I started off the next day with a return visit to TJ Boulting which I had previously exhibited Stephanie Quayle: Jenga last November. I noticed that a few pieces had taken up permanent residence in the office as we entered. Work of a similar medium was down below Bloom – Juliana Cerqueira Leite.
“These works examine the –often exasperated– gesticulations of individual subjects interviewed by the news as representatives of a certain crisis: a refugee, a soldier, a doctor or aid worker. Gesticulations by politicians and reporters, as they attempt to explain complex issues to news viewers, are also explored in these works. Leite aims to create a permanent register of these bodily means of extending language and the ephemeral articulations that shape and are shaped by the geopolitical landscape.”
I was personally drawn to the mass of gestures created out of clay and resin, the movement of arms fighting to move, captured in slow-motion. The layered colouring reminded me of chewed up drumstick sweets, the two colours becoming intermixed with each bite. Really having its roots in geology, raising these pieces as if they have come from the ground.
In the next space I found framed stills of paused Youtube videos, blurred and collaging gestures, as if the video had been badly corrupted. I found these more fascinating, how much work has gone into create them.
“The new photo-collages and video are both composed of screenshots from these same news sources i.e. Al Jazeera, Reuters, AP, Vice, BBC. These works isolate and capture the gesticulations of interview subjects while exploring the codified visual formats and time-frames employed by online news outlets for reporting on humanitarian crises.”
The last piece in the show I physically couldn’t stand, a series of flashing images, similar to the collaged stills that were flashed for less than a second, you didn’t have time to really process what the images were. I had to leave just stop myself having a bad physical reaction. I feel bad as I wanted to sit there and understand the work, instead it was a fight or flight response.
The next gallery was another return visit to Blain\Southern, which exhibited Matt Collishaw’s – Centrifugal Circle, probably my best show of the year. I came to view the latest Chapman Brothers Show – The Disasters of Everyday. I had big expectations for this show, I think coming back with such powerful memories, and the reputation of Jake and Dinos Chapman who I’d seen last a few years ago at a White Cube Gallery. Instead I left with positive yet mixed feelings about the work. The space, now opened up and brightly lit for the show. Three of the walls were covered in reproduced sketches by Francisco De Goya, which were worked over the top in different styles. The first series – The Disasters of War on Terror (2015-16) saw childish characters placed into these horrific scenes of the Spanish Civil War, which detract from the brutality, playing it down. The second series – The Disasters of Yoga (2017) I found far less successful, less work seemed to have gone into these far more naive pieces, the sketches covered in coloured glitter. It wasn’t my aversion for the material, more the use, the excess of the material, it removes any real meaning or message in the work. It felt lazy, only a few I felt were really successful. Moving onto the final series – The Disasters of Everyday Life (2017) collages, which were more successful, paper collages, placing carefully chosen images and placing them into these horrific scenes, either creating a new narrative, making modern humorous statement. Figures would ignore the drama they are place into. I really enjoyed this series of works. The brothers are clearly playing with the horror of violence within the images directly, trying to mock them, yet never really drawing us away from the original. They are away of drawing the audience into the work that could be seen as a record of a long forgotten war.
In the middle of the space were a series of bronze suicide vests on plinths, these disturbing pieces, surrounded by the potential of death, the bodyless vests, waiting to be worn and set off killing countless people is unthinkable, and we were surrounded by them. The detail and time that went into Life and Death Vest I-VIII (2017) is incredible. I can only imagine the detail and time that went into the research, the near trouble the Chapman brothers could have got themselves into whilst making these pieces.
The last show I felt was a disappointment really, I was hoping to see more than I found. The only bonus was to experience what is now a rareity the sound of an film projector, to hear to the rush of film running through a projector reminds me of films I saw as a child, the rush and clicking of film passing through the lens. Phillip Fleischmann’s show Installation View at Belmacz, was literally just the film on the ground floor. I found the film itself interesting, focusing on the arcihtectural structures of a space rather than how we would usually perceive a space, not looking beyond the space we usually interact in.
A smaller and briefer trip than I am used to, however I did get to see some interesting and some nice cars and model miniatures so I’m happy.
A shorter than usual trip, with only a handful of shows this time. Starting off with a bit of fun at the London Film Museum – Bond in Motion. Billed as the largest collection of Bond cars ever, which wasn’t my main draw, it was to see everything else on top of the cars/vehicles. Once I was there I was like a kid in a candy store, looking at the cars, especially those which the guns and rockets on show. Definitely one for the boys. The icing on the cake being a model miniature from Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), that was built to allow the production team prepare how to film the finale, complete with cylindrical saws.
My next stop stayed with the filmic theme at The Photographer’s Gallery, for a show I really wanted to see. Instant Stories. Wim Wenders’ Polariods. Exhibiting some of the remaining polaroids the German took on location and for inspiration. Out of the thousands he has said to have taken only a fraction remain which allow you to get an insight to his thinking. I see them like sketches, see it, capture it and move on. Taken in the 70’s and 80’s, you get to see him working and exploring America and Germany. I really could have stayed longer than I did, going around the two floors of the show a few times, taking in each carefully framed polaroid, given a new precious status, this ones throw away images are given something far greater than was ever intended for them.
I am pleased to announce that I will be exhibiting Just One More Game (2013) in Merge-Art and Film‘s show – Monochrome (27/10 – 3/11/17) at The Cafe Gallery, Islington Arts Factory, London. I will be attending the preview on 27th October 6-9 where I will give a short talk and Q&A. If you want to attend please check out this link for free tickets.
At first I found the idea of running a workshop to be a daunting, yet once I had an idea, keeping it simple and fun I sourced my material and got stuck into what turned out to be a very rewarding weekend. Seeing children of all ages responding to the installation as the made their own cardboard facades of all abilities take shape. I’m now open to putting together more in the future.
Installation in The Festival Art Show at Spring Bank Arts part of New Mills Festival (2017) . Cardboard model miniatures and video installation of Iron Horse of the Studio (2015)
Work in progress – Painting the Town… (2017) part of Summer Art Thread (2017) at LCB Depot, Rutland Street, Leicester, UK. 26/8/17.
I’m pleased to announce that I am returning to the New Mills Festival, taking part in the Big Weekend – 22nd – 24th September.
The last weekend of the two-week festival –
The Art Trail includes a “Big Weekend”, timed to coincide with the hugely popular Lantern Procession finale, which attracts an audience of more than 14,000 to the town. The Big Weekend sees artists and venues across New Mills open their doors to host pop-up exhibitions, open studios, workshops and demonstrations, and arts and crafts markets.
More information coming soon!
For me The Centrifugal Soul was going to be hard to top in terms of the effect it has had on me. There’s not a day goes by that I play my phone recordings, which I know is not the real thing, I have some incredible memories of that show at Blain|Southern. We moved onto a smaller show over at Beaux Arts to see Jonathan Leaman, a collection of old and new surrealist self-portraits. I found the later work a little hit and miss. There were pieces that were a little too obvious, whilst others were throwing everything at you. All externalising his emotions into these hyperreal paintings.
Whilst the later work had was far stronger, a more cohesive body of work, a visual style and iconography much like Salvador Dali. I could feel a sense if anxiety in the work, a man overburdened by later life, its all still happening for him. Honestly is at the centre of these paintings, even quite formal too. I feel the earlier painting which were hung downstairs really don’t help this series which are bold and imaginative, highly detailed paintings of wonder and worry.
We had to wait a few hours for the final show of the trip – Hockney at Tate Britain which was more for my sister than myself. Not being a painter I wasn’t as interested. After some refreshment we were let into 12 room show that began with his early work from the 1950’s before slowly moving through time and his work. I was personally quite taken by the portraits from the 1960’s. Far larger than I expected. I guess years of photos and seeing them on TV never prepares you for the real thing – the art itself. Reminding me of the importance the original and the aura of the work.
I must admit I was ignorant of his medium, switching from Oils to acrylic for a time, before reverting back to oils until very recently when he also introduced to his practice the digital, both cameras and iPads. Of course not forgetting his photo-montages. I found the most affecting, those of his family, you can see more attention to them, making the individual stills marry-up to create the figures, most prominently his mother.
As expected the show was packed throughout – the further round you got the more viewers of the work were lost to them. The 4 seasons room, I could have stayed there far longer than I did. Before moving onto the iPad room where we saw a combination of multiple slideshow and his latest works being built up in time-lapse videos. Making the most of the latest technology, something that Hockney has never been afraid to do. I came away with a greater appreciation for his work. After years of printed images I have finally seen the real thing in a show that celebrates a 60 year career.
Hockney rounded off a great weekend of art and more importantly time with my sister. What more can you ask for, family, inspiration and plenty of art.
I am pleased to announce that part 6 of my animation Playing with Plastic (2016) will be exhibited online as part of a new archive UN[dis]CRIMINATE with the Unstitute online gallery.
Located in courtyards of the Unstitute – in between spaces, between other structures, temporary or otherwise – is a network of diverse encampments serving any number of uses; political or otherwise. In these digital encampments you can see the building of a new archive: UN[dis]CRIMINATE.
The outlying buildings of The Unstitute are not guarded by anyone in particular, and often entrances sit wide open for anyone to see. But mainly the nomadic eruptions in disused or otherwise vague areas of The Unstitute appear of their own determination, and deterritorialize as long as they please.
My second day continued at a pace, we decided to stop for a bite before going to the second gallery, Blain|Southern which turned out to have the highlight of the weekend for me. Mat Collishaw’s Centrifrugal Soul (2016). The last time I was at the space it was over a year ago for another piece that relied on tricking the eye. We were first greeted by a holographic tree – Albion
“…a new installation that takes as its subject the Major Oak in Sherwood Forest, Nottingham, which has an almost mythical status. This centuries-old tree has at its core a hollow rotten trunk, and since the Victorian era its vast limbs have been supported by an elaborate system of scaffolding. Collishaw’s monumental, slowly rotating image of the oak is a ghost-like apparition generated by laser scanning. The image represents a living object that is trapped in perpetuity to present the illusion of life. As with the tethered birds in Collishaw’s paintings, it presents a tension between the beautiful and the abject.”
I was drawn not so much to the movement of the tree, more by its sheer presence in the space and how it was created. A projector and a pain of glass at an angle. An old technique in terms of optical illusion. The work was surrounded by a series of painting, colourful birds all perched in front of graffiti, trying their best to stand out from the urban markings, its a fight between Nature and the urban environment.
The next piece actually moved me to tears the first time I saw The Centrifugal Soul
“…a sculpture in the form of a zoetrope, a pre-film animation device that produces the illusion of motion through rapid rotation and stroboscopic light.
The zoetrope animates scenes of bowerbirds and birds of paradise as they perform elaborate mating rituals. The work offers a captivating demonstration of how aesthetic diversity has evolved through sexual selection and also reflects the artist’s ongoing examination of our insatiable appetite for visual stimulation. Collishaw’s sculpture embodies Miller’s idea that evolution has created an inescapable drive to be noticed above the visual competition, feeding our need for self-promotion.”
I noticed flashing light and the whirring sound from another space. I decided to go in closer to see a structure that housed colourful objects, flowers and birds, all slightly different yet the same, running in a series. I couldn’t make that out at first. Then it started up again, the lights dimmed, the motor started up, lights flashing, motion was coming from the bright object. Flowers opening and closing, humming birds taking nectar, birds in full display for attract a mate. I was enthralled and in love with the work. A live animation, true it was limited but it was beautiful and breathtaking. The same motion repeated in around 2 minutes flat before drawing to an end. The 3D zoetrope had stopped, the illusion was over. I was on tears of joy at what I had seen. What usually takes hours, weeks, months even to capture alone happened before my eyes. An old trick that feels so very new.
Moving onto complete the Sadie Coles shows – Riverboat song which had a few more pieces at Davies Street. We were greeted by a figure that we found in the video, jet black, Black sculpture (2017), all the joints are replaced with lengths of chain, creating a very loose and horrifying puppet suspended from chain above. Is this a modern darker Pinocchio, or the remains of a child who has lost their soul to the virtual world of cyberspace, no need for a body, just an identity.
The next piece in the space House with face (2017), a resin based house, that takes a while to work out. As we investigated it, the face started to appear on the roof. It’s hagged and old, something out of a fairy tale, like the house that it covers. I didn’t feel welcomed to it, more interested in it’s constructed. Covered in chain, as it begins to cover the house, more hoops are found, ready for chain to link and pull the house away. It’s lost it’s fairy tale innocence – I know that doesn’t quite make sense. And that’s how these two piece are connected, not so much the visual connection of the chain, more so the loss of innocence that comes from both of them. A child that has lost the colour from it’s body, whilst what could easily be a kids playhouse is being transformed into a house of horror.
Finally upstairs we found a Virtual reality piece, Real violence (2017) I had an idea of how these work, as there’s a show on at my studio’s gallery that has one at the centre. However the this is no game, it’s more simple and darker than that. After waiting a few minutes I placed the head-piece on and head phones. Advised to hold onto a bar fixed to the plinth, I was taken into a city scene, empty at first, thrown 180 degrees to face a man being beaten up, I’m forced to stand there and watch, everywhere I turn I see a man being pummeled, it’s an intense piece to say these least to be confronted by this violent act in the artificial space, which I ultimately agreed to enter.