Andrew Litten 'Ordinary Bodies, Ordinary Bones'

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Fully illustrated online catalogue of the exhibition 'Ordinary Bodies, Ordinary Bones' at Anima-Mundi produced with support of Arts Council England.

Andrew Litten

Ordinary Bodies, Ordinary Bones


“How strange that as I’m dying,

you’re calmly alive.”

Taijun Takeda, The Outcast Generation

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What could be more ordinary? It happens to us all.

We are born... We die. We all fumble to shape the

in between as best as we can. Aided by something

or someone other. Liberated or suppressed

by invitation or trespass. We rub against in

passing, and sometimes stop and intertwine.

Held, dependent, soothed or smothered. Life’s

solitude breached. Sometimes scars remain. Soft

blemishes and jagged tears. Conjurers of dormant

joy and tears, comfort and fears. We all have to

dance although we sometimes try to hide in the

corner. We take turns to be led and then to lead.

This becomes our journey, so we follow its path.

We Skip, trip (tripped?), fall, huddle, hide, lift

(lifted?), repeat… until...

It is our personal yet shared tribulation to come

to terms with the juggle and link between our

inner accumulated psychic complexity and those

everyday occurrences that are happening to us

and around us all the time until our approaching

end. Our bodies and our minds soak up, but our

bodies and our minds also leak. How impolite and

embarrassing. We are all spilling out, although of

course we try to button up and contain ourselves

whilst we can. We’ve got to have some clinging

and grasping order amongst the whirling chaos.

However - this art says otherwise, because the

truth says otherwise. I think Andrew Litten’s unique

paintings are extraordinary. It takes enormous

courage for honesty to out, for our nature to be

stripped bare and for the artist and the audience

to be left un-guarded. Litten’s strength as an artist

is in this intense vulnerability and his idiosyncratic

ability to encapsulate what is ostensibly, ordinary.

The raw, brutal yet patiently honed, human

scale paintings remind us of the timeless and

unparalleled capacity for paint (when used

appropriately) to suggest both the physical and

metaphysical. Gestural expression is manifested in

the mass of paint and emphasis of mark, containing

within it pure human emotion. Reflecting both our

psycho-state and external and internal bodily

physicality. The visceral, viscous traces contain

life, making these paintings intensely behavioural.

Smaller works on paper feel more blistering by

comparison. Vaporous and rapid, like stretched

skin or fleeting thought. Yet there is a shadow that

remains stitched. An ephemeral moment creates

an evaporating yet punctuated image. In addition

Litten has also made a number of significant small

scale sculptural works. Rather than reflecting

the mediums capacity to suggest weight, mass

and rootedness, these raw yet sophisticated

sculptures, appear animated suggesting struggle,

movement, contortion and liminality alongside

deep connectivity.

Litten states that “creativity is empowering and

empathy is powerful. I want to create art that

speaks of the love, anger, loss, personal growth

and the private confusions we all experience in

our lives. Perhaps subversive, tender, malevolent,

compassionate, the need to see raw human

existence drives it all forwards.” As he drives

forward we have no choice but to follow, whether we

like it or not. Life’s complex, rich and fleeting journey

awaits us taking us all the way to the end of the line.

Joseph Clarke, 2018

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Ventriloquist

oil on board | 122 x 215 cm

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Ventriloquist

mixed media on paper | 57 x 76 cm

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Soon She Will Be Gone

oil, acrylic on raw canvas | 150 x 150 cm

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Copulate

mixed media on paper | 65 x 50 cm

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Sexual Intercourse

oil on canvas | 147 x 150 cm

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Warm

mixed media on paper | 50 x 65 cm

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Sitting

mixed media | 18 x 20 x 30 cm

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Couple

mixed media | 26 x 26 x 30 cm

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Couple

oil, acrylic on board | 122 x 140 cm

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Impotent Worry

mixed media on paper | 70 x 100 cm

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Liminal Stage

mixed media on paper | 70 x 100 cm

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Boy Versus Man

mixed media on paper | 50 x 62 cm

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Superseding

mixed media on board | 60 x 63 cm

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Facing The Inevitability of Defeat

mixed media on paper | 100 x 70 cm

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Paranoid Head

mixed media on paper | 100 x 70 cm

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Paranoid Head

oil on board | 120 x 95 cm

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Still Similar (In Variations)

oil, acrylic on canvas | 170 x 100 cm each

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Breathing

oil on canvas | 180 x 125 cm

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Arguing With His Broken Mind That Never Makes Sense

oil on board | 86 x 169 cm

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Sudden Involuntary Chemical Withdrawal

oil on canvas | 120 x 120 cm

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Head of a Dying Man

mixed media on paper | 100 x 70 cm

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Head of a Dying Man

mixed media | 30 x 33 x 45 cm

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Leaking

mixed media on paper | 65 x 50 cm

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Rubber Glove Hygiene

mixed media on paper | 100 x 70 cm

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Red Car Significance

mixed media on paper | 100 x 70 cm

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Street Shrine

oil, acrylic on board | 110 x 240 cm

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Andrew Litten is a British artist, born in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire in 1970. He

currently works from his studio in Fowey, Cornwall.

His dynamic and gestural figurative paintings express a strong interest in the

universal complexity of everyday existence. Dealing with humanistic themes such

as love, sensuality, fear, anger, loss, nostalgia, mundanity, personal growth

and perceived identity normality or disturbance. Paintings are created with an

unguarded, empathetic attitude, like so many expressionistic artists, a rawness

of approach combined with an often viscous application of paint is also key to

the extreme experience felt from the work. Gesture and nuance inspire extreme

emotive reading, perhaps subversive, tender, passionate, ambivalent, malevolent

or compassionate, our response becomes one of allure or repulsion.

Litten is a self-taught artist leaving art college as a teenager having found

it to be too restrictive to his aspired method of working. For a decade he

created mostly small-scale works using humble domestic or found materials

(including envelopes and assembled furniture parts). The work made at this time

deliberately challenged ideas of art elitism and art as commodity. He then moved

to Cornwall in 2001 and chose to begin exhibiting. Early success came when

his work was included in an exhibition titled ‘Nudes’ in New York City, (along

with Jacob Epstein and Pierre-Auguste Renoir), where his work was highlighted

and reviewed by the New York Times. Shortly after he had four consecutive

solo exhibitions each of which included publications at Goldifsh Fine Arts in

Penzance, Cornwall. Other notable exhibitions included ‘Move’ at Vyner Street,

London, during Frieze Art Week 2007, where his work ‘Dog Breeder’, created as

a twisted and emphatic anti-art statement, was exhibited. He was also included

in ‘No Soul For Sale’ at Tate Modern Turbine Hall, London in 2010. In 2012 he

held a major solo exhibition at Millennium in St Ives, Cornwall and that year was

given a guest solo exhibition at L13 Light Industrial Workshop, London. He has

also held large-scale solo exhibitions at Spike Island and Motorcade FlashParade

in Bristol. Ordinary Bodies, Ordinary Bones was conceived with support from The

Arts Council, UK and will be exhibited at Anima Mundi in 2018. Works have been

included in numerous international curated mixed exhibitions in Berlin, Dublin,

Siena, Milwaukee and New York City and in Venice during the 54th Biennale. Most

recently paintings have been exhibited in four major museums in China. Andrew

Litten paintings feature in numerous international private and public collections.

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Published by Anima-Mundi to coincide with the exhibition ‘Ordinary Bodies, Ordinary Bones’ by Andrew Litten

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Street-an-Pol . St. Ives . Cornwall . Tel: 44 (0)1736 793121 . Email: mail@anima-mundi.co.uk . www.anima-mundi.co.uk


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