Mixing It Up: Painting Today at the Hayward Gallery

We went to this eclectic exhibition of contemporary painting for our October Cog Night. Ed shares his highlights.


There was something for everyone at ‘Mixing It Up: Painting Today’.

This exhibition at the Hayward Gallery that we visited for our October Cog Night, featured an amazingly wide range of contemporary painting.

I’d never been to the Hayward Gallery before. It’s an amazing space. The post-war brutalist building is part of the iconic concrete arts spaces and walkways that make up the Southbank Centre.

The Cog team with ‘Samovar’ by Slavs and Tatars

Before we entered the exhibition we had time for a quick group photo in front of the latest commissioned piece of public art outside the gallery. ‘Samovar’ by Berlin art collective Slavs and Tatars is an oversized inflatable water urn, teapot and tray.

The comically enlarged sculpture was designed to lampoon the role tea plays in British history and its colonial past.

Emily looking at Jonathan Wateridge’s work

The exhibition itself was brilliantly curated.

It brought together the recent work of 31 contemporary painters, mostly based in the UK. As the exhibition title suggests, there was a real mix – of styles, techniques and ideas – on display.

From the exacting figurative work of Gareth Cadwallader to Rachel Jones’ colourful abstractions the expansive diversity of modern painting was celebrated here.

Michael enjoying Rachel Jones’ painting

I was particularly taken with the work of Lisa Brice. Her large-scale painting Smoke and Mirrors featured on much of the marketing material for the exhibition. It’s easy to see why.

The work, featuring female artists and models in a studio setting, distorts perceptions and plays with the idea of painting as a medium. It also had a cat in it, which I liked.

Ed with Lisa Brice’s Smoke and Mirrors behind him

There were quite a few cats in this exhibition actually.

Lyida Blakeley, a recent graduate from Goldsmiths, painted a joyfully studied depiction of the Persian Cat Room Guardian meme.

Blakeley’s work, which draws on the visual culture of the online world, is a brilliant example of the role painting can play in responding to modern life.

Lydia Blakeley’s depiction of the Persian Cat Room Guardian meme

It was a pleasure to see a familiar piece by Denzil Forrester.

Brixton Blue was commissioned by Art on the Underground, and usually hangs at Brixton tube station. It has also featured prominently on the website we designed and built for them.

The painting recreates an earlier work from 1982 called Three Wicked Men, centring on a businessman, a politician, and a policeman.

The exhibition space was on two floors. The lower galleries generally featured figurative work, whilst the upper galleries were more abstract.

Daniel Sinsel’s geometric abstractions were utterly captivating as was the stormy work of Oscar Murillo. Alvaro Barrington’s three dimensional work, incorporating concrete alongside acrylic paint, pushed the boundaries of what painting can do.

Alvaro Barrington’s Stop Drop

It was a pleasure to go round this exhibition with the Cog team. Each of us enjoyed different pieces – in one case Anna audibly gasped at the work of Louise Giovanelli.

Mixing It Up: Painting Today set out to showcase the exciting range of modern painting and more than met its mark.

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