Soho Visionaries: Meet the artists behind the art
Soho House and Porsche have joined forces to support and celebrate tomorrow’s creative changemakers with three exclusive commissions
Tuesday 16 May 2023 By Catherine Jarvie
Art changes how we see the world; it doesn’t just inform, it inspires. An artist’s vision is the gateway to that. And, as part of our ongoing commitment to support the next generation of creative changemakers, Soho Visionaries – the collaboration launched this year between Soho House and Porsche – commissioned three of the most exciting artists we believe to be working today: Yinka Ilori, Bernat Daviu and Nicole Wermers.
‘The three artists selected for Soho Visionaries each have distinct practices, but they all share a commitment to rethinking the world around us,’ says Kate Bryan, Soho House Global Director of Art about why they were selected for these commissions. ‘All of them at different points have made me stop in my tracks and see something everyday – mundane even – in a totally new light.’
Each artist was invited to create a bespoke, site-specific work of art – for Soho Farmhouse, Soho House Barcelona and Soho House Berlin, respectively – working across three different mediums: sculpture, painting and photography. ‘At the heart, they are all storytellers,’ notes Bryan. ‘The works they have created as part of this initiative will be permanent reminders that art allows us to see beyond the expected.’
Yinka Ilori, ‘Beacon of Dreaming’
See it at: Soho Farmhouse
‘I’ve always wanted to create a space where you can inspire people to come and dream,’ says the multi-disciplinary artist and designer of the sculpture he made for Soho Visionaries, which officially launched at our inaugural Soho Summit last month.
‘I try to leave imprints of my culture and my heritage through storytelling,’ Ilori says of the shell-like structure, which was inspired by childhood visits to the seaside. Known for a bold visual language that draws on his British-Nigerian heritage, the work is initially surprising for its neutral exterior. Step inside the piece, however, and the vivid pattern and colour more commonly associated with Ilori’s work reveals itself, mirroring how a shell plucked from the beach and held to his ear as a child uncovered the ‘hidden world’ of the aural seascape within.
‘When I work with colour, I always try to evoke a sense of memory,’ says Ilori. ‘I wanted to extend that experience; that moment of being present.’ For all its vibrancy, “Beacon of Dreaming”, located by the oak tree at Soho Farmhouse, remains the calming, thoughtful space that will inspire members – and their dreams – for many years to come.
Bernat Daviu – ‘Visca la Vida! (Fidel)’
See it at: Soho House Barcelona
Spanish artist Daviu’s day-to-day practice encompasses painting, costume design, performance and video. For Soho Visionaries, he created a large-scale work in oils – an extension of his most recent series, which he describes as ‘painted shadows of external elements to the painting that affect their meaning’. The shadow in question in this case is that of a Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet.
‘It’s an homage to my former gallerist, Fidel Balaguer, who passed away two years ago,’ says Daviu. ‘His gallery had a particular thing that surely no other gallery has or had. Since he didn’t live in Barcelona and had to drive to get to the gallery, he parked the car inside, no matter if there was a show on or not.’ While Daviu admits with a laugh that it was ‘really annoying’ for his artists to have to show their work around the car, it became an ‘emblem’ for them and the gallery as a whole.
‘We tend to think of paintings as isolated objects that represent something. But the reality is that, like everything else, they are surrounded by other things and whatever is around plays a part in the experience.’ This piece is a fitting – and lasting – tribute to that.
Nicole Wermers – ‘Attachments (Digest)’
See it at: Soho House Berlin
Turner Prize-nominated artist Nicole Wermers is fascinated by urban spaces. ‘Attachments (Digest)’, the photographic collage she created for Soho Visionaries – which is now part of the permanent collection at Soho House Berlin – is a case in point.
While ostensibly a digital collage of ‘dozens’ of photographs the artist has taken of locked bicycles across multiple cities, in Wermers’ world there is no such thing as ‘just’ a bicycle lock. The entanglement of bikes, locks, chains, bolts and wires is a statement of a city and its inhabitants in all their social, emotional and economic complexity.
Part of an ongoing interest in urban infrastructure as ‘sites for negotiations of material and space’, the clash of colours – defiantly vibrant against the monotone greys of urban roads and pavements – is no accident. ‘Colour plays an important role in my work, even if it isn’t always an obvious one,’ says Wermers. ‘I am aware it’s a way to draw us in. I’m interested in how in an urban context we are surrounded by colours that have been strategically chosen, whether it is to sell us something, or communicate a certain lifestyle, identity or political opinion.’
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