Many artists come in pairs: Gilbert and George, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera and the recent pairing of Klimt and Schiele at the Royal Academy of Arts. However, the painter Anna Liber Lewis and musician Kieran Hebden are doing things differently for their collaborative project, Muscle Memory, at Elephant West. Anna Liber Lewis works primarily in oil on canvas, creating vibrant, abstract paintings that place mismatched shapes on top of one another. Kieran Hebden, known by his stage name Four Tet, is a solo musician whose electronic music has been played in renowned music venues across the globe.
Despite their mediums of art being at opposite ends of the spectrum, their works seem to complement each other in unexpected ways. Both Liber Lewis and Hebden have created new pieces for this exhibition, made in response to each other’s practice. Liber Lewis talks to Elephant West and states that “we are both influenced by how we move through the world and the people and things close to us”. However, the connection between Liber Lewis and Hebden transcends their physical work, as this growing collaboration comes from a childhood friendship. The artists are also both grieving their separate fathers, who triadically passed away in the last year. This organic connection makes the space feel inviting and not as if they have simply forced two juxtaposing artists in a room and said, “put on an exhibition”.
If you make it to Elephant West at the right times, you can simultaneously observe Liber Lewis’ bold paintings and listen to Hebden’s new tracks blaring out of the speakers. Made specifically for this show in response to Liber Lewis’ work, Hebden’s music layers different sounds, making you feel as if you are back in an East London club during the early hours of the morning. The title Muscle Memory plays on the idea of the show as a multi-sensory experience, encouraging visitors to move, dance and shake their body in time to the music. Although not able to build up the courage myself to let loose on a Sunday afternoon, this space aims to break out of the traditional white cube gallery environment and create a more inviting place for people to engage with art.
Created by Elephant Magazine, Elephant West is a new space that hosts a range of events around their projects to try and activate it. On 27 February, Four Tet will be playing an exclusive live show within the project space, as well as talks with Liber Lewis and contemporary dance performances with BalletBoyz taking place next month. Muscle Memory will be on show at Elephant West until 17 March 2019, so head on over to White City if you want to experience this multi-sensory show.