Insider Art

Hope College's Cornerstone Gallery
April 11th to May 6th

Reviewed by Ariadna Olteanu

"Insider Art", the exhibition currently held at Hope College's Cornerstone Gallery, offers to take us on a journey away from the walls of our own preconceptions and inside the minds of unlikely artists - inmates at HMP Liverpool. It proves to be an unusual and intriguing experience.

In the absence of an inspiring environment, the artists invite us into the subconscious of their emotions, from the darker sides to an oasis of beauty. The artistic approach of many of the works is ingenuous, full of the intuitive power that characterises true art.

Their beauty and coherence is striking - from Stephen's untitled works, reminiscent of Victor Brauner's surrealism, to Alan's charcoal on paper series entitled "Prison" - oppressive, distorted, labyrintic.

There is also redemption, naivety and innocence (David gouaches, for example). Memories of those at home, dreams of what could have been, enjoyment in whatever is, and also escape, exploration. The works are realised through a variety of methods, from biro on paper to charcoal and oil on canvass.

A variety of styles is displayed, from simple compositions to abstract, conceptual pieces. And if our mind wonders from the tall, clean white spaces of the Gallery to the implacable atmosphere of the prison walls, the contrast is striking. The feelings evoked by these very talented artists can be identified in each of us, measured against the height of the walls of our own, private prisons.


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