13.10.11 — 23.12.11 ‘Alex Virji, 'Hinterland'’

Man&Eve’s latest exhibition brings together a series of recent paintings by Alex Virji. United by their exploration of the miniature form and their references to flora and landscape, each of the fifteen oval canvases whispers of a ‘hinterland’ or a land-behind the image.

The canvases are built-up using diverse marks and brush-strokes to create layers and washes of paint of varying thickness, some of which are then obscured or removed by overpainting and erasure. Depending on the topography of the surface, the ridges and lines of under-layers of paint are still visible in areas of relief. Elsewhere, the paint has been excavated to reveal the grain of the canvas, creating an almost pixellated effect.

A number of different visual tropes are alluded to from 20th century science fiction to the Rococo idylls of Watteau and Fragonard, yet the overall effect has the aesthetic composure of a landscape that has evolved over time, softened by the elements and given harmony by the naturally occuring pigment of its soil and light conditions. This is a landscape which lies beyond the boundaries of what is known and familiar and which cannot quite be recognised.

The circle is a recurrent motif in several of the paintings, and can be read as the orb which illuminates the landscape, but also brings to mind the all-seeing eye which beholds the view, or the abyss into which it collapses; the point beyond which the image can no longer be deciphered. The circle also acts as a formal device to introduce graphic spatial elements into the composition. This is accentuated by the areas of pixellated canvas and the scratchy geometric lines that resemble mountainscapes, but also perhaps the spectral frequency display of an audio waveform.

In historical terms, miniature painting is usually a private form, perhaps depicting a cherished loved one or potential spouse, or kept in a book or album and only shown to those the owner chooses. There is something surprisingly intimate and revealing about Virji’s paintings, which contain a refreshing lack of irony and self-reference. These works are about aesthetic decision-making and their success lies in each and every judgment that Virji has made during the course of their production.

Alex Virji (b.1986) trained at City & Guilds of London Art School where he is the current recipient of a GAM Scholarship funding his MA research. Recent solo exhibitions include ‘Variations on a Theme’ at Primo Alonso, London (2010). Recent group exhibitions include ‘Polemically Small’ at the Torrance Art Museum, LA, and at KCCC Exhibition Hall, Klaipeda, Lithuania (2011); ‘Young London’, V22 (2011), ‘One Year On’, 42 Theobald’s Road, London (2011) and ‘The Future Can Wait’, Truman Brewery, London (2009). His work has also been reviewed by Turps Banana, Timeout, Dazed Digital and STET online journal. Virji was shortlisted for the Catlin Art Prize in 2009.

The exhibition takes place at Wonderbird, 2 Newburgh Street, London W1F 7RD.

Private views by invitation:
13th October, 9 – 11am, VIP breakfast preview
20th October, 6.30 – 8.30pm, Private view
15th December, 9 – 11am, VIP breakfast reception

At other times, the exhibition is open to the public by prior appointment. Please contact info@manandeve.co.uk to arrange a viewing.