Demi Stiles

2nd-15th May 2021
Curator: Becky Hancock

Middleground is excited to present ‘Cabra’, a solo exhibition of works by Demi Stiles (She/They). The exhibition is located in a home studio based in East Sussex. Due to the COVID-19 restrictions, the exhibition will be available via invite and online viewing from the 2nd to 15th of May, 2021.

Demi Stiles (b. 1997, Eastbourne, UK) is a London based emerging artist. Stiles graduated from a BA in Drawing at Camberwell University of the Arts London in 2020 and is represented by ‘Art Gazette’. Stiles has previously worked in large scale painting and sculpture installation which investigated ambiguous narratives with central themes exploring femme identity, gendered experience and the politics of space.

Since graduating and working in the midst of the pandemic, Stiles' practice has naturally evolved. The last year of lockdown has brought into question ‘what it means to be gendered during a period of severely restricted social engagement’. Stiles is interested in ways that perceptions of the domestic space have changed as a result of sweeping and overt politicalization, and how the ego - the concept of self - is affected by the absence of observation.

This has guided the artist’s practice to centre around small observations from within the home. Stiles’ paintings are built from real and imagined imagery providing the viewer with a sense of familiarity and comfort. The artist's manipulation of depth, contrast, tone and mark-making, has created a flat and distorted perspective of the familiar that depicts an idyllic interior scenery. These captured scenes create a momentary attachment to space, arising concepts of nostalgia, sentiment and attachment.

Stiles has been producing smaller works and embedding them into gaudy hand-made wooden frames. There is a focus on exaggerating the objecthood of the works - leaning into an attachment to craft, kitsch and decorativism through a bold and garish style. Mundane observations of a corner of a kitchen or a bathroom sink become moments of subject, translated through a maximalist, child-like stylisation, harking back to vibrancy and a pace of time before lockdown.

An underlying mood becomes apparent when viewing the works together in ‘Cabra’ which is pensive, and impatient. Geometric patterns and a saturated palette is consistent throughout Stiles’ work, bringing together fragments of the everyday for the viewer to piece together.