Charles Avery

Charles Avery, Untitled (Ducoli), 2006, pencil and gouache on paper, 99 x 134 cm. Private collection, The Netherlands
Charles Avery, Untitled (Ducoli), 2006, pencil and gouache on paper, 99 x 134 cm. Private collection, The Netherlands

The Islanders: An Introduction
28 February – 7 June 2009

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen is proud to present ‘The Islanders: An Introduction’. Scottish artist Charles Avery takes visitors on an expedition to an imaginary island. He tells a gripping story of a land without a name and without money, where the inhabitants can foretell the future and are addicted to Henderson’s pickled eggs. Drawings and sculptures of mysterious landscapes and absurd details invite the viewer to recreate the island in their own minds.

For the past four years, Charles Avery has been working on an epic project which seeks to define an imaginary island off the Scottish coast. Through drawings, models and texts Avery describes the topology, cosmology and inhabitants of this fictional territory, creating a challenging space for philosophical inquiry. With around twenty drawings and prints, ten sculptures and twenty works on paper with mixed techniques, the exhibition ‘The Islanders: An Introduction’ brings together the project so far.

Mythical beast
The artist is characterised as a bounty-hunter, retrieving artifacts and documenting scenes from the subjective realm. Visitors to the exhibition will discover mysterious landscapes such as the Eternal Forest, where the mythical beast the Noumenon is rumoured to live. Other exhibits include a large taxidermy sculpture of a fearsome Ridable, a magnificent specimen of the islands wildlife and the bitterly disgusting, but ruinously addictive gin-soaked pickled eggs which are sold in the island’s marketplace. Avery’s drawings and sculptures take us on a journey through a world that blurs appearance and reality, myth and fact.

Formal beauty
Avery's art is imbued with a formal beauty, humour, and a spirit of philosophical enquiry. Inspired by his upbringing on the island of Mull - and by time spent in Rome, and Hackney Avery’s work has its roots in figures as diverse as William Blake, Joseph Beuys, Joseph Kosuth, Jorge Luis Borges, Ludwig Wittgenstein and P.G. Wodehouse. Once complete, Avery plans for his Island project to be encapsulated in several large, leather-bound encyclopaedic volumes.

Charles Avery was born in Oban in 1973 and is based in London. He has exhibited widely both in Britain and internationally. Parts of the ‘The Islanders’ project have been exhibited in Galerie Arquebuse, Geneva (2007) and Galleria Sonia Rosso, Turin (2006). He has recently been selected for the forthcoming TATE Triennial in 2009. ‘The Islanders: An Introduction’ is the first Charles Avery exhibition held in the Netherlands. It is organised in collaboration with Parasol unit foundation for contemporary art in London and the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh. A book published by Parasol unit accompanies the exhibition, with contributions by Nicolas Bourriaud, Tom Morton and Ziba de Weck Ardalan.