Let the Sunshine In takes its name from the finale of musical Hair, which premiered on Broadway in 1968. The lyrics reference 1960s counterculture, becoming an anthem for the promise of change. A variety of artists at Pilar Corrias, London, revisit this sunrise motif, responding to once burgeoning socio-political movements from the last 60 years, from anti-war protests to Roe v. Wade.
A collection of recent photography, sculpture and works on paper cautiously offer hope, asking whether the day will bring a new dawn. Sofia Mitsola (b. 1992) subverts our malaise with oil painting Matrona. To the right of the composition, a sea goddess wields a red trident with devilish aplomb, sporting gold hoop earrings and a ribbon-like bikini. The red sun looms in the distance, suggesting that something more hellish is afoot. It’s the first of many scenes about letting the light in or snuffing it out.
If the group show asks us to pick a time to exist in, it’s also an exhortation to choose wisely. Kat Lyons’ (b. 1991) compelling twilight landscape, Still More Changes (2022) offers an apocalyptic vision of what might happen otherwise. A severed horse’s head lies in the mud like a warning from The Godfather (1972). Above, two kaijus – a giant ant and frog – dominate the frame. Lyons’ style is earthy yet surreal, a mix between Otto Marseus van Schrieck and Salvador Dalí.
In poet Dylan Thomas’ (1914-1953) radio drama Under Milk Wood (1954), a cantankerous old lady baulks at daybreak: “before you let the sun in, mind he wipes his shoes.” The creatives here do no such thing, traipsing through the gallery with colourful footprints. Flashy and garish as it is, the explosions of atomic colour feel caught in time, almost nostalgic. Beneath a psychedelic veneer, many of the featured landscapes are stuck in limbo, reflecting the struggle between past and present in the search for cultural awakening.
Pilar Corrias | Until 18 February
Words: Jack Solloway
1. Lina Iris Viktor, No. XXV We once sought refuge there., (2019). Pure 24 carat gold, acrylic, ink, print on cotton rag paper, 25.9 x 21.6 cm, 10 1/4 x 8 1/2 in. Courtesy the artist and Pilar Corrias, London
2. Rachel Rose, Good Morning Midnight, (2022). Chromogenic print face-mounted to Diasec, 213.4 x 182.9 cm, 84 x 72 in (#1/3). Courtesy the artist and Pilar Corrias, London