Iona Rowland’s large scale works explore the interplay between painting and screen-printing. They comprise multiple layers of resampled imagery, screen-prints, spray paint, improvised brush stokes and squeegee marks which overlap and converge to create new, multidimensional narratives. The intuitive process is inspired by remixing methods used in early hip hop music and William S. Burroughs literary cut up technique, similarly isolating and rearranging found or archival material to communicate socio-cultural concerns, movements, and aspirations.
Notable across all works is the push and pull between fore, middle and background. The composition appears to be in a permanent state of flux, shifting according to where the viewer is standing.
Repetition and multiplication of imagery reinforces this sense of movement. In ‘The Evolution of Agatha Christie’ commissioned by Seven Dials, London, an archival image of Agatha Christie is silk screen printed three times, with subtle changes, achieved through varied transparencies and ink densities, occurring in each print. As viewers move, the adjacent portraits appear to merge; when the viewer is stationary, the images separate. Observing the work becomes experiential, much like watching a film in 3D. The riffing between singular and multiple images communicates the subject’s multi-faceted nature, the spectrum of the female experience, and the symbiotic relationship between individual and universal aspirations.
‘Starry Starry Night’ also uses multiple portraits to create the illusion of movement and transformation. The subject’s stance alters in each painting, and as the distance between installation and viewer grows, the work appears to metamorphose from painterly to cinematic, 2D to 3D, hand crafted to digital. A moment of parallax.
In creating the impression of a ‘motion image’ through painting and printmaking, the artist is offering a commentary on visual consumption in contemporary popular culture. The experience of viewing the works is congruent to watching ads flashing back and forth on digital billboards in Piccadilly Circus and on Times Square, or flicking through instagram stories and IGTV as content moves from influencer to influencer. Imagery is always transitioning and mutating yet it remains ultimately intangible, making it all the more seductive. Much like early hip hop tracks, from Public Enemies’ ‘Fight The Power’, to NWA’s ‘Straight Outta Compton’, Rowland’s paintings reveal the cultural dynamics and powers at play at the time and place of their creation.
Iona Rowland was born in Derby in 1990 and studied Fine Art at Kingston University from 2010-2013, before attending Sotheby’s Institute of Art in New York in 2015. Since graduating, she has exhibited widely across the UK in both solo and group shows. Key exhibitions include Indelible Traces at Nolias Gallery, London; MMNTM at Bohunk Institute, Nottingham; Regram at Slate London; A Futuristic Woman at Square Gallery, London; T2 Shoreditch, London; ING Discerning Eye 2017 and the Derwent Art Prize 2018, both at London’s prestigious Mall Galleries. She has also exhibited regularly at GX Gallery in Camberwell, London. Creating artwork for the public realm continues to be at the core of her practice - this year, the artist has delivered major commissions for Shaftesbury PLC and Boom Cycle, London. Her large scale paintings have been the subject of several feature films including Inspiring People by Beyond Time TV; and The Revival, a Mike Rymer film featuring Solomon O.B and sponsored by Weekend Offender. In 2019 filmmaker Phil Cooper will release a documentary film around the artist’s monumental commission Starry Starry Night. Iona Rowland’s work is held in private collections across the world.
Karen Baine’s on Iona Rowland’s public commission ‘The Evolution of Agatha Christie’
Born Derby (1990). Lives and works in London, UK.
2009 - 2010 / Ravensbourne College of Art, London / Foundation Diploma in Art, Design & Media
2010-2013 / Kingston University, London / BA (Hons) Fine Art / First Class Honours
2015 / Sotheby’s Instititute of Art, New York / Art World Marketing, PR & Communications
Selected public / large scale commissions
2019 / Boom Art / 4 x 1.3 m, acrylic, spray paint and screen print / Boom Cycle, Battersea Power Station, London (UK)
2019 / The Evolution of Agatha Christie / 2.2 x 3.6 m, acrylic, spray paint and screen print / Seven Dials, London (UK)
2018 / Starry Starry Night / 4.5 x 3.1 m, oil on canvas / Cheshire (UK)
2018 / Ioanna Ntenti . 1.5 x 1.5 m, oil on canvas / Dubai Marina (UAE)
2017 / Together / 1.8 x 1.9 m, oil and spray paint on canvas / Granary Square, London (UK)
2016 / Kate / 1.5 x 1.5 m, oil on canvas / Bratislava (Slovakia)
2016 / Spectacle / 1.5 x 2m, oil and screen print on canvas, Los Angeles (USA)
18-23 September 2018 / Derwent Art Prize / Mall Galleries, London (UK)
16-26 November 2017 / ING Discerning Eye / Mall Galleries, London (UK)
5 - 8 November 2016 / A Futuristic Woman / Square Gallery, London (UK)
17 October - 3 November 2016 / New Contemporaries / T2 Shoreditch, London (UK)
24 November 2015 - 5 January 2016 / Forty by Forty / GX Gallery, London (UK)
22 April - 9 May 2015 / Group exhibition with Charlie Waite and Graeme Chisholm / GX Gallery, London (UK)
2 - 22 November 2014 / Regram (solo exhibition) / Slate, London (UK)
2 - 16 May 2014 / Mmntm / Bohunk Institute, Nottingham (UK)
4 October 2013 - 20 January 2014 / Art as Fashion (solo exhibition) / Young Ideas, Derbyshire (UK)
18 - 20 April 2013 / Concrete / Collaborative show with artist Laurence Jones / Meanwhile Space, Stoke Newington, London (UK)
10 - 13 March 2012 / Multiple Choice / The Old Vic Tunnels, London (UK)
25 - 29 February 2012/ Indelible Traces / Nolias Gallery, London (UK)
Lectures & panel discussions
March 2019 / Boom Art Night: artist talk and mural unveiling / Boom Cycle, Battersea Power Station.
September 2018 / Digital Communications for Artists / Mall Galleries, London (UK)
August 2018 / Reaching New Audiences: Social Media and Exhibition Strategies for Artists / Guildford House Gallery, Guildford (UK)
November 2017 / Create and Connect, Artists in the Digital Age / ING Bank, London (UK)
Artist mentoring and public engagement workshops
March 2019 / The You Remix - International Women’s Day Hub / Seven Dials, London (UK). Event included a special screening of PUSH - a documentary film directed Sannchia Gaston and produced by Michaela Selway.
September 2018 / Professional Development Surgeries for Emerging Artists / Mall Galleries, London (UK)
August 2018 / Professional Development Surgeries for Emerging Artists / Guildford House Gallery, Guildford (UK)
Published Art Writing
June 2018 / Japanese Visual Culture / Essay published by the Daiwa Foundation Art Prize.
April 2018 / Ackroyd & Harvey, The Lark Descending / Surrey Unearthed / Click here to read.
June 2018 / The Evolving Exhibition / Surrey Unearthed / Click here to read.
July 2017 / Live Stream Your Revolution / Screenshot Magazine.
May 2015 / The London Group - Now and Then / After Nyne Magazine (print)
February 2019 (upcoming) / Starry Starry Night / Documentary film by Phil Cooper
August 2018 / In Conversation with Jonathan Parsons / Click here to view
January 2017 / The Revival, sponsored by Weekend Offender and featuring Solomon O.B / Click here to view and for further details.
June 2015 / Inspiring People, Beyond Time TV / Film by Viche’t Vong.