Francis at Connolly Group Exhibition

On the first floor of Connolly’s Georgian townhouse at 4 Clifford Street, Mayfair, an understated collection of ceramics, sculptures, stoneware, photography and paintings occupies the two rooms of the salon. The collaborative group show – running from 1 November 2019 to the first week of January 2020 – has been curated by Isabel Ettedgui and Eric Dieumegard of Connolly, who selected the works from Francis Gallery’s roster of artists.


Paintings by Jean-Baptiste Besançon and Spencer Fung hang on the yellow wood-panelled walls of the first room, engaged in a textural interplay across the warm space. On the marble mantelpiece, a work in thick layers of yellow and navy paint has been paired with deep black Accolay vases. A blue, swirling form on a larger canvas, selected from Besançon’s The Blue Hour series, lends an anchoring weight to the arrangement. Opposite, two smaller works of Chinese ink on antique note paper by Spencer Fung draw the viewer’s gaze into their dynamic, expressive brush strokes – Fung’s spontaneous records of encounters with natural rock forms.


On the white wood panels of the salon proper, a panoramic display of Matthew Johnson’s photography wraps the viewer in a 360-degree embrace. The wistful images – captured at long exposure on 35mm film from a moving train – result in dreamlike landscapes and abstract forms, which suggest the haze of memory, or a blurred, half-perceived journey. Hung low along the walls, the works evoke the train windows that once framed these flashing landscapes. On marble side tables, recessed in the deep windows, stoneware by Yoon-Young Hur and Paul Philp, and sculptures in white jesmonite by Mari-Ruth Oda, seem to bask in their contrasting materiality.


Two further sculptures by Mari-Ruth Oda rest on trays in the centre of the room, their gently curving forms inviting a haptic gaze. Behind the sofa, a moon jar by Kim Sang-In sits on an antique Korean stand on a marble-topped desk, its delicate porcelain surface gleaming at times white, at times a subtle blue. On the opposite side of the room, at eye level atop a black wardrobe, is a large bowl-shaped vessel by Paul Philp, the patina of its irregular, textured surface rich enough to have been acquired over centuries. The relaxed yet considered placement of these pieces in Connolly’s comfortable, domestic space creates a sense of familial intimacy between the artworks.