Tension Art Gallery, 135 Maple Rd, London, SE20 8LP

Tension is an artist-run gallery dedicated to showcasing the work and raising the profiles of emerging and mid-career local, national and international artists. We show a mixture of contemporary & experimental art that questions what art is and what art could be.


First impressions on entering the gallery are of a body of work teetering on the edge of chaos. I am instantly reminded of the far-too-familiar confusion of war-torn landscapes.

I am initially pulled into and around the gallery by the rhythm of the arrangement of work on the walls: canvas overlaps paper, paper overlaps printed media and printed media becomes wall. The effect generated is of a strong beat around the periphery of the space…viewing the work in this way seems almost processional.

There is a range of media and processes on show, each connected through the use of intuitive mark-making. Primary colours and expressive gestural marks generate a vivid sense of an intense and energetic performance. While contingent on the materials used, human agency is conspicuous: deliberation and surrendered impulse in equal measure. Characteristic of these works too is a desire to disregard the typical expectations of framing. Each work appears to be escaping its own form or framing device in some way: fragments of found and discarded ephemera seep from the edges of their box frames and multiples of 3D dogs appear to be digging their way out of the gallery space. I enjoy the way in which these tactics remind me of the skin and fabric of the building and how quickly this points to the outside world beyond the gallery. This defiance is a joy to encounter.

The title of this show, ’Soliloquy’ leans into the viewer to invite understanding. This, together with the systematic and sensitive unravelling nature of the artist’s conversation with John Bunker helps us to better understand Turner’s motivations and processes. Bunker expertly teases out the connections between Turner’s life history with the work on the show to offer a greater breadth of understanding of the artist and the work within the wider context of modern, post-modern and contemporary art. Connecting the dots in this way is revealing. It seems clear that this work might be better understood as an internal landscape. The work in Soliloquy presents as controlled defiance. It seeks to defy the frame in which it is presented but holds itself carefully within the familiarity of the language of art as we understand it.