Bloomsbury Portraits: Virtual Vortic Gallery
Bloomsbury is a small area of London, bracketed to the north by Euston Road and to the south by New Oxford Street. For a few decades in the early twentieth century, its squares and streets formed a backdrop to energetic developments in art and literature. ‘The Bloomsbury Group’ was a loose constellation of characters, each one combining a unique mixture of talent, wit, malice and playfulness. Among them were novelists, bookmen, amateurs, memoirists, poseurs, economists, n’er do’ells and artistes. These characters were captured in paint by Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell, the greatest two artists among them. When Grant and Bell moved to a Sussex farmhouse in 1916, Bloomsbury followed them there; many of these paintings were painted in their home at Charleston, near the village of Firle.
The portraits brought together here possess a rare intimacy. Far from the stiff world of a commissioned likeness, in each work the sitter was just one more friend, lover or mentor, and sometimes all three at once. Alongside self-portraits, a select cast of the Bloomsbury universe can be seen here, including several of Grant’s lovers – Bunny Garnett, Angus Davidson, Peter Morris and Tony Asserati. There are also paintings of Grant and Bell’s daughter, Angelica; of Bell’s close personal friend, Molly MacCarthy; and of Grant’s early instructor, the painter Simon Bussy.
In partnership with Vortic Bloomsbury Portraits: Vanessa Bell & Duncan Grant is presented as an online exhibition. It has been curated as part of the Out Collective, n international network of galleries brought together to honor and support charitable LGBTQ+ organisations that work to achieve equality, visibility, wellbeing, and justice every day of every year. Originally scheduled to coincide with Pride in London 2021, the OUT Collective came to life with the motto “Pride must be lived, not only celebrated.” Although the Pride in London events have been cancelled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we maintain that it is more urgent than ever to support organisations that offer much-needed services to LGBTQ+ communities, and to help these organisations sustain the vital work they do for the LGBTQ+ community and beyond. The OUT Collective will drive visibility not only for the artists and the participating galleries, but will also raise global awareness of the essential work of our partner charities, which we are proud to announce as: akt, ELOP, Gendered Intelligence, Queercircle, and amfAR – The Foundation for AIDS Research. Participating galleries will launch exhibitions on the Vortic platform – the leading augmented reality platform for the art world – proceeds of sales from which will be donated in support of one or more of the nominated partner charities. 27 galleries are scheduled to launch exhibitions on the Vortic platform throughout the month of September. The OUT Collective will continue to grow as it welcomes more participants in the coming months, and the presentations will be live on Vortic until the end of the year. The inaugural group of galleries is based all over the globe, from London to Istanbul, New York to Bogotá. Several galleries have opted to support charitable organisations within their own regions that do important work within the local LGBTQ+ communities.