Modernist Miniaturists celebrates the beauty and intrigue of the small format in contemporary art. Miniatures are an age-old way of working, stemming from the medieval times – often designed to be held in the hand as a talisman, as a religious aid to prayer or as a collector’s item, mostly created for the domestic sphere rather than for the public realm.
Here, the artists use the miniature format to make reference to the past, but update it with contemporary social commentary or witticisms. For example, Fee Greening uses the medieval method of dip-pen and ink and uses and iconographic motifs commonly found in traditional miniatures such as hands, eyes and halos around her figures, but gives her work a modern twist - her icons are celebrities (here they are women from art history: Yayoi Kusama, Peggy Guggenheim and Barbara Hepworth).
As well as being affordable and covetable to the collector, the miniature often has a practical element for the artist. For example, Isabella Cotier’s art is in miniature scale due to the fact that she sketches from life in her Moleskine notebook – capturing the passing moment and snapshots of everyday life (her new series for the exhibition is of people she’s sketched at Columbia Road Flower Market).
Miniatures have an often-underestimated power to captivate. Despite their small size, they are often dense in their richness and encourage the viewer to look a little closer and engage more intimately with a piece of art – rather than pass it by from a distance. In a generation where we are bombarded with over-sized visual signs and signals, miniatures are a treasured reminder that size is not everything.
All artworks were available to view at Benk and Bo from 15 November - 1st February 2019. An array of framed artworks as well as unframed pieces by each artist are available. The exhibition was in partnership with Frame Factory Ltd, who produced all of the frames.