169 Piccadilly, 5F
'Baffle’ presents a new body of paintings and large composites by London-based artist Henry Ward.
“Ward’s works are both part of a kind of unfolding visual alphabet and drawn, somehow, from an experiential territory shared by anyone who looks at them.” Author and Curator, Ben Street
Discovering that collage is open to endless interpretation during his time at Winchester School of Art, Ward began creating works of purposeful contradiction. The title of the exhibition is a reflection of this. Ward explains “I am interested in words that have multiple meanings, multiple ways of being interpreted. I like to use a word that can be both a verb and a noun. Baffle means to bewilder or perplex, but it’s also a restraint to block noise.”
Presenting the different forms of art in one space allows Ward to experiment with how different approaches speak to one another. All of the works have been created using acrylic and/or oil paint on either paper or canvas.
The composite works, (specifically: Totem, Drift and Medusa) all started as separate shed paintings and were then brought together in the studio and worked back into as single compositions. Ward describes his shed as ‘absolutely about production’ while his studio is a ‘space of contemplation’ where the paintings are made.
The exhibition forces the viewer to see from various perspectives. While one work might veer between interior architectural space, another towards constructed landscape, and another seemingly close-up to the surface of still life, the person looking needs to mimic the role of artist as informer, disclaimer, interceptor and even someone who has bolted away from any particular direction, in order to take part. In turn, the exhibition is a completely immersive experience for the viewer challenging any innate perceptions and viewpoints.
Despite the creation of illusion through the collaging of layers and painting with a contrary approach, the paintings all carry a top and bottom- a form of clarity. Sasha Craddock says: “This mash up of artistic intention, betrays an artist who backs away from being directed towards the particular and yet who looks back in the hope of finding a metaphorical place in painting which can provide a warm sense of homecoming for meaning.”
Ward primarily works as a painter, but also makes drawings and small sculptures. He has spent a lot of time in the education sector notably establishing the alTURNERtive Prize, an annual award celebrating outstanding student practice. His work has been included in numerous exhibitions and shortlisted for the Trinity Buoy Wharf Drawing Prize in 2018 and 2019.
The exhibition is accompanied by a video by Ikon Gallery Director Jonathan Watkins, and a text by renowned author Sacha Craddock.