The UK and the rest of Europe have made great leaps forward in LGBTQ rights legislation this century, such as the repeal of Section 28, the legalisation of same-sex marriage, and the Gender Recognition Act 2004. Despite this, queer people remain not only subject to violence, but are still so often reduced to harmful stereotypes within popular cultural representations. Particularly in conversations around trans rights, HIV/AIDS, and relationships, LGBTQ people are portrayed as immoral or untrustworthy, with the often-difficult reality of queer lives and cultures becoming increasingly abstract to mainstream audiences.
Newcastle-based artist Oliver Doe’s new exhibition, ‘Somewhere In Between’, questions the way that we see queer people, turning this abstraction on its head in order to proudly demonstrate LGBTQ bodies as a defiant site of political and cultural difference. Queer erasure is rendered into boldly coloured minimalist paintings, defiantly present in the space, and yet containing a pervading sense of absence in their reduced forms. The shapes in these images take their cues from bodily forms, viewed close up and magnified so that the actual bodies, their gender or identity, become unrecognisable. These forms then overlap, confusing the sense of positive and negative space between the figures, blurring the limits of these queer bodies further.
The colours in Doe’s works recall the oblique language of the varying pride flags, or indeed the notorious ‘hanky code’, each hue or combination implying an identity. And yet, whilst these broadly painted planes of colour are so obviously visible to the audiences, their actual meaning or coding remains implicit, and open to our interpretation. Viewers are left to cruise the colours of the gallery in search of meaning and identity amongst the abstraction.
The project will include a weekend-long public workshop run by nomadic organisation Queer Day School, giving voice to LGBTQ people who are outside of mainstream education, and helping to develop a better understanding of queer cultures through short talks and creative activities. 10% of proceeds from sales of work in this exhibition will go to akt, a charity providing safe homes and better futures for LGBTQ+ young people.
This exhibition is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England, as well as generous support from akt, Northern Pride, Orbis, and Pride Radio.
Exhibition preview: Wednesday 17 July 5-8pm
Oliver Doe: Biography
Oliver Doe was born in London in 1994 and lives in Newcastle upon Tyne. He studied BA Hons Fine Art at Newcastle University, 2012-16. Recent exhibitions include ‘Formations’, Gallagher & Turner, Newcastle upon Tyne, ‘UKYA City Takeover’, One Thoresby Street, Nottingham (2019), ‘Body, you are not me’, Abject 2 Gallery, Newcastle upon Tyne, and ‘Proximities’, Hartmann Center, Peoria, USA (2018). He curated and exhibited in ‘You’re Reading Into It: Queering Contemporary Minimalism’ at Vane in 2017. He has exhibited widely across the UK and USA, with work in several private collections across the world.
Vane was founded in 1997 in Newcastle upon Tyne in the North East of England. Vane opened a permanent gallery space in Newcastle city centre in 2005. In October 2011 Vane launched a gallery space on the first floor of Commercial Union House, 39 Pilgrim Street in the centre of Newcastle. Vane represents the work of a number of artists, both from across the UK and internationally, as well as showing the work of invited artists in collaboration with other galleries. The gallery directors are Paul Stone and Christopher Yeats. Vane is supported by Arts Council England.