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De Brock presents a selection of paintings from the Moscow-born, London-based artist Yulia Iosilzon’s ongoing ‘Amanita Muscaria’ series. The binomial name of the common fly agaric or fly amanita species of mushroom, these fungi, with their frilled white gills protected by seductive, shapely, rubescent caps, freckled and flecked with white polka dots, are perhaps the most recognisable and culturally iconic toadstools found on the forest floor.

Now, these white speckled, crimson capped mushrooms find themselves at the center of Iosilzon’s latest suite of paintings, presented in a loose non-sequential narrative structure. Such fungal portrayals align poignantly with those magical mushrooms chronicled in Lewis Carroll’s illogical epic Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865). A particularly popular chapter sees the titular pre-teen protagonist encounter a contentious and quizzical caterpillar sitting atop an oversized ‘shroom, before experiencing severe shrinking and enlarging after ingesting chunks of the toadstool. These side effects suffered by Alice are suggestive of naturalist Mordecai Cubitt Cooke’s scientific study into the observed distortion of size perception experienced by subjects under the influence of the fungus’ powerful psychoactive effects.

Rendered in those familiar warm yet warning reds, as well as autumnal oranges and alluring crimson, here a calligraphic approach to shape and line not only imbues the Falstaffian fungi with a charming charisma and an appealing anthropomorphism but also serves to signify the artist’s hand within the painted pastures. Showing sympathy to the significant lineage of famed color-field painters, Iosilzon employs a soak staining technique similar to that popularized by Helen Frankenthaler in the 1950s and 60s. Setting her stretched silk canvases on the studio floor, the young artist embodies Narcissus perilously peering into the pool, pouring thinned oil paint directly onto the surface, allowing for spills, smears and stains to form. Iosilzon welcomes each fortuitous flare, embracing accidental artistry and incorporating improvisation into her painting practice, one grounded by prolific sketching but spurred on by spontaneity. Iosilzon, an alumnus of a musical academy following her mother’s unrealized dream of becoming an opera singer, arranges the elements of her paintings like an orchestra pit. Throughout, Iosilzon acts as the confident and consummate conductor, positioning each ensemble element to ensure harmonious balance and rhythmic repetition, and setting a steady tempo amongst the suite of melodic meadows.

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