Courage Exists In Us brings together works in a range of media by Contemporary artists, with pieces from Dickinson’s inventory to consider the theme of courage. Conceived and curated by Daniel Malarkey, the exhibition – originally scheduled to take place in Dickinson’s Mayfair Gallery and now presented exclusively online – will include examples by Jean-Marie Appriou, Pablo Bronstein and Purdey Fitzherbert, among others, in an imagined dialogue with paintings by Matisse, Gérôme and Renoir.
Approaching the theme from various directions, Malarkey brings together works that depict courageous acts; works whose creation required the bravery of the artist; and other pieces calling for a more personal or imaginative interpretation. As Malarkey explains his motivation: ‘This exhibition takes place in a Britain reeling with the struggles of Covid-19, a Brexit deadline without a deal, and a true questioning of a national identity. This exhibition invites the visitor to meditate on courage. Without taking a political or social point of view, I hope this exhibition inspires all of us to rise up to meet the challenges in our path. We will look back one day and be amazed that, despite all these challenges, we were able to meet and overcome them. Courage exists in us.’
Featured works include American artist Tom Schneider’s Pondering Delacroix, depicting Jacob wrestling the Angel, and Jean-Marie Appriou’s sculpture The Seated Astronaut, which tacklesmotifs of exploration and isolation. In other pieces, the theme of courage is less overt: Rui Miguel Leitão Ferreira’s audacious nude self-portrait, for instance, reflects the courage of exposing oneself to the viewer.
Sanou Oumar’s imaginative abstractions are courageous in their very creation. An asylum seeker in New York originally from Burkina Faso, Oumar creates art using any tools he can find, including his own identity card. Russian Panic Button, by Argentinian Pablo Bronstein, gives us pause to wonder when it may be time to ask for help. British artist Purdey Fitzherbert identifies courage in relinquishing control of her own work, observing: ‘I constantly battle with questions of control and ownership: there is a tension between trusting the process, and my ego trying to dominate and govern the fate of the outcome.’
These and other Contemporary works are juxtaposed with pieces by more established names, chosen by Malarkey from Dickinson’s inventory.Highlights include Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s Portrait de fillette sur fond bleu (c. 1890), which for Malarkey calls to mind the courage of children, and Jean-Léon Gérôme’s Les Baigneuses du Harem (1901), which provides a counterpoint to Ferreira’s contemporary nude in its more traditional treatment of the theme.
Courage Exists in Us focuses on the effects of unexpected groupings as well as on the individual pieces. In envisioning a show combining paintings, sculpture and furniture, and spanning centuries and the globe, Malarkey imagines the experience of a private collector’s home. New works will be announced throughout the show’s run, accompanied by a social media campaign and online content.
Running from 10 November through 10 December exclusively online, with a VIP preview and checklist of works available on 7 November, Courage Exists in Us continues Dickinson’s programme of inviting guest curators to stage collaborative exhibitions – previous years have seen us welcoming David Morris (2019), Lennox Cato (2017), Guinevere Antiques (2016) – and of hosting other galleries, including Stephen Ongpin Fine Art and Lyndsey Ingram, in both our London and New York spaces.