YORK gallery According To McGee introduces a new painter and illustrator to their growing stable of artists this weekend for the Hyperrealism in America and Japan show.
Imogen Hawgood, from County Durham, brings her collection of realist paintings to Tower Street for a duo show with Pop artist and Ska legend Horace Panter, The Specials’ bassist.
“The inaugural aspect is important to the gallery as we continue to celebrate our 17th anniversary,” says co-director Greg McGee. “We’ve been blessed to run an art gallery in such a wonderful city through so many triumphant and difficult times.
“The worst thing to do is fossilise and rely on our biggest sellers. The beauty of York is that, as a city with so much heritage, there’s a huge market for all things contemporary, and we’ve always tried to engage with that.”
Horace Panter and his hyper-art is no stranger to the McGees. “I’ve been working with According To McGee for a number of years now and am delighted to be bringing Americana and Japanese street scenes to this exhibition with Imogen,” he says.
Panter’s slices of punk-infused realism are instantly recognisable on the gallery’s white walls. “From Edward Hopper-inspired depictions of Midwest motels to the inner-lit thrum of Japanese kiosks and sun-warmed Coca-Cola crates, his collection complements perfectly Imogen’s art, which explores the icons of Americana and the idea of ‘the road’ as a transitional and symbolic landscape,” says Greg.
Hawgood’s focus has turned to American landscapes and roadside imagery, together with experimentation with light leaks and colour effects. “Imogen spent some time in Los Angeles and is now lasering in on the American Dream, with its mythic allure of the West,” says gallery co-director Ails McGee.
“Viewers will see that her work is instantly cinematic. There’s the composition and lighting that feels really filmic and looks iconic and stylish, like a modern Hopper. Depictions of Cinerama Dome in Hollywood and Quentin Tarantino’s New Beverly Cinema help hammer home this vibe.”
Imogen says: “The freedom of the American open road has been a powerful image for generations on both sides of the Atlantic, representing for some self-discovery, for others a path to redemption.
“Through the use of my own photography, as well as found footage, the images I create juxtapose an air of nostalgia with contemporary viewpoints. I often use the interior of a car as a frame through which to view a passing landscape and try to capture a sense of movement through my composition and use of colour and lighting.”
While working on new images, Hawgood works up ideas by using a thumbnailing process influenced by film storyboarding. “Film is an important source of inspiration across many areas of my practice, influencing my choices across composition, colour and lighting,” she says,
“I’m particularly drawn by stark lighting traditionally used in film noir, and more contemporary takes on this genre, like the neon chaos of Ridley Scott’s neo-noir Blade Runner.
“Thematically, I’m also inspired by films such as Easy Rider, Thelma And Louise and Kalifornia; examples of narratives which also question the allure of the road and where it may lead.”
Hawgood has exhibited in the New Light exhibition at Scarborough Art Gallery and at the Holt Festival in Norfolk. In 2020 she was shortlisted for the ING Discerning Eye, John Hurt and Sworders art prizes; last year she was highly commended in the watercolour category at the Broadway Arts Festival competition. Overseas, her work has been shown at the Vestige Concept Gallery in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Ails concludes: “Horace Panter has taken his position in the pantheon of UK Pop artists. His contribution to the cultural landscape is indisputable, so it’s especially exciting to introduce Imogen to our collectors in this way.
“When established artists are in such proximity to rising stars, it can really make a gallery’s walls zing. This is a great result, not only for York’s cultural life, but also for the north, and we’re looking forward to seeing existing collectors and meeting new collectors this weekend.”
Horace Panter and Imogen Hawgood’s Hyperrealism in America and Japan exhibition runs at According To McGee, Tower Street, York, from March 12 to 25.
Gallery opening hours are: Monday to Friday, 11am to 3pm; Saturday, 11am to 4pm; or by appointment on 07973 653702.