Russell Tovey and Alexander Petalas’ personal art collections are thought-provoking in London
At Perimeter, London, ‘My Reflection of You’, a joint exhibition by collectors Russell Tovey and Alexander Petalas captures the reflective gaze and combines the work of established and emerging artists
‘My Reflection of You’, a new exhibition at London’s contemporary art space The Perimeter, brings together the personal art collections of owner Alexander Petalas and actor and arts advocate Russell Tovey.
The collaborative exhibition is a self-proclaimed “choose your own adventure” with no start or end point, encouraging viewers to explore at their own pace.
Petalas and Tovey deliberately mixed more established artists, such as Wolfgang Tillmans and Phyllida Barlow, with more up-and-coming names like Leidy Churchman and Shawanda Corbett. They ignore traditional hierarchies in favor of bringing together thought-provoking works. The goal, explains Tovey, is to champion art through “accessibility and alliance, amplifying and encouraging artists to continue and enabling people to enjoy art as much as possible.”
Katarina Fritsch, Seashell (pink)2013. Toyin Ojih Odutola, The abstraction of a continent2017-2018. Photography: Robert Glowacki
As we tour the gallery, the consideration and curatorial instincts of Petalas and Tovey are evident in the moments they provide through the subtly placed artworks and insightful themes that have been woven throughout. exposure.
The exhibition feels like a highlight of their career as collectors, where they display perspectives they have understood by hearing the stories of each work.
At Toyin Ojih Odutola The abstraction of a continent2018, is in unison with that of Katarina Frisch Muschel (pink), 2013. The two pieces are held in an intimate room in the basement and are singularly lit to accurately capture a moment of meditation. Odutola’s play is part of a series of visualizations of a Nigerian gay utopia, where royal families are brought together by gay sons. Frisch’s signature sculpture complements the painting in both its color and its symbolism of “going out into the world and becoming whoever you want to be,” says Petalas.
Joseph Yager, fear of heights2021. Karla Black, The myths allow2012. Ana Benaroya, my reflection of you2020. Photography: Robert Glowacki
The exhibition also explores the observation of works from different angles. A microcosm of Phyllida Barlow’s repertoire sits below the hearth, to be viewed from above, allowing her to hold a slightly secluded space next to the show’s titular painting by Ana Benaroya, as well as a 2016 painting by Etel Adnan. Walk down the spiral staircase to the basement and you’ll have a 360 degree view of Rebecca Warren. Sachs2013, seeing the filiform metal structure from all angles.
Tovey and Petalas selected focal works to build on for each piece and grew naturally from there, led by their respective curatorial talents. The resulting tableau delves into art’s ability to connect us in discrete moments of shared humanity. It triggers an “inner reflection on yourself, a reflection on others, on how you can affect someone,” says Petalas.
A highlight of the exhibition is the photography of Wolfgang Tillmans Sicily Morning2018. Its depiction of a hand holding an orange conveys the idea of unguarded moments that inspired Tovey and Petalas’ curation.
Katie Heck, In the dark2020. Guan Xiao, The tree girl2019. Doron Langberg, Untitled, 2020. Photography: Robert Glowacki
It anchors a naturally lit space on the first floor, which Tovey says is “meant to look like a spring morning.” Nearby are a sculpture by Guan Xiao, depicting two ambiguous celestial figures that guide you through the room, as well as paintings by Doron Langberg, Lisa Brice and Ann Craven, each capturing a moment of bliss. Collectively, the works suggest a mixture of euphoria and nostalgia.
Other spaces within The Perimeter have a more contemplative tone, including works by Joseph Yaeger, Salman Toor and Toyin Ojih Odutola, which consider snapshots of defining moments. The sculptural works of SoiL Thornton, Rebecca Warren, Katarina Frisch and Prem Sahib seek to spark discussion around queer experiences, class divisions and self-perception. The exhibition realizes Petalas and Tovey’s shared vision of capturing the reflective gaze in its various forms and, in doing so, creates a space that stimulates contemplation. §