Yes, it is a painful position! That is why so many prefer women of the demi-monde. If you don’t succeed in that case it only shows that you have not enough money, but in this case one’s pride is in the balance. But here’s the train.
— Count Vronsky, Chapter XVII of Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy
Demimonde, curated by Mottahedan Projects and Slate Projects, is a group exhibition of 31 young artists held in historic Amberwood House. Located opposite the Victoria & Albert Museum, the house is the former residence of Dame Margot Fonteyn, prima ballerina assoluta of the Royal Ballet. Scheduled for renovation at the end of January, Amberwood House is a unique exhibition setting, with a number of rooms distributed over three floors. Demimonde invites an exploration of the house in its transitional state through a sequence of curated rooms and site-specific installations in a variety of media, from painting and sculpture to video and photography.
The French word for ‘half-world’, in the nineteenth century ‘demi-monde’ referred to a social milieu ambiguously located between high and low culture. Demimonde touches on the in-between status of Amberwood House itself, as well as the tension between art and commerce, irony and sincerity, digital and analogue, past and future, process and concept, pop and highbrow which characterises much of contemporary creation.
Demimonde includes a show-within-a-show of minimalist paintings in which direct evidence of the hand of the artist is concealed, with work by Alex Ball, Ben Cove, Christopher Page, Lee Marshall, Charley Peters and Nick Jensen. Other UK-based painters in the show include Miroslav Pomichal (Bloomberg New Contemporaries, 2014) and Rae Hicks (John Moores prizewinner, 2014) as well as Ross M Brown, James Collins, Tom Farthing, and Tom Savery.
Three New-York-based artists, all recent graduates of Yale School of Art, are included in the exhibition, with painting by Skyler Brickley and Aaron Gilbert, and Daniel Gordon’s erotic photographs of collaged newspaper sculptures.
Demimonde features a number of large installation pieces, notably Terry Ryu Kim’s partitioning of a room with switchable glass, Egle Jauncems’ cut-fabric reimagining of eighteenth-century portrait sitters, Rosa Nussbaum’s immersive panel-based installation in the garden, Rob McKenzie’s homage to the American desert, as well as site-specific work by Ana Milenkovic and Sean Mullan.
Demimonde also includes photography by Nadège Mériau and Robin Friend, and experimental printmaking by Lewis Betts, Michael Iveson and Jack Brindley, as well as a series of sculptures by Peter Çan Bellamy, Matthew Cheale, Pablo Smidt and Adele Morse and a video work by Joel Chima.
List of artists:
Alex Ball, Peter Çan Bellamy, Lewis Betts, Skyler Brickley, Jack Brindley, Ross M Brown, Matthew Cheale, Joel Chima, James Collins, Ben Cove, Tom Farthing, Robin Friend, Aaron Gilbert, Daniel Gordon, Rae Hicks, Michael Iveson, Egle Jauncems, Nick Jensen, Lee Marshall, Rob McKenzie, Nadège Mériau, Ana Milenkovic, Adele Morse, Sean Mullan, Rosa Nussbaum, Christopher Page, Charley Peters, Miroslav Pomichal, Terry Ryu Kim, Tom Savery, Pablo Smidt