'Tumble' by Jonathan Retallick in Gallerie VEmilė Petravičiūtė

“Mythologies, monochrome, chiaroscuro” (meaning ‘light-dark’ for those of you who need to scratch up on their Italian artistic terminology) are the three words used by Gallerie V to sum up their 2022 Autumn exhibition. This relatively large exhibit takes up all four floors of the gallery and consists of pieces from 11 young artists, aged 16 to 24. Despite the range of themes and mediums, all the pieces are unified by an emphasis on the play of light, shadow, myths, and monochrome. By grouping works by these themes, the exhibition invites the visitor to experience a mysterious and surreal journey around the gallery. Able to lose myself to this visual fantasy, I found the exhibition a captivating experience that I’d recommend to anyone looking for a moment of peace within the hustle and bustle of Cambridge.

A moment of peace within the hustle and bustle of Cambridge

Gallerie V is a very young gallery, both in years of existence and in the age of its artists. Since opening its doors only last year, the gallery has hosted five exhibitions, all made up of submissions they receive from artists aged 14 to 25. Pivoting around young talent in the UK, the gallery is an accessible place for emerging artists to get their work showcased to the public. All art mediums are welcome for submission, and the Autumn exhibition is no different, including paintings; a short film; photography; sculpture; and graphic drawings.

Upon entry, the visitor is confronted with two distinct colours dominating the ground floor of the gallery - the dark browns of Jonathan Retalling’s abstract oil paintings and the whites of Niaomi Boiko Stapleton’s intimate watercolours. Both these artists’ works explore the emotional connection to oneself and their environment through the use of mythology. Jonathan’s piece, named after Greek Goddess of Dawn, Eos, for example, depicts water and rocks inspired by the artist’s time living by the sea and Snowdonia. These paintings are also complemented by a collection of works by young female sculptors that raise questions about female identity and bodily freedom inspired by the stories of myth.

The remaining floors largely consist of monochrome drawings and photography. There were landscape pieces of Fenland Meadows by Molly Cawthorn and a series of photos taken during lockdown by Tavonga Mudzana, which both struck me as particularly gloomy —especially in comparison to the lively street of Saint John’s seen through the gallery’s windows. However, the contrast between the street view and the monochrome works only draws visitors to reinvestigate their own personal connections with their surroundings - a key aspect of the exhibit.

Leading you through an intimate adventure of shades, light, and colourlessness, the exhibition invites you to take a moment to pause and lose yourself. This immersion is helped by the use of Cambridge graduate, Chloe Kelly’s, short film. Like many other works at the display, the film was created during lockdown and explores the feeling of the unknown. With the use of recordings from the NASA Voyager and unearthly shots of planets, Chloe’s film completes the dreamy mood of the exhibition.

The gallery is devoted to showcasing young local talent

As the gallery is devoted to showcasing young local talent, the whole top floor is dedicated to 16-year-old Vienna Zhang’s painting collection. This Cambridge-based artist has achieved a vast amount of international recognition for her works considering her young age. Despite her youth, I promise you will not be disappointed by the brilliance of her oil portraits. Employed as the finale of this captivating journey, Zhang’s pieces highlight an appreciation of classic painting forms and female beauty.

Gallerie V successfully shows that splendid art can be found among our closest community if we just let ourselves explore the new and the unknown. I recommend including the exhibition as a short stop on your autumnal coffee walk around central Cambridge to allow yourself a moment to pause and get lost amongst this mesmerising work.