Cooke Latham Gallery: Johnny Izatt-Lowry 'By Day, But Then Again By Night' (until 16 October 2020)
Going to see the paintings of London-based artist Johnny Izatt-Lowry marked my first visit to Cooke Latham Gallery, located a stone's throw away from south-west London's beautiful Battersea Park. The gallery itself reflects its surroundings and is an undeniably stunning environment for art exhibitions, as part of a vast warehouse apartment. I made the trip as I had seen the artist's work as part of the Slade School degree show last year (a memory that feels like it could have been a decade ago at this point) and selected Izatt-Lowry as one of my "ones to watch", so was keen to see the new body of work.
The works evoke a mood of stillness, which hugely appeals to me, so I was interested to see how the artist's practice has developed in the year that has passed since the Slade show. Every work in 'By Day, But Then Again By Night' was made in 2020; given that the majority of the year has been spent under one form of lockdown or another, the poignant reflection of this in Izatt-Lowry's work is really rather moving, as we see great range, whether this is large paintings devoted to expanses of green space or smaller 'self portraits', faceless and in the dark. The way in which the artist has captured isolation, melancholy and (again) stillness is nothing short of poetry.
The artist's use of pigment on crepe is another element to behold when observing the works in person. There is a certain smooth flatness to them, with an additional element of texture thanks to the dry material used; considering all of this alongside a mysteriously muted palette of predominantly beiges, greys and blacks, the gallery experience is thoroughly relaxing and invites quiet, which in such a busy world feels like a luxury.
The paintings work really well together and are clearly a concentrated body of work, but two works especially stand out: 'Field by day' and 'Field by night', particularly the former. While the other works evoke (recent) memories of staying indoors, metaphorical darkness and solitude, this unofficial diptych offers something fresh. Curated side by side, the paintings are a glimmer of the natural environment, a reminder of how important nature, especially public green spaces, became in times of being permitted one state-sanctioned trip outdoors per day. Looking back this period of time now seems incredibly bleak, and one that is potentially spiralling round again. While art can certainly be a gift in times where we are desperate to escape reality, the works found at Cooke Latham Gallery ground us mindfully in the current moment, forcing us to share this dark space in history together.