British artist Emily Gillbanks is set to debut her solo exhibition, Temporary Sitters, at the JD Malat Gallery in London from March 16th to April 8th. The show will feature a series of paintings that capture the momentary snapshots of people travelling throughout the London Underground. Gillbanks, a recent graduate from the Royal College of Art, aims to push the genre of new figurative painting further by exploring the concepts of alienation, anonymity, and modern-day voyeurism in her practice.
Gillbanks is fascinated by the complex underground network and its diverse passengers. She seeks to reimagine the tube settings into a unique public space in a constant transition state. The exhibition aims to encourage the audience to contemplate and celebrate this perplexing yet enchanting environment by focusing on what the hybridity of the London metropolis has to offer people.
Gillbanks’s paintings feature familiar underground iconography and masterfully portray the multifaceted public of all ages and backgrounds. Her work highlights the stories of people she encounters daily, spotlighting everyday life’s otherwise ordinary moments. Her paintings circulate the mundanity of everyday experiences to bring to life the kaleidoscopic diary of the to-be-continued London Underground stories, immersing viewers into the ambiguous and charming ambience that is there to be explored.
Through her art, Gillbanks also aims to reflect on how smartphones have become an extension of the mind and the body. She questions if we recall any of the faces we come across on the tube, noting that most temporary sitters do not hold enough significance for us to remember their faces. Her work aims to remind viewers of the reality and life happening around them, as people are often absorbed into the virtual world of digital devices.
Temporary Sitters also raises the topic of modern-day voyeurism, encompassing CCTV monitoring and extending the act of watching each other through social media and easily accessible digital surveillance. Gillbanks’s work seeks to underscore a universal notion of equality between individuals, providing a refreshing outlook on contemporary debates.
The gallery’s founder, Jean-David Malat, is thrilled to present Gillbanks’s first show, Temporary Sitters, and notes that her unique ability to transform the mundanity of everyday experiences in the underground into a refreshing platform raises deeper sociological and anthropological questions. The gallery will also be running two solo exhibitions simultaneously, featuring the figurative social-realist works of Gillbanks and expressive, vibrant canvases by Andrew Litten, providing a dialogue between the two artists.
Despite the recent unrest among the workforce in the United Kingdom, Temporary Sitters presents an opportunity to contemplate and celebrate the hybridity of the London metropolis and the diversity of its passengers. Gillbanks’s exhibition promises to offer viewers a refreshing perspective on contemporary debates, reminding them to remain present at the moment and appreciate the unique stories of those around them.