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TOM LEIGHTON Appropriation of Space

LONDON Tom Leighton Appropriation of Space An off-site exhibition presented by The Cynthia Corbett Gallery Gallery 27, 27 Cork Street, Mayfair, London W1S 3NG Nearest Tube: Green Park Hours: Daily 11am – 7pm or by appointment Private View: Tuesday 14 September, 6 – 9 pm Exhibition runs 13 – 25 September 2010 PHOTOMONTH 2010 LONDON Tom Leighton exhibits as part of Photomonth Festival 2010 BERLIN Tom Leighton at Foundation Starke, Berlin in association with The Cynthia Corbett Gallery Koenigsallee 30/32, 14193 Berlin-Grunewald, Germany Transport: S - Bahnhof Halensee, Bus M19 Hours: Mon – Thurs 9h – 18h, Fri 9h – 16h Private View: Friday 1 October, 18h – 21h Artist and curator talk: Friday 8 October, 18h – 20h Exhibition runs 2 October – 14 November 2010 EUROPEAN MONTH OF PHOTOGRAPHY Tom Leighton exhibiting at Foundation Starke as part of the European Month of Photography, which runs 15 October – 28 November 2010 Tom Leighton featured in the Young European Photography section For further information, enquires or to RSVP please contact The Cynthia Corbett Gallery T. +44 (0) 20 8947 6782 M. +44 (0) 7939 085 076 E. W.


Cover image: Detail of Venice 2, 2010

THE CYNTHIA CORBETT GALLERY T. +44 (0) 20 8947 6782 M. UK +44 (0) 7939 085 076 M. US +1 773 600 7719

‘Tom’s work with appropriation fits neatly into the Sandor Family Collection by complementing some of our other contemporary artists such as Richard Prince, Cindy Sherman and Kara Walker. His work is both intelligent and beautifully crafted.’

Richard and Ellen Sandor, The Sandor Family Collection, Chicago

FOREWORD In 2008, the French New National Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilizations (MuCEM) acquired from the Cynthia Corbett Gallery two photographs by Tom Leighton, Fair 2 and The Piazza. MuCEM, opens in Marseilles in 2013, and the focus of the Collection is on daily and contemporary issues of European and Mediterranean societies. The discovery of this young artist and the acquisition of some of his works was a great opportunity for the museum: MuCEM has been focusing for several years on the issues relating to cities, collecting expressions reflecting urban sensibility. Tom Leighton’s work fits perfectly in the curatorial approach of the collection. Through visual symbolism and reconstruction, Leighton at various levels, swallows the substance of London, Berlin, Edinburgh, Barcelona, New York or Tokyo to create the perfect city, a kind of Utopia. But far from presenting only fanciful views and dehumanised places, Tom Leighton manages to offer to the viewer a range of emotions and feelings. It is not only the city - its architecture and its structure - it is also and maybe above all, what inhabits it. The images of Tom Leighton provide feelings of celebration, impressions of peace and devotion, as well as a heightened sense of drama. Of course, the aesthetics inherent in Tom Leighton's work can't be put aside. The way he plays with light, colours, angles and perspectives, the way he builds his compositions with precision and delicacy all contribute to the originality of the artist. But most importantly, certainly from the point of view adopted by MuCEM, is that in representing cities, Leighton brings us back to what it is like to be human.

Emilie Girard Conservator, MuCEM Collections Manager MuCEM is dedicated to European and Mediterranean cultures, has a mixture of disciplines from the humanities - from art to ethnology. In 2013, MuCEM will open in Marseilles, the European Capital of Culture. MuCEM will feature collections from both the former Museum of Arts and Popular Traditions in the Bois de Bologne and the “Europe” department of the Museum of Mankind in Paris.

INTRODUCTION Paris, Autumn 2007, the week promises to be rich - you cannot take four steps without finding contemporary art, particularly photography. In my search for young talent I found myself at Slick, the last room being the most daring. At the stand for The Cynthia Corbett Gallery, like Alice in Wonderland I felt caught up in the futuristic photographs of Tom Leighton. Attracted by the same elements that give you vertigo, these photomontages are an invitation to an alternate universe in which the architectural landmarks are familiar. It was a “coup de coeur” moment! No doubt, Tom Leighton has proved he is truly an artist of the 21st century. His method initially uses digital tools to shamelessly modify, distort and colour his photomontages. But in the background is an influence from comics and videogames, allowing Tom to mix advertising with architectural monuments. Everything is accumulated and magnified by a mirror effect, making his town planning huge and limitless. He makes a mockery of architects who have spent their entire careers trying to outbid the height of towers scattered across the globe. Tom has built megacities by playing with scales and proportions, which leaves people attracted to them at first but some concerned by the impossible elements of the details. For example, there is usually a patch of dark and cloudy sky that gives the allusion that these buildings are omnipotent constructions. The flashy buildings of Tom’s cities accentuates the (bad taste) of overdeveloped countries and their need to shine. The result is a credible urban landscape where humans are reduced to the status of ants. Visionary or charlatan? By 2030, there will be 5 billion people in the urban landscape … I’ll let you judge.

Frédérique Babin Picture Editor, Le Monde 2 Magazine, Paris, France


‘Space invader’ Space. The final frontier. Whether it’s micro or macrocosm, space is the ultimate adventure. Space is where we are; it’s where we go. No space - no location, no direction. Everyone has to be somewhere; and that somewhere must have a spacial context. It’s how we move through time. Perceptual continuity allows us to make sense of the world around us. There’s comfort in knowing that, when I walk down the high street, the shops are in the same order in which I Iast saw them. Visual permanence; remembered spatial narrative; it’s a boon. If architectural planners moved things around overnight, well that, frankly, would be inconsiderate; and disconcerting. So, what we don’t want is things getting shuffled around when we’re asleep. That’s a nightmare. Tom Leighton is a space invader. He’s a scene stealer. Things just don’t stay where you last saw them.

‘Neither God nor Darwin’ There presides, in the minds of highly creative people, worlds that exist only where they are created. Neither God nor Darwin is responsible, they are the compulsive musings of restless minds. These are usually cleverly constructed environments which depend upon recognition and contrast. We know what the creator’s on about, the ‘world’ they’ve invented but something will be STRANGE, or DANGEROUS, or UNEXPECTED. There’s an aberration in the matrix. So it is with the work of Tom Leighton. It is cities, and piazzas, concrete and glass avenues of buildings; but something isn’t right. So you are forced to compare and contrast. The penny soon drops. But even when you see how the expertise has manipulated a visual perspective, there is yet wonder at the ‘how’ of it.

'Master Printer on peyote' Leighton’s work is that of a master printer on peyote. That black, doom-laden sky with strips of pure fire hovering over a menacingly claustrophobic metropolis might be a scene from Blade Runner, or Inception; a scene that has an interior sensation but an outdoor exposure glows with the power of neon. The comforting perspectives of a cityscape where planners are forced to jam so much into a shopping area you sense can only exist where population density is in crisis. Or the unnerving symmetry of a boulevard where you have the feeling that something’s just not right.

'Someone's cheating' Digital manipulation has not had a good press. We see things that are not really there. Someone’s cheating. Newspapers and magazines alter facial complexions or body tone to suit their print requirements, or their audience. Advertisers of cars or alcohol or hairspray entertain with implausible predictions of performance; ‘because we’re worth it’. You are more than human if you have their ‘X factor’. But it’s lies, all lies. A Peter Stuyvesant cigarette never did get you on a balcony overlooking a ski resort full of beautiful people; it just gave you lung cancer. Nor did the wonders of Absolut vodka pull the chicks or make you one-up on the rest of the rule-observing masses. It dulled the wits, enhanced your powers of self-deception and enabled you to make an inebriated jerk of yourself. Persuasive imagery begs you to believe the ridiculous is not only possible, but desirable.

'The delight of creation' Leighton’s manipulation plays with the same jigsaw, but what he portrays is worlds manufactured for the delight of creation itself and the satisfaction of using his artistic tools to an awesome level of expertise that tickles the psycho-neurology of an open mind. Photography has long been a medium suspected of deception. Robert Capa ‘captured the moment’ a soldier in the Spanish civil war was hit by a sniper’s bullet and fell backwards, dead. No, he didn’t. Historical research now indicates that was probably a lie. And the shot was likely staged, anyway. There was ‘the moment’American troops raised the starspangled banner after the capture of Iwo Jima. No it wasn’t. It was a later re-enactment. What you see is not always what you get. So, existentially, if you can’t trust what you see, try Leighton’s version of apparently ‘real’ places where all your senses, especially memory, are persuaded that, for a moment, the recreated scene is part of your personal history. It’s as solid as you are. But cracks in the illusion soon appear, and you are left feeling a tad gullible. Photography cannot be trusted to show you what’s real; but it can reel you in to a fragment of another possible existence. A momentary particle in the quantum wave texture.

'Quizzical awakening' When the initial cognitive dissonance of a Leighton reconstruction gives way to furrowed brows of quizzical awakening which segues into a knowing smile, and then on into eyedarting exploration, verification and pattern seeking, therein lies the artistic tension: you know something’s up, and it’s a fascinating uncertainty, but it takes a few seconds to get your bearings. Like walking into your home where Maurits Escher and Sons have redecorated.There’s an obvious deception afoot. It’s ironic. Leighton sometimes gives the lie to his own wink-wink world with a blatant incongruity; like the gargoyle gloating in judgement from a distant era as it overlooks a world turned on its head. But you only see the hissing architectural feature after your eye has swirled right-to-left across the improbable photoscape. Memory of cold granite collides with a shimmer of artistic wizardry. The gargoyle is thinking stonily upon the appropriation of its space. Tom Leighton travels the world and returns with a knapsack of visual booty and knits a new world from a collage of locations.You may have visited a fragment of the Venice, or Berlin or Beijing featured, but the space invader will have stitched you up; digitally, that is.

‘Shadows of strangeness’ The works in the ‘Appropriation of Space’ exhibit are a visual feast. Leighton’s work is exciting, stimulating and casts shadows of strangeness across any preoccupied psyche. They are masterworks of imagination. Leighton’s desire is for the works to stand the test of time. They will certainly live long in my mind. I hope my exposure to his strange places remains in my subconscious and recurs in sleep states where I can explore them in a more ephemeral body better equipped to explore these fantastical visions. I have been changed by the experience of exposure to these extraordinary images. The more I look, the more I see. Leighton is a bold explorer of unknown worlds. It is unlike any other work I can recall, and so much more than a visual experience. My assemblage points for reality have been irrevocably shifted, and the real world seems a little duller. Put me on ice and preserve me for 3,000 years when human architecture may have caught up.

Joe Robinson Freelance Journalist works primarily for The Independent, London

Venice 1

231cm x 122cm

Times Aerial 3

185cm x 93.9cm

Beijing Canopy 2

122cm x 122cm

The Temple

200cm x 61.8cm

Hoover Dam 1

200cm x 96.5cm

Venice 2

124cm x 195cm

Beijing Canopy 1

185cm x 101.1cm


142.8cm x 122cm

The Stage

100cm x 170.5cm

The Strip 1

182.1cm x 125cm

The Strip 2

125cm x 124cm


75cm x 280cm

FOUNDATION STARKE – STIFTUNG STARKE – BERLIN The Starke Foundation supports four different art forms, including Painting/Sculpture, Architecture/Design, Music/Composition and Literature.

The founder, Consul Peter Starke believed "that in order to maintain the viability and international importance of the City of Berlin, citizens must fervently develop their own initiatives.” As a result, Peter Starke began restoring the historic structure to its original form, after purchasing the mansion in 1969. He saw this restoration as a counterbalance to what he perceived as a growing trend at that time, of the destruction and loss of substance of Berlin’s residential suburbs.

The Starke Foundation aims to assist artists through its ‘artist in residence’ programme. Out of the applications received, an independent jury selects the artists and art trends in which the Foundation will sponsor in the year to come. The Starke Foundation provides the selected group of artists with residential and working premises for a period of 3 to 12 months. Short-term accommodation is also available for more established artists. Such widely spread sponsoring opportunities are designed to support the personal visions and styles of each artist, whilst also encouraging artistic development and growth. In addition, the Starke Foundation arranges numerous national and international contacts with museums, galleries and public institutions, as well as with representatives in the fields of culture, science, economy, sports and politics. It is through the ‘artist in residence’ programme that talented, yet unestablished artists are able to realise their artistic visions and projects and are assisted on their path to success.

The non-profit Foundation of Art was established in December 1988 by Jörg Starke as a vision of supporting the arts, particularly emerging artists, through a Gallery where young and talented artists could find a home. The Gallery and Foundation are located in Lions palace (Löwenpalais) in Berlin-Grunewald, and has a programme of events targeting collectors who are interested in discovering new talent. During the last few years, many of the artists supported by the Foundation and Gallery have had increasing success in the international art market.

Potsdamer Platz 1

180cm x 122cm

EXHIBITIONS: 2010: Tom Leighton, Solo Exhibition, Appropriation of Space, The Cynthia Corbett Gallery, London. Tom Leighton, Solo Exhibition at Foundation Starke Berlin, The Cynthia Corbett Gallery, Berlin. Art at The Top, The Cynthia Corbett Gallery, The Empire State Building, New York. Cultural Detritus, Pippy Houldsworth, London, courtesy of The Cynthia Corbett Gallery, London. 2009: Man Photography Prize, Royal College of Art, London. Tate Patrons Studio Visit, London. Contiguous Zone "Virtual Records", YOD Gallery, Osaka, Japan. RWA Open Print Exhibition, Royal West of England Academy, Bristol. R.A. Summer Exhibition, Royal Academy, Piccadilly, London. Barock Plastik: Group Show, I-MYU Projects, London. 2008: Solo exhibition ‘Reifier’, The Cynthia Corbett Gallery, London. Twenty, Dazed and Confused Gallery, Old Street, London. Through the Lens, The Royal West of England Academy, Bristol. Aberdeen Artists, Aberdeen Art Gallery, Aberdeen. Black Light, UCLH Street Gallery, Warren St, London. 2007: Urbo Vido, Solo Exhibition, The Cynthia Corbett Gallery, London. Light and Colour, corbettPROJECTS, Wimbledon, London. Tech-Mac-Mayacom, Tokyo. R.A. Summer Exhibition, Royal Academy, Piccadilly, London. Ways of Seeing, The Air Gallery, London. Sea Change, Mark Jason Gallery, London. 2006: Snap, UCLH Street Gallery, Warren St, London. Syncro-tron, Aqffin Gallery, Commercial St, London. corbettPROJECTS Celebrates Frieze, Stockwell Studios, London. Art (212), Cynthia Corbett Gallery, 69th Regiment Armory, New York City. Zenith 6, Nomoregrey Gallery, Redchurch St, London. R.A. Summer Exhibition, Royal Academy, Piccadilly, London. Generation – The Summer Show, Royal College of Art, Kensington Gore, London. Group exhibition, Transport for London; Platform for Art, South Kensington foot tunnel. Lets Riot, Café Gallery, Southwark Park, London. 2005: Show One, Archway, London. R.A. Summer Exhibition, Royal Academy, Piccadilly, London. Solo show, Examples of Space Series, City Inn, Westminster, London.

Collections AT&T Corporate Collection, USA Amel & Nziad Makkawi, Dubai Dennis O’Brien, Dublin Joan & Allan Safir Collection, UK Devo Team Corporate Collection, Paris Andrew Dalton, London Mark Levine, New York The V&A Museum Kunsthalle Weishaupt Collection, Germany Tiroche Collection, UK/Israel MuCEM, France Nicholas Topiol, President of Christian Lacroix, Paris The Sandor Family Collection, Chicago The Shein Family Collection of Pennsylvania The UBS Art Collection, London Slade & Newman, Law Firm, New York Rupert Walsh, London Ashley McDermott, New York Felix Robyns, 12 Advisors Group, London/Brussels JCA Group, London Awards John Purcell Purchase Prize 2006 Thames & Hudson Book Prize 2006 Education 2004 – 2006: Royal College of Art, MA Fine Art Printmaking 2001 – 2004: University of Brighton, BA Hons Degree Fine Art Printmaking

SELECTED PUBLICATIONS 2008 Ag: Reifier Number 53, Autumn 2008. SENSO: Urbo Vido, La Ville Recomposée, Portfolio: Tom Leighton, Issue 31, Pgs 106 – 115, June 2008. Focus Knack: Fotografie: Tom Leighton, (Belguim) 02 January 2008. 2007 Corriere della Sera: Teniamoci Stretti :Tom Leighton, Io Donna, 22 December 2007. ARTINFO.COM: Red Dot and Art Now: Bang for Your Buck, Robert Ayers, 07 December 2007. Le Monde 2: Les techno-villes de Tom Leighton (The techno-cites of Tom Leighton), Frédérique Babin and Michèle Champenois, Issue 196, Pgs 48 – 55, 17th November 2007. ArtReview: Mirror, Mirror: Tom Leighton, Laura Allsop, Issue 15, P.38, October 2007. 2006 The Guardian, Op Art, Saturday May 13 2006. Transport for London: Platform for Art. Commissioned posters displayed at Charing Cross Underground Station and Earls Court Underground Stations, 2006. 'Diversion' A limited edition Box Set produced by the Royal College of Art, 2006.

GALLERY BIOGRAPHY The Cynthia Corbett Gallery, an international contemporary art gallery represents emerging and newly established artists and is a regular exhibitor at major international contemporary art fairs. The Cynthia Corbett Gallery has an annual curation programme including ‘Pop Up’ exhibitions that take place throughout the year in London’s Mayfair, Kensington and the East End as well as in New York City. corbettPROJECTS launched in 2004/2005, focuses on presenting curated projects that address contemporary critical practice and works with emerging curators and artists on site specific installations. These solo and group exhibitions which are selected by a curatorial panel led by Director, Cynthia Corbett, present an innovative programme of events in a variety of media including photography, painting, sculpture, performance art and particular emphasis is placed upon emerging video art. In 2009 the Gallery launched the biennial Young Masters Art Prize sponsored by AXA UK. In September 2010, The Cynthia Corbett Gallery will launch a new Art Consultancy Service, TitanCorbett Art Search. TitanCorbett Art Search provides private and corporate collections and investors in art straightforward access to the international Art Market. TitanCorbett Art Search advisors research and locate specific works of art or recommend works based on the clients specifications; sourcing work from auction houses, galleries, private dealers and collectors all the while confirming the authenticity, condition and provenance of the work. Our team of art advisors specialise in fields ranging from Old Master paintings to Modern and Contemporary art. TitanCorbett Art Search can arrange art insurance policies as well as shipping and installation of work whilst working with the most reputable and experienced providers in the business. For further information please see ART CONSULTANCY

GALLERY STAFF Cynthia Valianti Corbett, Gallery Director BA Political Science, University of Massachusetts, Amherst. MA Law and Diplomacy, The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University/Harvard University Diploma Christies’s Education, London Art Course and Modern Art Studies

Celia Kinchington, Gallery Manager BA Fine Art (Hons), Central St Martins College of Art and Design Arts Editor, Vague Paper.

Images are digital C-type prints mounted on Perspex with aluminium/Diabond backing, produced in editions of 5 & 2 artist proofs. Images Š Tom Leighton 2010. The illustrations in this catalogue represent a selection of images to be shown in the exhibition. All works are available for sale on receipt of this catalogue. For further information regarding forthcoming exhibitions and art fairs please visit our website:


Tom Leighton: Appropriation of Space - Catalogue  
Tom Leighton: Appropriation of Space - Catalogue  

Catalogue for 'Appropriation of Space' a solo exhibition by Tom Leighton.