Something dark is happening under the Westway, and it’s all Nana Wolke’s doing. The young Slovenian artist convened a gathering, inviting cabbies and performers to a north Kensington underpass. She filmed the proceedings, but the screen in this show faces the wall, it’s unwatchable, leaving her paintings as the only real documents of what happened.
These are deeply voyeuristic images of private rituals in an underpass, a place of steamed up car windows, shivering with sensual potential. A woman’s hand lies on her lap in one painting, a huge engagement ring glistening on her finger. In another, fat bald men mill around in football shirts, waiting for something unseen to kick off. There are paintings of a man’s stiff, starched shirt collar, an empty parking lot, a row of black cabs, another of the rear bumper of a car, its tow bar a protruding tittering euphemism. What has happened here? What's about to happen?
Wolke has created dark, blue-bathed paintings of night time eeriness. It’s like JG Ballard’s ‘Crash’ if everyone in it was a cabbie from Wapping called Dave.
On the one hand it feels like art about private spaces, about being able to express yourself in a city where you’re never alone, never not being watched, never able to stand still. But on the other, there’s a filthy underbelly being scratched here, a pervasive, grimy sense of threat and sleaze that leaves you feeling grubby, tense and very uncomfortable.