It’s hard to believe that Rose Wylie’s current display, Quack Quack, at Serpentine Sackler Gallery in Hyde Park is her first institutional solo exhibition.
Gathering material and ideas for her pieces from art history, cinema and comic books, news and celebrity stories and observations through the course of daily life, Wylie tends to paint through her memory’s filter. She uses text to anchor recollections and facts, and edits slippages in the compositions by overlaying new pieces of canvas, like a collage. The energy in her canvasses is unmissable, offering visitors a fresh perspective on the world and encouraging us to ask questions about how and why we remember things, both individually and as part of a wider social context.
“In my life I stack and heap up notations of experiences and often repeat this process in combinations of paintings as I see them in my mind,” says Wylie.
Though Wylie was born in 1934, Quack Quack includes a selection of paintings from the late 1990s to the present day, some of which have never previously been exhibited. There’s a local slant too – Park Dogs & Air Raid is a new painting (2017) inspired by the artist’s childhood recollections of living in close proximity to Kensington Gardens for a short period during the Second World War. Here she combines the landscape of the park, the lake, dogs, ducks and present-day Serpentine Sackler Gallery with memories of Spitfires and Messerschmitt planes fighting overhead.
Artistic director Hans Ulrich Obist says this exhibition poses important questions such as: “What constitutes our faculty for memory, can it be reliable, can one narrate oneself, and what role does memory play in the digital era, as an information overload affects our capacity to remember, retrieve and reinterpret?”
This exhibition is part of the Serpentine’s remit to work with pioneering and influential British artists, including Phyllida Barlow, Michael Craig-Martin, John Latham and Gustav Metzger on their first major institutional exhibitions in London.
See Rose Wylie’s works until Sunday 11 February at Serpentine Galleries: www.serpentinegalleries.org