Perishing Thirst is a group exhibition of works by Katayoun Jalilipour, Kenji Lim and Sophie Spedding.

As part of our 2022 programme, Katayoun was a shortlisted artist for our residency programme Emergent. Read more about Emergent.

The idea of thirst as a basic need and function, linked closely to the idea of survival (we must drink or we shall perish), gives the exhibition an intriguing foregrounding. Apt as it is, being housed in a gallery called Quench, Perishing Thirst gives a sense of a hostile environment where resources are limited. It also conjures visions of bodily entropy, where we can visualize the curdled saliva in the corner of a mouth or the slowing down of internal organs as a body fails whilst stranded in a desert. The exhibition brings together three very different artists working across varied media but who are individually interrogating ideas of biological dislocation, bodily transgression and the complicated relationship between humans and nature, the animal world and organic matter. Each artist employs a playful and idiosyncratic approach to their ambitious investigations. The interior landscape of bodies or bodies in a state of reconfiguration are a recurring motif within the exhibition. Sophie Spedding’s paintings often take the viewer inside and outside of imaginary bodily forms through a prism of a fantasy infused, psychedelic colour palette. The paintings are often on an intimidating scale, like the imagined mouths, gullets and orifices are swallowing the viewer whole. Sophie talks about the undercurrents of sexual desire embedded in the work that is connected to being physically swallowed by a larger being. Kenji Lim on the other hand often creates imaginary beings on a smaller scale that entice you in with their furry bodies and oversized eyes. Sometimes reminiscent of a Jim Henson creation, he talks about the complicated history of anthropomorphisation and animism and how different cultures employ these concepts while wanting to create a culturally independent language of his own. He is also very interested in the concept of the ecosystem and how it functions as one object, but one that is so endlessly interconnected it has no understandable boundary. He applies these ideas to his work, in the assemblages and installations he creates, taking inspiration from both the animal kingdom and the utopia of an Ikea catalogue. Katayoun Jalilipour is also using animal motifs in the new body of work presented at Quench. Focusing particularly on canines and felines who are in mid-action, such as fighting or feeding, and reframing through a queer lens exploring the line between violence and intimacy, and how it links to the wider societal issues we face as people. Born in Iran, Katayoun draws on traditions in Islamic art particularly from the imagery found in traditional tiles and rugs and how they have been drawn anew to the strangeness and surrealism they often depict. They are presenting their own series of tiles, as well new drawings, sculptures, and an audio work, and while taking inspiration from Islamic folk imagery they are creating a new visual symbology of their own. 

Quench is open Friday - Sunday, 12pm - 6pm, or by appointment.

Check out the exhibition website

Banner Image: In a white walled gallery space, a colourful painting is hung to the left on a back wall. In the foreground two animals cut out of a metallic material are hung in the space, one upside down forming a circle with the two animals.

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