Sayan Chanda and Luke Samuel: Chamber

23 November - 22 December 2023



Cooke Latham is delighted to announce Chamber an exhibition of new works by Sayan Chanda and Luke Samuel.


In the reappropriated industrial space of Cooke Latham, Luke Samuel and Sayan Chanda both respond to the non-conformist architecture of the gallery. Samuel's long, attenuated paintings accentuate the gallery's rectilinear floorplan while the elusive axes within his compositions allow for perspectival flights of fancy; the canvas a microcosm of the gallery itself. Chanda meanwhile presents two artworks, 'Jyestha' a giant black quilt which is designed to occupy the entirety of one wall and 'Dwarapalika' a red tapestry which acts as a plumb line within the gallery, drawing attention to the beams from which it hangs and, thereby, the verticality of the gallery itself. Both artists challenge the spatial conventions of their given mediums and in doing so subtly question the viewers relationship to their work.


Luke Samuel's paintings are worked and re-worked. As a viewer one is as conscious of the surface layer of pigment as you are of the impasto ghosts beneath it. The paintings feel built as opposed to merely painted. Samuel takes inspiration from Walter Benjamin's writings on memories as matter, 'matter itself only a deposit, a stratum, which yields only to the most meticulous examination what constitutes the real treasure hidden within the earth'.[1] As such Samuel's paintings operate as visual excavations. They allude to time spent in the studio, to old ideas open to renewed analysis, to paint and thought in a constant state of flux.


The compositional framework in the exhibited paintings is visually akin to a proscenium stage: a raking perspectival skeleton that both questions the interiority of the painting itself and suggests a relationship to an exterior plane. Lines radiate out from the paintings and seemingly enter the gallery in which they sit. As such the works converse with each other and with their surroundings, as the artist states "they encourage viewers to be aware of the space around them, the qualities of the light in the room, and the differing sense of scale they exhibit".


Chanda's two artworks are inspired by the idea of lost Vedic goddesses, female divinities who have been forgotten or exiled due to androcentric reinterpretation. Jyestha, is one such deity, initially revered as a supreme Mother Goddess who dispelled misfortune, by the 11th century she was reconfigured as a harbinger of affliction. There is a clear relatedness between her elderly physical features and dark skin and her newly acquired negative connotations. Meanwhile her younger sister Lakshmi, described as fair-skinned and ever-youthful, enjoys an exalted status in India as the auspicious Goddess of wealth and good fortune. Using 'Jyestha' as the title of the giant quilt that occupies the back wall Chanda imagines the goddess reclaiming her place in a reconfigured pantheon of deities.


Hanging in front of the quilt is 'Dwarapalika', which in Sanskrit means female gatekeeper. As in numerous temples across India a gatekeeper is stationed at the door of the sanctum sanctorum housing the primary deity. Here again the works are in conversation, the one 'guarding' the other. Chanda shies away from the work being read as 'abstract', rather as Stella Kramrisch notes in her book on the sacred art of India 'They are part of the sacraments of living, invoking an invisible superhuman presence whose reality is contacted and communicated by those shapes.'[2] 'Dwarapalika' is the first of Chanda's tapestries that he has made to be viewed in three dimensions. The 'back' of a tapestry is traditionally the side that is hidden from the viewer, the side that reveals the making of the work. Chanda has always embraced or planned for inconsistencies in his hand-woven works, loose threads and irregular openings that provide visual punctuation within the visual rhythm of their making. Here this is exaggerated and celebrated, the tapestry no longer confined to the wall but read as a tactile sculptural entity.


Sayan Chanda was born in Kolkata, India and lives and works in London. He studied Textile Design at the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad and Fine Art at Camberwell College of Arts, London. His work has been shown internationally at Jhaveri Contemporary, (2022); South London Gallery (2021); Saatchi Gallery (2021); Nature Morte (2021); British Textile Biennial (2023); Frieze, London (2022); Art Dubai (2023) and Commonage Projects (2022). He has been an artist resident at the Thread artist residency run by the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation in Senegal (2023) and is currently a resident artist at the Sarabande Foundation, London. In 2024 he will be attending the Cove Park Funded Residency, UK.


Luke Samuel was born in Cardiff and lives and works in London. He studied at the Royal Academy of Arts in London and presented his work in the Royal Academy Schools Show in the summer of 2022. He gained a BA in fine art at Goldsmiths College, London (2015) and a diploma in art at Howard Gardens College of Art (2012). His work was shown in the RBA Rising Stars show curated by the Royal Society of British Artists (2018); Francis Gallery (2023); Kupfer Projects, London (2022); Class Reiss, London (2021) and Union Pacific, London (2021).

[1] Walter Benjamin, Reflections: A Berlin Chronicle, New York, Random House, 1989, p.25


[2] Stella Kramrisch, Exploring India's Sacred Art, Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1983, p.85




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