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Art Review: Cell Colour at Hung Up Gallery

8 April 19 words: Katherine Giddins

From fluorescent techno chickens to flying rhinos and death deities, Hung Up gallery’s Cell Colour exhibition is an explosion of colour and character. Showcasing work from five top-notch local artists, it celebrates the rise of urban art in Notts and explores what happens in the space where the street and gallery collide.

image: Emily Catherine

Emily Catherine, a rising star on the street art scene, exhibits a series of portraits, each representing a different psychopomp – a guide who leads the souls of the dead to their final resting place. The idea for the series came after Emily lost her mother and found comfort and inspiration from the way other cultures viewed death. Her bold and emotive sketches turn mythological beings into modern relatable characters. I was particularly drawn to Guédé, the Haiwaian deity who embodies the powers of death and fertility but also knows how to rock a hoop earring. She’s poised with a bottle of rum to keep away evil spirits but her alluring eyes seem to say “fancy a drink duck?”

Onga, who is also curating the exhibition, displays several hypnotic geometrical canvases. Both the smaller circular works and the full-scale piece Glitch Spaghetti evoke the tribalism and free flowing expression of street art whilst maintaining the lines and precision of many contemporary works. Just like a magic eye puzzle, those multicoloured zebra patterns really draw you in.

Following the success of his Misspelt Youth exhibition, Kid30 is back to show off more wacky Frankenstein-esque acrylic canvases which meld popular cartoon characters together. My favourite is Late Night which depicts a Garfield-Cat in the Hat-Top Cat-demon Luci hybrid which is smoking a cigarette and chilling in a cardboard box after having one too many the night before.

And if that’s not surreal enough for you then Boaster has some beautiful fantastical paintings. Moving House which is reminiscent of the anime Howl’s Moving Castle depicts a giant blue bird with metal feet and a house on its back, set in an other-worldly desert landscape. There’s also Rhinomore, a rhino with angel wings and Bird Astaire which depicts a cartoon pigeon with a top hat, cane and dance shoes. This piece is also back-lit with flashing lights which adds a fun dimension to the work.

And on the subject of flashy things, Toddjerm has some interactive pieces which showcase his love for fluorescent paint, a media he favours simply because it’s “cool.” In one piece a figure that resembles an old-style sailor tattoo or religious figure can be drawn on with light trails using a torch. In The Woods also uses fluorescent paint inside a little bird box which appears to hold the light when you shine a torch in it. His other works are mixed media collages and sketches such as Party Marty – a portrait in biro of Todd’s stoner friend Marty combined with Jake from Adventure Time, a character from Trailer Park Boys and the roman numerals IV:XX (4.20pm, the time to smoke weed).

So, whether you’re a fan of realism, abstract or caricature, Cell Colour has a bit of everything. A must-see for art-lovers, artists and graffitists alike who are looking to support local Notts creatives.

Cell Colour is showing at Hung Up Gallery now. Wednesday - Saturday, 10am - 5pm

Hung Up Gallery, 38 Derby Road, Nottingham


Hung Up Gallery website

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