Edel Assanti is pleased to present Lonnie Holley: The Growth of Communication, the artist’s first exhibition with the gallery and first UK solo show since his 2004 retrospective at IKON Gallery in Birmingham (UK).
Lonnie Holley’s (b. 1950, Birmingham, Alabama, USA) interdisciplinary practice encompasses sculpture, painting, photography, filmmaking, performance and music. Holley’s found mediums are imbued with cultural and artistic metaphor, combined into sculptures that commemorate and give narrative to places, people and events.
The Growth of Communication consists primarily of works made over the course of Holley’s recent trips to the UK, sourcing and salvaging materials and inspiration from his travels across the country. The works were assembled in Suffolk during the artist’s residency there in February, at which time he concurrently produced a commission with Artangel, performing and filming on Orford Ness. With an artistic vocabulary whose foundations are steeped in the dispossessed aura of the South’s vast industrial heritage, Holley was inherently inspired by the history of Orford Ness as a laboratory for technological innovation. The spectacular shingle spit served as a military testing site for 70 years, in which amongst other secret experiments, radar technology was developed.
Traveling between the Ness and a converted barn/studio each day, narratives and objects garnered from the site and surrounding area seeped into Holley’s creative process. The exhibition’s title work, The Growth of Communication, 2022, makes vivid allusions to contemporary technological entrapment. From the carcass of an antiquated dial telephone a trail of entangled cables emerge and knot themselves into a dense mass. Through these metal clusters multiple silhouettes of faces are discernible. Repeating spectral human forms throughout the paintings and works on paper signal ancestral presences, with symbolic references that point towards ideas of interconnectivity and interdependence, as padlocks, chains and wires shackle us to the histories and technologies we have created. The works in the exhibition seem to offer windows onto former and future worlds, yet are underpinned by a sense of the urgent need for humanity to apprehend our shared universal destiny.