Sophie Ruigrok: today I feel relevant and alive

14 January - 12 February 2022

Sophie Ruigrok’s solo exhibition today I feel relevant and alive brings together a new body of pastel drawings completed over the last two years. Grounded in the artist’s interest in Jungian psychoanalysis and concepts of the collective unconscious and archetypes, Ruigrok creates work that investigates the extremities of human emotion.


Ruigrok’s subjects are drawn from a wide range of sources; movie stills, found photographs, and appropriations from art history are fused together with her own autobiographical encounters, memories and photography. In the work Positive Mental Attitude (2021), for instance, Ruigrok scrambles a laughing portrait of her close friends with a reference to the singing angels of Hubert and Jan Van Eyck’s Ghent Altarpiece. The resulting images are fragments from the past, present and imagined, coalesced into non-linear narratives.


The inherent ethereal quality of the pastels she uses and her approach of constructing networks of images rather than individual pieces allow for dreamlike sequences to play out – scales, emotions, and the sense of time and place undulate in heightened states of both euphoria and melancholia.


In the self-portrait You’re my limerent object (2022) Ruigrok references both a figure from Botticelli’s 15th century painting Primavera and HanaHaki, a fictional Japanese disease where the suffering victim of unrequited love begins to vomit petals and flowers.


Certain images recur throughout this body of work, but the repetition of motifs become increasingly refracted within the dream logic they occupy. Hands appear and reappear, symbolising human connection, preoccupied with a game of Cat’s Cradle or gutting a fish; open mouths reference Bernini’s Ecstasy of Saint Teresa, transforming states of religious adoration into contemporary modes of pleasure, anguish or consumption.


Appropriating the scale, palette and gleam of religious icon paintings, Ruigrok’s practice is an exploration into the parallels between everyday encounters and the spiritual. In today I feel relevant and alive, the viewer is invited to confront a world in which ecstasy appears not as an altered state, but as the simple intensification of our lived experience.


A new series of poems by Rachael Allen accompany the exhibition.


Sophie Ruigrok b. 1992, London. Lives and works in London.In 2019 she completed The Drawing Year Postgraduate Programme at The Royal Drawing School, London, UK. Recent exhibitions include A Grain of Sand, The Sunday Painter, London, UK, 2021; Bloomberg New Contemporaries, South London Gallery, London, UK, 2020; Onward & Upward: Art in Times of Uncertainty, Droog, Amsterdam, Netherlands; 2020, The Drawing Year 2018-19, The Royal Drawing School, London, UK; 2019.


Rachael Allen is the author of Kingdomland (Faber) and co-author of numerous artists’ books, including Nights of Poor Sleep (Prototype), Almost One, Say Again! (Slimvolume) and Green at an Angle (Kestle Barton). 

In the upper gallery we will be hosting Guts Gallery who will be presenting SALON, a group exhibition with works by Emanuel de Carvalho, Michael and Chiyan Ho, Motoko Ishibashi, Jack Jubb, Aaron Elvis Jupin, Juan Arango Palacios, Preston Pavlis and Kiki Wang.