Ania Hobson’s portraits of women, captured in moments of day-to-day life, stand perhaps in contrast to Barbara Kruger’s resounding knell of mortality. Yet this dialogue, between Hobson’s new body of work and the singular Kruger exhibited, reminds us that death, love and fear exist experientially in everyday moments, not as abstract concepts. Quotidian life overpowers symbolism, through the elevation of quiet human actions and moments.
Hobson’s work is concerned with the tension between her subject’s internal life and their existence in a populated space. In contrast, Kruger’s preoccupation remains famously with the circumstances of the world that we inhabit, and how external influences such as advertising and commerce, impact and even shape the reality of the individual. Hobson’s women can be understood as a stand-in for Kruger’s viewer, unable to escape the social conditions of the world around them.
Formally, Hobson’s paintings relate to that of celebrated British artist Lucian Freud. Both artists share a concern with the tactile nature of paint and the impasto left behind from the moving brushstroke. In contrast to Freud, however, Hobson’s portraits do not meditate on the unvarnished or borderline grotesque elements of flesh, rather celebrating the individuality of each of her female subjects through their self-expression.
This exhibition, as perhaps any juxtaposition, is concerned with moments of confrontation—occasionally overt, but for the most part implicit. The tension between our individual, autonomous constitution, and our necessarily social nature: the consequences that our expressions have on the world around us, and in turn on shaping others.
Ania Hobson (b. 1990, Suffolk, UK) lives and works in London and Suffolk, United Kingdom. In 2018 Hobson was awarded the Young Artist Award of the BP Portrait Awards, granted by the National Portrait Gallery, London, UK; an entry selected from an initial submission of 2,667 pieces from artists in 88 countries.
In 2022 Hobson’s work was included in a number of institutional exhibitions, including Women Painting Women at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, and Women of Now: Dialogues of Memory, Place and Identity at the Green Family Art Foundation, Dallas.
Barbara Kruger (b. 1945, Newark, NJ) lives and works in Los Angeles and New York, USA. Notable museum exhibitions include a 1999–2000 mid-career retrospective at The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles that traveled to the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Moderna Museet, Stockholm (2008–2011); Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt (2010–2011); Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich (2011–2012); Kunsthaus Bregenz, Austria (2013–2014); Modern Art Oxford (2014); National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC (2016-2017); Amorepacific Museum of Art, Seoul (2019); and the Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin (2022)
Kruger’s work is included in notable museum collections globally, from the Art Institute of Chicago; The Broad, Los Angeles; Institute of Contemporary Arts, London; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Museum Ludwig, Cologne; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; Saint Louis Art Museum, Saint Louis; Solomon R. Guggenheim, New York; Tate, London; to the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.