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Biography

Starting in 2004, Charles Avery has dedicated himself to a singular world-building project through the depiction of an imaginary island. The Islanders charts the formation of Avery’s fantastical universe through drawings, sculptures, texts, ephemera and (more rarely) 16mm animations, as well as live incursions into our own world. 

The Island at the center of Avery’s constructed world is located among an archipelago of innumerable constituents. The gateway to the iIsland is the town of Onomatopoeia, once the stepping off point for the pioneers who first came, the town has experienced rapid transformation from a colonial outpost, to boom town, bustling metropolis, depression ravaged slum, and finally a regenerated city of culture, and tourist destination. The margins of the artist’s fantastical world continue to expand, further illuminated with each successive work. Avery’s practice can be divided into two conceptual approaches; exploring a vividly realised fiction through improvised drawings, and testing ideas from the fields of epistemology, metaphysics, mathematics, economics, anthropology, and architecture.

Key elements from his drawings, such as the eel stands pictured throughout this body of work, are rendered in physical form in his sculptures and installations. As Avery has said, the iIsland – with its fantastical flora and fauna, its eccentric cosmology, and customs – is “a place that helps me to think.”

Charles Avery (b. 1973 in Oban, UK) lives and works in London and on the Island of Mull (UK). Recent solo exhibitions include: The Taile of the One-Armed Snake, GRIMM, Amsterdam (NL); The Gates of Onomatopoeia, Ingleby Gallery, Edinburgh (UK); These Waters, GRIMM, New York, NY (US); Study #15, David Roberts Art Foundation, London (UK); The People and Things of Onomatopoeia: Part 2, Pilar Corrias Gallery, London (UK); Charles Avery, GRIMM, Amsterdam (NL); Charles Avery, Pilar Corrias Gallery, London (UK); The Improbable City, Edinburgh Art Festival, Edinburgh (UK) Charles Avery: The People and Things of Onomatopoeia, Ingleby Gallery, Edinburgh (UK); What’s the Matter with Idealism?, GEM, Museum for Contemporary Art, The Hague (NL); Fig-2 2/50 Charles Avery, ICA Studio, London (UK). 

Recent exhibitions include the 16th Istanbul Biennale (TR) titled The Seventh Continent, curated by Nicolas Bourriaud; the Royal Academy of Arts, London (UK); NOW at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh (UK); Auto fictions – Contemporary drawing Prix de dessin Guerlain, Wilhelm Hack Museum, Ludwigshafen am Rhein (DE); Rhapsody in Blue, Museum Voorlinden, Wassenaar (NL) and GLASSTRESS, Palazzo Franchetti, 57th Biennale di Venezia, Venice (IT). Avery’s work can be found in the collections of Tate, London (UK); Arts Council England Collection, London (UK); Kunstmuseum, The Hague (NL); Edinburgh City Art Centre Collection, Edinburgh (UK); Museum Voorlinden, Wassenaar (NL); Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam (NL); and David Roberts Art Foundation, London (UK), amongst others. Avery’s work is now on view at the Fries Museum in Leeuwarden (NL), as part of the exhibition Other.Worldly.

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