, three bearing human resemblance as “portraits” (of the artist himself or of Monika, a friend and recent creative collaborator). Two of these heads are astride wooden boxes, giving them “bodies” with dual function: as the shipping crates they arrived in and the plinths to elevate them from the ground. The fourth mask, a graphic depiction of the Eqyptian god of the afterlife, Anubis, seems to levitate a few inches off the floor and silently broods his belonging in the quartet as he looks on to a smiling “Portrait of Monika”.

Adam Zoltowski, (l-r) 'Mask of Anubis' and 'Portrait of Monika', 2016, in 'Foreign Bodies', 242 Cambridge Heath Road, London. Photo credit Kelise Franclemont.
Adam Zoltowski, (l-r) ‘Mask of Anubis’ and ‘Portrait of Monika’, 2016, in ‘Foreign Bodies’, 242 Cambridge Heath Road, London. Photo credit Kelise Franclemont.

The single 2-D item in the room is “Self-portrait, with Monika”, five feet high on 2-inch thick polyurethane/aluminium board and asserting the faces of Adam and Monika in itinerant layers of spray paint and ink such that the identity of either of the two characters is expunged somewhere between yellow, blue, and black.

Adam Zoltowski, 'Self-portrait, with Monika', 2016, spray paint and ink on polyurethane and aluminium board, in 'Foreign Bodies', 242 Cambridge Heath Road, London. Photo credit Kelise Franclemont.
Adam Zoltowski, ‘Self-portrait, with Monika’, 2016, spray paint and ink on polyurethane and aluminium board, in ‘Foreign Bodies’, 242 Cambridge Heath Road, London. Photo credit Kelise Franclemont.

For artist and writer Joseph Lichy, the works in “Foreign Bodies” are characterised by

an oscillation between enthusiasm and irony… [where] irony certainly marks the work’s handmade vulnerability, this despite the zealousness of each object…”

Zoltowski’s “punk materials” of scraps and off-cuts with a graffiti palette comes off as brash and irreverent, but closer examination reveals a more “Romantic” view of sculpture: mastery through years of practice, mindful attention to detail and, more than anything else, the artist’s sheer joy in making.

Recommended for: 5-minute coffee/tea break; you’re in the area to visit nearby V&A Museum of Childhood; 5 minute walk from Bethnal Green station.


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Visit “Foreign Bodies”: 2-10 February 2017, 242 Cambridge Heath Road, London, E2 9DA. Free entry; step-free access. Nearest transport: Bethnal Green (Central Line), Cambridge Heath (Overground).

Open daily, 10 AM – 6 PM

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