The UK and the rest of Europe have made great leaps forward in LGBTQ+ rights legislation this century, such as the repeal of Section 28, the legalisation of same-sex marriage, and the Gender Recognition Act 2004. Despite this, queer people remain not only subject to violence, which has drastically escalated in recent months, but are still so often reduced to harmful stereotypes within popular cultural representations. Particularly in conversations around trans rights, HIV/AIDS, and relationships, LGBTQ+ people are portrayed as immoral or untrustworthy, with the often-difficult reality of queer lives and cultures becoming increasingly abstract to mainstream audiences.

Newcastle-based artist Oliver Doe’s exhibition, ‘Somewhere In Between’, questions the way that we see queer people, turning this abstraction on its head in order to proudly demonstrate LGBTQ+ bodies as a defiant site of political and cultural difference. Queer erasure is rendered into boldly coloured minimalist paintings, defiantly present in the space, and yet containing a pervading sense of absence in their reduced forms. The shapes in these images take their cues from bodily forms, viewed close up and magnified so that the actual bodies, their gender or identity, become unrecognisable. These forms then overlap, confusing the sense of positive and negative space between the figures, blurring the limits of these queer bodies further.

The colours in Doe’s works recall the oblique language of the varying pride flags, or indeed the notorious ‘hanky code’, each hue or combination implying an identity. And yet, whilst these broadly painted planes of colour are so obviously visible to the audiences, their actual meaning or coding remains implicit, and open to our interpretation. Viewers are left to cruise the colours of the gallery in search of meaning and identity amongst the abstraction.

Somewhere In Between publication and limited edition print

To accompany the exhibition there is a pamphlet bringing together poems and images of work by the artist. Price: £1.

In addition, Incubate Experimental Printmaking have editioned a new two-colour screenprint by Oliver Doe, your desire and mine, 42x30cm in an edition of 20, for £75 unframed. Bespoke framing is available from the specialist picture framers, Gallagher & Turner of Newcastle from £60.

This exhibition is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England, as well as generous support from akt, Northern Pride, Orbis, and Pride Radio.

Oliver Doe was born in London in 1994 and lives in Newcastle upon Tyne. He studied BA Hons Fine Art at Newcastle University, 2012-16. Recent exhibitions include ‘Formations’, Gallagher & Turner, Newcastle upon Tyne, ‘UKYA City Takeover’, One Thoresby Street, Nottingham (2019), ‘Body, you are not me’, Abject 2 Gallery, Newcastle upon Tyne, and ‘Proximities’, Hartmann Center, Peoria, USA (2018). He curated and exhibited in ‘You’re Reading Into It: Queering Contemporary Minimalism’ at Vane in 2017. He has exhibited widely across the UK and USA, with work in several private collections across the world.

Artist talk: Oliver Doe in conversation with Dr Marc Botha: Wednesday 14 August, 6-8pm

Oliver Doe will talk about his work and exhibition with Dr Marc Botha, Assistant Professor in Modern and Contemporary Literature and Theory in the Department of English Studies at Durham University and Co-director of Durham’s Institute of Hazard, Risk and Resilience.

Botha’s research interrogates the intersection of critical theory, modern and contemporary literature, and interdisciplinary aesthetics. His recent book, A Theory of Minimalism (Bloomsbury, 2017), centred on developing a general philosophy on minimalist principles, applicable to literature, visual art, and music, across all media. He is currently exploring a sustained concern with the tension between embodiment and viscerality, as well as abstraction and the process of disappearance, particularly in relation to queer theory.