Spring has sprung at Gallerie V's latest exhibition Gallerie V with permission for Varsity

Spring has sprung in Cambridge. Daffodils and tulips bloom and bring vibrancy to the city, and colour splashes on the walls of Gallerie V in their new spring exhibition. Gallerie V themes their exhibitions around the changing of seasons, so that they feel consistently relevant to the lives of visitors and to the energy of the city.

This relation to the city is directly presented in the piece “Wondering” by Sophie Peaucelle which shows the Botanic Gardens in bloom painted in soft watercolours, and which speaks to “A Moment in Time” by Elena Oojiman which depicts a sweet moment of romantic connection during a “crisp … stroll in the park”. Both capture experiences we all hope to have in spring as the days get brighter.

“This exhibition is spring-like in its showing of emerging artists, giving them space to bloom and be admired”

The exhibitions are usually made through a group curation, but on this occasion predominantly headed by Vienna Zhang, the daughter in the mother–daughter duo who founded the gallery, and whose art is also exhibited alongside her peers. Speaking to the co-founders and other staff members, I could palpably feel the energy they put into making this exhibition as well as this gallery, and their real desire to give space to emerging artists and to young people entering the art world as curators, designers, illustrators, and students.

This exhibition is spring-like in its showing of emerging artists, giving them space to bloom and be admired alongside the charge of beginnings and growth present in their work. This gives the gallery a feeling akin to that presented in the stop-motion film being shown there entitled “From the secret Garden”, which depicts a monochrome grey building from which scenes of floral spring and bright colour burst forth. This explosion of colour is echoed in the series of abstract paintings on display by Chloe Deltufo which explores the refraction of light and colour on glass and in doing so captures Deltufo’s enjoyment in the process of painting. You can see the actions behind the brush strokes, and both the creation and movement of light is captured in this way. The colour of this room was made beautifully intense by the view of the sun setting behind John’s seen through the window; wisps of pink against a blue sky that could have been from a picture-book.

The stop-motion is the work of Xinyi Bi, whose use of vibrant colour, child-like whimsy, natural landscapes and the emulation of texture through varying materials, is the most traditionally “spring-like” of the pieces on display. It makes sense then that it is the piece “Platro and I” by Bi which has been used as the poster for the exhibition. The series of drawings that accompany this piece are displayed together, creating a narrative for the viewer as you move about the room both emulating the prose poem by the same name but also depicting the cycles of life in relation to the cycles of the season.

“The gallery is intimate, but not overcrowded; each piece is given space to exist on its own”

Not all the pieces on display in the exhibition are evocative of traditionally springful, bright, joy, but rather speak to this sense of the cycles of life and death, spring and winter. This is the case for the work by Naomi Boiko Stapleton on display on the ground floor which she explained not only reflect the process of coming to terms with her mother’s death, with works named after snippets from their conversing, but also reflect her own artistic drift as the pieces on display are her older work, and in a different medium to her present oeuvre. This same emergence into a different artistic style can also be seen in Zhang’s work, where she has moved away from her classical style which is present in the permanent collection of her work exhibited on the top floor, to a more metaphysical style displayed in “Transcendence” shown on the ground floor alongside Boiko Stapleton’s pieces. There is a discussion going on across the works about cycles – of the individual and of the world.


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In discussion, Vienna tells me that in her curation she aimed to give each artist a space in the building which allows their work to be felt as a collective. Delfuto praises this as allowing “isolation but connection”. The collections of pieces from individual artists are in sections that feel like smaller displays, which allows the gallery to accept a wider range of forms and for each artists work to simultaneously be presented as their own garden, while simultaneously being part of the wider ecosystem of the exhibition. The gallery is intimate, but not overcrowded; each piece is given space to exist on its own, with the knowledge that another is not too far away. This curation style is aided by the physical nature of the gallery as a multi-story building with small rooms leading off from the staircase. It also echoes how several of the artists told me that they wish for their art to be engaged with, wishing for the viewer to participate in the meaning-making of their art.

Exhibiting a range of young artists, across a variety of mediums and styles, all who relate to the theme of “spring” in different ways, the exhibition offers the viewer a bouquet of options to observe and engage with. You can sense the pride the artists all have, as well as the curators, in this exhibition, and the spark of drive and creativity that drives this.

Gallerie V is currently looking for submissions for their “Summer” exhibition close, as well as for their 2023 Portrait Art Competition.