The Sunday Painter: Tyra Tingleff 'Smile now, cry later' (until 31 July 2021)

I almost resisted the urge to write about my experience at Vauxhall's The Sunday Painter gallery, mostly because I have a pre-existing love for the work of Oslo and Berlin-based artist Tyra Tingleff. The expectations, and excitement, were there from the start, and the show has been curated in a way that only gives a teaser to passers-by at street level. 'Smile now, cry later' is comprised of several new works in Tingleff's distinctive style, using oil paint on raw linen to create abstracted yet somehow familiar and enticing aesthetics. 

Installation view: Tyra Tingleff, Smile now, cry later, 25 June - 31 July 2021. The Sunday Painter, London. Photo credit: Ollie Hammick. 

As discussed by Amy Sherlock in the exhibition text, Tingleff's works bear a resemblance to "the aftermath on the back of your eyelids when you've looked right at the sun". Whereas it is easy to weave a narrative about more figurative artworks, the joy of these paintings is that they can mean anything to the individual viewer. Their scale is also impressive and immersive; aside from the dominating piece 'Don't breathe out (but I know you will)' in the lower gallery, measuring out at 380cm x 250cm, the others are in the region of 170cm x 120cm; in the flesh they are the perfect size to be all-encompassing but not intimidating. In these times of anxiety and difficulty, I found myself wanting to fully escape into these works, especially my two favourites, positioned at the top of the steps, 'I remember love but I can't remember you' and 'My love life definitely skews towards crimson'. 

Installation view: Tyra Tingleff, I remember love but I can't remember you, 2021. Oil on raw linen, 170cm x 120cm. The Sunday Painter, London. 
Tyra Tingleff, My love life definitely skews towards crimson, 2021. Oil on raw linen, 170cm x 120cm. The Sunday Painter, London. 
Photo credit: Ollie Hammick.


The ways in which the artist has chosen titles adds a layer of whimsical fun, but also a certain banality, to the viewing experience. Upon first, and indeed subsequent, glance, the paintings are joyous, full of swirling colours and patterns and abstracted stories. Pushing against this are titles such as 'I remember love but I can't remember you' and 'I got a lot of space in my head for you' are reminiscent of teenage messages indirectly targeting an ex, and are executed cleverly; we come for the paintings, we stay for the mysteries of the titles. Defying the use of capitalised words makes the experience further conversational; we can't help but feel that this is the artist authentically expressing themselves. 

Installation view: Tyra Tingleff, Don't breathe out (but I know you will), 2021. Oil on raw linen, 380cm x 250cm. The Sunday Painter, London. Photo credit: Ollie Hammick. 

The almost candy aesthetics of many of the paintings will excite both the art lover and those simply drawn to a pretty picture; I imagine many people will be allured off the street at the sight of Tingleff's largest piece, at the very least. The lack of a strict narrative in the works, with their playful brushstrokes and huge range of colours which somehow come together blissfully, is a welcome respite from the real world. For me they have a similar effect to the installation by Swiss and German artist Maya Rochat at Tate Modern's 2018 exhibition 'Shape of Light: 100 Years of Photography and Abstract Art', a show that was somehow rather bleak until Rochat's beautiful light and colour-filled photographic works instilled feelings of pure joy and excitement, positioned right at the end of the trawling exhibition. Similarly, there is a childlike wonder to Tingleff's paintings, making you want more: more colours, more patterns, more revealing titles. Sweet, swirling canvases transport the viewer out of Vauxhall, but not to a determinate 'other place'; instead we're simply taken away from the physicality, or the geography, of our world and into Tingleff's creative practice. 

Installation view of Maya Rochat's work, 2 May - 14 October 2018, Tate Modern. Image courtesy of the artist at mayarochat.com 

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