Mind ZeroSaatchi Gallery, London, 2019
‘Mind Zero’ presents a new body of works by British artist Nancy Cadogan and marks her first solo exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery. Nancy’s paintings reward those who look deeply and with care; they capture the joy of thoughtful observation, of delighting in the things we surround ourselves with. With this exhibition, Nancy goes beyond mere observation to reveal the inner workings of her mind through imagined compositions.
Nancy’s paintings encourage the viewer to engage in mindful contemplation and explore how we inhabit the space, and the way one’s mind flits between places, things and memories. There is an emphasis on colour and movement rather than clarity of outline, and optical effects are achieved through the balance of colour instead of perspective and shadow. Her works touch on the theme of Japonaiserie (a term coined by Vincent van Gogh to express the influence of Japanese art in his work) in their smooth surfaces and pleasing ukiyo-e arrangement of forms.
The works speak of a pleasure in the beauty of the everyday: a chin resting on a book, mugs of tea, scented lilies, splendid foliage and flowering potted plants. The arrangement of things is dreamlike but not surreal, echoing the way our surroundings often become unfocused when in deep contemplation.
More sensory than literal, the scenes suggest the way a wandering mind slips over things perceived, the way ideas are connected by objects and how thoughts spill into each other. The paintings collapse boundaries and the conscious and unconscious are simultaneously present, in the real and imagined. Colour is also used vividly; bold sections of cerulean and blue, magenta and emerald green carry the immediacy of Nancy’s joy in painting. She takes pleasure in process and composition in a way that is reminiscent of David Hockney’s celebratory landscapes. Nancy says,
“This is home, this is where I paint, and I am ready to share that now. We gain so much pleasure from the environments we create, the gardens we sow, the things we collect. It is often in the small details of domesticity, or in the order of our work and materials, that we find the most joy. In a way they are about how I respond emotionally to the place I live, how my mind collects images, how I analyse or ruminate on my response, then turn to painting for resolution.“
‘Mind Zero’ follows the success of Nancy’s 2018 solo exhibition, ‘Still Reading’ at Shapero Rare Books which presented a series of intimately scaled still-life paintings, each featuring a closed book paired with an emotive object. In these, she created works that stimulated ‘slow looking’ encouraging the viewer to take their time.