VITRINE is delighted to present ‘A Significant Threat’, a solo exhibition by emerging artist Rudy Loewe. Loewe uses painting and drawing as a method to interrogate and expose Britain’s role in suppressing Black Power movements in the English-speaking Caribbean during the 1960s and 70s.
‘A Significant Threat’ brings together paintings on canvas and board produced over 2022 and 2023, which are part of an ongoing visual examination of archival research carried out during Loewe’s PhD inThe National Archives from the Information Research Department, a secret unit within the Foreign & Commonwealth Office. The documents uncovered serve as source and reference material to the heavily researched and informed paintings, which reflects on the artist’s Caribbean heritage and interprets the history and stories they have found during their research.
Giving voice to those suppressed by the British state during this period, Loewe wants to unearth forgotten and hidden figures to bring justice and pay tribute to the work undertaken for Caribbean independence. In doing so, they question the dominant retelling of independence that has been prescribed and controlled by the British Empire.
On the main wall of the gallery a group of paintings are installed in a comic book format - outlined and ordered in the direction of reading or viewing - from top left to bottom right. Like the content of the paintings which bring together text and imagery, the format ensures the works remain accessible, allowing the viewer to learn about this important part of history by providing context and imagery entwined.
The ‘Trinidad’ series presented in this exhibition highlights moments from the Black Power Revolution in Trinidad & Tobago in February 1970. This included a growing atmosphere of rebellion at Carnival, depicted in ‘February 1970, Trinidad #1’, black Trinidadians in solidarity with Asian Trinidadian sugar workers, as seen in ‘March to Caroni, Trinidad #2’, and soldiers from the Teteron Bay barracks in ‘An Unsuccessful Rebellion, Trinidad #3’.
Further instances of uprising that were suppressed by British colonial rule are depicted in other paintings in the exhibition, such as The Second Regional Black Power Conference, scheduled to take place in 1970 in Barbados. Loewe made a Freedom of Information request to access the archival record documenting a proposed visit by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office to the conference for an individual linked to the Swiss Press Review, but the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office denied the request as a matter of national security. However, Loewe did uncover that in 1969 the Information Research Department infiltrated the First Regional Black Power Conference in Bermuda. This story is seen in ‘The First Regional Black Power Conference, Bermuda #1’.
Included as part of the exhibition is a reading space created by the artist. The space offers visitors time for reflection and an opportunity to read and engage with material Loewe has used as reference or been influenced by. Fundamental aspects to Loewe’s practice is understanding and context which allows for informed interpretation of the history they are depicting.
On Saturday 22 July at 12pm, VITRINE will host an artist talk at the gallery in which Loewe will discuss their research and work. Approx. duration 1 hour.
Rudy Loewe (b. 1987, London, UK) lives and works in London, UK. They hold a BA in Illustration from the University of Brighton, UK (2010), an MFA in Visual Communication from Konstfack, Stockholm, SE (2018) and is currently working towards a PhD in Fine Art Practice at the University ofLondon. Residencies include: Early Years Artists in Residence, The Serpentine Gallery, London, UK (2020); Distributed Identities residency, Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, Canada (2019); We Dey, X Space, AU (2019); The Bothy Project, Scotland (2019).
Loewe has exhibited internationally in institutions and galleries including: Humber Street Gallery, Hull, UK; South London Gallery, London, UK; New Art Exchange, Nottingham, UK; Botkyrka Konsthall, Stockholm, SE; Vallentuna Kulturhus, Stockholm, SE; Marabour parken, Stockholm, SE; RoyalAcademy, London, UK; Regart Centre D’Artistes En Art Actuel, Lévis, CA; Dobra Vaga, Ljubljana, SI; 198 Contemporary Arts and Learning, London, UK; Staffordshire St, London, UK; Ugly Duck, London,UK.
They have had public commissions including: LDN WMN billboard commissioned by Tate and the Mayor of London, London, UK; Becontree Forever schools project, commissioned by Barking & Dagenham council, London, UK; The Depths of Our History, Contemporary Art Space Project commissioned by Iniva and RSA Academies, UK; Black Women in History, Pen Store shopfront window, Stockholm, SE; PROCESSIONS banner commissioned by Artichoke, London, UK; Draw OrDie! Grafikens Hus shopfront window, Södertälje, SE.
Current exhibitions include the artists largest public sculpture commission to date as part of the Liverpool Biennial 2023, UK (until September 2023).