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13 January, 2024 — 18 February, 2024

Winter has barely arrived as the year 2024 rolled in. Tribulations arrived one after the other while people went on with their lives, mostly undisturbed. On the evening of January 2nd, while the American Continent was still asleep, the BBC reported on the airplane collision that had occurred hours before at Tokyo’s Haneda airport ‘a commercial jet rams into an earthquake relief plane bound for western Japan’.

Meanwhile, in the city of London the architecture sprouts out like weed, devouring its inhabitants. Young adults trek through the city, broadcasting digital textures in subway stations that never see daylight; as phone signal fades in the tunnel, they rest their eyes. If you pause amidst the concrete walls, perhaps you will hear the blood of the metropolis flowing. In Sam Creasey’s (b. 1993) work intricately layered oil paint creates texture on rough fabrics and services like jute, linen and plaster to communicate the complex dynamics that coalesce in the urban fabric. By also introducing fauna into the paintings, the artist constructs a more complicated dialogue, considering the city’s relationship with its natural underpinnings. These animal creatures are largely free of societal constraints, but in Creasey’s paintings they indifferently dwell amongst metaphoric imagery of Britain’s imperial past. Creasey reflects on his positionality as both artist and Londoner:

“I reinterpret my findings within urban exploration onto the painting surface. The work is not autobiographical per say, but it demonstrates my relationship with the part of the city I occupy. People in London are constantly on the move and anxious, the pace the city operates on can only be rivaled by a few other cities in the world. I sense an oscillating scuffle between the built environment, infrastructure, and its inhabitants. The city’s demands require a certain kind of resoluteness’.

Sam Creasey’s work captures the tensions between Britain’s past and present, metropolis and nature, human connection, and hierarchy. His paintings harken to the nostalgia inherent within national identity. As individuals, we too rely on nostalgia even as we crave newness. Ever we must grabble with this anxiety, while all around our collective consciousness battles against history and a future national identity unknown from its present.

Text by Faust Luo