Hobson’s Choice: Phil Illingworth, Frightening Albert at WW Gallery, Hatton Garden

17 May 2012 By
Hobson's Choice: Phil Illingworth at WW

Paul Hobson, Director of the Contemporary Art Society, recommends his favourite exhibition of the week.

11 April – 12 May 2012

34/35 Hatton Garden, London EC1N 8DX

Open Wednesday – Friday 11.00 – 18.00, Saturday 11.00 – 16.00, or by appointment – 07531 342 128


WW Gallery has recently opened a new space in a former jewellery workshop in the heart of the historic jewellery quarter, Hatton Garden with an inaugural show by British artist, Phil Illingworth.  The exhibition brings together a group of sculptural works that explore the conventions and possibilities of paintings.  Entitled ‘Frightening Albert’ it refers to the infamous psychological experiments conducted by behaviourist John B Watson which involved exposing a nine month old child Albert B to a series of stimuli including a white rat, a rabbit, a monkey, masks and burning newspapers, observing the boy’s reactions before introducing disturbing noises to condition an emotional response.  The exhibition takes unguarded curiosity as a point of departure, exposing the viewer to a series of works which are playfully attractive and intriguing but, in some cases, generate a form of low-grade anxiety in their materiality and format.  All of the works tread a careful but attention-seeking line between sculpture and painting and return to Modernist agendas around the conventions of specific media. Canvas-like sculptures punctuate their flatness, turning their backs to the viewer to reveal their supports and become objects through a variety of formal and conceptual strategies, whilst signalling an overt desire to stimulate the sense in seductive combinations of materials, primary colours and perceptual tricks. A quirky body of work, with a sense of humour and child-like invitation to be surprised – but if you’re going to visit, the show closes this weekend!

Image: Phil Illingworth, 84% agree, dyed cotton, chenille, lime wood, enamel paint, varnish, wadding, plywood, 2011. Courtesy the artist and WW Gallery

Let us know what you think at membership@contemporaryartsociety.org