Experiments in Shape & Interplanetary Music - An exhibition by Victoria Topping

Victoria Topping presents ‘Experiments in Shape & Interplanetary Music’ a series of large and small scale graphic art works. Currently based in London, Topping’s practice encompasses graphic design, illustration, visual arts. Her creative style is heavily influenced by music, often citing a childhood fascination with her Grandfathers collection of Jazz records as an early source of inspiration. Victoria graduated form Bristol UWE in 2008 where she studied illustration. She has since exhibited in a number of exhibitions including solo shows with CAMP in London and Bristol gallery/music venue Donuts.

The images featured in ‘Experiments in Shape & Interplanetary music‘ are created using a combination of computer software and traditional drawing techniques. The images mix geometric shapes with base speakers, Skulls with textile samples. Each combination appears at once other-worldly and oddly familiar. The title ‘experiments in shape & interplanetary music’ infers a logic of inscription, whereby harmonics, rhythms and baselines are translated into image sequences. The layering and placement of imagery is evocative of the cut-and-paste D.J craft, the finished images deploy samples and fragments in there construction generating a very distinctive and personal style, a style with a deep affinity for its diverse cultural origins. One of the most distinctive features of Victoria’s illustrations and designs are the colours and shapes, the work adopts a hallucinogenic otherness - vivid, unabashed and without doubt, funky.

The artist’s interests in music and art appear at times inseparable. Elements of her visual style bring to mind the work of influential American illustrator Jim Flora, whose idiosyncratic illustration’s were used on many Jazz record selves from the 1940s and 1950s. Separated by a generation, the two illustrators share a ‘devilish sense of humor‘ blending playfulness and absurdity with sinister undercurrents. Both regard the space their shapes and figures occupy as limitless, the placement of objects within the picture plane appear to generate flat patterns or collections of notes rather than assuming the appearance of objects located within environments or landscapes.

Topping’s work explores an eclectic mixture of subject matter and visual paraphernalia whereby jazz, funk, disco and soul musical aesthetics are combined with modernist art and architecture, traditional wallpaper, textile design and pagan symbology. This combining and mixing of aesthetics once associated exclusively with a particular culture or sub culture expresses a contemporary global notion of identity. The images that Topping generates express her individuality through the personalisation and appropriation of other cultures. The images and collections of images beautifully explore hybridity and our changing perception of identity.

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