“I am the enemy you killed, my friend,” is the engraving on poet Wilfred Owen’s memorial in Shrewsbury Abbey. The line is from his poem ‘Strange Meeting’, which is also the title of an exhibition at Canal this month.
The allusion is deliberate, as the show features work from six painters that obliquely refers to the poem’s dream-like encounter between two dead soldiers from opposing sides and its meditation on war, art and culture.
Highlights include paintings by Kiera Bennett, which clearly owe much to early modernism, from the Cubists to Boccioni. Historical references demonstrate her belief in the timelessness of the form; the “wildest beauty” that “mocks the steady running of the hour,” in Owen’s words.
Meanwhile psychoanalysis, European culture, the feminine and classical literature are among the themes expressed by Eleanor Moreton. Her painting Woose at Embrook refers to the lonely mythological hybrid beast which represents the classical idea of love between the spiritual and the physical.
The exhibition runs until the end of the month with its opening on 3 July coinciding with the launch of the ‘Haggerston Riviera’, a cluster of venues on the canal around the area.
Strange Meeting is at Canal Projects, 60 De Beauvoir Cresent, London, N1 5SB until 27 July.