The Door in the Wall, Jamiu Agboke and Joe Bloom, Curated by Sayori Radda

- “To him at least the Door in the Wall was a real door, leading through a real wall to immortal realities.”

The Door in the Wall, H.G. Wells

- “…The guise of wall and door offered him an outlet, a secret and peculiar passage of escape into another and altogether more beautiful world.”

The Door in the Wall, H.G. Wells

- “…he began to tell of the thing that was hidden in his life, the haunting memory of a beauty and a happiness that filled his heart with insatiable longings, that made all interests and spectacle of worldly life seem dull and tedious and vain to him.”

The Door in the Wall, H.G. Wells

Showcasing one work at a time, CONTRAPPUNTO presents a duo exhibition of London based painters Jamiu Agboke and Joe Bloom. The exhibition takes its departure from the short story ‘The Door in the Wall’, first published in 1906 by the renowned sci-fi Writer H.G. Wells. The title alludes to CONTRAPPUNTO’s architectural specificity, which showcases work that is embedded within VIN VIN’s gallery space, situated beyond a hidden door in the wall. Each work exhibited explores overarching themes and aesthetic references prevalent in the fictional fantastical tale of ‘The Door in the Wall.’

Based in the heart of urban London in the early 20th Century, the tale follows the highly intellectual and career driven protagonist Lionel Wallace, who, from the age of 5 years stumbles upon a mystical green door in a white wall on multiple occasions across the cityscape of London throughout his life. Wallace’s first and assumingly last entry through the door into an otherworldly plane, is described as an enchanted garden, whose unfathomable beauty is to haunt him throughout life. The narrator stresses that, “There was something in the very air of [the garden] that exhilarated, that gave one a sense of lightness…and well-being…something…that made all its colour clean and perfect and luminous.” The garden is conveyed as a “world with a different quality, a warmer light [filled with paths of] weedless beds with unattended flowers.” Wallace continues to portray this world as ever stretching, filled with hills, floralcarved marble architecture, co-existing jubilant people and animals described as ‘velvety beasts’, as well as a guide in the form of an ethereal mystical woman.

Although the affect evoked within the outlandish garden is one of ecstatic joy and serenity, the protagonist in the story was simultaneously compelled to reject succumbing to its beguiling charm in fear of neglecting everyday realities (career, duties and responsibilities). This is apparent when Wallace encounters yet rejects the door: “…I did not doubt then this career of mine was a thing that merited sacrifice…I saw another door opening – the door of my career.” The short story therefore examines the interrelations between imagination and rationality, the private and the public sphere, naturalism and science and the fantastical versus the mundane. The works exhibited by Agboke and Bloom reflect on such themes and explore the tales’ dualities as such.

As if the viewer is suspended in a mystified glimpse of a utopian dream or memory, Jamiu Agboke’s vibrant effusion of greens in Weeping Willow (2022) captures a fleeting moment of a whimsical, partially transparent figure playfully jumping or running across water amidst a wild landscape. Wild plants spring out of the figure like needles, as if the corporeality is erupting from or being formed by nature itself. Indeed, throughout its history, the willow symbolised fertility, new life, psychic ability as well as spirituality. In ancient Celtic folklore, the willow tree symbolised traditional novelties around enchantment and sorcery. In Bathers (2022), the viewer witnesses an intimately private encounter of an abstract figure in hues of blue and green, that amalgamate with its naturalistic setting. The symbiotically interwoven wind-like movement across the figure, its reflection, the water and nature surrounding it, animate the vibrant motif as if breathing in Unisom or coming to life.

Specifically commissioned for this exhibition, Joe Bloom’s works depict the tension between being drawn to yet being simultaneously repelled by the otherworldly garden Wallace encounters in the story. Interrogating as well as critiquing capitalist societal constructs and social norms in everyday life is a prerequisite in Blooms works. Such is portrayed through world-building intimate scenes depicting human and non-human conditions and interrelations the artist refers to as “micro stories”. I Fell Musing Deeply (2022), sets a postapocalyptic atmosphere in which a boy slides into a bleak postcapitalist scene, where seemingly morbid humans take their enchanted garden for granted, in favour of a hyper-capitalist work ethic. If Ever that Door Offers Itself to Me Again (2022), depicts a businessman in a suit, who, perhaps accidentally, has opened the door to an otherworldly magical plane. In this painting, vibrant butterflies larger than life collectively swarm and fill the space.

Jamiu Agboke

Jamiu Agboke is a Nigerian painter based in London who works with oil on canvas. He has completed an MA at the Royal Drawing School in London in 2022 and is currently championed by Guts Gallery in London, where he will be exhibiting his first solo show in 2024. Agboke has further been showcased at Harlseden High Street, London, UK (2022), Soho Revue, London, UK (2022) and The Split Gallery, London (UK). Recently, he has further been included in the publication ‘Bitter Sweet Review’ at the Royal College of Art.

Memories of conversations, objects and scenes emerging from both imagined dreams and tangible realities take form in Agboke’s compositions. Capturing sensations of his daily life, Agboke seeks to construct a scaffold that links how we negotiate our senses of being with our ways of perceiving the world around us.

Figures seem to shirk fixed positions; they drift, phasing through space, time and certainty, vividly engaging with their environments as equally as they cunningly elude them. Agboke’s compositions flow like a fleeting rhythmic melody, escaping any sense of permanent palpability while simultaneously committing to confidently collide into reality, albeit for brief, transient moments in time.

For Agboke, subverting mundane, day-to-day objects is a mode of revisiting. Humour is used as an avenue that can facilitate dealing with darker issues; figures and objects present more than any of their preconceived meanings or signals suggest.

Joe Bloom

Joe Bloom is a London based painter working primarily with oil on canvas as well being a Film maker. His work explores and critiques societal constructs and social norms in everyday life, by depicting human and non-human relations often set in vibrant landscapes. Bloom creates a didactic and unison motif by applying an intricate colour palette through copious colour mixing, that can therefore never be reproduced.

Bloom completed a BA at the Glasgow School of Art in the UK in 2017. He has exhibited with Mare Karina Show Room, Puglia, Italy (2022), SARP Gallery), Sicily, Italy (2022), Hastings Contemporary, East Sussex, UK, (2022), Whitechapel Gallery, London, UK (2020), Guts Gallery, London, UK (2020, Soho Revue, London, UK (2020 & 2022), Platform Southwark, London, UK (2021), Unit1 Gallery Workshop, London, UK (2021) and Changing Room Gallery, London, UK (2021)