Towards a Kinder Society: “Fragile Together” by Andrew Litten at JD Malat Gallery, London

In his new solo exhibition “Fragile Together” (running from May 12 to June 6 at JD Malat Gallery in Mayfair, London), Cornwall-based artist Andrew Litten (featured previously) explores our shared anxieties and concerns, felt more intensely and exposed more fully over the past year with the pandemic.

Andrew is known for raw depictions of universal emotions and inclinations. His art is stripped of decorative elements, cultural symbols and media references. They are reduced to pure feeling, without distractions—and this makes them revelatory.

“Fragile Together” evokes both physical and emotional fragility, alienation and neurosis. A woman bites nails, a man loses himself in alcohol. Regular logic and sense have also been disrupted. Legs are detached from torso, a man weirdly looks at a car, two small human figures stand upon the shoulders of an abstracted personality on a chair.

Alongside such imagery is delicate coexistence—a woman places a hand over the head of a dog, perhaps a couple is locked in an tender embrace, a child inches towards a fatherly figure. There’s an episode of mutual feeding at the table. We are broken and lonely creatures and yet forever open to giving and receiving, whatever the circumstance; our identity is tied to the bonds we are able to forge—these paintings seem to convey.

Particularly fascinating is the large triptych “Regenerate” where commemorative flowers lie at a railing behind which figures drift from side to side. Death and grief are too real here but they are not the end. The brilliant, bright colours of the artwork hint at positivity, growth, new energy.

Andrew Litten in his studio with the painting “Ventriloquist”. Courtesy of JD Malat Gallery.
Regenerate © Andrew Litten. Courtesy of JD Malat Gallery.

Through his art, Andrew hopes to contribute to the dialogue of developing a kinder society. He writes: “I seek to create stories of authenticity and to explore the part of us that wants to care—to compress a sense of endurance of human spirit.”

Adding: “The work itself is intended to be unguarded, full of raw nerves and emotionally varied. I look to create art that speaks of the love, anger, loss, personal growth and the private confusions we all experience in our lives. Where our vulnerability is made apparent, there is then a potential to relate to others. I want this exhibition to nurture a life affirming sense of our shared humanity and encourage wider readings of compassion. Empathy is powerful.”

The solo exhibition emerges out of last summer’s group show “Isolation Mastered” at the same gallery—exploring the experience of lockdown—where Andrew was one of 25 UK-based artists selected from over 1000 submissions.

“Fragile Together” at JD Malat Gallery, Mayfair, London. Courtesy of JD Malat Gallery.

A self-taught artist, Andrew (born 1970, Aylesbury) has exhibited widely in the UK, including at the Tate Modern in London. His work has also been exhibited in Germany, Poland, Italy, China, Mexico, USA and Australia. It can be found in the collections of the Milwaukee Art Museum USA; The Royal Cornwall Museum, UK; The Priseman Seabrook, UK; and the Falmouth Art Gallery, UK. His art has been used for cover images by publishers Faber and Faber (Plays by David Farr) and Bloodaxe Books (Silent in Finisterre by Jane Griffiths).

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The Clouds © Andrew Litten. Courtesy of JD Malat Gallery.
Leading an Old Dog © Andrew Litten. Courtesy of JD Malat Gallery.
Liminal Stage © Andrew Litten. Courtesy of JD Malat Gallery.
Alcohol Now © Andrew Litten. Courtesy of JD Malat Gallery.
Existing Together © Andrew Litten. Courtesy of JD Malat Gallery.
Nail Biting © Andrew Litten. Courtesy of JD Malat Gallery.
Red Car Significance © Andrew Litten. Courtesy of JD Malat Gallery.