Deptford may seem like a a surprising choice for the home of a contemporary art gallery, but it's a burgeoning artistic hotspot. The locale surrounding the white bricked, high-ceilinged gallery of Elizabeth Xi Bauer is teaming with studios and art collectives, including their own in-house studio. The gallery's first exhibit of the year, Rolling With The Homies, is a delightful condensation of the sort of fresh, eclectic art being produced in and championed by the area.
Named after Coolio's 1990s hit Rollin' With My Homies, made infamous by the classic 1995 film Clueless, the exhibition similarly seeks to welcome fresh energy into an already-established consortium of talent of artists from all over the world, from Eastern Europe to South America. Alexandra Zarins makes a roaring debut with her series of hypnotically gritty oil paintings depicting swirling hands and knotted fingers. I Would Share Everything With You, If You Would Only Listen (2022) is a mesmerising tangle of cupped limbs and swirling hair, inspired by sharing secrets with her sister.
There's a tender yearning to her work, a subtle calm beneath the chaos, although she's not the only artist harnessing the powerful force of these conflicting energies: Theo Ereira-Guyer's works exude similar qualities of controlled chaos. His use of raw materials - seeds collected during his residency at FONTE in Sao Paulo and ripped, superimposed canvas sheeting - stand almost in contrast to the artificially bright colours of his fragmented and unguarded landscapes. Cătălin Marius Petrișor Hereșanu's canvases also provide a delightful explosion of colour and contrast, channeling mesmeric seas of geometry between rich blues and deep reds.
The sculptural work of the exhibition makes great use of the wide yet transformative space. Marta Jakobovits's brutalist background is brought forward by a series of coarse yet natural ceramics and personal glazes resting peacefully on a bed dead leaves, contrasting wonderfully with Antonio Pichillá's lovingly draped fabric and textile piece, inspired by contemporary Tz’utujil concepts of nationalities. The cool tones of Jokobovits horizontal work are a charming juxtaposition to the rich, Mayan-inspired primaries of Pichillá's vertical one. The gallery in general embraces its own form - exposed brass piping rising upwards to run parallel to a set stunning industrial beaming and impressive skylights - very successfully. Their in-house studio has also produced stunning results, housing Isreali-born in-house artist Abraham Kritzman, whose 'home-away-from-home' has pushed him to experience some of the most creatively fulfilling months of his career. His works lie somewhere between painting and sculpture, featuring heavy layering that allows the lightness of the canvas to appear as if it's blooming from within and the darker shades to draw the eye in deep. You can tell they have been created with their final physical context in mind; gritty textures circulate over the top of these infinite surfaces, catching the light and anchoring the pieces in the bright white sea of the gallery's wall.
The international, eclectic and youthful nature of the gallery's artists shines through in this triumph of an exhibition. The themes are coherent enough to tie each piece both to itself and to each-other, yet diverse enough to create manifold narratives within an unstatic space. Any contemporary gallery braving the leap outside of Mayfair should certainly look to Elizabeth Xi Bauer both in aesthetics and curation as a blueprint for a new generation of exhibition spaces.