Poly Play – a painting and portrait exhibition

text and photos by Katie Pickerell

A spontaneous exhibition as part of Kunsttanker, open studios by Oliver Espace and Katie Pickerell.Espace’s photographs invert the male gaze, capturing, candidly, his boys. Espace captures the more delicate side of masculinity, a real side, one which is unfortunately not often represented, especially amongst the patriarchal white walls of a gallery space. However, Espace’s boys are loud and proud, hung unevenly, they create movement throughout the space.

Photograph by Oliver Espace

Pickerell paints ‘Fly girls’ half human, half fly hybrids, never clothed, always colourful. The figures are always the same, although they do not always represent the same person. The repetition of the same character takes away the question of identity and allows the viewer to see or be seen by the paintings.


Espace and Pickerell merge their works in the space to create an installation. On entry, the two artists sit on coloured cushions on the floor, a big rainbow rug is hung on the wall, with one of Espace’s boys hanging in the middle like a shrine. Traditional Chinese ethnic music is playing as you enter the room and one might feel like they have entered some sort of queer art temple.

A shrine

Pickerell’s paintings vary in size from giant to miniature. One painting hangs out of the wall and one particular “Crucifixion party” is stuck to a mirrored pillar, where other hidden treats are to be found, by the more explorative viewer, such as, bright feathers and polaroids taken by Espace.

Photogrpahs by Oliver Espace #2

The exhibition is playful, humorous and fun, one that doesn’t take itself too seriously. However, to queer up the white walls of the gallery is something that should be taken very seriously, for as long as we conform to the structure of the white space, we are conforming to the patriarcies framework of what culture is. Politics does not and should not have to be aggressive. Politics can be playful, poke fun, and be creative.

Oliver Espace nad Katie Pickerell

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