Stephen Chambers: The Court of Redonda

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Saturday, 24 February 2018 to Sunday, 20 May 2018

‘Chambers’ work is strikingly relevant because he takes the familiar and puts it on a bigger scale. The personal and the universal are stories closely weaved and inextricably bound...’ Lucy Binnersley, The London Magazine

The Heong Gallery at Downing College, University of Cambridge, is delighted to announce the UK presentation of The Court of Redonda – a major solo exhibition by Stephen Chambers RA, following its highly acclaimed unveiling as a Collateral Event of the 2017 Venice Biennale.

The Court of Redonda is a vast collective portrait of an imaginary court of maverick and singular individuals. The installation of 101 paintings articulates the role played by artists in envisaging a world not how it is, but how it could be. Featuring subjects drawn from different epochs and cultures and hung with reference to historic portrait collections, the court imagines a utopian society that celebrates the creative and idiosyncratic.

The Court of Redonda is inspired by a literary legend that has developed around a tiny, uninhabited island in the Caribbean Sea. Redonda was claimed in 1865 by a merchant trader who established an honorary monarchy that has been passed down to the present through a literary lineage. Collisions in fact and fiction about the island are described by the novelist Javier Marías, who was until recently a King of Redonda. Sparked by a ‘mental collaboration’ with Marías, who appointed many notable writers and artists to his imaginary court, Chambers has created a collective of individuals, where creativity is honoured over hereditary privilege.

Curated by Emma Hill, The Court of Redonda was made over a two-year period that coincided with Britain’s referendum about leaving the European Union and touches upon themes of identity, heredity and nationalism.

As Rod Mengham describes it: ‘The art of Stephen Chambers makes visible the patterns of meaning that activate the individual imagination from within and without; his patterns refer us to the stories uniting us as a group, even when they are stories of division and rivalry: stories about islands, and their relationship to bigger land masses....’

Stephen Chambers was elected to the Royal Academy of Art, in London, in 2005 and was awarded an Honorary Fellowship from Downing College at the University of Cambridge, in 2016. The Court of Redonda was shown at the Venice Biennale in 2017 and followed solo exhibitions at the Royal Academy, London (2012) and the Pera Museum, Istanbul (2014).

Image above: Lady of the Labyrinth, 2017 © Stephen Chambers, photography by SCS. Images courtesy The Heong Gallery at Downing College, Cambridge.

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Stephen Chambers (b.1960, UK), who was elected a Royal Academician in 2005, graduated with a Masters from Chelsea College of Art, London in 1983. He has won many scholarships and awards, including a Rome scholarship, the Mark Rothko Memorial Trust Travelling Award, and from 1998-9 he was the Kettle’s Yard/Downing College Cambridge Fellow. He was awarded an Honorary Fellowship by Downing College, University of Cambridge, in 2016. He has exhibited widely, with more than 40 solo presentations, including the Royal Academy of Arts, London and the Pera Museum, Istanbul.

His work is held in many international collections including Arts Council England; Deutsche Bank, London; Downing College, Cambridge; Government Art Collection, London; Metropolitan Museum, New York; Pera Museum, Istanbul; Victoria and Albert Museum, London. He has collaborated with Ashley Page and Orlando Gough on three contemporary dance productions for The Royal Ballet, London, and with poets – including Jacques Jouet – on a series of artists’ books.

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+44 (0) 01223 746300

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The Heong Gallery, Downing College, Cambridge, CB2 1DQ

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