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Laura Lancaster | Rachel Lancaster: Cadence

Workplace, London

Fri 20 Jan 2023 to Sat 4 Mar 2023

Artists: Laura Lancaster - Rachel Lancaster

Workplace presents Cadence - an exhibition of new paintings by Newcastle based artists Laura Lancaster and Rachel Lancaster that extends each artists’ preoccupation with ambiguous found imagery as a catalyst for heightened dramatic states. This exhibition is the first to exhibit the work of the identical twin sisters in direct relation to one another.

Installation Views

Though identical ‘mirror’ twins, who share a studio in Newcastle, Rachel and Laura Lancaster have both developed distinct strategies for making work. Laura Lancaster prepares for painting through an analytical investigation of the structure and composition of her chosen image which she then crops, photocopies and makes drawings of to distance her work from its source. Colour is reintroduced and a palette is carefully mixed, she then works with an alla prima (wet-on-wet) process in a single sitting, allowing the spontaneity of her mark making to hold a moment in dynamic tension. In contrast to this, Rachel Lancaster builds her paintings incrementally over time, applying multiple thin layers of oil paint to accrue on the canvas, creating a layered array of optical effects – the immediacy of the paint’s surface playing off against the hazy, half-remembered qualities characteristic of her chosen images. She manipulates colour and utilises cropping and mark-making techniques to play upon the latent, dreamlike sense of otherness found in cinema, reimagining this upon the canvas.

The figure is central to the work of Laura Lancaster, its presence intensified by the opposing entropic force of abstraction which perpetually subsumes and engulfs the protagonist. Images that are of their era - located in time through incidental clues such as clothing, pose, and contingent detail - are monumentalised by Laura through painting. Rendered ambiguous through the looseness of her brushwork, images gleaned from found photographic images are dissociated from their specific context and orphaned from their original narrative to be re-presented as fragments. Through this process of isolation and dislocation her works become uncanny and symbolic, operating as signifiers of a wider, collective memory and a shared existential consciousness.

Rachel Lancaster isolates imagery that she finds in popular culture such as video, TV and from her own photographs of objects. She draws upon film theory and in particular the Hitchcockian use of the MacGuffin - an object, device, or event that is necessary to the plot and the motivation of the characters, but insignificant, unimportant, or irrelevant in itself. Rachel Lancaster is indebted to the painterly tradition of still life, and in particular vanitas works – symbolic still lifes that communicate earthly transience and the inevitability of death. Rachel depicts objects as detailed fragments divorced from greater narratives, rendering those fragments both descriptive and abstract, ambiguous and open-ended; the close-up texture of a slice of cake, for example, or an unlabelled parcel, uncannily illuminated, playfully enigmatic.

In Western musical theory, a cadence (Latin cadentia, "a falling") is the end of a phrase in which the melody or harmony creates a sense of full or partial resolution. Both Laura and Rachel Lancaster’s work present imagery that suspend fleeting temporal moments in a psychologically charged state. Their strategic use of ambiguity creates the potential for unresolved momentary fragments of a larger story to take centre stage, and creates a resonant pause that allows deeper emotional undercurrents to come forth and find resolve.

Laura Lancaster (b.1979, Hartlepool, UK) lives and works in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK. She completed her BA in Fine Art at Northumbria University.
Recent solo exhibitions include Closer and Further Away, Workplace, London, UK; Inside Mirror, Wooson Gallery, South Korea; Running Towards Nothing, Night Gallery, Los Angeles; Laura Lancaster, New Art Gallery, Walsall, UK; and A Stranger's Dream, Sargent's Daughters, New York, NY.
She has been included in group exhibitions at Marlborough Gallery, London, UK; Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens, Sunderland, UK; New Art Gallery, Walsall, UK; Royal Academy, London, UK; Museum of Art, Kochi, Japan; Itami City Museum of Art, Hyogo/Osaka, Japan; and Dunedin Public Art Gallery, Dunedin, New Zealand.

Lancaster’s work is included in The British Council Collection, UK; New Art Gallery, Walsall, UK; Nerman Museum, Kansas, USA; and The Government Art Collection, UK. Her work has been published in Vitamin P3: New Perspectives in Painting for Phaidon Press, and Picturing People by Charlotte Mullins for Thames and Hudson.

Rachel Lancaster (b.1979, Hartlepool, UK) lives and works in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK. She completed her MFA in Fine Art at Newcastle University and her BA in Fine Art at Northumbria University.
She has exhibited widely and taken part in numerous projects, performances and artist residencies both nationally and internationally. She has been included in group exhibitions at The Auxiliary, Middlesbrough, UK; Elysium Gallery, Swansea, Wales, UK; Art Spot Korin, Kyoto, Japan and Venice, Italy; Royal Academy, London, UK; Rye Art Gallery, Kent, UK; Huddersfield Art Gallery, Huddersfield, UK; Baltic 39, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK; and Kotti-Shop, Berlin, Germany.

Lancaster is the recipient of Ares Mosaic Art Prize, BEEP Painting Prize, and was shortlisted for the Contemporary British Painting Prize. She was Artist-in-Residence at Alewive Brook Road in New York, the former residence and studio of Elaine De Kooning. Her work is held in multiple private collections.

Courtesy of the artists and Workplace

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