Review | Emotive Brutes at Trate Studios

Far from the crowded and anxious streets of a city that has made insomnia the rule, sits the rare exception, Emotive Brutes, a solo exhibition by the Canadian artist Trate.

Far from the crowded and anxious streets of a city that has made insomnia the rule, sits the rare exception, Emotive Brutes, a solo exhibition by the Canadian artist Trate. The path to Trate Studios encourages a slower pace, contemplation of surroundings that seem to broaden around us, setting the perfect tone for what then follows – an oasis in the middle of chaos.

The experience begins the moment one starts the journey towards the space where the exhibition resides. A warehouse overlooking Regent’s Canal – open, raw and white. There is music playing in the background, something from the artist’s personal collection of vinyl. The volume is beautifully balanced: not too high to the point of being overwhelming, not too low to the point of distracting one with the idea of trying to identify the melody. You are surrounded by history in furniture, grounding elements in a space that invites you to release control and float amongst your own thoughts. There is a sense of warmth, recognition almost, as one stands in the middle of the studio.

As the London debut of the artist’s work, Emotive Brutes is composed of twelve large-scale works in oil painted between the years of 2017 and 2018. The paintings can be seen here at their place of birth, the recently inaugurated gallery meets artist studio in East London.

Trate, a self-taught figurative artist, approaches the canvas not with a plan, but with a mood, the aftermath of seconds, minutes and hours of experiences gone past. There is no way of telling where he is headed once he begins, perhaps the reason why his creations seem to be constantly flowing, finished but not terminated, remarkably alive. The titles follow the last brushstroke as if a birthmark, something naturally born with them, something they always recognised themselves to be, even before being.

The bright colours are at first reassuring, exuberant cries of life that charm and challenge your senses. Eager for further stimulus, attention permeates the superficial layer and dives deep into detail. They stand tall and graceful, even in their elongated, dysmorphic bodies. Not self-consciously, but undoubtedly self-aware, they stare at you, they see through you, bearing witness to every event that has brought you to this one moment. The undefined lines of the genderless figures then grow into mirrors that allow you to feel them, that allow you to become them and them you.

Emotive Brutes depicts us, at our best and worst’, says Stephanie Silva, Curator and Art Director at Trate Studios.

With over twenty years using the medium, Trate seems to have developed a painterly language that transcends its own physical restraints. The texture revealed by the visibly different layers of brushstrokes creates a dimension where these evocative beings seem to exist and come to life of their own accord, as if the canvas is a portal from which they choose to grace us. They undress you, expose the core of your ego – not intimidating, but certainly intimate, an invitation to self-reflection.

Following an aesthetic that is both childlike and ethereal, that glimpses beyond the endless masks of social conventions, Trate’s work might be light in tone but substantial in its exploration of the human condition.

Emotive Brutes, a title that is both a second skin to the exhibition and humanity itself, can be experienced at Trate Studios, London. For further details:

Words by Maria Mendes.