The mixed-media exhibition; Two Worlds is yet another exciting addition to The Hastings Arts Forum’s increasingly dynamic programme of shows and events. The gallery re-opened its doors to the public earlier this year in July, as the restrictions imposed by the lockdown started to ease. Despite facing immense pressure financially – as so many in the Arts sector have in recent months – the Forum has continued to host a variety of engaging and diverse shows, whilst also providing an essential platform for local artists within a Covid-secure community space.

Monkey Back by Brian Rybolt

The title of the show: Two Worlds is both literal and metaphorical in tone, presenting a dual creative perspective on travel and the wonders of escapism. It features the work of photographer Brian Rybolt and artist Jean Davey Winter, both of whom reside in the vicinity of Hastings and St Leonards.

Brian Rybolt was originally born in Los Angeles, but has since travelled extensively throughout his career as a photographer. His work has been featured in numerous shows in the UK and USA Rybolt’s section of the exhibition is a vibrant photographic showcase, captured during a short stay in Las Vegas. The neon-drenched images provide an illicit insight into the hyperbolic fantasy land of one of the world’s most notorious cities.

The latter visuals include a series of decidedly intimate portraits, from an ungainly Marilyn Monroe (complete with chest hair and lopsided wig!),to a pair of scantily attired Playboy Bunnies, caught mid-flight between the twinkling lights of the towering casinos, now immortalised forever on film.

The photographs are highly stylised in tone and display a particular penchant for the unusual and, at times, lurid subject matter, all of which are presented within an enticingly lavish framework of innate excess.

Hide and Seek by Jean Davey Winter

As a self-confessed fan of all things Americana and having once traversed the exuberant sights of Las Vegas myself pre-pandemic, I found Rybolt’s work to be especially compelling, its heady mix of the bizarre and the surreal a welcome, almost hypnotic release compared to the sobering reality of more recent times.

Jean Davey Winter has exhibited her work extensively in both private and personal collections, from the UK to distant metropolises in Japan and the United States. Travel is a key theme in her thoughtful, yet quietly assured creative output of mixed-media artwork. Davey Winter’s contribution to Two Worlds was inspired by a visit to Cuba, in 2017, a trip which had a marked influence on her subsequent work as an artist.

Stand-out images such as Walking through Walls and Hide and Seek effortlessly convey the sultry hedonism of a country still battling with the ghosts and conflicts of its complex socio-political past. By using a considered palette to communicate her interpretation of the latter, Jean Davey Winter knowingly guides her audience through a forbidden land, one imbued with culture and abstract grandeur – still seemingly very much at odds with the pre-assigned ideals of the capitalist West. Her eclectic paintings are an elusive and dreamlike embodiment; of the artist’s own restless soul and ongoing desire to explore new nations and hidden realms.

Perhaps the most notable element of Two Worlds as an exhibition is the contrasting nature of its featured artists, whose vision is both shared and yet wholly unique.

Brian Rybolt’s lucid snapshots of a whirlwind trip to the playground of the rich, famous and woefully forlorn perfectly compliment the meditative, more self-exploratory tones of Jean Davey Winter’s work.

Two Worlds celebrates the gloriously conflicting elements of humanity from a truly global view, inviting visitors on a journey into the beguiling uncertainty of the unknown.

Two Worlds ran from the 22nd September-4th October 2020. Please refer to the Hastings Arts Forum website for further information on forthcoming
shows and events:

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