© Josephine King
Riflemaker is the quirkiest gallery in
Soho and my favourite in the area. Housed on five floors of an historic gunmaker's workshop, built in 1712 (the oldest public building in the west end), Riflemaker worked closely with English Heritage to preserve this unique architectural building.
As you enter this wooden house, the ground floor exhibits its main artwork. Behind the door, the corridor is tiny and dark. You may continue your visit upstairs or downstairs. The gallery often projects a film in that corridor. This is how I discovered the work of Jane Arden, when the BFI had the excellent idea with Jane’s son to unearth her wonders (the only known British woman to make films in the 70’s).
Josephine King (b.1965
) makes ink-paintings on paper - a flat 'cut out and keep' portrait framing text which documents the often traumatic experience of the artist's life. Her second Riflemaker exhibition, started in March, is entitled 'I told him I was an artist. He said "can you cook?"' London
"In painting Modern Woman, I am looking outside of myself rather than just looking within. Showing myself naked in both mind and body depicts how it feels for me to be going against the grain of society. As a woman painter, I have nothing to lose" Josephine King
The subject of Josephine King's (now upstairs) exhibition at Riflemaker is the artist’s relationships with men. King’s self-portraits document her battle with life. Her acclaimed debut exhibition ‘Life So Far’, explored the trauma of the artist’s extreme bi-polar mania. The series later led to a nomination in the category for Best Visual Artist at the South Bank Show Awards.
In this exhibition, Riflemaker presents King’s new ink paintings made during the past two years. The sensuous full-length portraits and the sardonic, disarmingly honest texts which frame them, document personal relationships, her devotion to her work and the isolation of her illness.
The poster-like composition of King’s paintings point to an innate faculty for an interest in design, perhaps influenced by the work and also the collections of her father, the designer, photographer and curator David King. The painting style takes from the design world, haute couture, Fauvism, early 20c Russian painting, Victoriana and Art Nouveau.
King grew up in the bohemia of late 1960s north London and has spent prolonged periods in Amsterdam, Berlin, China, India, Moscow and in Portugal, where she modelled for Paula Rego. She appears as the stepmother in Rego’s seminal 1995 work ‘Snow White and her Stepmother’.
About King’s exhibition, Rego says “They seem to me to be totally truthful pictures, from the heart. Many people will identify with these images".
On the ground floor’s main exhibition is 'The Sculptors of Grand Rue' - apocalyptic sculpture from Haiti curated by LEAH GORDON - until 29 July 2013
JOSEPHINE KING: ‘I told him I was an Artist. He said, “Can you cook?” ’
Beak Street, London W1. Free Entrance
Opening hours: Monday - Friday 10am – 6pm, Saturday 11am – 6pm