Archives for category: Uncategorized

Phoebe Unwin @ Wilkinson

2There are basic emotions. Happiness. Sadness. Anger. Fear. These are like elements, the basic building blocks of Humanity.

Then there are more complex feelings that are more like chemical compounds. They can include the aforementioned emotions but are mixed with sensual stimulus, and context. Like smell, vision, memory and place, that are catalogued and recalled from the brain. These complex emotional compounds are harder to describe and often unique to the individual.

1Phoebe Unwin is all about capturing and recreating these emotional compounds in her work. Fleeting moments of life that are hard to understand unless you were there.

But what is Unwin trying to achieve by doing so? Does she want people to feel something or does she just want people to look at what she is feeling?

4If Unwin’s strategy is isolationist, i.e. not designed to trigger feelings or memories in other people and only present her own, Then for her art to be emotionally valuable to someone the paintings must be masterpieces (which, as nice as they are, are not) or Unwin herself must be emotionally valuable to you in the first place – therefore Unwin must be either Famous, or Infamous. Or have an intriguing personality which you would talk about to buyers.

If Unwins strategy is to evoke emotion within the viewer, Some paintings succeed. Her work is more effective when one can recognise context therefore triggering emotional response. But the more abstract works become defunct  – They are too gentle to evoke pure emotion (for example Rothko),  they are more likely to encourage critical analysis.

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I can appreciate Unwins brave pursuit of subtle complexity, but i reckon it’s a sticky wicket.

Runs till 13th October
Wilkinson
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Carla Busuttil_6Carla Busuttil @ Josh Lilley

Notions of identity play heavily on Carla Busuttil’s work. Her paintings are portraits of a society that none of us know but we can all probably relate to in one way or another. The characters appropriate costumes and emblems of structure and order, liberating them from their original context. There is a whiff of irony, the canvases look as if they had been dragged backwards through a Vintage shop in Shoreditch.

Carla Busuttil_4An innocent escapism runs through the show. A cast of characters created entirely in the mind, obsessively so. Normally only a child would have the stamina of imagination to create such an expansive fantasy world. But Carla continually re visits it, as if the paintings offer a surrogate family or imaginary gang of friends for the artist.

Carla Busuttil_5Carla Busuttil_1I’m not a massive fan of the canvases. “Bad Painting” can at times be liberating and joyous for the soul but I yearned for a little more craft. I was much more impressed with the film work that was produced in collaboration with Thomas Voelker and the Static Hand. Here we saw characters from Busuttil’s repertoire take on a 3 dimensional forms – coldly and repetitively ripping up newspapers into tiny pieces, as if wiping history, all set to a moody and industrial soundtrack. It was Ace.

Carla Busuttil_2Busuttil should release her creations from the walls and give them space to play around more often.  She needs to capture her imaginary world on film more, perhaps even creating her own “Cremaster Cycle”.

Only then will we get a sense of the true depths of her imagination.

Runs til 4th October

http://joshlilleygallery.com

Daryl Brown @ The Garage Project

DB1Better late than never from me, i think this show was late spring.

Further progression from the artist, showing some accomplished works.

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www.thegarageproject.co.uk

 

 

Patrick Caulfield @ Tate Britain

Three words..

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Brilliant.

 PC 3

Brilliant.

 

PC 1

Brilliant.

Still can’t get my head around Gary Hume though.

http://www.tate.org.uk

Haroon Mirza @ Lisson Gallery

HM3The last time i saw work from Haroon Mirza was in Venice 2011. In the group show was his installation “sick”. A low value Euro coin bouncing inside the cone of a speaker, playing an analogue tone. It was supposed to be a gold nugget. But someone nicked the nugget. He probably didn’t care. He won silver at the festival for young artist.

HM1I like contemporary art (surprisingly) and i really like music technology, which is pretty much where Haroon is at with his work. So he’ll always get a thumbs up from me. But with these new bits at the Lisson gallery, he was pushing the sensory aspect further. One work even used smell as a sense.

Of the four the pieces i saw at the Lisson, I felt only one excelled, but that one was great. It was called “Adam, Eve and a UFO”. An installation of 9 speakers facing towards the centre of a room in a circle. Situated in a space made to look spectacularly futuristic with angular sound proofing. Each speaker was connected to the centre of the room by a wire.

HM5The speakers seemed to be controlled by a rudimentary circuit board which acted as a brain. This brain controlled the sound emitting from each speaker. Pure tones – square waves and sine waves (think early Casio keyboards) were played in a pre programmed sequence. It was an immersive surround sound experience giving the impression this central “brain” was the soul behind the speakers. The sequenced sounds became more complex and evolved over the course of 5 minutes before ending abruptly, leaving the room deadly silent.

HM4My description is basic, but the experience was incredibly moving. The visual, audio and conceptual elements combined to make an experience that felt alive and organic. It was like being in a scene from Prometheus. I had this feeling of elation and also menace. Something was controlling the sound, perhaps hypnotising me, before assimilating me. It was one part high art “smug” and one part  spine tingling rave “rush”

Dare i say, it was absolutely epic.

lissongallery.com

 

Henry Hudson @ TJ Boulting.

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The art that seems to touch a nerve with me is one that utilises a concept, subject, or material that i relate to on a personal level. Henry Hudson’s plasticine paintings do just that. In the gallery I’m already back on the floor of my kitchen, in my formative years, creating things with this earthy smelling substance. I graduated onto Fimo afterwards, because you could bake it hard in the oven, but it was never quite the same.

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Mr Hudson continues to use plasticine as the primary medium for his paintings, but the subject matter has changed. For this show he has produced a series of portraits of his extended family. They seem to be a pretty kooky bunch – each member wrapped in “fragile” tape – a prop i was told was provided by the artist but ultimately used by the subject however they wished. Judging by the work some were more accepting of this symbolic prop than others.

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The TJ Boulting space really did feel like a home and was totally relaxed. I don’t want to keep going on about London’s art scene upping it’s game, but again, i was warmly welcomed by one of the gallery owners Hannah, who very kindly took the time to talk to me about Henry’s work and offer plenty of insight.

You don’t get that at the Tate Modern (and it costs you £15 to get in).

This exhibition has now finished.

tjboulting

New Contemporaries @ ICA

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Popped into this exhibition last weekend to have a nose around at some young guns, particularly at George Little who i’ve been keeping my eye on for a while. Unfortunately they had excluded his large canvas from the London edition of the show so was left with just a small painting and an installation to enjoy.

There was some excitement on my behalf though as i spotted none other than Mr Saatchi lurking in the bookshop. He looked a bit shifty, like he was going to lift something. You’ve got to give Charles his dues – he’s not an ivory tower sort of collector, he likes to get down and dirty with the students.

This iteration of New Contemporaries felt like a “light ” version of the Liverpool show. I guess the space in the ICA is limited, but i felt like i wasn’t quite getting the whole picture, especially after having a look at the catalogue. So in no particular order my highlights from the exhibition, which are mostly all painters:

Tara Tingleff   ( http://www.tyratingleff.net ) – header image is also hers.

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Anita Delaney  ( http://www.anitadelaney.net  – This photo shamelessly stolen from http://curatorcharlie.blogspot.co.uk/ )

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Emanuel Rohss ( http://www.emanuelrohss.com )

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George Little ( http://www.georgelittle.co.uk )

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Max Ruf ( http://www.maxruf.com )

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This exhibition is now finished but you can always check their website.

http://www.newcontemporaries.org.uk

Rana Begum @ Bischoff/Weiss

1 A particularly welcoming transatlantic gallery assistant greeted me upon arrival at Bischoff/Weiss. An invitation to talk me through the work was politely declined by this typically reserved english art lover, but the sentiment was most appreciated. Galleries have always been slightly intimidating places, but here and on subsequent visits this day, i met lots of friendly people. London’s art scene is becoming really approachable; it may be that art isn’t selling as well – a little extra sales patter is required. But i like it. A world away from a Gagosian experience, that’s for sure.

3 Rana Begum had come to my attention recently, she’s been getting plenty of press. A visit to the gallery afforded me a first view of her work in the flesh. I have to say i really liked it. Her slick minimal constructions might seem at first glance cold and lacking personality, but being in their presence made them much more spiritual. Gallery light reflected from the multicoloured, angled facets of each work, producing gradients of glowing hues across the gallery wall. It seems as if they are illuminated from behind, in a Flavin style construction, but  there are no extra lights involved. As you circumnavigate each piece, reflected light and colour evolve, dependent on your position in front of the sculpture. So in a way the work encourages the viewer to have a number of different viewpoints.

2 I do have one reservation. There is a heavy reliance on the white gallery wall. What happens when collectors who don’t have a white cube take a piece home, will it lose it it’s magic?

4 Get out there and spend a bit of time with Rana’s sculptures if you want to properly appreciate them. What seems to be simply abstract, reveals after a bit of quality time, a complexity that cannot be understood by viewing a flat image of the work.

They’re about till next Saturday, so get down there sharpish.

http://www.bischoffweiss.com/

GL Brierley @ Carslaw St Lukes

GL Brierley’s “things” quietly inhabit the space of her canvas, enticing you to look . You’ll notice the influence of figuratisim, tenebrism, and the traditions of still life. These paintings however, are unlike anything else you might have seen.

GL has total control of her medium and no control at the same time. She combines paint on the canvas to react, producing life itself. An oil based primordial soup applied to a rectangular aluminium petri dish. You really have to see the work up close to to understand. Perhaps you could describe the artist as “the creator”. It’s a platitudinal metaphor, but apt in many ways. Scientists believe life is the product of chemical fusion. The religious believe there is a controlling hand. These paintings are unarguable proof of both theories.

Unlike the creatures that inhabited the earth in the early years these malformed, but beguiling entities seem to demand deeply complex emotions. Very quickly you form a relationship. Questions are formed in your head. “Why is it there?” “Does it need help?” Should I take it home?” “Is it an it, or is it a her?”

Then you being to question your own emotional responses. “Should i feel attracted to this?” “Why am i feeling sorry for it?” The full gamut of human emotions reveal themselves, the sort that get psychoanalysts hot under the collar.

GL seemingly tries to challenge you by pushing the creations to their most unsettling and explicit (maybe that just my interpretation). Sometimes challenging you by adding bright manmade colours in thick impasto just to shake you. Perhaps it’s a reminder that this is just paint and she’s just a a painter.These are distinctly timeless works. They look like they’ve been around for hundreds of years already. There is no doubt they’ll be enchanting and horrifying people in equal measure for many centuries to come.

This exhibition runs till 17th November.  Go see.

http://www.carslawstlukes.com

Duncan aged 40 @ Skylight Studios

This former graffiti writer continues to progress into conceptual territory without giving up what he loves; making a mark. “Margate” the title of his latest exhibition explores the place that was once a Londoner’s favourite holiday destination, but after decades of neglect is now undergoing regeneration as a cultural and artistic hub.

I made the effort to visit this show on the east coast only to be greeted on arrival with a downpour of such magnitude it broke my umbrella. But my pilgrimage was richly rewarded. I discovered another strong collection of work from this passionate and convivial artist, who very kindly took the time to talk me through the work. Duncan continues to travel on his nomadic journey, acting as a conduit to the culture and history of each place he visits, via his multi media practice which includes performance, video, sculpture, printmaking and photography.

Setting up the exhibition was a video work. The artist had spent the day as a tourist, dressed top to toe in his trademark idiosyncratic, bootleg Ralph Lauren clothing (Shorts and t-shirt this time, but lucky for him it was sunny that day).

Like any visitor to the Margate beach who ends up using the local chalk to write their name on the surrounding walls, Duncan did the same, But a lot bigger. A series of photographs on aluminium and installations charted his use of sea water, chalk and a garden rake to produce 40 meter sand tags and chalk murals bearing his name. These monoliths were always meant to be transient and disappeared as quickly as they arrived due to the effect of the tide, sun and rain.

“Cats and Dogs”, took it’s title from from the weather based colloquialism. (Particularly apt considering my earlier soaking) It was a collection of homemade animal portraits collected from charity shops in the surrounding areas. I noticed one of the feline portraits was committed to paper in 1964. It was touching to see long deceased animals staring back at me from the gallery wall, I for one was happy they had found a new home.

Continuing his theme of printmaking with local delicacies Duncan presented “Bag of Chips” and “Donuts” , two unique portraits of these ritualistic objects. What lived a short life as a high carb high fat snack, became immortalised as an intellectual endeavour. What’s really interesting was the way the substances in the food (sugar on the donuts, oil on the chips) reacted with the inks to create a signature effect of their own.

I think the artist has captured the true spirit of Margate. On first view the work may seem a flippant, ironic take on the common man, but in reality it’s insightful, touching and just a little bit life affirming. With the cultural developments in the area, like the Turner Contemporary and growing artist community, the exhibition sums up the transgressive nature of the locality; documenting where it came from, and helping cement where it’s going.

Don’t visit this exhibition it’s finished.