Nadiya Pavliv Tokarska / Contemporary Cityscapes. After E HOPPER and D HEPHER
Unreal City, 60 Under the brown fog of a winter dawn, A crowd flowed over London Bridge, so many, I had not thought death had undone so many. Sighs, short and infrequent, were exhaled, And each man fixed his eyes before his feet.
T. S. Eliot, The Wasteland, 1922
London town; Do we acknowledge the architectural giants in between sips of our extra hot, extra skinny, mocha-decaf latte as we drudge routinely through the chartered streets? We take their lining of the street and London’s turreted skyline for granted. We can all identify with the names: Gherkin, the shard, the thrusting peaks of Canary Wharf – but have you ever really looked at them. Have you ever stood at the summit and exchanged a submission of proportion with these benevolent giants, or stopped in the middle of Oxford Street while the drones throng and swell to the beat of the consumer drum?
Nadiya Pavliv Tokarska’s exhibition sheds an appreciative light upon some of London’s buildings that have literally become part of the scenery. For all we know, these buildings that we regimentally pass could be standing with the profound crudeness of a spaghetti western backdrop. If you ever happen to study these magnificent old buildings, do you ever see anybody ushered in or ever leave? Often the functions of these buildings remain supremely coveted; the secrets there in are as old as the buildings themselves.
It is a shame that these structures once symbolic of London’s irreverent global power have fallen into disenfranchising circumstances in spite of the commercial buzz below. However, the tired, tarnished facades that may have originally averted us now enthral and overwhelm as we appreciate the immutable detail of the paintings. Their convoluted realism alone transfigures a fresh love of our surrounding beauty. I feel as if Nadiya’s work has taken me on an alternative whistle stop tour of the capital; a tour of a begotten London miraculously silenced, captured in snap shot frames of time standing still.
This somewhat magic ability to pacify the pandemonium has been executed in rather uncanny detail, reminiscent of the veritable old master technique – a certain style that reasserts the once stirring power of these builds. Snapshots of Finsbury Circus inter-changed with sights of heritage and familiarity such as Oxford Street, St Pauls and the National Gallery have not just been copied for picture postcard compatibility, Nadiya is a modern day flaneur, living and breathing her city – more importantly flexing her love for this city.
However, scratch the surface, pat away the brick dust and the artist’s brush has introduced a polemic. The juxtaposition between the semi-suburban dwellings of Finsbury Circus and the tourist hot spots of the Albert Hall and St Pauls characterises the receding domicile in to commerciality. The magnificent detail of Finsbury Circus, Northern Side, London ratifies the wealth of these once domestic households, now outlets for vagrant bureaucratic ends.
A bygone era of London has emerged: Nadyia cultivates a Britain upholding its revered Imperialism through architectural plains, dimensions and stone, yet now aching and quite functionless – unless some enterprising go-getter musters the rental money to dwell in these aging pieces of history. And the cycle will continue, wheels within wheels, beauty undone by the mercenaries of progress.
Remember what we have and what we should not ignore. This is London in transmission. Nadiya has perhaps inadvertently presented us with a future battle to contain London’s disappearing domiciles and earlier centuries radical architecture. In favour of what: speedy builds, swaying bridges, unmanned Olympic stadiums and fiscal greed?