On 19 November, the Irish artist Conrad Frankel’s debut UK exhibition “The First People” opened at Art Work Space gallery in London.
The basement of a Bayswater hotel is a very unlikely place to find an art gallery. The Hempel Hotel is tucked away in Craven Gardens and is a pig of a place to find if you have not been there before – especially on a windy night in November. But Naomi Murtagh, partner of Bottle Apostle’s Andrew Eakin, has found a very striking venue in which to showcase art.
“The First People” showcases 17 of Conrad Frankel’s oil on canvas works based on nineteenth century portrait photographs. The combination of forensic draughtsmanship and a varnish finish makes the paintings look from a distance as if they really are photographs.
The thousand yard – or rather, five second exposure – stare of the subjects gives them a slightly unnerving tone. Some of the portraits have a very subtle hint of flesh tones on the cheeks, barely discernible except up close.
Prices for the Frankel canvases range from £500 for the 3.75″ x 4.25″ Tiny Sisters to £5,500 for 60″ x 48″ pictures.
The exhibition runs until 14 January 2010.