The Barn Gallery, St John's College
For almost 50 years, artist Frith Powell has worked reclusively in his Oxford studio â€“ wrestling with visual and philosophical themes with single-minded dedication. At last, he has been persuaded to show this substantial and remarkable culmination of a lifeâ€™s work, dedicated to dressing â€˜Nothing in Somethingâ€¦giving shape to entities that lie beyond the bounds of sense experience.â€™
â€˜I feel the essential challenge for me, as an abstract painter, is in creating what could be called a â€˜fiction of realityâ€™, something that looks as though it might be real, at first sight, or is at least highly suggestive of reality, but on closer examination is seen to be unrecognizable. Other.â€™
(Frith Powell on his MuMu collection)
The four-room exhibition explores Frith Powellâ€™s extraordinary range and technical virtuosity. The main body of his work is from the conceptual and enigmatic MuMu collection, which includes beautiful and quietly challenging oil paintings, sculptures and drawings. The final gallery draws the viewer into the magical world of Frith Powellâ€™s alter ego. Entitled The Singular Apprenticeship of Fabio Penitente, this mysterious and enchanting â€˜hidden archiveâ€™ of small sculptures and drawings comprises an entire and coherent â€˜alternativeâ€™ culture, replete with its own meticulously sculpted artefacts.