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On The Table Read, “the best arts magazine in the UK“, new solo exhibition from artist OPAKE, Sanity Through Repetition, channels the energy of addiction.
OPAKE: SANITY THROUGH REPETITION
20 October – 5 November 2022, Quantus Gallery
Former homeless crack addict, Ed Worley, a graffiti and pop artist from St Albans, known as ‘Opake’, is holding a new art exhibition in London.
Opening on 20th October at the Quantus Gallery in London’s East End, the exhibition features 30 unique works, created specifically for this solo show. Each piece follows the influences and contours of Opake’s personal journey through addiction.
34-year-old artist OPAKE looks to demonstrate the power of using creativity to turn his a life around. Through his raw honesty and confidence, OPAKE hopes to inspire others who may be in flux to change the course of their own lives.
With work described as storybook realism, Combining graffiti with pop art, the storybook realism style blurs the boundaries of traditional 19th century portrait photography with popular cartoon imagery. He joins the lineage of other pop artists such as Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Keith Haring and Claes Oldenburg.
Opake first tried alcohol at age 9 before progressing to illegal drugs and self-harming at boarding school. At the same time, he became obsessed with becoming a graffiti artist, stealing art materials, breaking into tube yards and dangling off bridges to spray-paint.
By 16 he was taking cocaine, and things spiralled from there. Throughout his early 20s, OPAKE battled addiction and drug use. Throughout much of his period, he struggled with psychosis and insanity before having a massive seizure in his mid-twenties. After moving to New York to work for an animation company, he decided to clean up and become a proper father to his girlfriend’s son — and the couple how have another a child together.
Art And Addiction
“I realised my art could be my addiction,” he says of using this dark shadow of his early life in his artwork. “Being obsessive-compulsive, becoming addicted to things — if you can channel that into something creative instead of something harmful, you can be so powerful. I can live in the moment and hyperfocus, so my brain doesn’t wander to those dark places it used to. Anyone with these tendencies can easily abuse them, but if you harness that ability, it’s an incredible gift.”
Other noted artists have struggled with addiction. From Jean Michel Basquiat, who would exchange his artworks for heroin to Jackson Pollock’s struggles with alcoholism and Vincent van Gogh’s addiction to absinthe — its connection or block to self-expression and creativity has long been a — controversial — debate.
For Opake it is the fear of the past combined with ambition for the future that now drive him forward.
‘Having the responsibility of two children, plus that human connection, is a huge part of why I remain sober today,’ he says.
Sanity Through Repetition
OPAKE’s owrk features stylised and hyperreal depictions of Disney and other cartoon characters, evoking the pop artists of the 1960s, whose work questioned assumptions about high and low art, including Roy Lichtenstein’s ‘Look Mickey’ (1961).
“Lichtenstein… injected his art with a dark humour that inverted the visuals he transposed. By enlarging comic scenes and lifting them from their initial contexts, he presented a sly version of the clichéd image.” (National Gallery)
Opake learned to harness the obsessive-compulsive elements of his personality to aid his recovery, and channelled that energy into his creativity. His new exhibition features themes of repetition, taking inspiration from the definition of insanity being “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” This reality is at once comforting and familiar or claustrophobic and destructive depending on context and the empirical experience of the viewer.
Quantus Gallery itself is challenging art market orthodoxy, disuptring the status quo by putting its focus on artists, like Opake, who work outside the mainstream platforms.
Founder of Quantus Gallery, James Ryan, said, “There’s an increased appetite for work by artists with new, diverse voices, who have had their talents overlooked by other galleries due to not attending certain art schools or having a particular background.”
Quantus Gallery works closely with artists in the traditional and digital sphere, offering emerging and established collectors an avenue for exploration and discovery. The gallery is home to an independent and impartial art advisory service which works to build private collections. As a hybrid gallery we cater to those interested in the traditional market with some of our artists offering NFTs backed with physical and tangible art.
Find more now:
Exhibition is FREE
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