Simon English 'Love in Lockdown': Online

24 June 2020 - 13 July 2021

Cooke Latham Gallery are pleased to present Love in Lockdown by Simon English, a series of eighteen new works on paper, as the third instalment of our online Isolation Exhibitions.


Simon English is perhaps best known for his large and small-scale ‘painted drawings’ in which he mingles his distinctive imagery and words. He moves lightly between tight draftsmanship and a playfully sloppy application of colour and line. Language is paramount with diaristic musings interspersed with song lyrics, poetry and humorous one-liners. Self-described as 'automatic', his work has the spontaneity of stream-of-consciousness, exploring themes of love and loss, as well as gay and popular culture.


The title of the exhibition, Love in Lockdown, is taken from a passage in one of the works. The series is endearingly personal while capturing many of the universal emotions and obsessions prevalent during this extraordinary period.


Simon English lives and works in London. He emerged on the London Art scene in 1994 with an exhibition of paintings at the Saatchi Gallery as part of Young British Art III. Simon has exhibited internationally at numerous institutions including The Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Copenhagen, Denmark; Musee D’Art Contemporaine de Val de Marne (MAC VAL), Paris France; Tate Britain, London. His most recent exhibitions in 2020 include a large three story solo show at Transpalette Centre D’Art Contemporain, in Bourges France, curated by guest curator Frank Lamy entitled “Your Top Is My Bottom” closing on 5 July. He is also part of the inaugural exhibition at F.A.B in Paris to celebrate the collection of Agnes B.


Love in Lockdown

by Simon English


I remember those first days of fear and panic on the streets of Hackney.


Queues wrapped themselves around Lidl and loo roll jokes swamped the Internet.


In the run up to lockdown I had started an affair with a young "River-Man" from Limehouse, named on account of his balconied apartment overlooking the Thames.

Life seemed to swirl around me in a bitter sweet way with some parts totally out of reach and other parts rumbling up to the surface and way too close.


In Lockdown, I did what I always do, in times of crisis.


I draw.

I hand it over.

I open things up.

I try to connect.

I try to disconnect.


I loved the solitude of the studio and the strange freedom that no one (apart from River-Man) could come there.


The large blank walls slowly filled, like an unfurled diary of the subconscious indicating my various positions on the "stay at home" map and occasionally used to send missives out to River-Man.


It felt like my entire life had been preparing for this moment.


I had what I needed, blank paper or the backs of the un-wanted.


I stocked enough drawing pens and used what was left in the paint jars from my work on canvas last year.


I embraced the idea of running low.


It is out of loss that new hopes are born and nothing could feel more relevant as we rebalance an upturned World.