Warped and wild dreamworlds, alive with emotion and nostalgia.
The Hippest Trip in America - By Land, Air and Sea, her first-ever New York solo show, opened at Jeffrey Deitch Gallery in September 2021 - a “groovy journey of self-discovery” inspired by legendary children’s TV show Soul Train.
Commissioned by Disney to create a rendition of Minnie Mouse for Mickey: The True Original, an exhibition in New York City celebrating the iconic character's 90th birthday.
Alake Shilling’s dreamlike creations envelop viewers in comfort and nostalgia. Cast from her unique imagination into vibrant paintings and ceramics, Shilling’s wide-eyed characters - which include dogs, cats, ladybirds, rabbits and even Minnie Mouse - reveal the barefaced expressions of youth. The Chicago Imagists and Californian Funk Art have had a notable impact on the artist, both movements active during the 1960s and 70s and known for their energetic compositions and colour palettes. Shilling is also inspired by contemporary painters such as Ida Ekblad and Rebecca Morris, as well as nature, jazz, cartoon characters and the children’s stationery designer Lisa Frank. Combining such disparate influences, the works manifest an enthralling childhood daydream at the cusp of melancholy and joy.
Shilling’s process is incredibly careful and reflective. Her ceramics often take a few months to complete, and her paintings can take up to a year. “I love the rush I get when I finish a piece,” she says, “it's so exhilarating, [...] the victory I feel from solving an equation that essentially has no answer!” This fastidious attention to detail and technique, paired with the uninhibited creativity of her one-of-a-kind storylines, brings an uncanny surrealism to Shilling’s practice - the familiar and the strange exquisitely merge as Shilling welcomes us to reflect on the boundless yet universal nature of human emotion.
“My paintings tell me what they want, and I have to listen.” – Alake Shilling